With automobiles becoming more available, and roads better able to carry them, roadside attractions were all the rage for travelers in the 1940s and ’50s. And with the construction of intersecting highways, two being the Dixie Highway and Route 66, it was easier to chart a course. Families were packing up and setting off into the great yonder… not out of necessity, but in the spirit of the Great American Road Trip.
Americans seeing the country by car needed places to stay along the way, and creative hospitality entrepreneurs looked for ways to grab their attention. It was the heyday of novel roadside architecture. In New England you could stay in mock colonial houses and in the Southwest, you could spend the night in faux adobe huts. But among the most unique were the Wigwam Villages, built by Frank Redford. The first was set up in 1933 in Horse Cave, Kentucky, but through the ‘30s and ‘40s, the wigwams sprang up in five other states in the South and Southwest. They’re mostly gone now… but if you’ve got a hankerin’, you can still spend the night in a roadside teepee…
And yes – you read correctly. Three of the villages are still in business and waiting for you to check in. (Cheap too! You can stay at the Cave City location – and enjoy some of its original furnishings – for as little as $45/night during certain parts of the year!) Make your reservations now…
- Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, Kentucky: While you’re there, visit Mammoth Cave National Park, just a few miles away and home of the longest cave system in the world. Cave City is a little under 100 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee and south of Louisville, Kentucky just off I-65.
- Wigwam Village #6 in Holbrook, Arizona: Just 30 miles east of Holbrook is the Petrified Forest National Park. Holbook is located within Historic Route 66.
- Wigwam Village #7: San Bernardino, California: Route 66 runs through San Bernardino, so while you’re there check out the Route 66 Museum. Take a hike (or make a snow angel up top) in part of the 154,000-acre spread at the San Bernardino National Forest. Joshua Tree National Park is located close too – just about an hour away. On the map, San Bernardino is about 60 miles east of Los Angeles and about 100 miles north of San Diego.
Who’s ready to hit the road? Pack your camera and an open mind for the most unique over-nighter ever. Anyone ever caught some shuteye in a wigwam?
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