Business or extended-stay hotels are increasingly available across the country. They can be found in smaller towns across the midwest or in coastal urban areas. Generally they are more expensive than motels, but not as expensive as full-scale hotels. While the hotels may appear to be the size of a motel, they may offer ammenities from larger hotels. Examples include the Marriott's chain of Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inns, and Residence Inns; Hampton Inn; or Holiday Inn's Holiday Inn Express. Some of the hotels are for long term stays directed at business travelers or families, as they might feature kitchens in most rooms, afternoon social events (generally by a pool), and generally serve continental breakfast.
Hotels are available in most cities and usually offer more services and amenities than motels. Rooms are very large, glamorous, and expensive hotels can be found in most major cities, offering luxury suites larger than some houses. An affordable and nationwide set of hotel brands exist such as Amerisuites, Hawthorn, Days Inn (+1 800 329-7466), and Microtel, all boasting the amenities and services of an expensive hotel at budget to reasonable rates.AmericInn offers very nice but reasonable lodging for families and business travelers alike throughout the 50 states.
In many rural areas, especially on the coasts and in New England, bed and breakfast (B&B) lodging can be found. Usually in buildings with less than a dozen units, B&Bs feature a more homey lodging experience, with complimentary breakfast served (of varying quality and complexity). They can be a nice break from the impersonality of chain hotels and motels. Unlike Europe, most American bed and breakfasts are unmarked; one must make a reservation beforehand and receive directions there.
The two best-known hotel guides covering the U.S. are the American Automobile Association (AAA) guides, available to members of AAA and affiliated auto clubs worldwide at local AAA offices; and by Mobil Travel Guide, available at bookstores. Major online sites offering hotel bookings include Expedia, Hotels.com, Travelocity and Priceline; be aware that many of these sites add a small commission to the room rate, so it may be cheaper to book directly through the hotel. On the other hand, some hotels in the US charge more for "drop-in" business than reserved rooms or rooms acquired through agents and brokers, so it's worth checking both.
There are also youth hostels across the U.S. Most are affiliated with the American Youth Hostel organization (affiliated with Hostelling International). Quality of hostels varies widely, but the prices are unbeatable. Despite the name, AYH membership is open to people of any age. Independent hostels (not affiliated with AYH) are also available, particularly in larger cities. Be aware that hostels are clustered in more touristy locations, do not assume that all mid sized towns will have a hostel.
Camping can also be a very affordable lodging option, especially with good weather. The downside of camping is that most campgrounds are outside urban regions, so it's not much of an option for trips to big cities. There is a huge network of National Parks (+1 800 365-2267) in the US, with most states and counties having their own park system, too. Most state and national campgrounds are of excellent quality, with beautiful natural environments. Kampgrounds of America (KOA) has a chain of commercial campground franchises across the country, of significantly less charm than their public-sector equivalents, but with hookups for recreational vehicles and amenities such as Laundromats.