Marcotte’s Family Motel—Elizabeth, Illinois

A discreet knock on the door lets you know that a cheery little tray waits outside emblazoned with a colorful chicken. It’s filled with a bright red coffeepot, cinnamon muffins, and a pitcher (shaped like a lamb) of real cream. You sigh contentedly, pouring the steaming coffee into a cup before strolling outdoors to catch the early morning view of hilly pastures, trees, and horses.

Rooms range from basic (one queen and one full bed) to more elaborate layouts with kitchenettes. What makes the place special are the thoughtful little extras—beds dressed in snowy white sheets and country quilts, a small workout room, and larger suites with media players. Outdoors, a fire pit encourages guest gatherings, flowers and hostas brighten the yard, and comfortable chairs have been placed in all the best nature-viewing spots.

The largest room has a deck and a hot tub, from which you can relax in while you enjoy an evening gazing at the pastoral scene: the Driftless hills of northwestern Illinois…