Imagine cruising down the Mother Road, Route 66, a ribbon of asphalt that weaves through the heart of America. This legendary route is a journey through time, lined with historic motels that whisper tales of a bygone era.
The evolution of lodging before Route 66
Before the birth of Route 66, lodging was a rudimentary affair. The advent of this historic route, however, revolutionized road travel. It brought to life an array of motels, each a unique blend of nostalgia and American history.
As automobile travel burgeoned in the early 20th century, these motels emerged as sanctuaries for travelers, reflecting America’s growing fascination with road trips. Post-World War II, they flourished, mirroring the nation’s road trip romance, often adopting unique themes and styles, becoming attractions themselves. They’re landmarks of cultural significance, echoing the evolution of the great American road trip. For a deeper dive into this fascinating history, take a look at our detailed Route 66 map.
Top 10 historic motels on Route 66
Check out some of the most iconic motels — in no particular order — along Route 66; you will truly be amazed by what you discover:
1. Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona
Immerse yourself in a whimsical world at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona. This unique lodging experience, featuring teepee-shaped rooms, is a delightful nod to a time gone by. As a crucial part of the Wigwam Village, this motel is a landmark on historic Route 66. Each room, shaped like a traditional Native American wigwam, offers a blend of charm and modern comfort, making your stay memorable and comfortable. The Wigwam Motel is a piece of Americana, a must-visit for any Route 66 traveler seeking a journey through time.
2. Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba, Missouri
Step into the Wagon Wheel Motel, the oldest continuously operated motel on Route 66. Located in Cuba, Missouri, this motel offers a cozy retreat, enveloped in the echoes of the past. Its charming structure and rustic ambiance are a testament to the enduring legacy of the Mother Road. The Wagon Wheel Motel is a living museum, where each room tells a story of the road’s golden days. The motel’s proximity to local attractions and its commitment to preserving its historic character make it a cherished stop for Route 66 enthusiasts.
3. Rail Haven Motel, Springfield, Missouri
The Rail Haven Motel in Springfield, Missouri, is where the legendary Elvis Presley once stayed, adding to its allure. This historic Route 66 motel seamlessly blends its rich history with modern amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay. Its vintage décor, coupled with contemporary comforts, creates an atmosphere that’s both nostalgic and inviting. The Rail Haven Motel is also a landmark in itself, a piece of Route 66 history that continues to charm travelers from around the world.
4. Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico
The Blue Swallow Motel’s neon sign, shining brightly in Tucumcari, New Mexico, is a beacon of the timeless charm that awaits within. This motel — a jewel on Route 66 — offers a vintage experience like no other. Its meticulously preserved rooms, adorned with period furnishings, transport you to the heyday of American road travel. The Blue Swallow Motel is a superb destination, offering a glimpse into the vibrant history of the Mother Road.
5. Motel Safari, Tucumcari, New Mexico
At Motel Safari in Tucumcari, New Mexico, experience the perfect marriage of original-era charm and contemporary amenities. This Route 66 motel is a testament to the enduring allure of the Mother Road. Its rooms, a blend of retro style and modern luxury, offer a unique stay. The Motel Safari stands as a symbol of Route 66’s timeless appeal, making it an essential stop for travelers seeking both comfort and a taste of history.
6. Roadrunner Lodge, Tucumcari, New Mexico
The Roadrunner Lodge offers a delightful blend of retro charm and modern comfort. This lovingly restored motel captures the essence of the Route 66 era with its mid-century furnishings and unique features like the Magic Fingers bed massager. Ideal for those seeking an authentic Route 66 experience, the Roadrunner Lodge provides various room options, including the Snazzy 60’s room, complete with period-appropriate decor. With excellent service, impeccably clean rooms, and pet-friendly options, the Roadrunner Lodge is a standout choice for travelers exploring the historic Route 66 in New Mexico.
7. El Trovatore Motel, Kingman, Arizona
The El Trovatore Motel in Kingman, Arizona, is a star-studded escape on historic Route 66. With its celebrity-themed rooms, each stay is like stepping into a different story. The motel’s unique exterior, adorned with vibrant murals and neon signs, captures the spirit of the Mother Road. Its location in Kingman makes it an ideal base for exploring nearby attractions, including the Grand Canyon and the bright lights of Las Vegas.
8. Historic Route 66 Motel, Seligman, Arizona
Just a stone’s throw from local eateries in Seligman, Arizona, the Route 66 Motel offers a retro vibe that harkens back to the golden days of road travel. Its classic décor and modern amenities ensure a comfortable and nostalgic stay. This historic motel is a favorite among Route 66 travelers for its friendly service and ideal location, making it a perfect stop on your journey.
9. Palomino Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico
The Palomino Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, is a delightful stop on your Route 66 road trip. Its fun feel and tasteful decorations capture the essence of the motel experience. Each room is a blend of comfort and style, reflecting the vibrant history of the Mother Road. The Palomino Motel is an integral part of the Route 66 story, inviting guests to be a part of its ongoing legacy.
10. Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, Arizona
A short drive from the Grand Canyon, the Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, Arizona, is an emblem of American history. This hotel’s rich past and proximity to natural wonders make it an irresistible stop for Route 66 travelers. Its rooms, each with a story to tell, offer a glimpse into the lives of the many famous guests who have stayed there. The Hotel Monte Vista is an iconic landmark, a piece of Route 66 history waiting to be explored.
For more on what to see along this historic route, check out what sights you’ll see on a Route 66 Tour.
Q: How do I book a stay at a Route 66 motel?
A: Most Route 66 motels offer online booking through their websites or travel platforms. For a more personalized experience, try calling the motel directly.
Q: Can I bring my pet to Route 66 motels?
A: Many motels on Route 66 are pet-friendly. It’s best to check their specific pet policies beforehand, as some may have size or breed restrictions.
Q: Are Route 66 motels suitable for families?
A: Yes, many Route 66 motels cater to families, offering spacious rooms and sometimes even family-themed activities.
Q: Is there parking available at these motels?
A: Most historic motels on Route 66 provide on-site parking, often free of charge for guests.
Q: How can I find motels near major Route 66 attractions?
A: Research is key. Check Route 66 associations or travel guides for motels near attractions like the Grand Canyon or Santa Monica Pier.
For more travel tips, discover which car is best suited for your Route 66 adventure.
Journey through the legacy of Route 66 motels
Embark on a captivating journey through the legacy of Route 66, where each motel is a chapter in America’s vibrant history. These historic motels, from the neon-lit Blue Swallow to the unique Wigwam Village, are more than mere stopovers; they’re storied havens that have evolved with the Mother Road itself.
Today, these motels stand as charming portals to the past, offering a blend of nostalgia and comfort. As you explore this fantastic driving route, these motels invite you to step back in time and relive the golden age of American road trips.
Discover Route 66 Tours
Ready to explore the historic places and motels dotting this iconic highway? Embark on this timeless journey and immerse yourself in the enduring allure of these American landmarks. Get in touch and check out our tours for an unforgettable Route 66 experience.