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Overnight RV Parking at Cracker Barrel

March 24, 2008 by Jim O'Briant · 45 Comments  
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Cracker Barrel 05Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores and Restaurants are familiar to anyone who has traveled in the Eastern two-thirds of the USA. It’s a chain with a successful history that began in Lebanon, TN in 1969. They say that their mission is “to please people. Nothing more. Nothing less.” It must be working because and they now have more than 570 stores in 41 states.

Many Cracker Barrels have from three to eight 40-foot long, marked spaces in their parking lots, for the use of buses and RVs during business hours. When you see their billboards along the highway, look for the silhouette of a bus Cracker Barrel Aerial Imagein the lower corner, which indicates that this Cracker Barrel has these long-vehicle parking spaces. The Bus/RV spaces are typically (but not always) located behind the store, as shown in the aerial view here. If your rig exceeds the length of these spaces, you may need to unhook a toad, or park (with permission, of course) in another area of the lot.

To many RVers, Cracker Barrel is a place to find home-style comfort food meal, nostalgic merchandise, and often a place to park overnight. Some RVers interpret the presence of marked long-Cracker Barrel Menuvehicle spaces to mean that overnight RV parking is allowed, but this isn’t always the case. At a 2006 FMCA Rally, an RVer discussed this with a representative of Cracker Barrel’s corporate office, and was told that RVers who would like to park overnight in a Cracker Barrel parking lot should enter the store (or telephone ahead) and ask permission from the store manager. The manager may grant or deny permission, for any of a number of reasons.

Some Cracker Barrels are in areas where overnight RV parking isn’t permitted by local ordinance. In other cases the store manager has established a “no overnight parking” policy for that store. I’ve also been told by RVers that some managers will ask them to park in a different part of the lot, not in the 40-foot long spaces. One manager said it was so there’d be more maneuvering room for early morning delivery trucks, and another said that a different area of the lot Valomilkwould be quieter for the RVers when the garbage collectors came at 4 AM. If you’re planning to park overnight at a Cracker Barrel store and you’ll be arriving after the store closes, you should call ahead for permission.

Personally, I’ve parked overnight at only one Cracker Barrel, in Junction City, KS in October, 2006. The food was great and so was the hospitality! I was also able to purchase some things I hadn’t seen in years, including hard to find, “made in Kansas” Valomilk candy bars.

You may want to consider a Cracker Barrel as a place to park overnight, and get a good dinner and breakfast besides. Cracker Barrel’s website has a “store locator” page listing all of their locations.

Safe travels to you!

Jim O’Briant
Gilroy, CA
Moderator, OvernightRVParking Yahoo Group

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45 Responses to “Overnight RV Parking at Cracker Barrel”

  1. Darrel on March 24th, 2008 1:43 pm

    Hi, Junction City is the last place that I’d want to spend the night in a Cracker Barrel or not. JC has a very high crime rate compared to other places. We often buy fuel there but no more esp. after midnight.

  2. Jim O'Briant on March 24th, 2008 1:54 pm

    Darrel’s comment about high crime rates in Junction City, KS surprised me, but I looked it up. According to FBI statistics, the crime rates for both violent crimes and property crimes are higher in Junction City than they are in Oakland, CA, which is considered a VERY high crime area!

    Thanks for the heads up, Darrel!

    Safe travels,

    Jim O’Briant

  3. susan on March 24th, 2008 2:40 pm

    We have travelled cross country from Florida (we live in St. Pete) the past two summers and we stay overnight in Cracker Barrel parking lots in all parts of
    the country – We ALWAYS check with the manager and have never been
    turned away. Of course we also eat dinner, breakfast or both while we’re there.
    We love Cracker Barrels!!

  4. Leonora on March 24th, 2008 6:07 pm

    As far as Cracker Barrel is concerned I don’t think there is a better place where a person can get a good meal. I travel alone and they always make single people feel right at home which is also very important to me. I haven’t asked about staying overnight yet but will be traveling from Lake Havasu AZ to Glacier MT in May and will be stopping overnight in various cities. If I spot a Cracker Barrel will definitely ask and plan on spending the night there as I would feel safer there then in a rest area.

  5. Sue on March 24th, 2008 8:02 pm

    Cracker Barrels are an “oasis” especially during unexpected travel situations. The welcoming sign, familiar store layout and menu and good food can calm jangled nerves no matter what the situation. We hit very bad weather once when our travel day began later than planned. Knowing we would not make our planned stopover, we pulled off the highway into a CB. The fireplace was roarin’ and warmed our bodies and spirits! The manager said “Sure” and we spent a safe, cozy night on a level spot surrounded by good wifi signals!
    Thanks, Cracker Barrel!

  6. clark on March 24th, 2008 8:15 pm

    We always eat there but never thought of an overnite stay..Thanks

  7. Andrew Orton on March 26th, 2008 5:20 pm

    We love Cracker Barrels!

