You may or may not have a first-hand memory of traveling in the 1950s or 60s – a time when many families would pack up for their yearly vacation, and stay at roadside motels. Unlike today, where you see the same-looking franchised hotels and motels in nearly every town along your route, these one-of-a-kind inns were unique, colorful, and in some cases, they themselves were the actual destination.
While there are only a few of these smaller, oftentimes themed, time capsules remaining, you can find them along California’s west coast – and not only do they make for good sight-seeing, but many of them are still a great place to settle in for the night.
For instance, the Ambassador Motor Lodge in South Lake Tahoe still looks amazingly like it did 50 years ago – starting with its eye-catching sign out front. This cool motel also offers a pool for cooling off, and it’s within easy walking distance to several casinos and the beach.
Speaking of casinos, the Stardust Lodge – also situated in the South Lake Tahoe locale – opened soon after the iconic Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in the late 1950s. With a similarly shaped sign to catch travelers’ attention, this lodge offers reasonably priced rooms, and is close enough to stroll to Stateline.
For more details on these and other retro destinations, check out Heather David’s book, “Motel California,” which is due out in mid-summer,