Back in the day when I was little, we planned camping trip routes to our destination like Opryland, but we didn’t necessarily plan where we would stop for the night and park our motorhome.
If we came upon a campground that was full, we’d just keep driving until we saw a billboard for another campground. When we found one it was anyone’s guess what type of adventure we signed up for.
The kids of course just wanted a swimming pool, and we were always disappointed when there wasn’t one. Why wasn’t there one? I’m Mechiel Kopaska host of the Fearless Innovator podcast and That’s what we’re going to discuss today, the differences between overnight parks and Destination parks.
Overnight parks really haven’t changed that much, but what has changed is the amount of people travelling and looking for their perfect camping spot.
Today, you need to do your homework before you start travelling and you need to make reservations well in advance as the shear number of RV travelers has increased significantly in the last 2 years, so finding your perfect spot may be a bit more challenging.
You also need to know your family’s needs while travelling. Like I said before one of our needs were the kids wanted a swimming pool, mom and dad didn’t much care what else as long as the kids could be preoccupied.
I’m sure if I’d ask my dad, he would have said he wanted a level spot large enough for the camper with hookups. Hookups back then were nothing like they are today, our generator was not built in and there was no cable or fiber because there were no TV’s or internet.
I know there are a lot of new RV’ers hitting the road these days, so I’d like to help everyone understand that not all parks are created equally and you should know what type you’re going to because it could save you from writing a bad review on the park!
Let’s first talk about Overnight parks.
- Overnight parks are generally well advertised along the highways with HUGE billboards because they are only getting 1-2 nights of revenue, they need to do a lot more advertising.
- The overnight parks are generally found within 5 miles just off interstates or major roadways.
- Once you’re in the park, most have no frills, no swimming pools just the basics and just looks like a parking lot.
- The guests that generally come just stay for 1 or 2 nights and then they move on to their destination park.
- They usually have a higher vacancy rate as people are just passing through. Which means it’s much easier to get into one of these parks.
- The overnight park will have limited employees and more of a self-park feature. You may not even see anyone as you can book your reservations online and pay online.
- Pricing for an overnight park will be less expensive because the park itself has less to offer and they have no overhead.
The overnight parks have a definite purpose and are very much needed as the average RV traveler will only drive 4 hours a day. If your destination is 800 miles away, that’s possibly 3 overnight stays before you reach your destination. If my dad was driving, he’d only stop once!
Destination parks. Our destination one year was Opryland in Nashville. These days destination parks have a lot to offer. I just visited Renegades on the River 2 weeks ago, it had a marina for the fishermen, a Tiki bar with live music and a restaurant onsite. The Spirit of the Suwanee River Park here in Florida is nothing but a Music venue that brings in BIG Music names. I know of another park that has hosted Burger challenges, Car Shows, Corn Hole Competitions, Chili Cook-offs, Super Bowl parties, the ideas are limitless, and I have yet to see someone playing pickle ball!
- Destination parks are also well advertised, however now the billboard is going to attract you with all the amenities the park offers like 4 tickets to Opryland, Swimming pool, 4 show tickets, free shuttle, a kids play area and an ice cream shop onsite, etc.
- Destination parks are typically located near the destination or may even offer a music venue onsite like the Spirit of the Suwanee River Park.
- Guests will normally stay for a week because this area can keep your family occupied with a number of things to do in the area. If you’re a snowbird you will stay for a season typically just to get you out of the northern weather. It’s not every day that you have to have an activity but it’s nice if the area has a lot to do. Most snowbirds love to eat out – so good reasonable restaurants are always a hit with you. You will also look for a good car swap meet or flea market. Here in my area, we have the Florida State Fair and the Strawberry Festival, and they used to have a Grand Ole Opry day.
- These parks will require advanced booking, sometimes even the year before. Most snowbird parks allow you to prebook for the following season with an advanced down payment. If you’re the summer vacation RV’er make sure to plan ahead!
- The destination parks will have a lot of employees such as greeters at the gate to show you to your exact RV spot. You will notice how well the property is taken care of by the maintenance crews and the well-manicured lawns. There will always be someone in the office to answer any questions that you have from prebooking to exiting the park on your departure day.
- Some destination parks allow for an overnight parking. These parks are capitalizing on both markets.
- Pricing at a destination park will be significantly higher based on what the park itself can offer. If you’re Fort Wilderness, you can pretty much charge what you want, because the people will come strictly because there is SOOOO much to do at this park.
My last bit of advice is read the reviews! The reviews will tell you what others did not like about the park. Now, take each with a grain of salt as there can be some sketchy reviews and certainly dig in and find the good reviews.
Key point is do your research ahead of time to ensure you know the surrounding area and you know what your park offers or does not offer in amenities before you book!
I’m Mechiel Kopaska of the Fearless Innovator Podcast, I hope you enjoyed this episode.
Grand Ole Opry – Home – Grand Ole Opry
Renegades on the River – Home – RENEGADE’S (renegadesontheriver.com)
Florida State Fair – Florida State Fair
Strawberry Festival – Florida Strawberry Festival