- 1 / 9Hit The RoadSummer is the quintessential season of the American road trip—when we embrace our inner explorers, stopping in towns on a whim or speeding up to see what’s around the next bend.
Sooner or later, you need a place to lay your head for the night. And that’s where the motel traditionally comes in. Like diners and roadside attractions, motels have a kitschy charm and a history steeped in the rise of the automobile.
That doesn’t mean they’re stuck in the past, though. The most unique motels offer up retro appeal, convenience, and great value, without any need to scrimp on creature comforts or even style. See for yourself in our slideshow of eight notable motels from coast to coast.Image Courtesy of Booking.com
- 2 / 9Caliente Tropics, Palm Springs, CAThis motel has channeled a breezy Polynesian vibe since its debut in the 1960s, when it attracted the attention of era celebrities like Elvis and Frank Sinatra. The owners have allowed for updates over the decades (free Wi-Fi, hairdryers, flatscreen TVs). But they’ve been equally careful to protect its charms: a pool area with mountain views and barbecue grills; enormous palm trees; and a pet-friendly policy.Image courtesy of Booking.com
- 3 / 9Old Santa Fe Inn, Santa Fe, NMRoute 66 is steeped in road trip lore and continues to attract adventurous types. Along the drive, keep an eye out for Old Santa Fe Inn, one of the remaining classic motels. You can’t miss the signage scrawled across a stagecoach out front. Inside, the 43-room motel takes its design cues from the Southwest location, featuring Native American textiles, hanging dried chilies, wrought iron, and rough wood and rock walkways flanked by flowering cacti.Image courtesy of Booking.com
- 4 / 9200 Main by Old Edwards Hospitality, Highlands, NCTo drive the Blue Ridge Parkway is to be enveloped in Mother Nature—winding through tunnels of evergreen North Carolina trees, pulling off for dramatic vistas out over the deep green mountainsides, swimming in waterfalls, or even enjoying a round of shady golf. Such outdoor adventures are just beyond the doorsteps of 200 Main. At the motel itself, you can enjoy afternoons on the sundeck before the cool night temperatures invite a dip in the heated mineral pool. All rooms offer super-soft linens and a few offer fireplaces.Image courtesy of Booking.com
- 5 / 9Seascape Motel & Cottages, Belfast, MEMaine’s rugged coastline delivers New England charm around every bend. At Acadia National Park, you’ll find the Atlantic’s tallest mountain to hike and bike. About three hours away, the photogenic Penobscot Bay is ringed with charming small towns and island communities, among them, Belfast. Its coolest motel is a series of cottages with wooden decks and full kitchens that practically beg you to boil or barbecue a lobster.Image courtesy of Booking.com
- 6 / 9The Shelby Inn, Shelbyville, ILWith reception based in the Tallman House—a 1904 building on the National Register of Historic Places— this motel makes a grand first impression. In fact, it comprises a series of Victorian buildings with long porches. Rooms come with wingback chairs and carved headboards, and there’s a front porch swing that encourages lazy afternoons. And if you want to trade two-wheeled transport for a speedboat, Lake Shelbyville is 10 blocks away, and the motel offers boat parking and electric hookups.Image courtesy of Booking.com
- 7 / 9Quail Park Lodge, Kanab, UTBright green Astroturf by the pool, eclectic plastic flamingo yard art, and vintage lawn chairs lend a retro romance to Quail Park Lodge. Stylish rooms and a location just over an hour’s drive from the northern rim of the Grand Canyon sweeten the deal. And the value only gets better when you factor in amenities like complimentary bicycle rentals, happy hours, and breakfast.Image courtesy of Booking.com
- 8 / 9The Shallows Motel, Egg Harbor, WIIt wouldn’t be a stretch to compare this Door County spot to a summer camp. You’re welcomed with diversions aplenty, among them, tennis, swimming in a heated pool, a playground for the kids, and an outdoor Jacuzzi. The motel—one of a few accommodation types that make up this resort—delivers views of Green Bay from most of its spacious rooms. But perhaps the biggest perk is the free use of kayaks, canoes, and boats for exploring the bay.Image courtesy of Booking.com
- 9 / 9Bayside Inn & Marina, Cooperstown, NYAbout four hours north of New York City, tiny Cooperstown has outsize appeal for attractions like the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Ommegang Brewery (which often hosts concerts in addition to daily tours), the Fenimore Art Museum, and a historic center. A lakeside stay at this motel adds to the appeal; you can expect a room with a balcony, barbecue grills at the water’s edge, and an arcade game room that includes a pool table.Image courtesy of Booking.com