RVs are the convenient travel solution for anyone looking to travel long term, or wanting to cover long distances. They allow travelers to save on hotels, flights, rental cars, and the cost of food, since most RVs are equipped with a full kitchen. Because of all these reasons, plus the comfort of having your own space, RVs continue to grow in popularity. Snowbirds and full time RVers love heading south during the winter, whether it be in Florida or the Southwest. But what about Texas? Central Texas especially has a mix of small towns and large cities, the beautiful Hill Country and urban areas. This balance creates endless activities and places to explore. A long day of exploring calls for a good night’s rest, and below, we’ve listed four places you can stay for free in your home-on-wheels in central Texas.
In order to partake in the free camping on this list, you must have a Harvest Hosts membership. For the price of two to three nights stay in a regular campground, you can gain access to 1139+ locations across North America, each allowing you to stay one night for free. You can also upgrade to a Golf Membership, which offers additional access to hundreds of golf courses, spa facilities, and restaurants. We’re not sure if things in Texas really are bigger, but we know they can be free!
1. Copperas Cove
First settled in 1830, Copperas Cove began as a land grant from Mexico to Steven F. Austin, who is known as the “Father of Texas” and the state’s founder. The town has since blossomed into the largest town in Coryell County and is located a short distance from Fort Hood. If you’re looking for some family-friendly fun, then be sure to check out Topsey Exotic Ranch and Drive Thru Safari. Cinergy Cinemas is another excellent stop for groups, couples, or families. This multiplex has a movie theater, laser tag, a bowling alley, an arcade, and an eatery, all in one place.
If your RV is adults-only, or the kids have gone to bed, you can get the most out of this fun Harvest Hosts location. You’ll feel like you’re at summer camp again, except this time you get to enjoy an alcoholic beverage while you play games, complete crafts, and earn merit badges! Camp Caylor serves a variety of Texas-made wines, beers, and ciders. They often host fun events and feature different food trucks. There are also a variety of games to enjoy, such as cornhole, horseshoes, yard dominoes, connect four, and more. You can also indulge in some s’mores or relax in a hammock. Caylor’s Space Between Wine and Beer Yard has four reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs under forty-four feet in length. You don’t have to wait until summer to attend this camp.
Austin is the quintessential addition to any Texas road trip list. First settled in the 1830’s as Waterloo, Texas, it is now one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World”, Austin has tons of music venues and tours, countless restaurants, outdoor activities, museums, and more. This list of things to do and see here are almost endless.
One of the top-rated outdoor activities is the Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail. Austin is also home to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center botanical gardens. City visitors can also go swimming in the Barton Springs Pool, which is a natural limestone pool fed by the springs running underneath. Those wanting to get outside can plan to walk to the scenic Mount Bonnell vantage point, overlooking Austin.
If you are looking for indoor activities to enjoy, the Austin Aquarium is highly-rated, where you can feed sharks, touch a crocodile, or take a selfie with a bird. The Blanton Museum of Art is another popular stop, or with small children, you can check out the Thinkery Museum, which offers hands-on learning. If you’re looking for more physical indoor activities, Austin offers indoor skydiving, and one of the largest bouldering gyms in the country.
On the endless list of activities in Austin is golfing. Harvey Penick Golf Campus sits on 112 acres and is home to a 9-hole PGA Tour-designed golf course. This course is also the only place in Austin to offer Footgolf. After patronizing the business, Harvest Hosts members are welcomed to stay here overnight. They have four reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
3. San Antonio
Rich in history, San Antonio continues to be a melting pot of several cultures. There are several Missions you can visit to learn more about the long history of the town. The Alamo is the most popular, but you can also head to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park to visit four additional missions, each with their own history.
Some other popular outdoor activities are the San Antonio River Walk, the Japanese Tea Gardens, and the San Antonio Botanical Garden, which span over thirty-three acres. If you’re looking for indoor activities, be sure to check out the San Antonio Art Museum and the Witte Museum, which is a combination of Texas history meets science. If you have kids, then The DoSeum is perfect for enriching their minds while also burning off energy. Lastly, if you’re looking for some Wild West history, then head over to The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum and Texas Ranger Museum. This building is home to two different museums, with the Buckhorn exhibiting wildlife and the Texas Ranger museum paying homage to famous Texas Rangers.
Be sure to save time for one last museum by visiting the Texas Air Museum. This interesting find teaches visitors about aircraft history, and also Texas’ part in developing military air power into what it is today. After a long day of learning, you can use your Harvest Hosts membership to stay overnight in one of their four reservable, pet-friendly spaces that can accomodate RVs of any size.
Our trip concludes in Vanderpool, Texas. Officially established in 1886, Vanderpool is located in prime scenic Hill Country. This area is famous for its fall foliage views at Lost Maples State Natural Area. This area is home to the protected Uvalde bigtooth maple trees which provide excellent fall colors viewing opportunities. But year round, this park is gorgeous to visit with the various wildflowers, canyon walls, and the Sabinal River. You can enjoy over ten miles of hiking, go fishing (no license required in Texas state parks or natural areas), backpack, view wildlife, and more.
If you’re looking to switch up your outdoor activities, then you could try guided horseback riding. Elm Creek Stables is located about thirty minutes from Vanderpool in Concan, Texas. They offer guided rides on high or low trails, pony rides, and a petting zoo. Be sure to call ahead to make your reservations.
After a long day of exploring, head to Lost Maples Winery to relax in your RV and have a glass of wine. Lost Maples Winery grows Black Spanish and Lenoir grapes on land that has been family-owned since before Texas was even a state. They produce a variety of wines that are fruit-forward in both red and white. This Harvest Hosts location has eight reservable spaces for rigs of any size.
Heading south for the winter doesn’t exclusively limit you to the desert or Florida. Texas has plenty to offer and with something for everyone. Even better, you can stay for free at any of these locations above. Which means a few more bottles of wine or a few more rounds of golf for you!
Where is your favorite place in central Texas? Have you visited any of the Harvest Hosts on this list? Tell us about it below!
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