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15 Classic Roadside Motels You Can Visit Along America’s Highways

Who doesn’t love an all-American road trip? As automobile travel gained popularity in the early 20th century, a slew of kitschy roadside motels popped up along the country's brand-new highways. The golden age of road trips may have passed, but some of these hidden gems are still going strong today. They’re renovated, retro, and steeped in classic Americana. So, the next time you hit the road, consider skipping corporate hotel chains and checking into one of these 15 iconic roadside motels instead.

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The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Tucked along historic Route 66 in eastern New Mexico, The Blue Swallow Motel has been welcoming guests since 1939. A retro neon sign brightens up the Southwestern-style exterior, and most rooms come with an attached garage.

Related: The Best Small-Town Inns in All 50 States

Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia

The Thunderbird Inn perfectly captures the hip aesthetic of the 1960s. Quirky extras, such as complementary MoonPies and RC Cola in the guest rooms, evoke nostalgia for a simpler time.

Related: The 20 Best (and Most Unusual) B&Bs in America

Austin Motel in Austin, Texas

This 80-year-old motel serves as a time capsule for Old Austin, but it also reflects the city’s trendy cultural shift. Guests enjoy nearby dining and nightlife, ample outdoor space, and a stylish pool area.

Related: 15 100-Year-Old Houses That Haven’t Aged a Day

The Sunset Motel in Brevard, North Carolina

The Sunset Motel is a quintessential roadside destination in a scenic swath of North Carolina. Redolent of the 1950s and ’60s, this renovated retro palace will transport you back to the days of poodle skirts, jukeboxes, and beehive hairdos.

Related: The Biggest Home Trends from the Decade You Were Born

Old Santa Fe Inn in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Packed with Southwestern charm, the Old Santa Fe Inn pays homage to the cultural traditions of its historic and dynamic city. The motel is located blocks away from Route 66, and it features handmade furniture, local artwork, and modern amenities.

Related: 16 Weirdly Awesome Summer Vacation Rentals on Airbnb

The Red Caboose in Ronks, Pennsylvania

Rail enthusiasts and tourists alike adore The Red Caboose in Ronks, Pennsylvania, which consists of 38 cabooses painted in honor of America’s most famous railroads. The funky motel, which opened its doors in the 1970s, offers free movies in a nearby barn, Amish buggy rides, an old-school nickelodeon piano, and more.

Related: 11 Tiny Towns You Can Buy—Yes, Really

Hotel Palms in Atlantic Beach, Florida

Just three blocks from the ocean, Hotel Palms has offered respite to travelers since 1947. Guests can relax in the private courtyard, grab a local beer at The Lounge, and sleep in a room with beach-inspired decor.

Related: 12 Destinations You Should Actually Visit During the Off-Season

Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel in Catskills, New York

Owned by Kate Pierson of the The B-52s and her partner, Monica Coleman, Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel lies deep in the Catskills in Upstate New York. The motel features midcentury modern suites and cottages decked out in dazzling colors and with charming tchotchkes.

Related: 20 Must-Visit Mountain Towns Across America

Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona

Wikimedia Commons via Carol M. Highsmith

Visitors to the Wigwam Motel stay in freestanding concrete-and-steel structures that resemble the tepees of the Plains Indians. Built in 1950, this wigwam village still attracts travelers on historic Route 66 who appreciate Americana and crave a little nostalgia, which is enhanced by the collection of vintage cars parked on the property.

Related: 10 U.S. Towns That Are Older Than America

Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho

Built in 2003 by husband-and-wife artisans, Dog Bark Park Inn resembles a giant beagle, called “Sweet Willy” by residents of Cottonwood. The unique bed-and-breakfast compound includes an extensive gift shop of carved wooden dogs.

Related: The Best Tiny Towns in Every State

Amigo Motor Lodge in Salida, Colorado

The Amigo Motor Lodge first opened for business more than 60 years ago, but after recent renovations it’s taken on a new life and a fun, modern vibe. Visitors will now find trendy furnishings, minimalist design, concrete countertops, and quirky wall accents that offer words of inspiration—all of which bring a contemporary attitude to a classic roadside lodge.

Related: The 19 Most Photographed Homes in America

Harbor Hotel in Provincetown, Massachusetts

With 129 rooms, the “retro-glam” Harbor Hotel embodies the easygoing spirit of Cape Cod. The Cabana Bar alongside the spacious pool, a fire pit, and an expansive patio allow guests to take full advantage of the colorful waterfront setting.

Related: Winter Retreats of Presidents Past and Present

Ohio House Motel in Chicago

Visitors to downtown Chicago can’t miss the Ohio House Motel, with its funky diamond motif and classic 1960s architecture. Inside the budget boutique motel, midcentury modern accents bring retro flair to the property’s 48 rooms.

Related: Step Inside 12 Hotels That Take You Back in Time

The Big Texan, Amarillo, Texas

Built to resemble a main street from the Old West, the kitschy 54-unit Big Texan motel offers modern amenities amid the decor of the late 1800s. Visitors will enjoy horse stalls, a Texas-shaped swimming pool, and a steak restaurant that offers a free 72-ounce steak dinner— as long as you can eat it in one hour!

Related: 18 American Towns Every Old-House Lover Needs to See

Caliente Tropics Resort, Palm Springs, California

Once patronized by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, this unique hotel has plenty of the Polynesian tiki charm that embodied Palm Springs in the 1960s. The newly renovated lodging boasts stunning natural surroundings, picturesque views of the San Jacinto Mountains, and a swanky outdoor pool.

Related: Island Living: 20 Tropical B&Bs That Are Only an Airplane Away