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By Paula Kerrigan, dealnews Assistant Editor
With the sun high in the sky today, we got a hankering for some sweet tea. And let's face it: If you want the good stuff, you gotta go south. Join us on a leisurely tour around Myrtle Beach, Atlanta, Birmingham, and New Orleans, where we explore beaches, lakes, and mansions and chow down on grits and beignets — all while saving you money along the way.
Myrtle Beach, Southern Carolina, sees almost 15 million sun-seekers annually, which is no mean feat for a city named after a shrub (Myrica cerifera for the horticulturalists in the crowd). We found a selection of hotel deals (from $53, a low by at least $4; expires June 15) in the area, but whether you're a beach bum or a water sports enthusiast, a 3-night stay at the Patricia Grand Resort Hotel (from $270, a low by $20; expires May 31) offers the perfect location to enjoy Myrtle Beach's world class seashore and temperate climate.
For a romantic Myrtle Beach getaway check out the Caravelle Resort (from $59, a low by $11; expires May 31), where you can unwind at the spa with a couples massage, then head down to the resort's Santa Maria restaurant to enjoy some of Myrtle Beach's superlative seafood. Complete your evening out with a nightcap at the chic Liquids Lounge bar, then sweep your partner off for a moonlit walk on the beach. (It's not cheesy unless you start singing, and sometimes you just can't fight the moonlight.)
Heading inland, we up the ante with a pit stop in Atlanta, Georgia. The hub of the South, Atlanta offers visitors all the excitement of a big city without forgetting its Southern manners. Set your bags down at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta (from $129, a low by at least $74; expires June 13) before heading out to explore the city's museums, parks, and live shows. Of course, Atlanta played a major part in the civil rights movement during the 1960s and those who have a penchant for history will enjoy a trip to the district of Sweet Auburn to see Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthplace.
Birmingham, Alabama may have been singled out as the worst hit city in America during the Great Depression, but it has risen phoenix-like from the ashes, and today visitors will find a modern city full of thriving clean industry, green parks, and friendly Southerners. We suggest checking in to the non-smoking Westin Birmingham ($149 per night, a low by $40; expires June 12), a well-equipped modern hotel with a rooftop pool and fully equipped gym. Birmingham is a great place to indulge your taste buds by sampling some southern cuisine, too. Head to the chic restaurant, Twenty Six and treat yourself to their Creole cornmeal crusted Gulf shrimp with smoked gouda cheese grits.
If it's time for peace and quiet, head on up to the Ridges Resort & Marina ($149 per night, a low by $40; expires June 7) in Northern Georgia. This rustic resort is situated on the tranquil shores of Lake Chatuge in the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers guests a chance to experience Southern comfort with leather furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows looking onto the lake. Here, you'll remember the simple pleasures of life: walking along one of the many nature paths, playing a game of cornhole, fishing, reading in the afternoon sun, and eating farm-to-table meals at the hotel's onsite restaurant, The Oaks. The resort is also located just two hours from Chattanooga, Tennessee, home to Glen Miller's classic tune The Chattanooga Choo Choo and the "eighth Wonder of the World" Rock City, with its panoramic view of seven states. (Rock city features prominently in Neil Gaiman's American Gods; if you haven't read it, now's the time!)
It wouldn't be right to take a trip down South without dropping into its most vibrant city, New Orleans, Louisiana. Let the Big Easy's decadent French architecture set the perfect backdrop for an adventure into a world of exotic Creole food, riverboats on the Mississippi, and funky and artistic afternoons. Step back in time with a 2-night stay at the Queen & Crescent Hotel (from $132, a low by $20; expires May 31) in the heart of the French Quarter. From here you'll be able to explore the nearby historic French Market, located on the banks of the Mississippi.
If you really want to treat yourself, opt for a 3-night stay in the Rathbone Mansions (from $177, a low by $53; ends May 31), also situated in the French Quarter. Since this neighborhood is the epicenter of New Orleans nightlife, you've come to the right place to laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!) No trip to this neighborhood is complete without a stop at the Café Du Monde on Jackson Square, where the beignets are a must. (They are, after all, the state doughnut of Louisiana.) Café Du Monde's beignets are a creole variation on the original French fritter, served with powdered sugar on top and ideally accompanied by a cafe au lait or chicory coffee.
We hope you found somewhere in the South to quench your thirst, but if it's not in your travel sights at the moment, you can check out our daily travel deals for other airfare sales, and hotel and vacation packages. Y'all have a great day now!