Be a gadabout on a classic road trip, wheeling across backroads. From billboards to funky souvenir shops to wrong turns that lead to serendipitous discoveries (think bygone diners or bizarre museums), a driving vacation presents multitudinous adventures and highlights. But some hotel lovers would claim that the turnpike is less marked by miles than by the motor inns that provide shelter along the way.
Once revered stopovers for a good night’s sleep, the characteristic motels of the 1950s and 1960s nearly vanished as modern developments took precedent. But, retro fans rejoice — what’s old is new again. Motor lodges are back in style. Restored and re-envisioned, they’ve begun to pop up along some of our nation’s well-worn roads. Ideal for honeymooners with a penchant for the past and a road warrior’s spirit of adventure, these highway-side motor lodges are intimate, affordable, flirty and fun. Refurbished with style that draws the best from both the past and the present, re-kitted motels evoke a playful, creative vibe, with all the personal attention of bygone times. Meeting the pandemic era’s social distancing demands, most boast open-air corridors, have contactless check-in, can be easily accessed from your route, and lie near the vastness of nature.
Here are a few for your post-wedding wish list.
After Jody Corey stayed at a subpar motel in Palisade (an artsy wine town near Grand Junction) for a girlfriends’ tippling getaway, she began dreaming about how to redo the joint. It wasn’t long before she and her husband, Jeff Snook, moved to town to take over the 1950s motel, sworn to deliver it stylishly into the future. Clever, creative and chic, their re-imagining includes luxurious beds, sleek furnishings, organic bath amenities, and benefits such as secure bike storage and breakfast (fresh ground coffee, Greek yogurt and locally made granola) delivered to your door in the morning. Palisades houses more than 25 tasting rooms and wineries, but also harbors some of Colorado’s bucket list bike trails, gastronomic eateries (to match its wine) and a handful of galleries.
Los Alamos, California
You may know the Santa Ynez Valley from the movie Sideways, which paid homage to pinot noir, a variety crafted at most of the region’s more than 70 wineries. Here, pine tree and gnarled oaks line undulating roads, lavender fields waft their scent and fruit orchards, vineyards and olive groves prosper. A contrast to Los Angeles’ buzz two hours away, Santa Barbara’s wine country exudes bucolic bliss. Base in heyday style at the revamped Skyway inn, located just off bucket list Highway 1. A haven of luxury indoor amenities, the hilltop motel vaunts a ‘50s-era pool and the original MOTEL sign for old school ambiance. Partake of Skyview’s on-site vineyard and farm-to-fork restaurant after a spin on its complimentary bikes.
They call the area the Grand Strand, a 60-mile length of inviting beaches on South Carolina’s Atlantic Coast. Its crowning glory, Myrtle Beach, proposes old-fashioned fun with its waterfront boardwalks, souvenir stands, arcades and restaurants. An amusement park draws ferris wheel aficionados with one of the worlds’ tallest. Two state parks lie nearby, and water sport options abound. Fitting into that mood of nostalgia, Waikiki Village embodies the halcyon beach life spirit of yore. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this circa-1963 motel hints of Tiki cocktails, Elvis with ukuleles and tropical romance. Choose the one bedroom king suite for its peacock feather wallpaper and private balcony with ocean panoramas.