Are you planning an RV trip with your kids, but not sure if Harvest Hosts and kids is a great combination? I was wondering the same thing last summer when planning our western USA campervan road trip.
My kids – aged 3 and 5 years old – have a lot of energy. They don’t particularly enjoy sitting still while we sip some wine. They like to run around and play fight. Also, if I’m being totally honest, they are loud kids.
But they also love the outdoors, discovering new places and animals. So I’ve decided to give it a try and get a Harvest Hosts membership.
Spoiler alert: Our first stay with Harvest Hosts in Southern Idaho was a success. Here is why.
What to Look for in a Host When Using Harvest Hosts with Kids
It took me a lot of time searching for the perfect Host for our family. As I mentioned earlier, our kids can be loud and they need to burn off some energy at the end of the day. We can’t just spend all afternoon/evening quiet in our van.
Plus our van is tiny. It’s self-contained, but it’s more of a glamping style of RVing than a big house-on-wheels. We can sleep, we can go to the toilet, we can eat. But we can’t really move more than that.
So, to prepare for our first Harvest Hosts stay, I did look carefully at many Hosts’ listings. I found out that Idaho would be the ideal location for our first attempt and that a bison farm would be the most fun.
Let’s me share with you our experience and give you some tips that can help you find the perfect Host for your family:
1. Find Hosts that Offers Activities that Your Kids Will Like
First thing first, Harvest Hosts is not only about wineries and breweries. While there are a lot of wineries and breweries on the Harvest Hosts platform, it’s not the only offering. You’ll find museums, farms, markets, and a few other types of businesses.
For our family, I did a quick filter to “Farm” as I knew it would be easier to find a kid-friendly place. But don’t discard right away breweries and wineries, as some be can great with kids. Some offer tours of the vineyards, firepits, and hiking trails that are within walking distance.
At the bison farm in Idaho, the Host was offering wagon rides to see the herd of bison. All guests would meet up in the late afternoon at the teepee to learn about bison. Then, we all hopped on the wagon carried by tractor and headed to the field. We were each given a treat to give to the bison. It was the perfect activity to do with my kids. When we came back to the van, it was time to eat. The kids played a bit in the playground and it was bedtime.
You’ll also find some museums on Harvest Hosts that can be fun for kids. But sometimes, you’ll be setting up your RV in their overflow parking lot. This wasn’t ideal for us because, after the museum visit, we would have had to find another activity before bedtime or stay in our van (which as I said has limited space).
2. Make Sure There are Fun Kid-friendly Things to do Around
Some Hosts can be located in more remote places and out of the way. For our Western USA road trip, we were already doing a LOT of mileage and driving. Adding hours in the car for the kids simply to spend a late afternoon/evening and night at one location didn’t seem to be worth it for us.
It was important to find a Host relatively “on the way” and where there were fun things to do around for the kids. The bison farm was perfect for that. It was located a few miles off the main highway to get to Utah (where we were heading the next day), and about 10 minutes away from Lava Hot Springs.
If you haven’t heard of Lava Hot Springs, make sure you go check it out. Lava Hot Springs has 5 hot spring pools at different temperatures. Plus there is a beautiful park just overlooking the hot springs with trails. For older kids, it’s possible to rent tubes and ride down the river.
3. Read Carefully the Listing and See if it’s a Good Fit for your Family
It’s important to read carefully the listing and see if it will be a good fit for you and your family. Some Hosts politely ask not to wander around their property, which is totally fine. But those were not a great fit for us.
But when I read this section for the bison farm (where we ended up staying for one night), I was hooked and I knew we would have the best time there:
“We do have a fire-pit on the premises for your use when the weather allows as well as some playground toys for kiddos. We welcome help with the chores if someone wants to really get hands-on! We love to get to know new friends and share with you our love of this little slice of heaven that we call home.”
Our kids would have the opportunity to play outside the van with toys. We could also help with a few farming chores if we felt like it. The kids could burn off some energy and learn at the same time. This is the exact kind of experience I want to introduce my kids to.
