Column: The Retro Bliss of Vintage Trailer Resorts (3/8/2019)

Story by Woodall's Campground Management

A restored vintage travel trailer sits at the Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court in Bisbee, Ariz. A restored vintage travel trailer sits at the Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court in Bisbee, Ariz.

Editor's Note: This column was written by Erin Williams and was published by The Washington Post.

“You’ll know yours by the shine,” said Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court manager Brad Hardy. He was escorting me to my home for the night, a 1955 Airstream. Even though it was built during the Eisenhower era, its polished aluminum exterior gleamed like it had rolled off the factory floor yesterday.

The Airstream was the only model of its kind in a fleet of 10 travel trailers, all dating from 1947 to 1959 and nested under trees and beside tiki statues at the Bisbee, Ariz., resort. Yet even the less iconic trailers were so meticulously renovated, I half expected Frank Sinatra to pull up in a Cadillac and ask me to join him for an egg cream in the Shady Dell’s 1950s-style diner.

My overnight stay was the second of two visits to vintage travel trailer resorts, a road-trip sampling of destinations that feature restored Airstreams and other trailers. They cater to people who are captivated by quirky chic or midcentury design, want to reminisce about bygone Americana or crave a nomadic lifestyle but don’t have the budget or space for their own RV.

In a recent informal tally, I counted nearly 20 retro resorts in nine states from California to Tennessee, with more on the way. Some are rustic, with basic amenities, offbeat themes and kitschy art. Other higher-end retreats provide flat-panel TVs and luxury mattresses, linens and toiletries. Many offer communal spaces: wine bars, pools, bathhouses, fire pits and lawn games.

The first resort I visited is in coastal Seaview, Wash. The Sou’wester Historic Lodge and Vintage Travel Trailer Resort boasts 25 trailers, from a compact Shasta that sleeps one to the African Queen , a tri-level colossus that sleeps eight. The resort also offers cabins, lodge suites, campsites and bring-your-own RV hookups across its three-acre grounds.

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