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Tuesday, December 6, 2005 - Page updated at 05:09 PM

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How to find hotels and inns with character, history

The Associated Press

Sometimes it's not so much where you go as the character of the place you stay in when you get there that makes a trip a success. The Internet makes it much easier to find one of those perfect spots for your weekend or longer vacation.

One of the handiest resources for finding a room with character is Historic Hotels of America — www.historichotels.org — started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It only lists quality hotels that are least 50 years old and have historic significance. According to the Web site, it now has 218 members in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, ranging from rural settings to big cities.

Click on "The Ghosts of Christmas Past" for holiday packages and special events at some of the hotels.

Click on "Our Destinations" to search by state for accommodations. Each hotel's page has a description of its historic significance and accommodations, plus online reservations, and most have a photo gallery. And if you click on "About Historic Hotels" you'll find links to video tours of many of the properties.

Heading south to warmth? Click on Arizona on Historic Hotels' map to find Rancho de los Caballeros, a ranch at Wickenburg where you can hike and bike, play golf or tennis, or ride a horse. If that's not to your liking, head up U.S. 89 to the relaxing Hassayampa Inn in Prescott, Arizona's territorial capital, where you can explore the town's antique shops on your way north to the Grand Canyon.

Want something a little more intimate?

The bed-and-breakfast inn directory at I Love Inns — www.iloveinns.com — has a handy interactive map to help you find cozy retreats all over the United States. If you don't see one you like there, try Bed & Breakfast Inns of America — www.bbinnsofamerica.com — where you can click on their "Inn Search Of" map. to Something a little more imposing? PBS did a series a few years ago on the Great Lodges of the National Parks — www.pbs.org/opb/greatlodges — and the Web companion is still available online. Check out the "Flash Tour" for the Oregon Caves Lodge, an imposing chateau at Oregon Caves National Monument. And if you're taking that drive from Prescott to the Grand Canyon, get a reservation at the century-old El Tovar right on the canyon's South Rim.

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