When we first heard about the Thunderbird Inn — a quirky, environmentally friendly, mid-century modern motel located in nearby Savannah, Georgia – well, they had us at “quirky,” so you know we just had to go check out one of America’s coolest retro motels.

Built in 1964, the Thunderbird Inn gave roadside respite to those traveling down the Ocean Highway from New York to Florida (including the young and upcoming Jackson Five). Back then, the motel offered 40 spacious rooms that overlooked the Savannah River High Level Bridge. Amenities included “king-sized bath and dressing rooms, wall-to-wall carpeting, individually controlled air-conditioning and heat, TV and in-room phones.”

Check out that glorious sign!
Image: Stuckey’s Corp. / Stephanie Stuckey

How some things have changed (and how some things have also stayed the same since 1964)! The Thunderbird now boasts 42 spacious rooms; however, these days there are no views of the Savannah River High Level Bridge — the bridge was torn down and replaced with the Talmadge Memorial Bridge in 1991. The motel makes up for it, though, providing guests with all the modern conveniences of 21st century road travel without losing that retro road trip feel.

Driving down West Oglethorpe Avenue, you’re greeted by that big, beautiful neon sign sporting two thunderbirds overlooking the L-shaped motel painted in the kitschy cool colors of mid-century modern America. 

That quirky retro theme that we came for continues inside the rooms at the “hippest hotel in Savannah™.” Remodeled in 2018, each spacious room comes with its own “Swinging-‘60s” meets “Modern Millennium” groove. That icky (often sticky) wall-to-wall carpeting? Gone! “Refrigerated” rooms have been replaced with individually controlled heating and air conditioning. Along with those old-school landline telephones, there’s free wifi. And you can also forget about trying to tune in a local TV station to watch Ed Sullivan on the free black-and-white TV because, nowadays, you get a 43-inch flat-screen TV with 70-plus cable channels including HBO and ESPN. You can watch all of those channels from the comfort of your pillow-top bed dressed with crisp, clean linens and comfortable pillows.

And speaking of pillows, you won’t find chocolate on your pillows here, but you will find MoonPies and RC Cola on your nightstand. What’s more, there’s premium coffee and orange juice, Savannah’s own Baker’s Pride donuts available for breakfast every morning in the lobby, along with a 24/7 supply of hot popcorn and lemonade.

Today, the rooms at the Thunderbird Inn are still occupied by road-weary travelers, up-and-coming musicians, and fun people who find staying at this hip and historic retro motel anything but Squaresville. Best of all, unlike other “retro” boutique motels, the Thunderbird Inn is easy on your wallet, which makes staying at this casual, fun-loving inn fun AND affordable.

As if that’s not enough, a big part of The Thunderbird Inn’s renovations include going green. That’s right — all of this kitschy, comfy retro fun is powered by unobtrusive, roof-top solar panels, rain or shine! They’ve also instituted their own Earth-friendly ecosystems throughout the Inn, including a commitment to reducing and recycling trash throughout the property.

Looks like somebody made a Stuckey’s stop on their way to the Thunderbird Inn.
Image: Stuckey’s Corp. / Stephanie Stuckey

Oh, and one more thing. If you’re traveling with your cute and cuddly canine, Rover will love how the Thunderbird Inn provides him with his own doggie bed, treats, and an enclosed dog run so he can get his morning exercise before you’re back on the road. They’ll also provide you with a list of pooch-friendly places around Savannah.

All in all, the Thunderbird Inn makes you feel like you took a trip back in time — without the hassle and inconvenience of building your own time machine.

Though the Thunderbird Inn claims to be located at the corner of “Yes Ma’am and Dude™”, those of you getting directions using your smartphone will have a better time finding it at 611 West Oglethorpe Avenue in Savannah, GA. For general information or to make reservations, call them at (912) 232-2661 or email them at reservations@thethunderbirdinn.com.

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!

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