Overnight parking at Cracker Barrel is a great convenience for RV owners looking for free overnight parking. However, there are unwritten rules that every camper driver should follow…
Most campers have heard of it Wally docking, parked in a Walmart lot overnight. It’s a form of “batch docking” that extends to another popular spot: cracker barrels.
There aren’t nearly as many Cracker Barrels as Walmarts, but with 663 locations across the United States, there’s often one nearby. And the company has always welcomed RVs, allowing people to park for free overnight.
Of course, their hospitality should only go so far. There are unwritten rules that motorhome owners should abide by to ensure Cracker Barrels continues to be courtesy to us.
I’m going to outline these rules for you so you can enjoy what I like to call “barrel docking” as much as Jennifer and I did.
Not all cracker kegs allow overnight parking of RVs
Before we get into the rules, it’s important to note that not all Cracker Barrels allow this free overnight parking. It is at the manager’s discretion, which you can call and ask beforehand.
In most cases, managers are more than happy to comply.
However, some state and city regulations also do not allow overnight parking. Of course, Cracker Barrel has to abide by these regulations, so in such cases they may not allow you to stay in some places.
How to find Cracker Barrel locations
There are only 5 states that don’t have a Cracker Barrel:
That States with the most cracker kegs are:
- North Carolina
7 Unwritten Rules for Overnight Parking at Cracker Barrel
Overnight parking at Cracker Barrel is intended for overnight convenience, not a full campground experience. It’s perfect if you just need a place to sleep for the night en route to your next destination.
Out of respect and gratitude to the company, it is strongly recommended that you follow these unwritten rules…
1. Eat something
Ideally, RV drivers should enjoy a meal at any Cracker Barrel where they park overnight. Whether you have dinner when you drive up or breakfast when you wake up, it’s a great way to thank them for their hospitality.
After all, they don’t really offer their parking space altruistically. They hope (and maybe expect) that you will eat at their restaurant.
It’s also a win-win situation for campers. You get accommodation only for the price of a good meal. And thankfully, Cracker Barrel is reasonably priced.
If you’re on a tight budget, you don’t need to eat an entire meal. You can enjoy a slice of their delicious tarts, cobbler or biscuit fritters.
However, if you’re not hungry, you have another way to be a Patron…
2. Buy something
In addition to its all-day breakfast and homemade cornbread, Cracker Barrel is known for its Old Country Store. This little shop is packed with fun little souvenirs, toys, clothes and goodies.
So if you don’t want to eat at the restaurant, you can buy something at their shop instead.
The jump one peg games and giant chess boards are favorites. There’s always the Ye Old Candy Section too!
3. Don’t use Prime Parking
It is being considered proper boandocking etiquette Don’t take prime parking if you park at Cracker Barrel overnight. Park to the side or closer to the back of the lot.
You don’t want to park right in front of where guests are most likely to park for dinner or breakfast.
In truth, you want to do this for your own privacy as well as out of respect for the patrons. You don’t want people peeking through your windows when they enter the restaurant.
4. Park safely
You don’t want to take prime parking; However, always think about your safety. For example, it’s not a good idea to park in dark areas that abut a back alley or the like.
Find a good compromise between safety and no parking for guests who only come to eat.
Of course, Cracker Barrel is not responsible for your safety. So you have to rely on your own road skills when choosing a parking spot.
Here’s another parking tip: Do not park next to the dumpsters. You don’t want to block access for employees or their garbage truck service. And these trucks come VERY early in the morning. Often long before sunrise. Standing next to a dumpster is guaranteed to wake you up to the noise.
5. Only stay one night
Overnight parking at Cracker Barrel is meant to be a one-time courtesy. You should not stay more than one night.
More than that, you shouldn’t be hanging around all morning either. As soon as you wake up and have breakfast, you should clean up.
Which brings me to the next unwritten rule…
6. Don’t set up camp
You can’t treat a Cracker Barrel property like a campground. You should not extend your awning, set up camping chairs or even extend your slides if you can help it.
Don’t break out your portable grill!
If your RV requires you to extend a slide to reach the dormitories, try to find an end point that doesn’t overlap with the nearest parking lot and/or only extend it enough to get through.
7. No bathing in their sinks
As farm workers, Jennifer and I know that some people use public restrooms to bathe with a sponge or wash their hair in sinks.
While this behavior may be considered acceptable in some locations (e.g. some rest areas), you should not do it in a Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrels are restaurants that serve food to guests who are trusted to maintain the highest standards of health.
Customers don’t want to step into a restroom between their appetizer and their dessert course to find someone sponge-bathing. Cracker Barrel Management doesn’t want that either.
It is best to tap into your own water supply when you are in urgent need of cleaning.
Where else can you stay?
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We’ve all heard of overnight parking at Cracker Barrel or Walmart…or Harvest Hosts, but there are plenty of other places RVs can pull up…spots right off the highway where pets are welcome and you can find pretty much anything you need for them need an overnight stay.
Boondocking guide for beginners (one of our most popular e-books) and one of our newest e-books, The ultimate guide to free and cheap RV camping!
eBook #1: Boondocking guide for beginners
We’ve created a 65+ page digital downloadable guide to help you understand the nuances that come with boondocking, the most common boondocking issues, and what you need to do to get your rig boondocking-ready.
eBook #2: The ultimate guide to free and cheap RV camping
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