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Route 66 Road Trip: Tucumcari Motels and Neon Signs

Photographs all of the old motels and neon signs along Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico. This was my favorite stop along our Route 66 Road Trip. I loved seeing all of the motels and neon signs from the bygone era of highway travel. 

Route 66 Road Trip: Tucumcari Motels and Neon Signs

Tucumcari was a typical Route 66 town with a main strip of motels and buildings from the bygone era of highway travel. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Tucumcari, but it was my favorite town along Route 66 because I loved, loved, LOVED all of the old buildings, motels, signs, and ruins. There is the Blue Swallow motel, one of the crown jewel motels of Route 66, La Cita restaurant with its sombrero hat, Motel Safari, Teepee Curios … hell, even the pet supplies store had an awesome sign!

Sadly, when Highway 40 was built, the highway bypassed the town and most travelers don’t get off the highway aside from the McDonalds or the Sonic near the exit. Because of this, many of the businesses have closed and nearly 25% of the town’s population lives below the poverty line.

You can read more about the town in my Route 66 Road Trip Day 8 Amarillo to Tucumcari blog post, but this post is dedicated to all of Tucumcari’s bygone Mother Road era and photographs of all her old motels and signs. 

When we got into town, I first photographed the Blue Swallow Motel where we were staying for the night. 

I then went across the street to photograph and visit the Tepee Curios gift shop. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to see Tepee Curios’ neon lights lit up at night!

Then my husband was kind enough to drive me from one end of town to the other so I could photograph every single awesome old sign, neon sign, vintage motel, or abandoned business ruin in town.

We started in the downtown area which is very much abandoned and has some warning signs on some of the buildings. The Odeon movie theater was still up and running and I would have loved to have seen a movie, but there were vintage neon signs to photograph, so we didn’t.

Then we drove along Historic Route 66 where we stopped at anything and everything awesome!

The La Cita restaurant with it’s sombrero hat and neon sign.


The Palamino Motel.

Del’s Restaurant with a fiberglass bull.

Ken’s Ice Cream was surprisingly closed! I cannot believe the town cannot sustain an ice cream shop!

Rubee’s Diner.

The wash lady neon sign atop Boulevard Cleaners and Laundromat on Route 66 is just gorgeous!

The Buckaroo Motel.

Here’s the awesome pet store sign again!

The Ranch House Cafe is long gone, but the awesome sign remains.

For some reason, the Pony Soldier Motel sign is one of my favorites. I can’t explain it, maybe it’s all the different type, the numerous signs, the colors, the sword through the letters, the graphic …  I don’t know, but I LOVE it. Unfortunately, I think it has since been removed from where it once stood but the owner says it will be displayed again one day.

Another ruin of a past restaurant.

And another.

And the Motel Safari motel is awesome and has a great sign and some painted murals around it’s property patio area.

And then there’s Tepee Curios lit up at night in all her neon glory!


Which one is your favorite? I’m torn between the Pony Soldier, the Palomino, Teepee Curios, and La Cita.

If you’re planning a Route 66 trip and want to follow along on where we stopped and stayed along the Mother Road, be sure to click through the rest of our trip: 

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