Wigwam Village No. 7
When I slept in my first Wigwam Motel in 2016, I didn't have concrete plans to visit the two remaining Wigwam Villages, but I knew I wanted to eventually "collect them all." Early in 2017, I was devastated when it became obvious that my friend Jim was going to move to LA, but I tried to look on the bright side and immediately began planning a trip to the west coast. It should come as no surprise that the very first thing on my list of California must-sees was Wigwam Village No. 7 on Route 66 in San Bernardino.
Originally there were seven Wigwam Village locations—two in Kentucky and one each in Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana and California—and only the ones in Kentucky, Arizona and California have survived. No. 7, constructed in 1949, is the last one to be built and it sits on the boundary between San Bernardino and Rialto, on Historic Route 66.
Although of course No. 2 will always be special to me as my first Wigwam experience, No. 7 was overall an even nicer experience. No. 7 has a double row of Wigwams—19 total—and it had once been in dire shape. Rooms could be rented by the hour, and a sign urging travelers to "Do it in a Teepee" hung out front (the fact that these structures are technically "tee pees" doesn't seem to have mattered to Frank A Redford, the builder of these villages). It has since undergone an extensive renovation, and in 2012 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
No. 7 has a small, kidney-shaped pool and better souvenirs than No. 2—we bought postcards, patches, pins, ornaments and key tags. There are several vintage cars sitting on the property and a circular base in the back that looks like it may have been destined to be a 20th Wigwam, but it was never finished.
The inside of each Wigwam is surprisingly spacious, and ours had two beds, a tv and a desk. I did prefer the bathroom of No. 2—with its red zig-zag tiles—but the Wigwams at No. 7 looked freshly painted, and the iconic zig-zag on the exterior was brought back during the renovation. I also appreciated all of the little details, like the lights strung between Wigwams, the Route 66 markers on the lampposts and the Wigwam-shaped room numbers. In an area full of cheap and boring roadside motels, I don't know why anyone would choose not to "sleepee in a tee-pee."
Wigwam Village No. 7
2728 E Foothill Blvd
San Bernardino, CA 92410
Our 2/bed was $99 for a Saturday night in December