Traveling on a budget? No need to snuggle with bedbugs in a dingy roadside motel. Instead, try one of these cheap and funky hotels, inns, campsites or bed-and-breakfasts in the U.S. and Canada. Among them, you’ll find an Idaho dog-shaped inn and a spherical hotel that floats in a British Columbia rain forest.
You don’t need to be rich to create lasting summer vacation memories if you’re staying at one of these one-night wonders.
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A howler of a hotel
Photo courtesy of Dog Bark Park
Hotel: Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood, Idaho
Description: Amid North Idaho’s rolling fields of bluegrass and barley, the Dog Bark Park Inn welcomes 2-legged and 4-legged visitors alike.
Climb up an exterior flight of stairs to access the 35-foot-tall, beagle-shaped interior’s accommodations. The beagle is the largest (wooden) one in the world, according to the woodcarving artists who host the B&B and created the hound. Each stay offers a queen-sized bed located in the dog’s belly, with 2 twin beds in the level above, a full bath, games and a continental self-serve breakfast.
Rates: $92 to $98 per night; dogs welcome for an extra $15
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Photo courtesy of Wigwam Motel
Hotel: Wigwam Motel, San Bernadino, California
Description: On famous U.S. Route 66, the Wigwam Motel has welcomed families since 1949, whether arriving then by station wagon or now by hybrid car. In California’s lazy and warm Inland Empire, the Wigwam’s 19 30-foot-tall teepees encircle a pool. Each wigwam is made from wood, concrete and sun-friendly stucco, and all come equipped with a Serta Perfect Sleeper bed, free Wi-Fi and HBO. Not authentic by a long shot, but definitely hits that kitschy-cool spot.
Rates: Varies, but average around $77 per night single occupancy and $88 per night double occupancy.
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Take no prisoners (anymore)
Photo courtesy of Jailer’s Inn
Hotel: Jailer’s Inn, Bardstown, Kentucky
Description: For almost 200 years, this building functioned as the Nelson County Jail in Bardstown, Kentucky, now known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World.” Today, Jailer’s Inn graciously welcomes visitors with antique-decorated rooms. You also can opt to stay in “The Jail Cell,” a black-and-white room with 2 stark bunks. But unlike a prisoner, you’ll get a full breakfast (no, not gruel and moldy bread) and a private bath.
Rates: $100 to $155 per night depending on furnishings.
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Rain forest redux
Photo courtesy of Free Spirit Spheres
Hotel: Free Spirit Spheres, Qualicum Beach, British Columbia
Description: At Vancouver Island’s Free Spirit Spheres, 2 handcrafted wooden spheres float in maple and cedar trees — perfect for anyone who’d like nothing more than time alone with nature.
The Eve is a mere 9 feet in diameter, but packs a bed into the room. The Eryn provides 10.5 feet for a bed, loft, minifridge, cupboards and dishes. For a small bump in price, a 3rd sphere, the Melody, offers a yellow fiberglass sphere with rich black walnut interior and a Murphy bed. While the orbs sound like child’s play, these sophisticated spheres are for the over-16 set only.
Rates: $160 to $255 per night, with a discount for 2-night stays.
Hotel: Northern Rail Traincar Suites, Two Harbors, Minnesota
Description: In the 1930s, travelers “rode the rails,” or traveled for free by hopping on freight trains and catching a little shut-eye when possible. Today, there’s no need to snore on the floor. Instead, snuggle into a renovated, upscale boxcar that never leaves the depot-style main building at the Northern Rail Traincar Suites.
Located about 35 minutes from Duluth, Minnesota, this unique hotel is set amid a quiet birch and pine forest, with easy access (no ticket required) to Minnesota’s picturesque North Shore of Lake Superior.
Rates: Prices vary, but they start at $87 in the winter and $149 in the summer.
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Photo courtesy of Innsbrucker Inn
Hotel: Innsbrucker Inn, Leavenworth, Washington
Description: Anyone who remembers hiding under the covers with a flashlight may just fall in love with the Innsbrucker Inn, a literary-themed hotel that caters to the bibliophiles among us.
Six suites offer twists on beloved authors and tomes, from the floral Secret Garden room to the Wonka-fied Chocolate Suite. Set in the Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth, Washington, above a bookstore no less, the Innsbrucker might be a reader’s first-choice resort.
Rates: $99 to $125 per night.
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Sleeping with the fishes
Photo courtesy of The Houseboat Hotel
Hotel: The Houseboat Hotel, Key Largo, Florida
Description: It bills itself as the only floating hotel in the Florida Keys. “Just relax on our small sandy beach, enjoy the sun and beautiful water views or partake in all the water activities the Florida Keys has to offer,” the hotel’s website says.
Rates: $85 to $120 per night.
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Escape from civilization
Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service
Hotel: Forest Fire Lookout, various locations in Oregon, California, Washington, Montana and other states
Description: Yes, it’ll probably require a hike and a steep stair climb. But once you’ve arrived at your reserved fire lookout, you’ll get a 2- or 3-story tower to yourself.
From your perch, enjoy sweeping panoramic views over densely forested mountain ranges. Many lookouts offer simple bedding, tables, chairs and heat. Most lookouts are located in the Western U.S. where once-frequent forest fires required lookout towers.