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AMERICA'S BEST BED AND BREAKFASTS

* BEST B&Bs. According to the American Bed & Breakfast Association, of the 450 member inns inspected this year, the following came in with the highest ratings:

- Canyon Villa Bed & Breakfast Inn, Sedona, AZ, 1-602-284-1226- Simpson House Inn, Santa Barbara, CA 1-805-963-7067

- Inn on Summer Hill, Summerland, CA 1-800-845-5566

- Capitol Hill Mansion, Denver, CO 1-303-839-5221

- Idaho Country Inn, Sun Valley, ID 1-208-726-1019

- Inn at the Park, Wichita, KS 1-316-652-0500

- Blantyre, Lenox, MA 1-413-637-3556

- Bay Beach Bed & Breakfast, Sandwich, MA 1-508-888-8813

- Breakwater 1904, Bar Harbor, ME 1-207-288-2313

- Inn at Harbor Head, Kennebunkport, ME 1-207-967-5564

- Southmoreland on the Plaza, Kansas City, MO 1-816-531-7979

- Richmond Hill Inn, Asheville, NC 1-704-252-7313

- Hidden Crystal Inn, Hiddenite, NC 1-704-632-0063

- Nestlenook Farm on the River, Jackson, NH 1-603-383-9443

- Glasbern, Fogelsville, PA 1-603-383-9443

- The Inn at Georgian Place, Somerset, PA 1-814-443-1043

The association says the key to an enjoyable stay in a B&B is choosing one that matches your individuality, style and pocketbook. Some of the questions to ask before making a reservation include:

1. Guest room and bath. Do you prefer a large guest room? A private bath? Air conditioning? A scenic view? If so, specifically ask for them.

2. Price: What range do you have in mind? Would spending an additional $10 get you an upgraded room? Does the B&B accept credit cards? What is its cancellation policy? What happens if you don't like your room?

3. Host family: The family at a B&B may include small children as well as pets. Check on this in advance if you are trying to get a quiet weekend from your children or if you have allergies to animals.

4. Breakfast: All B&Bs should include a full or continental breakfast in the overnight room rate. They can vary from a pastry and coffee to a five-course meal. Ask what time breakfast is served and be sure it fits into your travel schedule. Discuss special dietary needs with your host in advance.

5. Special considerations: If you are traveling with children or pets, be sure to mention this when you're making your reservation. Some B&Bs have facilities to accommodate handicapped people. Is air-conditioning a must? Do you want a queen-size bed or will a double suffice?

Once you've made your reservations, here are pointers to help ensure a pleasant stay.

- If you're unexpectedly delayed and will arrive late, call your hosts so they are prepared to stay up late or make arrangements to leave a key for you.

- If you must cancel your stay, contact your hosts immediately. Cancellation policies differ from one establishment to the next. To receive a full refund, cancel within the time period stated on the cancellation policy.

Properties that pass the association's inspection are listed in "Inspected, Rated & Approved Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns," available from bookstores or directly from the association for $16.95 plus $3 for postage and handling by calling 1-800-7692468.

LONDON GETAWAY. Globus offers savings of $100 and $150 on November and December departures for "A Week in London" and its nine-day "Britain Sampler," respectively. The price for the city stay, normally $498 per person excluding air fare, will be $388. The price of the escorted tour, normally $728, will be $578, also excluding air fare. "A Week in London" gives you six nights and continental breakfast at first-class Park Court Hotel at Lancaster Gate overlooking Kensington Gardens, one reserved theater ticket to a wide choice of shows, and a half-day sightseeing tour. "Britain Sampler" is an escorted tour to well-known sights including London, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Bath, the Lake District, Stratford-upon-Avon and Edinburgh. The tour features first-class hotels, continental or full English breakfast daily, four dinners and motorcoach transportation with a tour director on board. For the 1994 Globus Europe brochure, call 1-800-851-0728, ext. 518.

AMERICA'S SCENIC BYWAYS. A new publication called "Road Trip USA" features 184 nationally designated scenic byways. The 81/2 by 11-inch book has 296 pages. It includes a detailed description and a map of each drive, charts that show recreational opportunities and attractions and 678 sources for additional free information. The book is available for $18.95 plus $3 for shipping from Roundabout Publications, which can be reached at 1-800-455-2207.

* NEW EXHIBITION AT BUFFALO BILL HISTORICAL CENTER. "Thundering Hooves: Five Centuries of Horse Power in the American West" opens Oct. 1 in Cody, Wyo. Organized by the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Tex., and sponsored by Ford Motor Co., it focuses on four major cultures that centered around the horse: conquistadores, vaqueros (Mexican cowboys), Plains Indians and American cowboys. The exhibition has 400 objects including artifacts, paintings, prints, models and videos. The exhibition will be on display through Nov. 30. Your paid admission into the museum gets you into this exhibition. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through November.

* CHICAGO HOME TOUR. Stroll through Chicago's Pullman neighborhood Oct. 8 and 9 during the Historic Pullman District's Annual House Tour. The neighborhood was built in 1880-1884 by George M. Pullman's Palace Car Company. It was considered a model industrial community. The district is now a National Historic Landmark. Participants in the tour will visit seven homes, the Greenstone church, the Hotel Florence and the Historic Pullman Visitor Center. For information call 1-312-785-8181.