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Gems worth seeking out in the Southwest

A new coffee-table book travels through 28 towns and villages in five states. Here's a sampling of eight notable inns, hotels and watering holes filled with history and local color.

November 29, 2009

In their new coffee-table book, "The Most Beautiful Villages and Towns of the Southwest" (Thames & Hudson, $40), writer Joan Tapper and photographer Nik Wheeler turn a spotlight on 28 likely destinations in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

Many of their favorites, such as Taos and Aspen, will come as no surprise. But then you come across Tumacacori and Tubac, Ariz.; Georgetown and Idaho Springs, Colo.; Genoa, Nev.; or Manti, Spring City and Ephraim, Utah.

Even if you've done a lot of wandering around the red rocks, ghost towns and mining outposts of the West, chances are you've missed a few of these places. And as you comb through the 208 pages and 308 images here, some of the places are bound to whisper to you. At least they did to me. (And why is it the bars seem to whisper more persuasively than the other businesses?)

Anyway, many of Tapper's historical tidbits will stick as well. For instance, the leading local newspaper in Tombstone, Ariz., founded in 1880, was once the Epitaph. Sedona, Ariz., was named for the postmaster's wife, Sedona Schnebly. In Aspen, the Hotel Jerome's bar used to serve "Aspen crud," a milkshake laced with bourbon. And at the conclusion of the 1991 film "Thelma and Louise," Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis made their airborne automotive exit from Dead Horse Point in Moab, Utah.

Now, here are eight sipping or sleeping spots from Tapper and Wheeler's pages. In an ideal world, we could both be on our way tomorrow to begin testing them personally. But in this world, for now, we can at least comfort ourselves with photos and links. Next stop, Prescott, Ariz.

The Hassayampa Inn, Prescott, Ariz., was built in 1927. Learn more here.

Abe's Old Tumacacori Bar, in Tumacacori, Ariz., goes back to the 1930s and is actually owned by a guy named Abe. Learn more here.

The Hotel Jerome, Aspen, Colo., went up in 1889. Learn more here.

The Beaumont Hotel in Ouray, Colo., goes back to 1886. It closed for more than three decades before new owners renovated and reopened it in 2003. Learn more here.

In Telluride, Colo., the New Sheridan Bar has endured since 1895 on the ground floor of the red-brick New Sheridan Hotel. Learn more here.

In tiny Genoa, Nev., the Genoa Bar proclaims itself "Nevada's oldest thirst parlor"; it dates to 1853. Learn more here.

In Las Vegas, N.M., the 1882 Plaza Hotel dominates a historic district of about 900 buildings. Learn more here.

In Kanab, Utah, the Parry Lodge (opened 1931) has been a favorite of western film crews and actors including John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Lana Turner, Barbara Stanwyck and Clint Eastwood. Learn more here.

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