Wigwam Motel #7
2728 W Foothill Blvd,
Most recently parodied in Pixar's movie, Cars, as the Cozy Cone Motel, the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California is one of seven Wigwam Motels originally built. Three of the original seven still remain: the one in Rialto; one in Holbrook, Arizona; and one in Cave City, Kentucky. The California and Arizona motels both lie on Historic Route 66.
From 1933 to 1935 in Kentucky, Frank Redford built his first teepee-shaped cabins near Horse Cave, Kentucky and called it the Wigwam Village. "Wigwam" was used instead of "teepee" due to Redford having a strong dislike for the word "teepee". Redford supposedly drew the concept for the Wigwam from a teepee-shaped building in Long Beach, California. It is suspected that the building he saw was the TeePee Barbecue, which was sadly demolished in 1950. Rumor has it that Redford first owned a teepee shaped ice cream stand, then in 1933 built a gas station with a teepee shaped office and food stand. By 1935 he had added the six matching thirty foot cabins. In 1936 he obtained a patent on the concept for the exterior design and in 1937 built his second village in Cave City, Kentucky (one of the three remaining villages). By 1950, there were seven such villages, the last one being built in 1949 in Rialto, California.
Like the first two Wigwam Villages, #7 was also built by Frank Redford, the other four were franchised to other owners for one half of one percent of the total profits. Wigwam Motel #7 consists of nineteen thirty-two foot tall wigwams, a BBQ area, and a swimming pool. Each wigwam has a twenty foot diameter. The wigwams are scattered around the larger lobby wigwam in roughly two arcs. In other villages, such as Wigwam Village #2, the wigwams are arranged in a semi-circle (one arc) around the much larger lobby wigwam. Wigwams generally had a rolled up flap design, with diamond shaped windows, and even poles sticking out of the top. Some villages possibly also had a zigzag design drawn across the middle of the outer walls, which the motel in Rialto has.
Wigwam Motel #7 has a central lobby wigwam, which is in front of a kidney shaped swimming pool. The central lobby wigwam operates as a hotel front check in desk and as a Route 66 gift shop. There is then a stretch of lawn before you get to the first semi-circle of wigwams consisting of eleven wigwams. The driveway, allowing you to drive through the complex is next, separating the first semicircle from the second, later built semicircle, which consists of eight more wigwams, in two groups of four. Each wigwam has its own parking spot plus a street light outside the wigwam's door. The street light is capped by a Route 66 emblem. The outer semi-circle also has several classic cars as well as what appears to be some sort of maintenance or storage building in the middle of its arc. At one point there were plans, and there still is room to do so on the property, to add some wigwams on a third arc past the second one.
Inside the hotel rooms is a small room with a bathroom. Configurations come in either one bed with a sofa or two beds. Additionally, a small table, a mini fridge, a TV, and one or two night tables are included. Two or three little windows exist in each wigwam, as does an air conditioning unit. The door to the bathroom is located across from the entrance door. The bathroom is certainly done in the 40's / 50's style and actually has no electrical outlets. That being said I was impressed to find that the outlet near the little table in the main hotel room additionally had options to plug in USB cords for charging. The shower in the bathroom consists of a small sort of tub as part of the greater shower. There is a little seat in there as well.
Although the address is listed as Rialto, Wigwam Motel #7 is pretty much in San Bernardino appearing on the boundary between the two cities. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. At one time it had the unfortunate slogan advertised outside its office of "Do it in a Tee Pee", but the motel has been cleaned up since then. You can still find the old "Do it in a Tee Pee" sign hung, I guess for posterity, on the left side of the back building. It was during this time period, the 1990s, that the motel fell on rough times, had waterbeds in each room and even gave the option of renting its rooms by the hour. Luckily in 2002 new owners, the Patels, took over, got rid of the waterbeds, the terrible "Do it in a Tee Pee" sign, and cleaned up the place.
