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| Some parts of the South can get steamy in the summer, but there are plenty of destinations that are wonderful all year round. And you might even find some deals when the weather warms.
Marco Island, Fla.
With 30 miles of powder-soft white-sand beaches, Marco Island in southwest Florida — across the bridge from Naples and at the edge of the Everglades — is the largest of what’s known as the Ten Thousand Islands. It’s also a launching pad for loads of outdoor fun year-round. You can grab a paddle and kayak your way through the islands and mangrove estuaries, go on a seashell hunt along the shoreline (they even have seashell tours), spot frolicking dolphins and dine on the freshest seafood at the Little Bar Restaurant or the Oyster Society. The best part is relaxing as the sun melts into the Gulf of Mexico at day’s end. Accommodations include a swank Marriott resort, smaller hotels and lots of home rentals.
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Dubbed the “Cultural Mecca of the South,” it’s easy to see why artists, musicians and writers find inspiration in this charming college town (home to the University of Mississippi). Bibliophiles will want to stop in the multistoried Square Books and take a walking tour of the town’s rich literary heritage — including a stop at Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner. For music, go shopping at vinyl record shops, visit the Mississippi Blues Archives at Ole Miss, and catch a show at the Lyric Oxford theater. A good bet for dining: the hugely popular City Grocery known for its seasonal, farm-to-table Southern dishes. Affordable accommodation options abound, including chain hotels, cute downtown B&Bs (the Z) and the stylish Graduate Oxford.