Rediscovering Roadside Motels: Where to Stay on Your Next Road Trip Journey

Discover the hidden gems of the open road with our ultimate guide to roadside motels.

The Adventure of Roadside Motels

Embark on the ultimate road trip adventure and rediscover the charm of roadside motels. Leave behind the cookie-cutter hotels and immerse yourself in the nostalgia and character that these hidden gems have to offer. Whether you're traveling on iconic Route 66 or exploring the winding coastal roads, roadside motels are the perfect pit stop for weary travelers seeking an authentic experience.

Step into a world where neon signs buzz with history, where each room tells a tale of days gone by. Reviving the spirit of a bygone era, these motels offer more than just a place to rest your head. From retro furnishings to vintage artwork, these establishments provide a unique ambiance that transports you back in time.


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But don't let their vintage allure fool you – these motels are anything but outdated. Many have been lovingly restored and revamped, offering modern amenities while preserving their nostalgic charm. Comfortable beds, free Wi-Fi, and even swimming pools are just some of the features you can expect during your stay.

So why settle for an ordinary hotel when you can experience the magic of a roadside motel? Buckle up, hit the open road, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Rediscover the allure of the open road and begin your journey today.

What is a Roadside Motel?

When you're out on a road trip adventure with your family, you might come across a special type of accommodation called a roadside motel. So, what exactly is a roadside motel, and why do people choose to stay there?

The Basics of Roadside Motels

A roadside motel is a place where travelers can stop and spend the night during their journey. These motels are usually located along highways or main roads, making them convenient for people on road trips. Unlike big hotels, motels typically have rooms that open directly to the outside, making it easy to load and unload your car.

Why Choose a Motel?

One of the main reasons people choose to stay at motels is because they are often more affordable than fancy hotels. This makes them a great option for families looking to save money on their travels. Additionally, motels offer a sense of convenience, as you can park right in front of your room, making it easy to access your belongings.

The History of Motels

Let's take a little trip back in time to learn when and how roadside motels started. The history of motels is quite interesting! 

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The First Roadside Motels

Roadside motels have a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. In the 1920s and 1930s, the rise of the automobile industry and the construction of highways such as Route 66 paved the way for road travel. With the advent of the interstate highway system in the 1950s and 1960s, road trips became even more accessible to the masses. 

As the popularity of road trips grew, so did the need for convenient places to stay along the way. Motels sprung up along major highways, offering weary travelers a place to rest and recharge before continuing their journey.

The word “motel” itself was created by Arthur Heineman to combine the words “motor” and “hotel” after he built the Milestone Mo-Tel in San Luis Obispo, California. This motel had individual cabins with garages, allowing travelers to park right outside their rooms. This was a big change from traditional hotels where you had to park far away and carry your luggage.

Motel Evolution

Over time, motels evolved to offer more amenities and comfort to their guests. Swimming pools, air conditioning, and televisions became common features at motels. Some motels even had themed rooms or unique designs to attract visitors.

These motels were designed to cater to the needs of travelers, offering a comfortable place to spend the night without venturing too far off the main road. They became popular among families, couples, and solo travelers who were looking for an affordable and convenient option.

As the years wore on, roadside motels have faced challenges from the rise of chain hotels and the decline of traditional road trips. Many motels fell into disrepair or were demolished, but a dedicated group of enthusiasts and preservationists recognized their cultural significance and worked to revive and restore these iconic landmarks.

Planning Your Road Trip Stay

When planning your road trip stay, it's essential to find the right motel that fits your and your family's needs. Look for motels that are conveniently located along your route, offer comfortable rooms, and have good reviews from other travelers. Checking online booking platforms can help you compare prices and amenities to make the best choice.

What to Bring to a Motel

Before embarking on your road trip adventure, make sure to pack a few essential items to make your stay at a motel more enjoyable. Don't forget to bring toiletries, comfortable clothes, snacks, and entertainment like books or games for the kids. It's also a good idea to bring a travel first aid kit in case of any emergencies.

How to Find and Choose the Best Roadside Motels

Finding the best roadside motels for your road trip adventure requires a bit of research and planning. With the help of modern technology, it's easier than ever to discover and book these hidden gems. Here are some tips to help you find and choose the best roadside motels:

1. Online search: Start your search by using online travel websites, such as or Expedia, to find roadside motels along your desired route. These websites often have user reviews and ratings that can give you an idea of the quality and experience offered by each motel.

