A state-by-state guide to the very best and very coolest Route 66 hotels and motels…
The boom-days of Route 66 brought with it a slew of motels and hotels from Chicago to Los Angeles. Like the numerous filling stations that also dotted the small towns and big cities, most of these motels have long since closed their doors and turned off their neon lights. But not all… There are plenty of stunning, charming, and excellent Route 66 hotels and motels going strong today.
Here are a few of our favorites, broken down by each state going east to west…
Illinois: Palmer House (Chicago, IL)
Quite possibly the most incredible wedding gift of all time, the Palmer House in Chicago is steps away from the starting point of Route 66 and in an excellent location for exploring Chicago or starting your Route 66 adventure. The first thing any guest will notice is the unbelievable main foyer. (More on the history and beautiful pictures of the Palmer House)
Missouri: Wagon Wheel, Boots Court, Munger Moss
Missouri has plenty of wonderful, charming vintage Route 66 motels for you to enjoy, but here are 3 of our favorites:
Wagon Wheel (Cuba, MO)
Famous for its classic neon signs, the Wagon Wheel Motel on the edge of Cuba, MO is also the longest continuously operated motel on Route 66. The Wagon Wheel’s current owners have lovingly restored the little cottage-style buildings and have made it again a showpiece on Route 66. Even if you don’t stay the night, make a stop and browse their wonderful little gift shop.
While in Cuba, we also beg you to stop by one of our favorite little restaurants, The FourWay. This restaurant is tucked into a vintage filling station and is phenomenal. (More on The FourWay here)
Munger Moss (Lebanon, MO)
Another neon sign treat (a theme you’ll see pretty consistently in this article), the Munger Moss sign itself is a must-photo stop on Route 66. If you’re feeling a little weary, the fine, friendly folks at the Munger Moss will give you a comfortable, affordable place to rest your head.
Boots Court (Carthage, MO)
Built in 1939, the art deco design of the Boots Court and its clean, classic neon make it one of those places that just embodies Route 66. We even had the pleasure of staying in the “Clark Gable Suite,” a room literally used by Clark Gable himself! The rooms are comfortable and period-perfect… Just a little radio in each room. If you can’t live without TV, they offer free wifi for you to stream your Netflix as you drift off to bed.
Ok, Route 66 barely sneaks through Kansas, and we’re just not aware of anywhere we want to recommend. Let us know if we’re missing somewhere great.
Oklahoma: The Campbell Hotel (Tulsa, OK)
Dating back to 1927, The Campbell Hotel (originally the Casa Loma Hotel) soon became an opulent option for Route 66 travelers but fell into terrible disrepair over the years. Thankfully, a group of investors saw potential and renovated & reopened the hotel with 26 uniquely decorated theme rooms. Today, it’s again a showpiece of Tulsa and Route 66.
Texas: Big Texan Steak Ranch Motel
If you’re traveling through Amarillo, a stop at the Big Texan Steak Ranch is a must. While technically off I-40, we all pretty much consider the Big Texan to be a part of Route 66, and their on-site motel offers you a western-style place to lay your head after attempting their 72 oz. steak challenge. When in Texas…
New Mexico: motels galore in Tucumcari!
No Route 66 town has a collection of lovingly-kept classic motels like Tucumcari, NM. We’ve stayed at several of them, know the owners, and can’t say enough great things. Any of these will make you a happy traveler…
Consistently amazing us with their thoughtful renovations, the Roadrunner Lodge has quickly become a favorite for travelers from all over the world. During the warmer months, expect to enjoy a drink around a bonfire with the owners and fellow Route 66 travelers. In our humble opinion, the Roadrunner and Motel Safari both have some of the coolest rooms on all of Route 66.
Beautifully renovated by its last owners, Motel Safari’s new owners seem to be carrying on the tradition of being noble innkeepers. Vintage neon. Vintage advertisements. Modern and comfortable rooms. We’ve loved each and every night we spent at the Motel Safari and you will too.
Blue Swallow Motel
Anchored by one of the most photographed signs on all of Route 66, the Blue Swallow was the epitome of luxury when built thanks to its private garages. Today, it’s the epitome of Route 66 nostalgia and one of the most sought-after places to stay on the Mother Road.
Historic Route 66 Motel
The Historic Route 66 Motel is a great place to relax and recharge. The motel features a classic mid-century modern design with a little flair like the airplane parked out front. (Sadly, the little coffeeshop pictured here is no more, but hopefully it’ll make a comeback someday!)
Side note… Not in Tucumcari but worth mentioning is also El Rancho in Gallup, NM. This classic motel hosted countless movie stars as they filmed westerns in the area. Be sure to check it out as well.
Arizona: Wigwam Motel, La Posada, Monte Vista
Arizona, like New Mexico and Missouri, also features several excellent Route 66 motels. We’ll focus on just a couple…
Wigwam Motel (Holbrook, AZ)
Cars movie fans… This is one of 2 opportunities to stay in a real-life “Cozy Cone.” The Wigwam Motel was one of the original seven teepee-shaped motels once built across America. Today, only 3 remain (two on Route 66, one in Kentucky). The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook features yet another classic neon sign and plenty of old cars parked throughout the property for the perfect nostalgic photo.
La Posada (Winslow, AZ)
After getting your picture “standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,” head over to the remarkably beautiful La Posada. Another story of a grand hotel falling into disrepair, it is again the gorgeous retreat it was intended to be.
Hotel Monte Vista (Flagstaff, AZ)
Yet another quintessential Route 66 neon sign points you to the Hotel Monte Vista. This historic hotel boasts an excellent location for hopping around this fun little college town plus it features its own happening nightlife as well. History and even a few ghost stories abound at the Hotel Monte Vista.
California: Wigwam Motel (San Bernardino, CA)
Lush palm trees outline perfectly restored teepees as they surround a swimming pool at your second chance to stay at a Wigwam Motel on Route 66. The friendly owners will soon feel like family as you relax poolside at this California retreat with a perfect blend of nostalgia and modern amenities.
Of course, our little list is not comprehensive, but if you’re looking for Route 66 motels and hotels, this is a darn good start. See you on the Mother Road!