Creative Conversions of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles



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Recycled Rides

Just because a passenger jet or a railroad car has outlived its original purpose doesn't mean it has come to the end of the road. Second-hand vehicles of all sorts — buses, cabooses, airplanes, and more — have been repurposed as restaurants, motels, homes, and more. We found a baker's dozen of cool commuter conversions worth hitting the road to see.

Related: 25 Coolest Tiny Home Rentals on Airbnb

Airplane Restaurant

The Airplane Restaurant | Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, so it makes sense that the city would also be home to a converted Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter strategic tanker aircraft. The plane, built in 1953, was used for nearly a half century to refuel aircraft mid-flight. After being decommissioned by the Air Force, it moved to Colorado Springs and converted into a 42-seat restaurant in 2002. Lunch and dinner are served, and the facility is available for private rentals.

Related: 19 Awe-Inspiring U.S. Military Vehicles

Caboose Motel

Caboose Motel | Titusville, Pennsylvania

This seasonal resort in the Keystone State's historic Oil Field region consists of 21 vintage cabooses. Situated on tracks beside the restored Perry Street Station, the motel is just steps from downtown Titusville. In summertime, rail buffs will want to make time for a ride on the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad, a 27-mile, three-hour trip aboard Depression-era Pullman rail cars to Oil Creek State Park and back.

Related: 20 Spectacular Trails That Used to Be Railroads

The Put-in-Bay ship house.
The Put-in-Bay ship house. by Rona Proudfoot (CC BY-NC)

The Benson Ford Shiphouse | Put-In-Bay, Ohio

The only stop on our itinerary that isn't open to the public, this ship-turned-home is just too cool not to mention. Once the property of the Ford Motor Co., this 1924 cargo vessel ferried iron ore across the Great Lakes. After being decommissioned in 1986, it was purchased and slowly converted by an Ohio couple into a residence on South Bass Island in Lake Erie.

Ream Hills Holiday Park

Ream Hills Holiday Park | Preston, England

Sure, a converted airplane or rail car is cool and all, but spending the night in a former military chopper is rad! This Westland Lynx XZ676 helicopter was built in 1982 and after a lengthy tour of military service, it's now doing duty as overnight accomodations for up to four persons. If you prefer more traditional quarters, there are also cabins for rent on site, or bring your own RV.

The 1948 Spartan at Suitable Digs

The 1948 Spartan at Suitable Digs | Santa Fe, New Mexico

Escape the ordinary in the Land of Enchantment with a night or a weekend in this restored 72-year-old Spartan travel trailer, situated on a beautifully landscaped 2.5-acre private homestead. Stroll the meticulously cultivated organic flowerbeds, visit the greenhouses, or just enjoy the starry New Mexico night sky outside your door.

Train Hostel

Train Hostel | Brussels, Belgium

Perched atop this restored 1910 building in the Belgian capital, you'll find two passenger cars built in the late 1970s and in service until 2008. With a mix of 36 private rooms, sleeping compartments, and dorm rooms, the Train Hostel can sleep about 200 guests in the trains and building below. There's also a bar and bistro, and the Train World Museum is just steps away.

Project Freedom USA
Thanin Viriyaki

Project Freedom USA | Brookshire, Texas

Everything's bigger in Texas. For nearly a decade, Joe Axline has been turning his lifelong dream into a reality. He's already converted a McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 into living quarters, with an adjacent Douglas DC-9 in progress. If you're in the Houston area, Axline offers tours of "Project Freedom" on a scheduled basis via Airbnb.

Hotel Costa Verde

Hotel Costa Verde | Quepos, Costa Rica

You'll feel like you're flying high at the Hotel Costa Verde in Costa Rica. After serving South Africa Air and the Colombian Avianca Airlines, this 1965 Boeing 727 now functions as a unique hostel space with spiral staircases and hand-carved Indonesian furniture soaring over Manuel Antonio National Park's jungle canopy.

Red Caboose Motel

Red Caboose Motel | Ronks, Pennsylvania

When the Pennsylvania Railroad went bankrupt, it liquidated its assets — including its rolling stock. On a whim, a Pennsylvania resort operator named Don Denlinger bid on 19 of the company's cabooses being sold at auction in 1969. The rest, as they say, is history. Since opening in 1970, the motel has grown to 38 converted cabooses, plus a mail car and a baggage car. If you don't feel like spending the night in a rail car, there are rooms in the adjacent farmhouse, too.

The Bus Stop

The Bus Stop | East Lothian, Scotland

You'll find nine converted tour buses, two of which are classic British double-deckers, at this retreat on a working farm nestled in the Lammermuir Hills Edinburgh. All of the buses come with a wood-burning stove inside, plus a fire pit and hot tub outside, but if you want a private kitchen, you'll have to pony up for one of the three "luxury" rentals.

Canyon Motel & RV Park

Canyon Motel & RV Park | Williams, Arizona

Wanna get your kicks on Route 66? Then head out to the town of Williams, where you can stay in either a converted 1950s-era Pullman rail car or one of two cabooses built in 1929. The Pullman car, which once ferried passengers along the Grand Canyon Railroad, now has three guest suites; the cabooses once brought up the rear along the Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. Got a large party? There's also a motel from 1939 and an RV park on the resort property.

Related: 23 Iconic and Unique Motels Across America


Esjan | Reykjavik, Iceland

Sleeping in a former accordion-style city bus may not be your idea of glamping, but travelers who've stayed at this quirky lodge give it a perfect score on TripAdvisor. The two converted buses have a total of five sleeping units, each with its own kitchenette, and all of them have stunning views of nearby Mount Esja.

The Carriage

The Carriage | Castle Douglas, Scotland

Built in 1957, this British passenger rail car is now parked at the site of a former rail station that served the rural region of Castle Douglas. It sleeps up to six, and has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchenette, and a large deck with plenty of space for lounging on sunny days and soaking up the Scottish surroundings.