  8. PF&PM on April 2nd, 2008 7:40 pm

    Lenora, You will find one in Missoula MT on your way to Glacier Park…

  9. Leo on April 3rd, 2008 2:00 pm

    We have stayed at several Cracker Barrels and have/will always ask permission. We of course always eat there. I joked with the manager one night after asking permission to stay if he would bring coffee and biscuits out in the morning and he asked me “what time would you like it”? I quickly replied I was joking.

  10. Gilles.P on May 14th, 2008 5:19 pm

    We like to stop at cracker barrels,and of course we always ask permission and the coffe is real good on the morning and it’s quite all night.
    thank you cracker barrels .

  11. jorjet on May 22nd, 2008 11:00 am

    Cracker Barrel Restuarants along the east coast interstate hiways are targeted by a group call the ‘Cracker Barrel Bandits’. I know. They must have master keys and codes as they break- in in less than 30 seconds in broad daylight. In our case they were in the lot before we got there, just waiting. They know the length of time it takes to eat. They pulled up next to our RV door in a van. We know all this because it was recorded on the restuarant video security camera. I never got any of my stuff back.

  12. Jim O'Briant on May 22nd, 2008 3:53 pm

    jorjet wrote:

    > Cracker Barrel Restuarants along the east coast interstate
    > hiways are targeted by a group call the ‘Cracker Barrel Bandits’. …
    > They must have master keys and codes as they break- in
    > in less than 30 seconds in broad daylight. …

    A thorough Google search bring up no news articles or any other reference to such a band of break-in artists. Can you provide a link to any kind of news story to substantiate all of this?

  13. Bob Garrison on May 28th, 2008 1:00 pm

    We have stayed at several CBs throughout the country and always found them very accommodating. However, on our last trip through Texas we drove into a CB and around to the back of the building and I noticed a car parked with a single person inside. I didn’t think too much of it assuming it was probably an employee on break. A few minutes after we parked there was a knock at the door and a guy gave me his story about being out of work, and out of gas and out of money but was going to a new job with his wife and kids, etc, etc. I gave him a few dollars but then we got nervous and decided to leave. As we pulled out of the lot there he was sitting in his car, I’m sure waiting for the next RV arrival. This doesn’t discourage us from staying at CB but will be more cautious. One of us will go in first and not only ask permission but also ask about current conditions and experiences in the area. I don’t mind giving someone a hand even if they are not telling the truth. I figure anyone who is that hard up has some sort of problem I’m thankful I don’t have.

  14. jmac on June 3rd, 2008 8:28 am

    Most Cracker barrels do not have room for big rigs if towing a dinghy. Yes, you can unhook, but most are tight. However I agree they are always friendly and the quality is always the same, very good.

  15. TommyT on June 6th, 2008 3:55 pm

    Cracker Barrel Restaurants are excellent places to stop and eat, whether you’re in the RV or just a road trip in the car. I just wish that you could get regular hash browns, instead of the “hash brown casserole” for breakfast. I can’t stand the “casserole”. That limits the breakfast choices. Other than that, great food, great people, and a wonderful, old time general store atmosphere.

  16. Matt on June 12th, 2008 8:40 am

    You can often get plain hash browns at Cracker Barrel. Just ask your server if they are available even if you only see the hash brown casserole on the menu.

  17. Jeff on June 17th, 2008 1:44 pm

    I wish you could get an omelet at Cracker Barrel. They’ve got every other breakfast food in the world, but not a good old fashioned omelet. My wife says it’s because they try to be “country-style”, but I don’t really buy that. They serve TONS of stuff that isn’t “country”. I don’t remember my Grandmother ever telling me any stories about how much she loved her down-home pancakes with fruit and whipped topping or about a lovely breakfast fruit plate.

    C’mon Cracker Barrel add omelets to your menu!

  18. Jglo on June 21st, 2008 7:53 am

    As a single female traveler I’ve made my way to several CB’s without problem. On a couple occasions I was the only RV overnight’g, which may not have afforded the most rested night, but I was able to enjoy a welcome breakfast after a few winks as a reprieve. NOTE: Each time I asked permission (manager or assistant) and inquired if they had any security issues in the last couple months.

    Whether they offer true home cookin’ or not I appreciate the allowance to overnight. Thank you Cracker Barrel!

  19. Frank H on June 23rd, 2008 12:42 pm

    I have only stayed at a Cracker Barrel once. Sister was in the hospital and all the campgrounds were full. I ask the manager and was allowed to stay two nights. I moved the MH to the hospital parking lot during the day (not alowed to stay at night). Of course my wife and I ate dinner and breakfast at CB for two days.
    If you are a good southerner you should have “Grits” instead of those hask browns.
    Great Food!!!!

  20. Mark on July 31st, 2008 6:39 pm

    Has anyone overnighting at a Cracker Barrel perhaps stopped to consider that if you come in early in the evening and stay till after breakfast you are potentially causing other RV’ers to be turned away because there’s no where to park?