The original Wigwam Village in Horse Cave, Kentucky was demolished in 1981. #3 in New Orleans, #4 in Orlando, and #5 in Birmingham have all also sadly been demolished. Wigwam Villages #2 and #6 are also historical places. Wigwam Motel #7 was Frank Redford's last motel. He built #1 and #2, then franchised #3 through #6, and after selling #1 and #2, built #7. He passed away in 1957 on site at Wigwam Motel #7, although there is no mention of if he passed away inside one of the motel rooms or in the main lobby wigwam.
Wigwam Motel #6 in Holbrook, Arizona consists of 15 wigwams on the outer edge of the property, arranged along three sides of a square, with the office in the middle, on the fourth side of the square. Wigwams at #6 are shorter, only 28 feet tall, but a little wider. Wigwam Motel #7 is setup in a much nicer configuration, in my opinion. #6 simply has an open lot between the layer of wigwams and the main lobby, whereas at #7 each wigwam has its own parking spot and there's lawns of grass with small hills between the lobby and the wigwams. There is no lawn area or pool at #6. Wigwam Motel #2 is in Cave City, Kentucky and has fifteen wigwams like #6, all of them in a single semi-circle arc. Like #7, each wigwam has its own parking spot and there is a large lawn area between the lobby wigwams and the wigwam rooms.
Across the street from the Wigwam Motel is Burger Rush, a Route 66 themed burger stand. They have a drive-thru, a walk up window to order, and some seating outside on a little patio. The place offers a variety of burgers and sandwiches, plus BBQ and burritos. Burgers range from hamburgers to avocado bacon cheeseburgers, chili burgers, and even a pastrami cheeseburger.
A stay at the Wigwam Motel is actually very pleasant and I highly recommend it to travelers driving along Route 66. The staff was very nice, the atmosphere filled with nostalgia, and my entire experience there was well worth the stay. You should definitely take the opportunity if presented to "Sleep in a Wigwam", and it certainly adds to your overall Route 66 experience. A Wigwam runs from $90 to $140 a night depending on type of room, time of year, and if it is a weekday, weekend, or holiday. Additionally, dogs are allowed for a small nominal fee.
The motel appears in Pixar's film Cars as the Cozy Cone Motel where each room looks like a traffic cone. The motel is owned by the character Sally Carrera. Additionally, other adornments in the motel are also traffic cones such as the lights and planters. Disneyland has a real life version of the Cozy Cone Motel located in Cars Land inside Disney California Adventure Park. It is a sort of foot court, and there are five different cones, each serving up a different type of food ranging from popcorn to pretzels to churros and even root beer floats.
The Wigwam Motel in Rialto pays tribute to the Cozy Cone Motel and you can find a metal plate attached to the lower right of the front of the building containing the lobby. The metal plate says "Radiator Springs", has the character, Mater, depicted on it, and the words "Welcome to the gateway to Ornament Valley". Also, a "Greetings from Radiator Springs" sign is on the front of the lobby.
Pictures of Cozy Cone Motel located at Disneyland are courtesy of Mark and Stephanie Olsen.
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- Bryan of Rialto, California on 2012-10-29 said:
- I live right down the street from there and have always wanted to stay just so I can say I slept in a tee-pee lol
- lindA of rancho cucamonga, ca on 2011-10-08 said:
- Back in the 80's my kids wanted to go stay there so a friend and I drove out there to see how much it would cost. The guy looked at us kind of strangley. I later found out it was mostly used for trysts. I am glad to see it's cleaned up, although 30 years too late.
- Sarah of Arcadia, California on 2008-08-01 said:
- They changed the slogan, it used to say "do it in a tee pee" lol..
- Roadside Attractions (2007) by Butko, Brian and Sarah, p: 112
- Roadside Giants (2005) by Butko, Brian and Sarah, p: 64 - 67
- California Crazy and Beyond (2001) by Heimann, Jim, p: 146
- New Roadside America (1992) by Wilkins, Mike; Smith, Ken; Kirby, Doug, p: 271
First Created: 2007-01-21
Last Edited: 2021-08-08