Discover places that have offered more than a century of respite for legendary authors, presidents, actors, and fellow travelers. Roughly 1,300 of AAA′s 31,000 Approved lodgings are designated as historic. Historic properties are typically more than 75 years of age and exhibit historic architecture, design, furnishings, public record, or acclaim. Those in the U.S. meet at least one of the following criteria: maintain integrity of historic nature, listed on National Register of Historic Places, designated as a National Historic Landmark, or located in a National Register Historic District.
Here′s a sampling of Top 10 Historic Lodgings identified by AAA inspectors as their personal favorites.
Boston Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston, Mass., AAA Three Diamond Rated
Located on the Freedom Trail, this hotel lays claim to the title as Boston′s oldest inn and America′s oldest continuously operating hotel. Built in 1855 by Harvey Parker, the hotel was home to the legendary nineteenth century Saturday Club where great writers like Longfellow, Thoreau, and Emerson met for conversation. Baseball greats including Babe Ruth and Ted Williams wined and dined here, and John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for Congress in the hotel′s Press Room. Among its many notables, the hotel is credited with originating the Parker House roll and Boston cream pie.
Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Denver, Colo., AAA Four Diamond Rated
This elegant, triangular-shaped hotel has maintained its status as an elite accommodation since it opened its doors in 1892. The Brown Palace Club served as the campaign headquarters for Dwight D. Eisenhower prior to his election as president. Four suites are named for their famous residents: The Beatles Suite, Eisenhower Suite, Reagan Suite, and Teddy Roosevelt Suite. While practicing golf in his room, President Eisenhower hit a wayward golf ball and made a dent in the fireplace mantel that remains in the Eisenhower Suite. Today, this hotel is known for its spa, restaurants, and decadent tea service.
Casa Marina Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection, Key West, Fla., AAA Four Diamond Rated
Opened on New Year′s Eve 1920, the Casa Marina Resort was conceived by American railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to accommodate the railroad′s wealthy customers. Flagler passed away before construction began, but architects Thomas Hastings and John M. Carrere (who also designed New York′s Metropolitan Opera House, New York Public Library and the Senate and House of Representatives office buildings in D.C.) honored Flagler′s original vision. In 1942, the United States Navy purchased the property and it was used as officers′ quarters for the duration of World War II. During the Cuban Missile Crisis the resort was used by the United States Army′s Sixth Missile Battalion.
The Dearborn Inn, A Marriott Hotel, Dearborn, Mich., AAA Four Diamond Rated
Built in 1931 by Henry Ford on the grounds of the Ford Motor Company to provide food and accommodations to those flying to Ford Airport, the inn is officially the country′s first airport hotel. Designed by Albert Kahn in early American Colonial style, the main inn and surrounding colonial homes have retained their original historic exteriors. In 1937, five colonial homes were added to the inn, replicas of the homes of Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Barbara Fritchie, Oliver Wolcott, and Patrick Henry. In the same year, the property also became the first hotel in the country to offer air conditioning. World War II prevented further expansion of the colonial homes, but the inn dedicated rooms on the first floor to pilots who flew in and out of Detroit airport during the war.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Mich., AAA Four Diamond Rated
Opened in 1887, the Grand Hotel is located on Michigan′s historic Mackinac Island. Located high on a bluff, resort guests enjoy an exceptional view of the Straits of Mackinac from the hotel′s famous 660-foot porch. In 1895, Mark Twain lectured in the Grand Hotel Casino when admission was one dollar. Horse and carriage, walking, and bicycles are the only forms of transportation permitted on the island, which is rich with historic sites including Fort Mackinac.
The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, Tenn., AAA Five Diamond Rated
The Hermitage Hotel, named after Andrew Jackson′s Hermitage estate, opened its doors in 1910. As Nashville′s first million-dollar hotel, it was a gathering place for city socialites and a frequent stop for prominent figures including presidents, actresses, war heroes, and gangsters. For years, the hotel served as the headquarters of the state Democratic Party. At one time the famous pool legend Minnesota Fats had his own table on the Mezzanine above the lobby. The hotel features Italian Sienna Marble floors, a beautiful vaulted ceiling, and Russian walnut covered walls.
The Settlers Inn at Bingham Park, Hawley, Pa., AAA Four Diamond Rated
Located in the lake region of the Poconos, the inn was built in 1927 and has been beautifully restored in English arts and crafts tradition. Guest rooms are furnished with an eclectic blend of antiques, stained-glass lamps, luxury bedding, and modern amenities. A terrace overlooks the herb garden, and guests can stroll along the banks of the Lackawaxen River. The inn′s AAA Four Diamond “farm to table” restaurant features quality ingredients from local farms.
Sir Francis Drake Hotel, San Francisco, Calif., AAA Three Diamond Rated
Located just steps from Union Square on the Powell Street Cable Car line, this grand dame has a colorful past. Opened in 1928 for the pricey sum of $5 million, the Sir Francis Drake offered impressive innovations such as an indoor golf course, ice water on tap, and radios in every guest room. Owned at one time by Conrad Hilton, stars like Elizabeth Taylor graced the hotel and during wartime the military blocked rooms for soldiers. Currently, it is one of the most popular hotels for brides and one of the last hotels with rooftop dancing.
West Baden Springs Hotel, West Baden Springs, Ind., AAA Four Diamond Rated
Guests drive along a red brick pathway winding through the hotel′s beautiful gardens before being met by a huge domed area, which has been restored to its original grandeur. This resort was called “The Eighth Wonder of the World” when it first opened in 1902, due to either the huge domed building or the resort′s mineral baths, said to cure many ailments. The building laid claim to the largest free-spanning dome in the United States until 1963 and the largest in the world from 1902—1913.
The Wort Hotel, Jackson, Wyo., AAA Four Diamond Rated
This hotel officially opened in 1941 with original construction costs estimated at $90,000. In 1950, the famous Silver Dollar Bar was added, using 2,032 uncirculated silver dollars from the Federal Reserve in Denver. Although gambling has always been illegal in Wyoming, it was tolerated for years in resort areas and the hotel had gambling from its opening until the 1950s. The hotel exudes Western elegance, from original paintings by famous Western artists to leather couches and chairs in the lobby. Located in the center of Jackson Hole, it continues to be a favorite spot for locals and visitors.
For additional lodging information beyond our Top 10 Historic Lodgings, and complete trip planning, check the TourBook® guide listings, visit AAA.com/travel, or speak with a AAA Travel Agent at your local AAA travel office. Enjoy great AAA member rates when booking stays at AAA partner hotels on AAA.com/hotels.