For a recent family vacation we headed to California, a trip that included Joshua Tree National Park. During that time, good friends of ours went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Both of us found family-friendly affordable hotels we vowed to go back to.
First up, Travelodge Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree National Park, 54850 29 Palms Highway, Yucca Valley, CA; phone: 760-365-3311. Located on Highway 62, a quick nine miles from Joshua Tree National Park, the Travelodge Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree surprised me. The size of our two queen-sized bed room was out of the ordinary–not enough to throw a party, but with plenty of room to spread out and make packed lunches for a hike. When I saw the long dresser that doubled as a counter for the coffee maker with a couple of feet at one end to spare, that’s what I thought. “This would be a perfect space to hold food and make sandwiches.”
Alas, we weren’t on that sort of road trip. We were on a one night here and there sort of trip with food picked up on the fly at each stop. On another trip to Joshua Tree, one where we could settle in for a few days, this Travelodge would be perfect. Along with its size, the room was divided into two distinct sections, one for the bathroom, the dresser with the coffee maker, and the closet. The two beds, a refrigerator, a table, two chairs and another dresser that held the TV were in the other section.
What also impressed me was the artwork. Instead of the non-descript standard decorations that hold no significance, this particular Travelodge had “real” art. Above the bed and along the wall that divided the room’s two sections from each other were framed photographs signed by the artist. In addition, the comforter covers were soft cotton and the beds comfortable.
I also liked that our room had two doors, one that opened to the pool and the other to the parking lot. As for the included breakfast, it was also good. Make-your-own waffles filled out the cereal, breakfast breads and toast options of the continental breakfast. If you don’t want to eat inside in the dining area, the hotel does have a garden area with tables and chairs.
In addition to the pleasant ambiance, I found the staff friendly and helpful. A week before our arrival, I called to move our reservation up a day. The person who answered the phone is the same person who checked us in. He remembered me which was a lovely touch.
Our friends settled into the Vacation Lodge, 3450 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, phone: 800-468-1998, also wishing they could have stayed longer. My friend, who was traveling with three teens, her sister and her father, appreciated the amenities, comfort and the price. Two rooms with two queen-sized beds cost her less than $90 for two nights. A microwave, refrigerator and free WiFi are standard for each room.
The teens were thrilled with the breakfast. Biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs were part of the deluxe continental breakfast offerings.For anyone heading to Dollywood or planning to stay in this region of the Great Smokey Mountains for awhile, my friend highly recommends this place. She also talked about how clean it is and how the staff is so delightful and friendly. The swimming pool and the trolley stop in front of the lodge also makes this hotel family-friendly.
Other room options at the Vacation Lodge are: the Honeymoon Suite with Jacuzzi, King Mini-Suite with Fireplace, Two Queen Mini-Suite with Jacuzzi, One Queen, One King, and Two Double Beds with Sleeper Sofa. Book online at Priceline.
Post and Travelodge Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association
Vacation Lodge photos courtesy of Vacation Lodge