Motel Inn – San Luis Obispo, California - Atlas Obscura

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Motel Inn

The world's first motel is now an administrative building for an apple farm.  


Motels became staples across the country during the mid-20th-century. However, only one holds the distinction as “the world’s first motel,” and is found in the unlikely town of San Luis Obispo along the central California coast.

Long road trips became more of a reality as automobiles became more readily available. In 1925 two brothers, Arthur and Alfred Heineman designed the Milestone Mo-Tel, a concept where travelers could rent out a room by night while on long road trips. Prior to this creation, these types of trips required pitching a tent alongside the road for a night or two.

This location was chosen by the brothers because it was roughly halfway between Los Angles and San Francisco. The motel stayed in operation until 1991. It can still be found near the intersection of HWY 101 and Monterey Street.

Know Before You Go

Located on the onramp to HWY 101, there is minimal parking available. If coming from downtown, it'll be right before you get onto the highway.

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June 1, 2021

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