6 Lesser-Known Route 66 Retro Motels For Your Next Adventure

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Feeling some old-school Americana vibes?

Let's take a budget-friendly retro road trip down Route 66 and stay at funky "Mad Men"-era motels like the wigwam-shaped concrete rooms of Arizona's Wigwam Motel or New Mexico's Blue Swallow with its stone garage cottages and classic neon signage.

So let's cruise back to the 1950s and 1960s Motel Golden Age on the iconic Mother Road.

1. Make a teepee reservation at Arizona's Wigwam Motel

Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona (17-Aug-2006) One of the last of the 1950's historic Wigwam hotels.

Arizona's Wigwam Motel in Holbrook is a must-see stop along Route 66. It's a unique spot with 15 teepee-shaped guest rooms with modern amenities.

Fun fact: it inspired the Cozy Cone Motel in the "Cars" movie. This place is a cool throwback to the good ol' days of American travel. In fact, this one Redditor was so moved by the nostalgia and connection with fellow Route 66 and history enthusiasts, that she vowed to return:

We have to come back here to experience the other travelers and exchange stories about each others adventures and experiences. To connect with one another because we have ‘this’ in common. We’re all from different areas and walks of life, but we’re on this beautiful route together experiencing something in our soul. In a way it almost feels magical.

Speaking of the past, you should learn more about the history behind Route 66 here: The Tragic History Behind Route 66’s Forgotten Ghost Towns

2. Do the retro motel thing at New Mexico's Blue Swallow

Historic Blue Swallow Motel at sunset This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in New Mexico as a part of historic U.S. Route 66.

The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, is a classic stop on Route 66. Built in 1939, this motel stands out with its blue walls and cool neon sign. What makes it special is that it has garages right by the rooms, a big deal back in the day.

This visitor from December 2023 had this to say about the whole experience:

What a great place. Like stepping back in time but everything updated. I would recommend room 14 if you want a quiet room with two beds. Everything about this place is excellent and as a bonus, the owner Rob makes a great cup of coffee.

Owners live in an apartment behind the office so they are very hands on. Highly recommend the Blue Swallow even if you have to gout of your way to get there. Classic Route 66 motor court.

3. Reminisce the Classic (Now Gone) Missouri's Coral Court Motel

The Coral Court Motel in Missouri was once a renowned mid-century modern motor court in St. Louis County, Missouri. Built in 1941, this iconic motel boasted a distinctive coral-pink color scheme and unique architecture, making it stand out on the historic Route 66.

Unfortunately, it was demolished in 1995, but it still holds a special place in the hearts of Route 66 enthusiasts and architecture aficionados. This Redditor quipped:

Cool building! It kind of reminds me of a building in Berwyn, IL I used to walk past as a kid all the time. It was abandoned as well I think, and it was always really mysterious to me. I'd love to see a picture of it but it's been torn down.

While the Coral Court Motel is no longer in existence, visitors can explore the rich history of Route 66 in Missouri by visiting nearby attractions and museums that pay homage to this legendary highway.

4. Get back to Route 66's roots at Munger Moss Motel

The Munger Moss Motel along the historic route 66 in the city of Lebanon, in the State of Illinois, USA.

The Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri, has been around since 1946 and is a cool stop on Route 66. It's got a neat neon sign, vintage vibes, and has even hosted celebs like Elvis.

When you stay here, you'll find comfy rooms with Wi-Fi and cable TV. It's one of Route 66's oldest motels and a must-see for a slice of that historic Route 66 vibe. One traveler raved about the almost-perfect experience:

Great vintage motel! Must stay on the mother road! Loved the decor and vintage fixtures. If it weren’t for the wifi and flat screen TV, you would think you were transported to 1965. We were worried about the vintage-feeling mattress, but we’re were pleasantly surprised and slept great. Only thing I wish is that the toilet were off the wall a little more, as being a rather rotund individual, it was a tight fight!

5. Retro rediscovered at New Mexico's El Vado Motel

Historic 1937 El Vado Motel with its vintage sign and southwest style white units seen during an overcast winter day

El Vado Motel, found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a cool spot with a mix of old-school vibes and modern comforts. Built back in 1937 on Route 66, it's been fixed up to keep its vintage look while adding in some new conveniences.

The rooms have a cool retro style with a Southwestern twist. You'll also find a pool, picnic area, and taproom in the courtyard, perfect for chilling out. El Vado is one of the few Route 66 motels that got a full makeover. One reviewer was happy about the sanitation, food, and family-friendly amenities:

Great beds. Very clean. Comfortable room. Unique atmosphere. We are a family of 4 (2 teenage boys). It was cold and rainy so we didn’t get to enjoy the outdoor setup, but the taproom was cozy and we also had the event center lobby to hang out in if we needed to let a kid sleep in :). Also great Latin food right there in the complex. Highly recommend!

It's close to Old Town Plaza and other local sights, so it's a solid choice for history buffs or anyone looking for a unique stay in New Mexico.

6. Motel newbie Route 66 Motel still has cred

The Route 66 Motel is another classic spot along the historic Route 66. Built in the '50s, it's got that iconic neon sign you've probably seen in pictures. Like Wigwam Motel, this inspired the movie "Cars." Plus, it's in a handy spot near cool places like the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Park.

A guest from August 2023 gave a 5-star rating:

What a wonderful room. Smells amazing. Very modern inside. Super comfortable very clean and modern. Air con the best, was lovely. The bed is really comfortable. The decor outside is beautiful. Highly recommended.

If you're looking for more must-visit spots along Route 66, check out our list: 7 Haunted Spots Along Route 66 That Will Terrify You

Hit the Road Back in Time with Final Tips for a Retro Blast

Before we conclude this thrilling journey through the iconic Route 66, here are some quick tips to make your adventure even more memorable:

  1. Don't forget your camera to immortalize the moments you'll cherish forever.
  2. Engage with the people you meet; their stories add depth to your trip.
  3. Allow room for unexpected discoveries and detours.
  4. Learn about the culture and history of each stop to truly appreciate the journey.
  5. Route 66 is about the adventure, not just the destination. Savor the journey itself.

With your tank full and your heart open to adventure, your Route 66 road trip is poised to be an unforgettable ride back in time.

Start your engines, hit the road, and let the magic of this iconic highway transport you to a bygone era. Safe travels and happy memories await!

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