These vintage trailer park hotels let you live the Airstream life without the hassle of towing your own.
Not everyone can live the Instagram-able lifestyle of traveling across the U.S. in a travel trailer, but anyone can book into a trailer park hotel which, while sometimes cheesy and sometimes sophisticated, always capture a piece of pure Americana. The trailer parks are perched lakeside and in far-flung desert outposts across the American West, where the nomadic lifestyle—or at least the spirit of it—lives on. Whether decorated with 1950s and ’60s vintage furnishings that make kitsch cool or updated with modern style, one thing’s for certain—these trailers deliver a one-of-a-kind stay.
The Shady Dell
WHERE: Bisbee, Arizona
This southern Arizona landmark, The Shady Dell, got its start in 1927 as a place for weary travelers to park their trailers on the haul along Highway 80 from Savannah, Georgia, to San Diego, California. Eight 1950s trailers have parked permanently and cement the era with retro decor that harkens the trailers’ glory days, from a mini-jukebox to a vintage martini shaker. The nomadic vibe extends to its 1947 Airporter bus, outfitted in a tiki theme—it’s BYOGS, bring your own grass skirt—and the 1947 Chris Craft Yacht, a docked boat that embraces its nautical roots. The Shady Dell has inspired many spin-offs, but there’s something special about the original.
INSIDER TIPTo get the trailer of your choice, book six months in advance.
Kate's Lazy Desert
WHERE: Landers, California
The six glimmering Airstreams at Kate’s Lazy Desert appear like a mirage rising out of the Mohave Desert, in California, 20 minutes from Joshua Tree National Park. That visual trip continues inside the wacky and wonderful trailers. Take “Hot Lava,” which feels as though you’re living inside a lava lamp. “Tiki” is kitschy perfection with bright colors and wooden masks bedecking the walls. The most-booked option., “Planet Air,” offers windows covered with pink gel, which gives everything outside a rosy hue. The B52’s song “Planet Claire” inspired its design—fitting since one of the band’s founding members, Kate Pierson, owns the hotel.
INSIDER TIPThe Mojave Desert experiences vast temperature swings—hot during the day, cold at night. The trailers only partially insulate from the conditions, so come prepared with layers of clothing.
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Shooting Star RV Resort
WHERE: Escalante, Utah
Set on the outskirts of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with 360-degree monument views, nine Airstreams pay homage to star-studded trailers on classic movie sets. Ann’s Cabana is decorated to resemble Ann-Margret’s trailer while shooting Viva Las Vegas with bright linens and vintage movie posters; The Duke pays homage to John Wayne’s trailer while shooting The Searchers with hand-tooled leather furniture and pony-print accent walls. The Hollywood feel carries over to Shooting Star RV Resort’s outdoor movie theatre where you don’t have to drive in; the 1960s cars are already waiting. But, if you prefer, you can pull up your own picnic blanket for the Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday flicks.
WHERE: Marfa, Texas
Modern-day bohemians are drawn to El Cosmico, the nomadic traveler’s mothership inspired by the history and ethos of the 1960s hippie movement. That culture influences the Marfa property’s design, from touches like Ram Dass books and third eyes to the inclusion of communal spaces such as a hammock grove and outdoor kitchen. The lodgings emanate from a center circle, which spirals out to teepees, yurts, safari tents, and, of course, four vintage trailers. The smallest is a cozy, 13-foot long Barbie pink trailer, while the largest stretches to 42 feet long and includes a wrap-around cedar deck. The contemporary hippies that book here don’t have to go without; El Cosmico has modern amenities like air conditioning and Wi-Fi.
WHERE: Friday Harbor, Washington
At this single Airstream, the setting is as appealing as the interior. Situated in the stunning San Juan Islands, the trailer is parked lakeside with its own deck, fire ring, and picnic area to enjoy the surrounds. The 1978 Excella is decorated with wood paneling and turquoise florals befitting its era. However, for modern travelers, it has a flat screen, kitchen, and even a Keurig coffee maker. The trailer is part of the larger Lakedale Resort, which includes a hotel, log cabins, “glamping,” and yurts, so guests have access to their morning granola and juice in the mess tent.
INSIDER TIPThis trailer is only available May 1 through September 30.
Book a Hotel
WHERE: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Oregon’s Willamette Valley was long on varietals, but it was short on variety in its lodgings. So the oenophile creators of The Vintages played up another type of vintage—the retro kind. Each of the 18 trailers has its own theme, like the 1947 Spartan Manor that draws inspiration from Native American Pendelton and Southwestern aesthetic; and the 1954 Anderson with near original features, including countertops, flooring, and appliances. These are hardly Spartan accommodations (yes, that was a trailer pun); they have all the amenities that would appeal to wine travelers like gourmet pour-over coffee, luxurious terrycloth robes, and wine openers for tasting sessions. This trailer park hotel keeps wine country close; it overlooks vineyards and provides cruiser bikes to head into Dayton, the nearest town and gateway to local vineyards.
Metro Hotel & Café
WHERE: Petaluma, California
Nestled in California’s wine country, this quaint hotel transports travelers to the City of Lights. The 140-year-old European-style hotel was restored in 2010 to feature Paris-inspired touches like its street-side café and claw foot tubs in the rooms. The Airstream parked out back feels less French and more funky, but it has equal flare with its purple awning and strings of lights. The interior gleams with polished silver surfaces and eclectic linens.
WHERE: Seaview, Washington
The owners of this Washington travel trailer hotel inherited more than created the concept. When they bought the property, it came with the previous owners’ vintage trailer collection, including a rare Westcraft Capistrano. The dramatic African Queen—a double-decker—sleeps six, so travelers can bring the whole family. The Sou’Wester Historic Lodge and Vintage Travel Trailer Resort is a bit of a hodgepodge that includes suites, cabins, and the trailers. The owners drafted off that eccentricity, creating an artist residency program and a wellness—aka self-care—retreat.
WHERE: Russian River, California
These are not your parents’ Airstreams. Each of the vintage beauties—at two locations, one in downtown Santa Barbara, one in the Russian River Valley, 90 minutes north of San Francisco— is retrofitted in the same timeless, modern design. Picture: spa-like marble bathrooms, contemporary furniture, and Queen-sized memory foam mattresses. Inspired by the wanderlust and adventure of camping, AutoCamp aims to connect people with the outdoors, and it does so beautifully at the Russian River location, which is nestled in a redwood grove where some trailers have Creekside views. Santa Barbara guests meet their neighbors while lounging or barbecuing on their patios.
Hotel Luna Mystica
WHERE: Taos, New Mexico
Inspired by the West Texas El Cosmico, a group of locals collected an eclectic fleet of trailers and parked them on the sagebrush mesa outside Taos within epic views of the mountains. The place has a modern-day hippie feel—fitting in Taos, where counter-culture roots run deep—it’s a place to connect with the land and fellow travelers. Hotel Luna Mystica has embraced its claim as the top lodging in town for bands performing at neighboring Taos Mesa Brewing (and for the concert goers, too). Each trailer has a style all its own. With its wood-panel walls and black and white photography, “Dennis” feels cozy, and “Esmeralda” features black-and-white diner-style floors and punched-tin accent walls. Many trailers feature the work of local artists, too.