Motels

Classic images of motels with a vintage vibe – 24/7 Wall St.

As we move into spring and summer after that, people are going to be looking to go places and do things. International travel is still problematic as we’re not done with the pandemic yet, but domestic travel is picking up and what’s more American than a road trip? It’s a great way to see the country and has inspired entire genres of literature and film.

You need two things for a road trip: a car and accommodation, preferably somewhere affordable and not far from the highway. With that in mind, 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of some classic American motels and inns, past and present.

Motels are literally made for road trips — motel is a contraction of motor and hotel, meaning a place designed for motorists. The world premiere took place in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and it’s on our list.

Motels generally have certain characteristics in common: a single building of connecting rooms whose doors open onto a parking lot. They are often privately owned, although chains do exist. Motels peaked in popularity in the 1960s when they faced competition from large hotel chains and interstate highways bypassed small towns.

Some of the old motels and inns on our list have not survived and have been converted to other uses or even demolished.

Fortunately, a few classics still survive and can be visited. To discover other American treasures, here are the 30 most popular national monuments.

Click here to see classic images of motels and inns past and present