Be a gadabout on a classic road trip and drive on back roads. From billboards to funky souvenir shops to wrong turns leading to random discoveries (think past guests or bizarre museums), driving a car offers a variety of adventures and highlights. However, some hotel lovers would argue 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 signature motels of the 1950s and 1960s almost disappeared as modern developments took precedence. But retro fans are happy – what’s old is new again. Motor lodges are back in fashion. Restored and refurbished, they are popping up on some of our nation’s worn streets. Ideal for honeymooners with a penchant for the past and the adventurous spirit of a street fighter. These freeway-side motorhouses are intimate, affordable, flirtatious, and fun. The remodeled motel has been remodeled in a style that draws the best of the past and present. It conveys a playful, creative atmosphere with the personal attention of yesteryear. Most meet the pandemic’s social distancing requirements, have open-air corridors, have contactless check-in, are easy to get to from your route, and are close to the great outdoors.
Here are a few for your post-wedding wish list.
Spoke and vine
After Jody Corey stayed at a subpar motel in Palisade (an artsy wine town near Grand Junction) for a girlfriends getaway, she began to dream about how to renew the joint. It wasn’t long before she and her husband Jeff Snook moved into town to take over the 1950s motel and vowed to bring it into the future in style. Clever, creative and chic. Their reinterpretation includes luxury beds, sleek furniture, organic toiletries, and benefits like a secure bike storage facility and breakfast (freshly ground coffee, Greek yogurt, and locally sourced cereal) delivered to your door in the morning. Palisades is home to more than 25 tasting rooms and wineries, but is also home to some of Colorado’s bucket list bike trails, eateries (to match its wine), and a handful of galleries.
Los Alamos, California
You may know the Santa Ynez Valley from the Sideways movie, which pays homage to Pinot Noir, a variety made in most of the region’s 70+ wineries. Here pines and gnarled oaks line the hilly roads, lavender fields smell and orchards, vineyards and olive groves flourish. The Santa Barbara wine country contrasts with the excitement of Los Angeles two hours away and exudes bucolic bliss. The redesigned Skyway Inn is in the heyday style and is right on the Highway 1 bucket list. The hilltop motel is an oasis of luxurious interiors and features a 1950s pool and the original MOTEL sign for the ambience of the old school. Take part in the Skyview winery and farm-to-fork restaurant after trying the free bikes.
Waikiki Village, a retro motel
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
They call the area Grand Strand, a 60 mile stretch of inviting beaches on South Carolina’s Atlantic coast. To top it off, Myrtle Beach offers old-fashioned fun with waterfront boardwalks, souvenir stalls, arcades, and restaurants. An amusement park attracts Ferris wheel lovers with one of the largest in the world. Two state parks are nearby and there are plenty of water sports. Waikiki Village fits this mood of nostalgia and embodies the spirit of the beach of yore. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 1963 motel features tiki cocktails, elvis with ukuleles, and tropical romance. Choose the King Suite with one bedroom for the peacock feather wallpaper and the private balcony with ocean panorama.