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Best of AZ
Hart Prairie Preserve, near Flagstaff

© Tom Bean

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Best of AZ
Unless you're über-omniscient or an arrogant know-it-all, there's no way of putting together a definitive list of the best of everything. Especially in a place like Arizona, where the range of people, places and things is as vast as the Grand Canyon. Nevertheless, in our ongoing effort to steer you toward the state's superlatives, we present our second-annual Best of AZ package. From the beefiest bratwurst to the best place to shack up with the stars, this is our take on the best places to eat, stay and play in Arizona.

By Kelly Kramer

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Best Place to Juke Like the Duke
Saddlerock Ranch, Sedona
Many travelers have hung their hats at Saddlerock Ranch, including John Wayne, who frequented the ranch when he was filming in the Sedona area. Constructed from native materials in the 1920s, Saddlerock backs up to the Coconino National Forest and is within a short walking distance of one of Sedona's famed energy vortexes, the Airport Vortex. Recently restored by new managers, the ranch features red-rock walls, timber-beam ceilings, flagstone floors and natural rock fireplaces, as well as a plaque that proclaims it one of Sedona's historic landmarks. The ranch is beautiful, romantic, rich with history and wired. Information: 928-203-6465.

Best of Arizona

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Best Way to Have a Little Hart
Hart Prairie Preserve, near Flagstaff
A community of Bebb willow trees makes Hart Prairie Preserve special. Well, the willows and the porcupines and the prairie dogs and the deer and the elk. That's why The Nature Conservancy works so hard to protect it. It's possible to stay among the Bebbs by booking a night or two at one of the six cabins on preserve property. The largest is known as "The Homestead," and it dates to the 1870s, when European settlers built it as a stop along the Grand Canyon State Route. Today, the renovated cabin features two bedrooms and an indoor restroom with a shower. Information: 928-774-8892 or www.nature.org.
Best Opportunity to Dream in Black-and-White
Wigwam Motel, Holbrook
Chester E. Lewis saw his first wigwam village when he passed through Cave City, Kentucky, in 1938. The motel, the brainchild of Frank Redford, featured 15 teepees and a playground. Lewis was so inspired he decided to create his own village right here in Arizona, and in 1950, he built Wigwam Village No. 6 along Route 66 in Holbrook, having purchased the design rights from Redford. Today, guests can stay in one of 15 concrete-and-steel teepees, which feature small bathrooms, restored hickory furniture, double beds and window-mounted air conditioners. They're retro, and so are the cars parked around the property. Check them out while you're checking in. Information: 928-524-3048 or www.galerie-kokopelli.com/wigwam.
Best Place to Shack Up With the Stars
Kitt Peak National Observatory, southwest of Tucson
We're talking about real stars here, not celestial bodies like Brad Pitt. At Kitt Peak National Observatory, on the Tohono O'odham Nation, small groups can register for overnight programs that include exoplanet exploration, astrophotography and an asteroid quest. The multiday programs include lodging in Kitt Peak dormitories, as well as meals and plenty of space rocks, planets and stars. Dreamy. Information: 520-318-8726 or www.noao.edu.
Best Reason to Sleep With a Light On
Hassayampa Inn, Prescott
Faith Summers likes to stay at the Hassayampa Inn. That's a problem, because Faith is not of the earthly realm. Legend has it that Faith hung herself after her brand-new husband went out for cigarettes one night during their honeymoon in 1927 and never returned. That happened in room 426, and ever since, people have reported feeling Faith's presence in the hotel. One Internet rumor says the ghost of the betrayed bride likes to give women foot massages. Apparently she prefers to give men nightmares. If you're into doppelganger dreams, book a night in room 426, but if you're afraid of things that go bump in the night, you might want to leave the light on. Information: 928-778-9434 or www.hassayampainn.com.
Best Excuse to Fly South
Casa de San Pedro, Hereford
Birds. If you like them, you'll love Casa de San Pedro, nestled on 10 acres adjacent to the San Pedro River and Riparian National Conservation Area, and within a short distance of 15 other popular birding areas, including Ramsey Canyon, Kino Springs and Patagonia Preserve. When it comes to actual accommodations, Casa de San Pedro is anything but "for the birds." Each of the 10 guestrooms features a private bath, tasteful Southwestern décor and works by local artists, as well as private patios accented with hummingbird-friendly plants. Information: 520-366-1300 or www.bedandbirds.com.

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