Route 66 is an iconic part of United States history. So when Disney/Pixar began their study of “The Mother Road” for the mega blockbuster hit Cars, of course they perfectly recreated a handful of special places along the way. One of these special places, The Wigwam Motel, happens to be about one hour from my house. Located in Rialto, California on Historic Route 66, the Wigwam Motel is the inspiration for Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel in Cars. Established in 1949, the real Cozy Cones are actually teepees (aka wigwams) and believe it or not, this stop in what seems like the middle of nowhere has actually become quite popular after being “rediscovered” by Disney/Pixar. Even booking a month out, there were very few nights with two teepees available. With a common love for roadside attractions, a friend of mine and I each made a one-night reservation and took our kids on a little adventure. This random Monday in the middle of summer turned out to be one of our favorite “staycations” ever.
Pulling up to the Wigwam Motel, we noticed that the motel was actually the nicest looking spot on the street. The wigwams have been fully refurbished after their popularity skyrocketed when they made their on screen debut in Cars as the Cozy Cone Motel. Scroll through my slideshow to see why you should take a visit to the real cozy cones and sleep in a teepee!
The Wigwam Motel 1 of 11
A visit to the "Real" Cozy Cones
1. Quaint Office with Gifts & Memorabilia 2 of 11
The motel's check-in office is so quaint. Donned with a neon sign reading "Get your kicks on Route 66," the teeny tiny room is packed with Route 66 souvenirs & memorabilia. A friendly attendant fills out a hand-written registration form (no computer print outs here) and assigns you a teepee for the night. Be sure to buy one of their "I slept in a wigwam" t-shirts! They come in both youth and adult sizes.
2. A Teepee! 3 of 11
A teepee! You get to sleep in a teepee! There are 20 rooms at the Wigwam Motel. One of them is connected to the office, so really there are only 19. We were assigned to teepees 19 & 20. Depending on the travel season and the layout of your wigwam, rooms range from $67 to $93.50 a night. Each room has an assigned parking space located right next to it. You can book online here.
3. The Beds 4 of 11
All of the wigwams feature queen sized beds. Depending on the type of room you have, there may be one or two. My boys and I shared a room, so we took one with two queens. There are also rooms available with one standard queen, giving you a little more "living" space. The beds are adorned with wagon wheel headboards, and the new Serta Perfect Sleeper mattresses were actually quite comfy.
4. Water Pressure 5 of 11
So the bathrooms are a little small and outdated, but guess what? The water pressure was fabulous and there's a plethora of hot water. Another bonus: the old tile in the bathrooms has a nostalgic feel to it. It reminded me of my grandparents' bathroom from the house they lived in when I was like 5 years old. Same colors and everything! I also appreciated the fact that they had decent amenities. Plus, my kids always like playing around with a shower cap ... This bathroom was sparkling clean.
5. Flat Screen TV with Cable & a Mini Fridge 6 of 11
I totally expected to find an old console TV with a "clicker" remote when I opened the door! But much to my surprise, there was a flat screen TV with cable that worked (not one snowy channel) stationed on top of a good sized mini fridge. Also note the cute low window. We loved peeking out of it to see only the ground outside. It was nice to have a little natural light during the day and pretty funny to have them so low, just under the area where the ceiling starts to slant.
6. A Powerful Air Conditioner 7 of 11
Rialto gets H-O-T in the summer, so thank goodness for this amazingly powerful wall-mounted air conditioner. You can also use this photo as a point of reference for how the walls start to slant up. The "cone" of the wigwam can't be seen from inside of the room. There is a flat ceiling that that caps off the room after it begins to slant.
7. The Pool 8 of 11
I cannot express how surprised I was to see how well taken care of the grounds at the Wigwam Motel were. The pool is small, kidney shaped, and only 5 feet deep, but our kids had a blast playing around in it. It's located in the center of the property, easy to access from any of the wigwams. There's also a Webber grill in this area that guests can use if they like. Newer tables and chairs line the fence if you're there to relax. e were the only ones in there at the time, so it was like our own private pool party!
8. An In-Ground Grill 9 of 11
After setting our sights on this in-ground grill, we wished we would have brought supplies for s'mores! I know, I know, we could have gone to the store, but we also needed roasting sticks and didn't want to be late to our drive-in movie experience. So next time we'll come prepared! This grill can be seen in some of the motel's oldest photos. I love that it still sits in its original spot.
9. The Grounds 10 of 11
The property is not huge, but The Wigwam Motel has plenty to explore. he teepees alone are a gorgeous sight. Precisely placed around the center pool area, everything is neat and tidy. The grass is freshly cut, there are tractors on display (you know, in case you want to sneak out for some tractor tipping), and there are other vintage automobiles hanging around as well. I'm already imagining this as a great family portrait spot.
10. Surrounding Attractions 11 of 11
A sucker for anything kitschy, I'm always on the lookout for fun roadside attractions. I was able to find a few stops near the Wigwam Motel to make this trip even more worthwhile than it already was. If you happen to make your way out to Rialto, consider a visit to the Van Buren Drive In Theatre. This classic drive-in is located in Riverside just about 25 minutes from the motel. My kids had never been to a drive-in before, and this was a perfect way to spend a nostalgic evening with them. The next morning we hit the "Unofficial McDonald's Museum," which is just a few miles away from the Wigwam Motel. Cheesy, fabulous, and free, the museum is full of both Route 66 and McDonald's memorabilia. You'll find yourself reminiscing in Happy Meal heaven. All in all I say: get yourself to Rialto! This little staycation was full of fun summer memories. Besides, how cool is it to be able to say that you had a sleepover in the real Cozy Cones?
AND, Don’t forget, Cars Land at Disney California Adventure has their own set of Cozy Cones too. These ones though, you can eat your way through. To check out some of the tasty treats you can get at DCA’s Cozy Cones, check out this post on the Disney Food Blog.