The World's First Dark Sky City Is in Arizona on Route 66 — and It's Getting a Retro-chic Motor Lodge This Summer
Come because you need a place to crash, stay for the in-room disco balls and walk-up diner.
These days, road trips take place at high speed — wide interstate highways, quick bathroom breaks, and never-ending Spotify playlists. But the golden age of the great American road trip had a completely different feel. Back then, travelers drove down the two-lane cross-country roads with their windows down, stopping for the night at roadside motels. One of the first and longest road trip routes during that time was Route 66, which traveled between Chicago and Los Angeles and traversed eight states.
Almost a century later, most of Route 66 has been abandoned for travel on the faster, more direct interstate highways. But in certain places, like Flagstaff, Arizona, Route 66 has been carefully preserved. In the city of Flagstaff, the lore of this historic route is now complemented by a renovated roadside motel from 1962 that will be reopened in June — just in time for summer road trip season.
The Americana Motor Hotel, which sits right off Route 66, will offer nostalgic travelers the chance to stay in a reimagined roadside retreat. The design of the hotel is retro with a futuristic feel. There are 89 vibrant rooms with playful touches, like in-room disco balls and geometric carpeting.
In addition, overnight guests will be treated to a series of throwback amenities with a twist, including “dive-in” movies in the year-round heated pool and on-property bike rentals. There’s a walk-up “diner” serving burgers, fries, and ice cream, and an expansive fire pit and telescopes where guests can watch the night sky — an activity that has become synonymous with Flagstaff, the world's first International Dark Sky Community and the site where Pluto was discovered.
Flagstaff’s deep ties to stargazing and astronomy are well-represented at the Americana Motor Hotel. The lobby walls change from warm desert shades to the deep hues of night depending on which way you walk through the space, and the hotel is close to both the U.S. Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station and the Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered in 1930.
Less than an hour-and-a-half drive north is Grand Canyon National Park, which is also a designated dark sky place. The Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is less than 30 minutes by car and and Wupatki National Monument, which protects ancient pueblos, is under an hour away.
The central location of the Americana Motor Hotel makes it an excellent basecamp for excursions into the area’s many parks, monuments, and wilderness areas. And if your favorite road trip companion is a furry one, keep in mind that dogs are welcome at the Americana Motor Lodge and there’s even a fenced “Barkyard” that ensures pups get plenty of time outdoors.
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