Of all the options for free overnight RV parking, McDonald’s might be the most tempting. The Golden Arches are a familiar sight promising inexpensive, reliable, tasty food. And the chain has tens of thousands of locations internationally, making them easy to find.
But not so fast! There are a few key facts to know before parking overnight at this famous fast-food eatery.
We’ll discuss the benefits and disadvantages of camping out at the famous Mickey D’s.
Let’s get going!
What’s the Story Behind McDonald’s?
Two brothers named Maurice and Richard McDonald opened the first McDonald’s in 1940. The first location was in San Bernardino, California.
The restaurant initially functioned as a drive-in eatery. However, the McDonald brothers completely changed their operating methods within the first decade.
Hoping to provide large portions at low prices, the brothers streamlined their menu. Their new offerings included burgers and potato chips as well as desserts and beverages.
They also created the Speedee Service System. This proprietary system focused on efficiency, allowing customers to get their food fast and cheap.
A salesman named Ray Kroc began working as a McDonald’s franchise agent in 1954. Kroc recognized the restaurant’s potential and helped launch the McDonald’s Corporation. This allowed the company to expand its locations across the country.
Kroc’s work eventually helped the Golden Arches achieve worldwide recognition. Today, McDonald’s is one of the biggest fast-food franchises in the world. The chain boasts nearly 40,000 total locations. The company’s headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois.
Does McDonald’s Allow Overnight Parking?
McDonald’s may seem like a natural choice for overnight parking. But let’s find out if they allow it.
The fast-food restaurant doesn’t have an official policy regarding overnight parking. As many major retailers do, the chain leaves those decisions to individual managers. That means you’ll need to exercise caution if you decide to camp at one of their locations.
Make sure to get permission from a restaurant manager before parking overnight. And be sure to follow the “good neighbor policy,” too! Don’t stay longer than one night, leave your area cleaner than you found it, and be respectful of customers.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to buy a Big Mac or two, either. It’s good practice to support the businesses allowing us to park in their lots overnight.
Pro Tip: Enjoy a burger and fries at The World’s Largest McDonalds on your next road trip.
The Benefits of Overnight Parking at McDonald’s
RV camping in a McDonald’s parking lot comes with many perks. One perk is that most locations are open 24 hours. No matter what time you arrive, you’ll be able to order food. And it’ll never be too late to satisfy a midnight snack craving!
Another plus is that most locations offer free wi-fi. In fact, McDonald’s addresses this benefit in the FAQ section of its website. The chain doesn’t require you to create an account. Simply accept their terms of service, and you’re good to go. Free wi-fi is a great way to save money while traveling.
Thanks to its popularity, McDonald’s has numerous locations in most states. Many of them are positioned near major highways and interstates. Camping at one of their restaurants makes it easy to pull over for the night and get back on the road in the morning.
Of course, one of the biggest benefits is their menu. The Golden Arches offer way more than the vintage burgers-and-chips options.
Some states even have regional specialties! The McLobster roll is popular in New England, while some New Mexico locations offer double cheeseburgers with Hatch chiles. And in Wisconsin, it’s common to find cheese curds on the menu.
The Disadvantages of Overnight Parking at McDonald’s
Of course, there are also potential downsides to parking at McDonald’s overnight. One is that many locations have small parking lots. And some, especially those in high-traffic areas, may not have many spaces at all. If you happen to be driving a larger rig, you may not find enough room to park your RV.
Local parking ordinances are another issue. Some cities and townships have strict rules against overnight parking in public areas. This is why it’s important to always check with management before setting up camp! You don’t want your vehicle getting towed in the early hours of the morning.
All public parking areas carry a certain level of safety risk. Parking lots are popular targets for carjackers and burglars. If you plan to stay in a McDonald’s lot overnight, be aware of your surroundings and take note of suspicious activity.
What Are Some Alternatives to Parking There Overnight?
If you need an emergency camping spot, or if you just want to save some money, McDonald’s isn’t your only option. There are tons of free places across the U.S. where RVers can park and get some shut-eye.
Many big-box retailers allow overnight parking in their lots. Stores like Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and Camping World have generous policies for RV drivers.
And certain Walmart and Sam’s Club locations also allow RV camping. One general rule is that drivers should park their vehicles away from store entrances so customers can use those parking spots.
There are also several online resources to track and catalog free overnight parking areas. Campendium, iOverlander, and AllStays are fabulous websites for anyone seeking RV camping information.
Since these sites are user-driven, data is typically accurate and very up-to-date. These sites are also available as apps for your phone.
Pro Tip: If you love exploring unique McDonalds, make sure to go to This Extraterrestrial McDonald’s That is a Road Trip Must-See.
So, Is Parking Overnight at McDonald’s Worth It?
In many ways, McDonald’s is an ideal option for anyone looking to park overnight. Their generous business hours, free wi-fi policy, and large menu are all major benefits.
However, local ordinances and safety concerns might affect your ability to spend the night in one of their lots. Just use caution and common sense since public RV camping comes with its own set of risks along with the rewards.
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