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Five Splendid Towns to Visit, Enjoy in Arizona

1. Bisbee. Located in southern Arizona, about 90 miles southeast of Tuscan, this former mining town (of gold, silver, and copper) was founded in 1880 and named for Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the nearby Copper Queen Mine. Other minerals found in area mines include aragonite, malachite, azurite, and galena. Named as the Best Historic Small Town, it has about 6,000 residents, and includes old saloons, restaurants, art galleries, and antique shops. Be sure to visit the historic part of Bisbee, known as "Old Bisbee," including Main Street, Brewery Gulch, OK Street, and Tombstone Canyon. Many films have been made in and around Bisbee, including Cold Feet, Four Eyes and Six Guns, Jesse, and Cannonball Run II. Be sure and experience the Heritage Stairs (but be prepared; there are thousands of them), the Copper Queen Library, Evergreen Cemetery, the Copper Miner (sculpture), and tour the Queen Mine. The Mexican border at Naco is 11 miles south of town. Learn more: Discover Bisbee.

2. Prescott. Located in central Arizona, about equal distance between Phoenix and Flagstaff, adjacent to the Prescott National Forest, just south of the Granite Dells (known for large boulder outcroppings that have eroded into bumpy rock features), at an elevation of 5,200 feet, with a population of almost 40,000, this beautiful and historic town was named after author William H. Prescott (whose writing were popular during the Civil War). Once the territorial capital of the state, the town has more than 800 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, including building on Whiskey Row (once a notorious red-light district), and Falcon Nest, on the slope of Thumb Butte, is the tallest house in North America. It sits among the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine forests in the U.S., and provides opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, golfing, fishing, camping, boating -- as well as shopping, drinking, and dining. Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe Reservation is adjacent to the town. Be sure and visit one or all of these museums: Sharlot, Smoki, and Phippen. Annual events include: Frontier Days, World's Oldest Rodeo, Prescott Film Festival, Folk Arts Fair. Outdoor enthusiasts will love Watson Lake and the Peavine National Recreation Trail (south of town), named for the twists and turns, resembling the vine on which peas grow, Other places to visit include Goldwater Park, Willow Lake Park, and Lynx Lake Recreation Area. Learn more: Visit Prescott.

3. Sedona. Located in central Arizona, about 30 miles south of Flagstaff, in the Upper Sonoran Desert, at an elevation of 4,500 feet, this must-visit town of about 10,100 people, which is surrounded by red rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and pine forests, this vibrant arts community hosts several annual events, including: Sedona International Film Festival, Sedona Jazz on the Rocks Festival, and Sedona Solstice Festivals. Named for the wife of the first postmaster, Mrs. Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly, it is home to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which rises 70 feet out of a 1,000-foot red rock cliff, as well as many other attractions, including: Palatki Ruins (World Heritage Site; ancient cliff dwellings), V bar V Ranch (with more than 1,000 petroglyphs), Sedona Heritage Museum, Tlaquepaque Arts and Craft Village, and Jordan Historical Park. Make sure you see Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Snoopy Rock. Consider hiking Devils Bridge Trail (to view the largest natural sandstone arch in Sedona), Schuerman Mountain Vista Trail (panoramic views from top of old volcano), Centennial Trail (though pinyon pine forest to overlook), Aerie Trail (beautiful vistas, with access to many other trails in Dry Creek area), and Robbers Roost Trail (a hidden cave possibly used as a hideout by fugitives). Visit Red Rock State Park and Slide Rock State Park. Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway through Oak Creek Canyon. Finally, consider tasting your way along the Verde Valley Wine Trail. Learn more: Visit Sedona.

4. Williams. Located in north-central Arizona, about 40 miles west of Flagstaff, this gateway to the Grand Canyon sits at an elevation of 6,766 feet, a quaint mountain town nestled in the pine country, and has a population of about 3,000 people. It lies along the routes of Historic Route 66, I-40, and the Southwest Chief Amtrak line, as well as the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway. The town thrives on tourism, including the Historic Downtown District (which covers six square blocks and offers a nightly shoot-out during summers on main Street), as well as with outdoor activities (including the Kaibab National Forest), such as fishing, camping, hiking, boating, biking, skiing, golfing, hunting, and more -- through four distinct seasons. Founded in 1881, the town is named after William (Old Bill) Williams, a mountain man and trader who trapped in the area. Annual events in Williams include rodeos, art walks, the Historical Route 66 Car Show, Polar Express, and more. The Grand Canyon National Park is an hour drive, or a two-hour train ride. Be sure to also visit Sycamore Canyon Wilderness, as well as one of more of these lakes: Cataract, Kaibab, Dogtown, and White Horse. Finally, check out Bearizona Wildlife Park to see (from the comfort of your own vehicle) bears, bison, wolves wandering the 160-acre park. Learn more: Experience Williams.

5. Winslow. Located in eastern Arizona, about 60 miles east of Flagstaff, at an elevation of 4,850 feet, this town of "10,000 happy faces" is an old railroad town, and once a key town along Historic Route 66 until the 1970s when I-40 was created and bypassed it. Most likely named for the then president of the St. Louise and San Francisco Railroad, Edward F. Winslow (though a counter theory is that the town was named after a local prospector, Tom Winslow), the town offers visitors a look back in history, including the La Posada Hotel (the last of the great trackside hotels built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railroad to be a Fred Harvey House for its train passengers, now fully restored, plus Amtrak depot) and the Old Trails Museum. No visit would be complete without a snapshot of your party standing on a corner, made famous by The Eagle's Take It Easy ... in fact, there is even a Standin' on The Corner Park, as well as an annual street festival I late September. Finally, check out the 9/11 Remembrance Garden, which includes two steel beams recovered from New York City's World Trade Center towers. Other nearby places to visit include: (Barringer) Meteor Crater, Painted Desert (rocky badlands), Petrified Forest National Park, and Little Painted Desert County Park, as well as Homolovi Ruins State Park and Rock Art Canyon Ranch. Learn more: Winslow Chamber of Commerce.

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