1. Rhyolite, Nev.

A house made of 30,000 beer bottles and other unique buildings in this former mining town have appeared in a number of films since the 1920s.

Stay: Six miles outside of Rhyolite, the Phoenix Inn in Beatty welcomes boarders. It also has a museum dedicated to the area’s Cold War-era atomic testing. 775-553-2250, www.atomic-inn.com

Eat: Fans of huevos rancheros will enjoy the Ensenada Grill. 775-553-2600

Play: The quirky outdoor sculptures at the Goldwell Open Air Museum are a must-see. 702-870-9946, www.goldwellmuseum.org

2. Garnet, Mont.

Garnet is one of Montana’s best-preserved ghost towns, despite the fact that the miners who built their homes in the area were more focused on finding gold than on laying solid foundations.

Stay: Nestle in at the 50-year-old Wagon Wheel Motel & Café in Drummond, an hour outside of Garnet. 406-288-3201

Eat: Get a cup of coffee and listen to the colorful history of the Stray Bullet Café, a former saloon. 406-793-4030, www.ovandomontana.net/businesses/straybullet.php

Play: Pan for gold or wet a line in the Beavertail Hill State Park. 406-444-3750, fwp.mt.gov/parks/visit/beavertailhill

3. Animas Forks, Colo.

The buildings in Animas Forks stood tall through the many avalanches that blanketed the area and forced residents in the late 1800s to evacuate to nearby towns during winter.

Stay: The stone Wyman Hotel & Inn, half an hour outside of Animas Forks in Silverton, Colo., is rich with Victorian décor and turn-of-the-century antiques and art. 970-387-5372, www.thewyman.com

Eat: The Stellar Bakery and Pizzeria serves up big helpings of pizza with a variety of options for toppings. 970-387-9940

Play: Take a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. 970-247-2733,


4. Cerro gordo, Calif.

Charcoal kilns are among the sole surviving pieces of a town that once produced millions of dollars worth of lead and silver.

Stay: The guest list at the Dow Villa Motel in Lone Pine, located 15 miles outside of Cerro Gordo, has included John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Robert Mitchum. 760-876-5521, www.dowvillamotel.com

Eat: Try the homemade cinnamon rolls at the Alabama Hills Café and Bakery. 760-876-4675 Play: You’ll be amazed at how many movies were filmed in Lone Pine, Calif.— including Westerns like Rawhide (1951) and Comanche Station (1960)—when you visit the Lone Pine Film History Museum, . 760-876-9909, www.lonepinefilmhistorymuseum.org

5. Bodie, Calif.

During its Wild West heydey, Bodie swayed with gold prospectors and hangers on. Today, 170 of the original buildings remain, like false-fronted stores and a saloon.

Stay: Drive 40 minutes from Bodie and get the full ghost town experience in Gold Rush-inspired tent cabins at the Virginia Creek Settlement in Bridgeport. 760-932-7780, www.virginiacreeksettlement.com

Eat: Grab some pizza and one of the signature martinis at Rhino’s Bar and Grille. 760-932-7345, www.therhinobar.com

Play: Take a two-hour trip and visit Yosemite National Park. 209-372-0200, nps.gov/yose

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