So I'm reading the hilarious Bill Bryson's I'm A Stranger Here Myself and I come across this little gem of history:
Something I have long wanted to do is visit the Motel Inn in San Luis Obispo, California.

On the face of it, this might seem an odd quest since the Motel Inn is not, by all accounts, a particularly prepossessing establishment. Built in 1925 in the Spanish colonial style much beloved by restaurant owners, Zorro, and almost no one else, it sits in the shadow of a busy elevated freeway amid a cluster of gas stations, fast-food outlets, and other, more modern motor inns.

Once, however, it was a famous stopping place on the coastal highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A Pasadena architect named Arthur Heineman gave it its exuberant style, but his most inspired legacy lies in the name he chose for it. Playing around with the words motor and hotel, he dubbed it a mo-tel, hyphenating the word to emphasize its novelty.

What do ya know? SLO town was the birth of the motel--at least the word anyway. I've seen this place many times; even stopped by one day to grab some pictures, but hadn't known of its illustrious history. Find out more here.