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The great American road trip has captured travelers’ imaginations for decades. For your next jaunt, give the bland chain motels a miss and pick one of these unique hotels to rest up while you are on the road.

For West Coast Road Trippers:

The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo CAMadonnaInnThe iconic bright pink sign of the Madonna Inn beckons roadtrippers toward a slice of Americana that befits its Highway 101 location. The bright color scheme extends into this 50-year-old hotel and through many of the 110 individually themed guestrooms. Rooms on offer include the “Caveman” room, “Swiss Chalet,” “Country Gentleman,” and “Love Nest.”  Rates start at $189.


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Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs CA
This renovated motor lodge had a former life as a Westward Ho then Howard Johnston with a Denny’s attached. Nowadays, the site is home to one of the world’s leading boutique hotel brands with two swimming pools and a bar that hosts live music and events almost every night. Rates start at $189.

For Midwest Road Trippers:

Iron Horse Hotel, Milwaukee WIIronHorseWith covered motorcycle parking, an on-site bike wash, storage space for leathers and helmets, and rugged industrial interiors, this motel is aimed at bikers traversing the Midwest. As an added bonus, there is a Harley Davidson museum just across the Menomonee River. Rates at this 100-room hotel start at $170.


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The Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba MO
The oldest continually operated motel along the legendary Route 66, (built in 1935) the Wagon Wheel has undergone extensive renovations in the past few years but retains its iconic neon sign and cozy ambiance. Rates start at just $55 a night.

For East Coast Roadtrippers:

The Roxbury, Roxbury NY

RoxburyIn the Catskills, a three-hour drive north of New York City, The Roxbury offers 28 rooms in six different categories: Studios, Kitchenettes, Studio Themes, Big King Themes, Suites, and The Archaeologist’s Digs (a stand-alone cottage). As you can see from the above photo, design at the Roxbury leans toward the funky: Big King rooms include, for example, a Wizard of Oz-themed room and a coconut cream pie-themed room. Room rates start at $128 and, for $20 more, you can make use of the on-site spa facilities.

The Marston House, Wiscasset ME

On Maine’s mid-coast, an hour’s drive from Portland, the Marston House offers two bedrooms in the converted 19th-century Carriage House behind the owners’ antique shop and home. Rates start at $125 per night, based on double-occupancy and a multiple night stay, and the hotel is open from May through September.

For Southern Roadtrippers:

The Big Texan Inn, Amarillo TXBigTexanBehind a faux Old West façade along I-40, but most often associated with Route 66, the Big Texan Inn offers 54 affordable rooms, including some with “Texas-sized beds” and Jacuzzis. The motel is part of the Big Texan Steak Ranch complex where you can get a 72-ounce steak dinner for free if you eat the whole thing in an hour ($72 if you fail).  Consider it fuel (and saved dollars) for the road. Rates start at $79.

Hotel San Jose, Austin TX
After a day on the road, this converted 1930s motel with its airy rooms, and outdoor pool and courtyard is a breath of fresh air. The hotel’s lounge serves breakfast and a bar menu, and Jo’s coffee shop in the parking lot is a popular local hangout. Rates start at $205.

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