4. Check the Amenities the Host Offers
When you start looking at different Hosts, take a look at the “Amenities” section of the listing. It will quickly let you know if it can be a good match for your family. For example, the bison farm we visited in Idaho had really great kid-friendly amenities listed: Hiking, farm/garden/nature tour, play area, and hayrides.
We knew this location would be perfect for kids and will have plenty to keep them busy and happy.
5. Read the reviews
This is true for all sorts of bookings, but it’s really important to read the reviews to see if the place would be great for your family.
For our first try at Harvest Hosts, we decided on the bison farm. There were many reviews from other guests. All reviews were great and it got us really excited to go and experience it ourselves:
“Parked in the front yard in a lovely farming area, went for the bison feeding hayride. I’ve honestly rarely had more fun. Jenny is a wonderful hostess, full of information, sociable.”
But this one really got me:
“Do NOT miss out on the wagon ride to feed the Bison. It’s so much fun. Be sure to ask about how they got into ranching – it’s not a generational family farm and that’s unusual in its own way. Loved the amount of talking and educational activities down before the wagon ride.”
Bison petting, wagon ride, and educational activities. I knew it would be a success with my two little boys. And it was.
6. Our Stay at the Bison Farm in Southern Idaho
We spent a little more than 2 weeks exploring Idaho last September. I had never thought of visiting this state. But as I was planning our Western USA road trip it made sense to stop in Idaho. And it was a definite surprise. Oh, we loved Idaho.
Did you know it’s called “the gem of the United States”, that it has the most soakable hot springs and thousands of waterfalls? That is the perfect combination for a campervan road trip with kids.
On our last day in Idaho, before heading to Utah, we stayed the night at the Diamond P Grassroots Bison farm in McCammon. McCammon is a few miles away from Highway I-15. It’s also on the way to Lava Hot Springs.
We left Twin Falls early morning and slowly made our way to Lava Hot Springs to spend the afternoon soaking in their 5 naturally heated pools. The facility was great and even if it’s a commercial hot spring, they did a really good job at using natural material to keep a certain charm. When we were all wrinkly, we got dressed and walked into the Sunken Gardens. The gardens overlook the pools and offer a fun little path for the kids.
By the time we were done, it was already time to head to the bison farm as we were meeting the Host and the other guests by the teepee at 5 PM.
When we arrived at the farm, we slowly settled in, chatted with Jenny, the Host, and waited for the other guests to arrive. The kids got to play in the playground while I went to look at some of the bison products.
At 5 PM, we all met by the teepee at the house and Jenny shared the history of the farm with us. She taught us a lot about bison herds and Buffalo jumps.
Then, it was time to hop on the wagon and head to the field to meet with the bison herd. We were each given a treat to give to the bison so we could pet them. We spent at least one hour (if not more) in the field surrounded by the bison. We gave them some treats and petted them. The boys just loved it.
When we arrived back at the van, it was almost bedtime. We ate a little, read some books, and went to bed. We had one of the most wonderful days in Idaho.
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful sky.
Final Thoughts on Harvest Hosts With Kids?
Go for it! Harvest Hosts can be a really nice way to travel with your kids. And also an educational way of traveling. Some people may think it’s only wineries and breweries, but there are also a lot of other options. For example, there are more than 912 farms and 696 other types of attractions. There is definitely something your kids will enjoy.
In 2020, Emilie and her family sold their house and most of their belongings to travel the world. They ended up on an epic road trip across Canada and Western USA. She is now more sure than ever that their lives need to be filled with experiences, travel, outdoor adventures, and of course family time. When there is some free time left at the end of the day, she works on her outdoor adventure blog and business. She also documents her family adventure on her Instagram.
What kid doesn’t love coloring? It’s a great way to pass the time while traveling. Download our FREE Harvest Hosts coloring book here for your next RV family adventure.
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