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Oddities and Island Breezes in Georgia

Surf Song Bed and Breakfast - Tybee Island, Georgia

Drive Time: About 2.5 hours from Jacksonville or 4 hours from Atlanta and Charlotte

A thoroughly modern interior is tucked inside this white-painted Victorian and its wraparound verandah. Antique details like hammered tin ceilings and original coal fireplaces nod to the Surf Song’s long history, yet the luxe rooms have contemporary comforts (flatscreen TVs, corner tubs). Tip: The third-floor suite has beach and sunrise views.

First pass through the genteel city of Savannah. Here, bookworms can’t miss the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil tour for a glimpse of Savannah’s most eccentric sights, including the ornate antebellum-manse-turned-crime-scene Mercer House. For a tour of a different kind, visit the large wildlife reserve on Savannah’s outskirts, including the alligator-strewn Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive.

 


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Pure North Carolina Pedigree

Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast - Asheville, North Carolina

Drive Time: 2 hours west of Charlotte, 5 hours south from Richmond, 7 from Washington D.C.

Abbington Green is a lavishly upscale inn with English gardens and serious origins (it was designed by the Biltmore Estate’s supervising architect). Expect the expert attentions of innkeeper/chef Nick Poulos overseeing it all. His breakfast alone is worth the trip, made with local fruit and greenhouse-grown herbs, served in multiple courses on fine china and crystal.

The grand Biltmore Estate is just a few minutes away, of course. But this region also has a quirky, earthy side, from Asheville’s River Arts district of warehouse studios and hip breweries, to the dramatic Instagram-worthy views at Chimney Rock State Park a quick 25 miles south (it’s a moderate-to-strenuous hike for adventurers).

 


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Mardi Gras and Museums in Mobile

Fort Conde Inn - Mobile, Alabama

Drive Time: 2.5 hours from New Orleans or 4.5 hours from Atlanta

One of Mobile’s oldest homes, the 1836 Fort Conde Inn is a museum piece in its own right. Meticulously restored details abound: heart pine floors, marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, and a gas-lantern-lit veranda. We are obsessed with the Margaret Suite’s antique clawfoot tub — the perfect spot for a soak and a glass of wine.

Don’t tell New Orleans but Mobile is the true birthplace of Mardi Gras. Pop into the Carnival Museum to see the sparkliest crowns and elaborate floats up close. Visit in January or February for a whopping 33 parades and countless balls — but note that you’ll have to pack black tails or a formal dress! Or, if you’re feeling more beach than ballgown, the white-sand Gulf Shores beaches — and all-you-can-eat shrimp bars like Mikee’s — are never far.

 


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Lions, Tigers, and Inns in St. Augustine

The Kenwood Inn - St. Augustine FL

Drive Time: Just over 5 hours from Atlanta or 3 hours from Tallahassee

The Kenwood Inn is a Diamond Collection gem filled with historical elegance. Since 1865, this inn has welcomed guests to its wide-open interiors and relaxing public spaces. Those are the true draw here, from the saltwater swimming pool to the parlor’s baby grand piano to a private courtyard where sun-soaked breakfasts are served.

Inland, animal lovers can tour the unique St. Augustine Wild Reserve. The resident exotic rescues include lions and a rare golden tabby tiger. (Lucky guests will get a glimpse of tiger bubblebath time!) Note that advanced appointments must be made at this practically secret spot. As you head into St. Augustine proper, stop for a spell at Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth and drink from the legendarily life-lengthening waters — no guarantees, of course.

 

 


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A Great American Road Trip in Florida

Ambrosia Key West - Key West FL

Drive Time: 3.5 hours from Miami

Think of this bed and breakfast as your very own sweet tropical treat. Within easy walking distance to Duval Street and the island’s best beaches, Ambrosia is a well located charmer composed of rooms, suites and spacious townhomes within a lush tropical compound. Best of all, Spot can come too — Ambrosia is pet-friendly.

he drive south on the Overseas Highway (the southernmost segment of US 1) is one of America’s iconic road trips. Stop for birdwatching in peaceful Big Pine Key, polished off with a beer at the famous No Name Bar. Embark on a dive off Key Largo, where bullsharks and barracuda dart among the wrecks. Time your drive over Seven Mile Bridge to catch a spectacular show as the sun sinks into the Atlantic.

 

 


—by Dara Continenza