2. Read reviews: Take the time to read reviews from previous guests to get a sense of the motel's cleanliness, customer service, and overall atmosphere. Look for consistent positive reviews and pay attention to any recurring negative comments.

3. Check amenities: Roadside motels vary in terms of the amenities they offer. Decide which amenities are important to you, such as Wi-Fi, swimming pools, or complimentary breakfast, and make sure the motel you choose meets your requirements.

4. Consider location: Look for motels that are conveniently located near attractions or activities you're interested in. If you're planning to visit a specific national park or scenic route, choose a motel that is within a reasonable driving distance.

5. Contact the motel directly: If you have any specific requirements or questions, don't hesitate to reach out to the motel directly. They may be able to accommodate special requests or provide additional information that can help you make your decision.

Once you've narrowed down your options, it's time to book your stay. Keep in mind that roadside motels can fill up quickly during peak travel seasons, so it's advisable to book in advance to secure your preferred dates.

Popular Roadside Motels in Different Regions

Roadside motels can be found in various regions across the United States, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. Here are some popular roadside motels in different regions:

West Coast: The West Coast is home to iconic roadside motels that offer stunning ocean views and access to some of the most scenic coastal routes. Motels such as the Madonna Inn in California or the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Oregon are known for their quirky themes and breathtaking locations.

Southwest: The Southwest is a treasure trove of roadside motels that reflect the region's rich history and vibrant culture. From the brightly colored El Rancho Hotel in New Mexico to the kitschy Wigwam Motel in Arizona, there's no shortage of unique accommodations to choose from.

Midwest: The Midwest is dotted with charming roadside motels that capture the essence of small-town America. The Blue Swallow Motel in New Mexico and the Coral Court Motel in Missouri are just a few examples of the mid-century gems that await travelers in this region.

Southeast: The Southeast offers a mix of roadside motels that cater to different tastes and interests. Whether you're looking for a beachfront getaway or a rural retreat, you'll find motels like the Surfside Beach Resort in South Carolina or the Chateau Marmont in Florida that offer a blend of comfort and charm.

Northeast: The Northeast is home to a variety of roadside motels that provide a cozy and nostalgic escape. From the classic Balsams Grand Resort in New Hampshire to the Lake Placid Lodge in New York, you can experience a touch of old-world elegance while exploring the scenic roads of this region.

Tips for Booking and Staying in Roadside Motels

Booking and staying in roadside motels requires a slightly different approach compared to traditional hotels. Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

1. Plan your route: Before booking a motel, plan your road trip route and determine the approximate distance you'll be traveling each day. This will help you decide where to stay and ensure you don't end up driving too far in a single day.

2. Be flexible with your schedule: Road trips are all about flexibility and adventure. Allow yourself some flexibility in your schedule to take detours or extend your stay if you stumble upon a particularly enchanting location.

3. Pack essentials: While roadside motels offer modern amenities, it's always a good idea to pack some essentials to ensure a comfortable stay. Bring toiletries, a travel-sized first aid kit, and any other personal items you may need.

4. Arrive during daylight: If possible, try to arrive at your motel during daylight hours. This will make it easier to find the motel and familiarize yourself with the surroundings.

5. Follow safety precautions: Like any other accommodation, roadside motels require some basic safety precautions. Lock your doors when inside the room, keep valuables secure, and be cautious of your surroundings, especially if you're arriving late at night.

6. Embrace the experience: Staying in a roadside motel is not just about the convenience; it's about embracing the unique experience and immersing yourself in the charm of a bygone era. Take the time to appreciate the vintage decor, strike up conversations with fellow travelers, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Make the Most of Your Road Trip Journey

Roadside motels are not just a place to stay; they are a part of the great American road trip tradition. With their affordable rates and convenient locations, motels offer families and travelers a comfortable and cozy place to rest during their travels.

So next time you’re planning a road trip, don’t forget to include quirky motels to add your adventure. Of course, remember to always include rental car insurance for peace of mind on the road. 

FAQs: Questions About Road Trip Stays at Motels

Can you stay at a motel for just one night?

If you are on a road trip and looking for a place to rest for the night, motels are a great option! Most motels are designed for short stays, so yes, you can stay at a motel for just one night. It's convenient for travelers who need a comfortable place to sleep and continue their journey the next day.

Why do motels have pools?

Many motels have pools because they offer a fun way for guests to relax and unwind after a long day of traveling. Swimming is a great way to cool off, exercise, and have some fun with your family or friends. It's a nice bonus to enjoy during your stay at a motel!