One of the main values of a millennial is experience over things, which means we seek out the unique, local, and quirky. When we travel, we want properties that tell a story. A place we can make memories. Big box hotels and cookie cutter rooms simply don’t cut it anymore.
Thankfully, more and more offbeat boutique hotels, b&bs, and hostels are popping up, focused on every possible interest and niche hobby imaginable. If you’re looking for unusual places to stay, here are the most eccentric, quirky accommodations in America.
A Game Room
The Great Escape Lakeside (Clermont, Florida) is a nerd’s dream house. With rooms themed like Scrabble and Monopoly, inside, there’s a full Jumanji-style theater, laser tag, karaoke room, arcade, carnival games, and casino. Outside, there is giant foosball, human bowling, waterslides, and zorbs. The entire property is designed to be a giant escape room, with an app doling out hints and clues. If all that fun sounds awesome, it is, until you see the price tag. Rooms start at $1671+ with a 3-night minimum. The house sleeps up to 45 guests so you might need to recruit a few more friends for this epic getaway.
While most of the accommodations at Treebones Resort (Big Sur, California) are yurts and other sustainably designed structures, their Human Nest is a hand-woven work of art overlooking the ocean. You’re provided a futon, but other than that it’s BYO sleeping bag and pillow. Also worth noting is you’re exposed to the elements so bring a tent in case of inclement weather (and be aware that critters may join you as it does look like their home).
A Burning Man Clubhouse
The Morris Burner Hostel (Reno, Nevada) is a membership-based hostel you can stay at year-round that subscribes to the 10 principles of Burning Man. Artsy rooms are themed every which way from G to R-rated including the Cuban Coffee Parlor to the Sparkle Pony Room, Booby Bar, and everything in between. Fully encouraging creativity, you can apply to help paint the space, attend an art meetup, hang out in the steampunk saloon, or simply play dress up (nothing’s off limits here). Wooden horse races through the halls, onesie dance parties, juggling, and hula hoops are not uncommon sights so let your freak flag fly and embrace the weird.
If you ever wanted to wake up to the call of the wild, you don’t have to go all the way to Africa to do so…just Turpentine Creek (Eureka Springs, Arkansas). A safari lodge/zoo you can spend the night in, this unique property has tents, lodges, suites, and even treehouse accommodations. Designed to let you explore the nocturnal side of the animal sanctuary, big cats play right in your backyard while fellow guests are lions, and tigers and bears, oh my.
Described as a “nomadic hotel,” El Cosmico (Marta, Texas) truly embraces the boho hippie culture that’s so on fleek right now. Guests can rent everything from tipis to yurts and even airstreams while enjoying shared property amenities like a hammock grove, outdoor kitchen, and wood-fired hot tubs. If it sounds a little bit like a commune, my thoughts exactly.
An Insane Asylum
Frequent travel can make anyone feel a little loopy, which is why the Jerome Grand (Cottonwood, Arizona) is a fitting reprieve. A former hospital and insane asylum, the building was destroyed in a freak mining accident and rebuilt with hospitality in mind. In an ode to its former life, the restaurant is still playfully named the Asylum. Oh, and the hotel is said to be haunted so there’s that.
A Tiny House
While it may sound like an oxymoron, WeeCasa (Lyons, Colorado) is the world’s largest tiny house resort trying to prove the age-old mantra, “Size doesn’t matter.“ With homes for rent in all shapes and colors, the tiny homes are arranged neighborhood style, each designed for minimalist living that gets back to the basics.
Out’n’About Treesort (Takilma, Oregon) is a bed and breakfast in the sky. Each tree is a different height and uniquely designed with their own whimsical name like Serendipitree or Pleasantree. Each has their own attributes, which may include ladders, spiral staircases, suspension bridges, and private viewing platforms. Located on 36-acres of Siskiyou National Forest, there are “activitrees” (their pun, not mine) like zip lines, horse stables, and hiking trails to keep you busy.
Read more about what staying in a treehouse is like.
Borden Flats Lighthouse (Mount Hope Bay, Massachusetts) offers the unique opportunity to serve as a 1800s lighthouse keeper for the night. Bestowed the responsibility of protecting a historic landmark, you’ll be ferried 1,500 feet offshore where you’ll climb a vertical rung ladder to reach your quarters for the evening.
