Black Canyon of the Gunnison one of the least visited National Parks. With just over…
If you’re anything like me, Schitt’s Creek helped make the last year-and-a-half manageable.
Since you can’t currently stay at the Rosebud Hotel (though it was on the market earlier this year—so maybe that will change!), you can have your own Schitt’s Creek-inspired travel experience at one of these updated but certainly nostalgic roadside motels.
Route 19 Inn – Maggie Valley, NC
It’s said the Great Smoky Mountains are within a day’s drive of one-third of all Americans. If you’re looking to double-down on a classic road trip, drop your bags at the Route 19 Inn. Here, you’ll find a perfect balance of nostalgia and modern conveniences.
Nestled amidst the lush forests and mountains, you’ll find a variety of accommodations, from quaint queen rooms to larger family suites and cabins. A special shout-out to the bathrooms featuring original midcentury tile (I’m talking Mamie Eisenhower pink!). The 30-room motel also includes things like an onsite pool, kids’ playground, charcoal grills, fire pit, shuffleboard and two creeks for wading and fishing. There’s a lot of fun photo ops onsite as well, including a 1951 Kaiser sedan, vintage motorcycle and more. Plus, you’re just a short drive to America’s most popular national park, the Biltmore Estate, Tail of the Dragon (an epically beautiful 11-mile drive) and so much more.
Pioneertown Motel – Pioneertown, CA
There’s something about the American West that embodies the sense of adventure. And in and around Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll find a vibe that’s both romantic and bohemian, spiritual and dreamy. Soak up that untamed desert beauty at the Pioneertown Motel, located in the otherworldly Morongo Basin. Originally built in 1946 as lodging for movie stars filming westerns (it’s said Gene Autry played poker until sunrise in Room #9), the Pioneertown Motel feels like stepping back in time. The 19 guest rooms—all named after movie stars– feature king and queen beds, giant cacti, air conditioning, and free wifi. The Canteen, a common room for guests, is stocked with books, card games and Canyon Coffee.
Nearby, you’ll find Pioneertown’s two restaurants, the Red Dog and Pappy & Harriet’s (which doubles as a live music venue). You’re nearby Joshua Tree, as well as Yucca City, a small high desert town with a handful of boutiques, vintage stores, art and yoga studios. Day trips could include the Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, and Palm Springs, but I wouldn’t blame you if you never left the high desert.
Shalimar Cottages & Motel – Sanibel, Florida
I love that Old Florida charm, and you will find it at Shalimar Cottages & Morel in Sanibel. Settled directly on the soft, white sand shore of the Gulf of Mexico, the quaint resort features 33 units, offering fun and relaxation in a peaceful, pristine atmosphere. It’s a great place for families (the two-bed, two-bath apartments include a kitchen), or a romantic getaway in a beachside studio. You’ll find great sunset views from your balcony, which is a must while in Sanibel!
Nearby, there’s bike rentals, tennis and golf; casual island dining at the Island Cow; the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve; and lots of opportunities to get on the water—whether that’s on a fishing excursion or day cruise. And if you’re just looking to loaf in the Florida sun, the property’s lush pool provides the perfect place to relax.
The Thunderbird Inn – Savannah, GA
Sure, the retro neon sign is cool, but what really intrigues me is the food. Hot popcorn upon arrival? Moon-pies and RC Cola? Complimentary donuts and coffee every morning? Excuse me while I check on flights to Savannah.
Originally built in 1964, The Thunderbird Inn in downtown Savannah features 42 retro decorated rooms, lovingly updated in 2016. With its roots as a motor lodge and roadside motel (fun fact: it’s now on the National Register of Historic Places), the inn has maintained its historical integrity while updating to keep with the times. And the location is perfection—just steps away from SCAD Museum of Art, Ellis Square, restaurants and more.
Amigo Motor Lounge – Salida, CO
Known as the “Heart of the Rockies,” Salida, Colorado might be the perfect mountain destination. It’s flanked by majestic 14,000-foot snow-capped peaks, but at just over 7,000 feet in elevation, you’ll find a surprisingly mild climate. It’s why the region earned the name “the Banana Belt.”
When you visit, drop your bags at the Amigo Motor Lodge. Though in operation for 60-plus years, the place underwent an extensive renovation in 2016. Today, it’s fresh, stylish and minimalistic in that very Instagrammable way (rooms even feature Tuft and Needle mattresses… so very millennial).
You’ll find a hot tub, fireplace and sunroom onsite, and there’s four natural hot springs just a short drive from the property. Other nearby activities: hiking, biking, SUP excursions, rafting, dog sledding, skiing and more. When you’re ready to head back to civilization, you can easily bike to downtown Salida from the motel.
The Drifter Hotel – New Orleans
From the painstakingly hip coffee bar, to the midcentury modern pool and delicious pop-up food truck experiences—I honestly might be too old to stay at The Drifter. But that doesn’t mean it’s not totally charming. With its retro motel sign out front, and simple modern aesthetic, the 1956-era motel is a fun surprise along New Orleans’ Tulane Avenue.
Renovated in 2017, every detail—local artwork, AESOP brand toiletries, custom millwork and tiles, frozen drinks poured poolside—make The Drifter a place to see and be seen. In fact, they warn guests that the property can get pretty noisy, especially on weekends, when music plays until at least midnight. There’s definitely a traveler who loves that kind of thing (like me… 25 years ago). If you’re young and feel nights are for parties and mornings are for sleeping in, I guarantee you’ll love staying here.
Stonewall Motor Lodge – Stonewall, TX
In the mid-60s, Tillie and Kermitt Hahne built this motor lodge in Stonewall, a town of just 150 people, due to rise in status of one of their friends and neighbors: Lynden B. Johnson. After JFK’s assassination, LBJ was sworn into office, and suddenly this sleepy hill country town filled with reporters, celebrities and politicians eager to be near the president at his Texas White House. The motor lodge boasted twelve rooms — including one reserved for the Associated Press complete with a darkroom. Guests included Walter Cronkite, Jimmy Carter, Senator Ted Kennedy, Buzz Aldrin — who all experienced the legendary Texas hospitality of both the Hahnes and the Johnsons.
50 years later, Texas Hill Country (link) is booming once again. Wineries, distilleries, and breweries dot the landscape between Johnson City and historic Fredericksburg. Those same 12 rooms have been updated with all sorts of modern amenities, including wifi and Netflix. Additionally, you’ll find four small cabins, and five sites for parking your RV. The rooftop deck is the perfect place to crack open a bottle of wine at the end of a long day exploring the region, which features lots of great restaurants, breweries, distilleries, farms, shopping and more.
Have you stayed at a vintage motel? Where? Share in the comments!
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