Vilano Beach, FL
I found this motel on the internet and fell in love with the sign!
About That Sign
After we arrived, the owner, Earl gave us some history about the motel and sign. The motel opened in 1951, but there was no neon sign with bunnies and top hats.
The bunny sign went up in the late 1990's when the motel was used for filming a TV series called, "Safe Harbor". The show was about a family living in a motel, in the fictional town of Magic Beach, Florida. One of the family members happened to be a magician.
Gotta Love Flamingos
A motel sign with bunnies may be a first for me.
But I'm guessing this is not my first stay at a Florida motel with a few flamingos. There were flamingos near the doors and high above the roof, glowing at night.
I liked having flamingos on both sides of the door, but I also liked all the accent colors.
Mint doors, pink-orange triangle shapes, stripes... The chairs didn't quite blend with the color and style, but I'm willing to ignore that.
Once inside 106, we found lots more color. The room murals were evidently done many years ago and have been touched up by art students over the years.
Luckily I didn't go to sleep thinking about the 2 pirates waving their flag and sword right above my head. Only in the morning did I chuckle at the thought.
I love it that this art deco beauty of a motel was renovated in recent years, preserving some Fun Florida details. The green and pink tiled bathroom was pretty awesome. There were porcelain soap and toothbrush holders mounted on the tile wall. A china seashell held our soaps.
But what was with that Magic Window? It was frosted, so I couldn't see through, to figure it out. At least the frosted glass meant no one could see us... or could they? I kept feeling like that window might have magic powers. Was it like Alice's looking glass or the famous, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall? Earl promised me it was just a window to some room with a furnace or something. Hmmm?
We had a spiffy table and chair set, beside a big picture window, with a view of the parking lot.
But with some positive thinking, I could practically see the ocean... just past that taller building.
The lower half of the building was once the motel's restaurant.
The owner of the motel in the 1970's added the second floor at his wife's request.
A Better View
Earl showed us the second floor room, with a shark mural and a balcony.
But the view the wife had once requested, was blocked by a newer complex... built by the same husband, trying to please his wife. That just makes no sense.
What to do?
The weather was chilly and breezy, or we could have lounged beside the almost kidney shaped pool.
Wandering the 'Hood
Instead, we decided to wander a bit and see what was within walking distance. Heading east from the motel, we found a pavilion and a sandy beach with lots of families.
Heading west, we found a pier, which had once been the bridge over the bay. The closing of the bridge is what caused the many of the old motels and motor courts to close down.
In truth, we didn't find enough to keep us entertained. We drove over the bay to St. Augustine, which was hopping on Saturday night.
When we returned later that night, we found something else hopping! 3 neon bunnies (and one in the hat) were looking mighty festive on our motel sign!
We had a stay in a retro Florida motel with a memorable neon sign. The place is family owned and in walking distance of beach and pier.
There was even a continental breakfast with "MeTV" showing a "Gilligan's Island" episode as we ate breakfast. Pretty fun stay for less than 100!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!