The 7 Best Motels on Route 66

One of the most renowned roadways in the world ignites an element of sentimentality whenever mentioned. Route 66, that 2,448-mile trip through middle America, fell out of favor with the transportation department as they introduced interstate highways. Faster access from coast to coast on these speedy “freeways” became the popular way to travel.

This relegated the meandering roads of the Route to their forgotten status. But nostalgia forced a comeback for the storied Mother Road, as travelers look for a taste of the past.

Today, curious drivers find themselves eating at old Route restaurants that still serve up comfort foods from days gone by and documenting unusual attractions that reside along this byway. There’s much of Route 66 that remains, including many retro motels that have embraced this resurgence of interest.

We have listed just a few, giving the “Main Street of America” fans some ideas for lodging on their quest to get their kicks on Route 66.

Where Does Route 66 Begin and End?

Depending on where you’d like to begin this trek, Illinois or California could be the starting location. But since the U.S. opened up with pioneers traveling from the east to new, unexplored lands in the west, we will consider Chicago as the starting point for Route 66.

A sign documents this hallowed spot at 78 E. Adams Street, just a few blocks from the lake. Of course, if you choose to drive the route from California to Illinois, a sign stating you’ve reached the end of Route 66 is just a block south of the “Begin” sign.

The Route continues southwest through Illinois, Missouri, a corner of Kansas, and Oklahoma, taking a more westerly route. Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona are all traversed until the Mother Road hits California, ending when it can go no farther by car, at the Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean. There, you will find a “Begin” and, conversely, an “End” sign for the famed Route 66 excursion.

The Hype Behind Route 66

The Route was first plotted in 1926 when the Bureau of Public Roads introduced a federal highway system of existing roads to create direct access across the country. Almost immediately, the communities along Highway 66 saw the benefit of marketing this connection between Chicago, St. Louis, and Los Angeles.

They created the U.S. 66 Highway Association. Its advertising efforts brought new income from travelers to rural communities along the path.

With that new traffic came motels, restaurants, and attractions, made to entice travelers to spend money while seeing parts of the country they didn’t know. At the height of its popularity, Route 66 had a network of places these drivers sought out. That included places they could eat, rest, recreate, gas up and have their auto serviced.

But as the interstate highway system grew, many bypassed small towns, and revenue for these locations dropped markedly. The businesses that had grown up servicing Route 66 travelers fell by the wayside, and the Mother Road was eventually decommissioned.

Today, a renewed interest in the Route has travelers following the same old paths, looking for retro buildings and quaint attractions from the road’s heyday while searching for some sense of nostalgia.

These are the most overrated road trip destinations 🚗

The 7 Best Motels on Route 66

Although some locations along the Route have been abandoned and left for time to take their toll, many have embraced the new curiosity found in today’s travelers. In that group are several hotels from Route 66’s original days of popularity.

For a truly memorable trip down The Main Street of America, you may want to stay at any or all of these selections:

1. Wagon Wheel Motel

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Address: 901 E Washington Blvd, Cuba, MO 65453

About the Motel: The Wagon Wheel boasts that it’s the only continuously operating motel on the Route, and it’s easy to see why. Everything’s updated, but the buildings still look like they did back in the 1940s (although refreshed). Prices range from $72 to $138 per night for a single bed to a suite.

Check out the famous Wagon Wheel Motel and the world’s largest rocking chair.

What You’ll Love: First of all, the original neon sign is terrific! Plus, each stone building retains its original Ozark rock, wood flooring, plus doors and windows.

2. The Roadrunner Lodge Motel

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Address: 1023 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

About the Motel: For a retro 1960s vibe, Roadrunner Lodge is a perfect choice. Built by merging two motels into one, the owners restored this property to its former glory. Prices run from $99 to $109 per night, and dogs are allowed for an additional $25.

What You’ll Love: Along with its restoration, the Roadrunner utilizes some equipment from the 1960s, albeit new versions. Also, its location is great, as Tucumcari is one of the best places along Route 66 to see many of the original neon signs and older motels still open for business.

3. The Campbell Hotel

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Address: 2636 E 11th St, Tulsa, OK 74104

About the Motel: Elegance and luxury just ooze from this restored hotel in downtown Tulsa. Built in 1927, it was once the Casa Loma Hotel.

Today’s renovated lodge has refined rooms, a spa on-site, and many amenities that travelers wouldn’t have found on their initial trip down Route 66. Nightly rates run from $139 to $189.

What You’ll Love:  Simply gorgeous Spanish Colonial decor and understated service, with an envied location in the middle of Tulsa.

4. Historic Route 66 Motel

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Address: 22750 AZ-66 Scenic, Seligman, AZ 86337

About the Motel: Situated in the town that inspired Radiator Springs in Pixar’s “Cars” movies, Seligman sports Route 66 kitsch. Each room in this motel boasts Mother Road memorabilia. The rooms are basic with all the necessities, and nightly prices start at $91.

What You’ll Love: The motel is about half a mile from downtown Seligman, where the main drag is a testament to Route 66 and its impact on this high desert town.

5. Wigwam Motel

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Address: 811 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ 86025

About the Motel: It’s one of two original Wigwam Motels still in operation, and it’s quite photogenic. Each concrete teepee (they seem to have mixed up their Native American tribes and lodging when naming the motel) has a collectible car parked out front, completing the picture of a Route 66 motel during its most popular time frame. Rooms are $86 per night.

Learn about the history of the Wigwam Motels.

What You’ll Love: There is absolutely everything to love about the Wigwam Motel! From its antique cars to the period furniture and quirky motto “Have You Slept in a Wigwam Lately?” this unique Route 66 gem lives up to all the hype!

6. The Motel Safari

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Address: 722 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

About the Motel: Another offering in Tucumcari, where neon signs, old motels, and even trading posts are all about the Route. Built in 1959 in the “Doo Wop” tradition, Motel Safari fell into disrepair after the interstate bypassed the town and Route 66 was decommissioned. But it has since been renovated, lovingly restored in the mid-century modern style. Rooms rent for $85 to $95 per night.

What You’ll Love: The motel is centrally located in Tucumcari, close to so many leftovers from the Route that you will need to stay an extra night to see them all.

7. The Big Texan Motel

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Address: 7701 Interstate 40 Access Rd, Amarillo, TX 79118

About the Motel: Although it wasn’t part of Route 66 during the highway’s heyday, The Big Texan has made a name for itself by becoming part of The Route’s folklore. The owners built it to look like an old Western town, and it’s located next to and associated with the Big Texan Steakhouse. The rooms are big, very clean, and priced at $80 per night.

What You’ll Love: The Old West feel to the rooms and the whole complex is fun, and although it’s kind of kitschy, the restaurant is extremely good (just don’t try to eat that 72 oz. steak!).

Enjoy a Stay on Route 66

Traveling today’s Route 66 is almost as much fun as it was 70 years ago. Although some of the original sites, attractions, and buildings are gone, there are hundreds of eye-catching things to enjoy on this truly American roadway.

Plan a trip down The Mother Road soon, and stay at an authentic motel to comprehend a time when travel by car was more about the journey than the end destination.

Have you ever stayed in a motel on Route 66?

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