    There’s lots of nights where we hit a Cracker Barrel at about 5PM, but if we chose to stay the night we’d have one (of the often only 3 or 4) RV spots plugged up for the rest of the night. I’d hate to think that someone had to abandon their dinner plans and get back on the interstate with an empty stomach simply because I decided to overnight in one of only a few available RV spots.

    IMHO WalMart is a better idea. At least your not potentially messing up someones diner plans by overnighting there, and they are better lit and tend to be quieter in the overnight hours.

  21. Jim O'Briant on July 31st, 2008 8:00 pm

    Mark wrote, in part:

    > Has anyone overnighting at a Cracker Barrel perhaps stopped to
    > consider that if you come in early in the evening and stay till after
    > breakfast you are potentially causing other RV’ers to be turned
    > away because there’s no where to park?

    I believe this is a non-issue. There are many potential Overnight RV Parking locations that have a limited number of RV spaces, including Cracker Barrels and Flying Js. You might as well argue that RVers shouldn’t stop early and rent a campground space because the campground might fill up.

    > There’s lots of nights where we hit a Cracker Barrel at about 5PM, but
    > if we chose to stay the night we’d have one (of the often only 3 or 4) RV
    > spots plugged up for the rest of the night.

    You’re assuming that everyone who says “park, dine, stay overnight & leave in the morning” means “par at 5 PM. The times we’ve parked overnight at Cracker Barrels, we’ve arrived between 7 & 8 PM and had a late dinner. You’re also assuming that the Cracker Barrel won’t grant additional RVers permission to park elsewhere in their lot when in fact some stores recommend a part of the lot other than the marked Bus/RV spaces.

    > I’d hate to think that someone had to abandon their dinner plans and
    > get back on the interstate with an empty stomach simply because I
    > decided to overnight in one of only a few available RV spots.

    Again, I think your fears are groundless. Most RVers carry food with them and have the ability to prepare a meal in their RV, regardless of where they parked. I don’t think anyone will starve to death just because one RVer got to a Cracker Barrel earlier than they did.

    > IMHO WalMart is a better idea. At least your not potentially messing
    > up someones diner plans by overnighting there, …

    I think you’re overly concerned about your plans for an early stop “messing up someone’s dinner plans.” That’s no more a problem than you having to change your plans to accommodate some unknown RVer who MIGHT want to park at the same Cracker Barrel on the same night. It’s a non-issue.

    > … and they [Walmarts] are better lit and tend to be quieter in the
    > overnight hours.

    Wal-Marts aren’t necessarily better lit, and some RVers prefer a less bright location in which to park overnight. In general, the reports I’ve receive indicate that either a Cracker Barrel or a Walmart lot may be quiet or noisy. The noise level is dependent on a host of variables —

    * nearby roads & highways
    * nearby RR tracks
    * whether a given Walmart is a 24-hour store
    * whether an RV is parked near where delivery trucks enter the lot
    * what night the garbage trucks make their pickup
    * what night the parking lot sweeper shows up
    * whether the parking lot is a local teen hangout
    *etc., etc., etc.

    This simply makes it impossible to state that Walmart lots are quieter than Cracker Barrel lots — or vice versa.

    If you prefer Walmart parking lots to Cracker Barrel parking lots, that’s fine. Others prefer Cracker Barrel lots, and if there is limited RV space, then it’s first come, first served.

    Jim O’Briant
    Gilroy, CA
    Administrator, http://www.OvernightRVParking.com
    Moderator, OvernightRVParking Yahoo Group
    http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/OvernightRVParking/
    Overnight Parking Blog: http://blog.rv.net/

  22. Wally on September 23rd, 2008 1:46 pm

    I feel we as RV owners should stay over night at CB, or Walmart or where ever as a last resort. Lets face it folks, there are plenty of public rest stops along the highways where the truckers go. We should be considerate to these businesses for allowing us to stay. After all, they are there to be of service to the local communities with their goods & services. I’m sorry to say that in my travels, I have seen RVers in walmart parking lots with their awnings out, mat on the floor, lounge chairs out, playing loud music. The people who do this should realize that they can ruin it for others who just need to get some quick shut eye for the night & be gone first thing in the morning. These businesses have the right to pull the plug on this & ruin it for everybody. Then we all lose.

  23. Terry Parker on April 6th, 2009 10:08 am

    I would not count on parking at Cracker Barrel overnight. It has been my experience on three different ocassions just to pull in for lunch and found all of the RV/Bus spaces filled up with cars, no where to park the RV.
    I was informed that the store managers can not do anything about it.

    So be ware, even if you have approval from the store manager to overnight, you might have to wait until the store closes to get an RV spot.

  24. AL on March 22nd, 2010 4:06 pm

    Cracker Barrel is the best and friendlest place to stop while traveling. Only complaint I have is the RV/Bus parking areas are always filled with cars on Sunday following church services. I only wish they would obey the laws of the land, leaving the RV/Bus parking for the suggested vehicals as the signs apply.

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