A Hobbit House
You don’t have to go all the way to New Zealand to experience hobbit life, just to Forest Gully Farms (Santa Fe, Tennessee). Gully huts are bamboo huts are built underground. An experiment in horticulture, they’re sustainably designed to reduce heating and cooling. You have one hut for sleeping, one for eating, and one that’s a bathroom. They also offer foraging tours on the farm.
Hanging Off the Side of a Cliff
Cliff camping (Estes Park, Colorado) is the latest trend for extreme sports enthusiasts. Organized by Kent Mountain Adventure Center, you can actually spend the night suspended off a sheer rock face hundreds of feet in the air. To get to your campsite, you either have to rock climb up or hike and rappel down to a spot where a portaledge will be set up for the night. If 24-hours on a ledge sounds like too much, they also offer “cliffnics,” for a lunch with a view. And if you’re wondering about the bathroom situation, that was my first question too…mysteries of life.
Built into the vertical cliffs of the Tertiary Ojo Alamo Sandstone Mountains, Kokopelli’s Cave (Farmington, New Mexico) is located 70 feet below ground. Manmade, it was originally built to be an office for a visiting geologist, but the owner decided to turn it into a b&b for everyone’s enjoyment instead. Complete with waterfall showers, Jacuzzi, and kiva stove, the area has epic views of the four corners (New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona).
A Nuclear Missile Silo
The first of its kind on Airbnb, Subterra Castle (Dover, Kansas) is a 35-acre estate that housed a ballistic missile during the Cold War era. The underground cavern and tunnels have since been converted into a peaceful living space with the control room still intact. National Geographic and Oprah have featured the property.
The only underwater hotel in the world, Jules’ Undersea Lodge (Key Largo, Florida) is accessible only by SCUBA. The lodge feels like a secret clubhouse deep in a mangrove forest and comes complete with hot showers, kitchen, and fish swimming by the windows. Room service will even famously deliver you pizza for dinner – underwater.
A Giant Dog
The Dog Bark Park (Cottonwood, Idaho) is hard to miss. A kitschy roadside attraction, the 30-foot beagle is actually where you sleep with bedrooms in the nose and belly and a sculpture garden on-site. The owners double as chainsaw artists and carved everything down to the furniture themselves. Of course, your four-legged friends are also welcome.
While some theme hotels are kitschy for all the wrong reasons, the Library Hotel (New York, New York) is tasteful, and a lesson in hospitality. Home to over 6,000 books, each floor is completely Instagrammable, themed like one of the series in the Dewey Decimal system. Consistently rated one of the top properties in NYC, their 24/7 reading room, insane breakfast spread, and complimentary wine and cheese receptions are pretty hard to beat. Couples just may want to request the romance wing instead of science…unless of course, you’re into that kind of thing.
Who spends the night in lockup willingly? Plenty of people, it turns out. The Inn at the Old Jail (New Orleans, Louisiana) was a converted police station and penitentiary before being destroyed and abandoned due to a flood. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s just a mile from the French Quarter where the real debauchery happens… so make sure you end up in the right slammer after the sun goes down.
A Train Station
The Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel (Chattanooga, Tennessee) was one of the city’s first major preservation projects. You’ll sleep in converted Pullman Train Cars from the ‘30s-‘50s in an authentic Union Station and enjoy on-site entertainment like a comedy club, 2-acre gardens, and escape room. And don’t worry, no runaway trains here.
An iconic stop along Route 66, Wigwam Village (Holbrook, Arizona) was designed in the style of an old Indian village. Set in a semi-circle around the central motel building, the arrangement is set to mimic the tepees honoring the Chief.
An Elementary School
The one time it’s perfectly acceptable to fall asleep in class; the McMenamins Kennedy School (Portland, Oregon) is a unique hotel with converted classrooms. It’s hard not to be flooded with childhood memories as you sip a pint from their on-site brewery, run through the hall, and take in a movie in the auditorium singing, “No more pencils, no more books…”
While you may think a spaceship would be more likely to turn up in New Mexico, in fact, it’s Californians that are strangely out of this world. The UFO Hotel (Baker, California) is currently under construction and set to open soon. Designed like a mothership, the immersive space will showcase the inner workings of life on other planets from the cargo hold to the specimen room.
Or an Earthship
Earthship Biotecture is a quirky space is in Taos, New Mexico (surprise, surprise). Homes are built of naturally recycled materials with energy and conservation front and center. Electricity, water, and food are all self-sustaining designed to operate off the grid without sacrificing creature comforts.
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