The Gulf Coast remains one of the most beautiful and  well-traveled parts of the United States. The combination of historic venues, the balmy Southern climate and easy getaways from any point in the Southeastern U.S., and the Gulf Coast becomes irresistible.

    This summer, area attractions and accommodations are up and running, and awaiting your arrival. Here are some of the best of the best:
    We can all use a break from the hassles of our every day lives, and an escape to a place where the uncluttered beauty of white sandy beaches and enchanting Gulf waters let us rejuvenate our souls and reconnect with loved ones.

    The Beaches of South Walton is just that escape. With 26 miles of clean, beautiful coastline featuring 14 diverse beach communities, what more could anyone want for a weekend getaway or a family vacation? The pride of the area is certainly the beaches. Guests have taken note, and continually praised the clean, well-maintained natural beauty of the coastline, sandy slivers of tranquility where relaxation is the only option.

    The Beaches of South Walton recently completed a multi-million dollar beach restoration project in the Sandestin area, adding 75 to 100 feet of sand for visitors to enjoy, providing even space to unwind.

    Dining options rival the best in the nation, with award-winning chefs who reveal a zest for their craft in every dish – a secret revealed by winning some of the industry’s most prestigious culinary awards.

    Guests are invited to play 207 challenging holes of golf on nine of the Gulf’s top-rated courses, or seek out shopping treasures and locally made art. Beaches of South Walton offers hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking or bird watching in an area where more than 40 percent of the land can never be developed.  

    For more information or to plan a vacation to Beaches of South Walton, visit www.beachesofsouthwalton.com or call 800-822-6877.

    This spring and summer, consider staying with Southern Resorts, and choose from a variety of beach homes, cottages and condos along the Coast in the Beaches of South Walton, Fort Walton Beach and Destin, Fla., and in Port St. Joe, Fla.  You may enjoy Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, where the vacation spot of the “past” has been revived and is definitely a current favorite. Watch the fishing boats come and go while staying at one of their Holiday Isle properties.

    Downtown Destin properties are close to water parks and the Harbor. Or, venture off the main highway onto Scenic Old 98 to a coastal area sprinkled with colorful beach cottages, homes and mid-rise condominiums. In a variety of seaside neighborhoods, you will find magnificent beach homes as well as quaint one-bedroom condominiums across the street from the beach. Embark a little further east to the Beaches of South Walton. Here you can choose between several delightful beach communities, offering old-fashioned beach-going quietude, culturally diverse palette of art and events and the picturesque natural beauty of the area. Still further east is their newest area, Port St. Joe, featuring cottages, Resorts’ interactive guide, satellite maps and reserve on line at www.southernresorts.com, or call 800-737-BEACH.

    In Orange Beach, Caribe The Resort offers superbly designed, full Jacuzzi brand master suites and gourmet kitchens, including stainless steel appliances and granite countertops set in European style cabinetry. Luxurious two and three bedroom condominiums, in four different floor plans, with between 1,400-2,400 heated and cooled square feet. Each unit comes complete with 20-inch porcelain tile flooring, 9 to 11-foot ceilings and tinted, floor to ceiling full-view windows and glass doors for the oversized, curvilinear balconies. This exclusive oasis includes two and three-tiered outdoor swimming pools, large indoor pools with jacuzzis, saunas, steam rooms, state-of-the-art fitness centers, tennis courts and a 10,000 square foot Tiff Eagle putting green. Enjoy the new video game room for kids and teens, and a new movie theater on the property. Caribe The Resort also features state-of-the-art meeting space. For more information, visit www.cariberesort.com, or call 251-980-9000.

    Also in Orange Beach, Turquoise Place is a world-class resort, under construction. Turquoise Place is building its Phase I and Phase II at the same time, due to such high demand from the public. Phase I opens in the Summer of 2008, and Phase II opens one year later. The 13.75-acre property will provide 90-foot wide corridors to the public beach. Three and four-bedroom units will provide luxurious living with incomparable views. Fishers and golfers will find everything they want close by, and tennis courts will be included on property. For more information, visit www.turquoiseplace.com.

    Meyer Real Estate offers getaways for every traveler at 2,000 vacation rental beach homes and coastal condominiums, covering 38 miles of Alabama and Florida beaches. Meyer Real Estate estimates it covers the largest percentage of the market in available rental homes in the area and represents condominiums
in 168 buildings. There are upscale luxury condos on the Gulf front, as well as mid-range priced condos and value priced properties often desired by families. Even at this late date, there is still availability on the beach, and since all properties are individually owned, there are a wide variety of floor plans and decors from which to choose. For more information and to preview the interiors and exteriors of available properties, visit www.MeyerRE.com, or call 1-866-269-6927.

    Dale E. Peterson Vacations is one of the premier vacation rental and property management sources for the Gulf Coast of Florida. Dale E. Peterson Vacations offers more than 425 vacation rental homes, condos and cottages available in Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, The Beaches of South Walton and Panama City Beach. Specializing in luxury condominiums and beach homes along the Emerald Coast, Dale E. Peterson Vacations celebrates 20 years of community service and industry expertise in 2007.

The company focuses on providing family vacations that provide memories for a lifetime. For more information visit www.destinresorts.com or www.depvacations.com, or call 800-336-9669.

Eden Condominium, a landmark on the Gulf Coast, provides the unique combination of architecture and style found on the French Riviera with peaceful solitude found only on Perdido Key, Florida. You can lose yourself in exotic landscaping that surrounds pools and refreshing waterfalls. Standard features include range and self-cleaning oven, side-by-side refrigerator, freezer with icemaker, dishwasher, microwave, whirlpool tub, wet bar and spacious balconies with Gulf views. The property features lighted tennis courts, a health club, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a private 24-slip boat dock and fully-equipped conference facilities. Relax and pamper yourself with a session at the Spa at Eden Salon.  Check out the Web site, www.edencondomiums.com for information on rentals, as well as units available for sale. Or, for more information, call 800-523-8141.

At the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, South Mississippi’s children’s museum, visitors can crank a crane, touch a tornado, sort seafood, cross a creek, understand a pulley fully, tromp in treehouses, and much more. Situated on six oak filled acres in a renovated 1915 school, the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center offers two floors of interactive exhibits, colorful painted murals, lots of imaginative play and outdoor picnic areas. Families with pre-schoolers can enjoy Bear Cub Club every weekday from 10 a.m.-noon. Upcoming events include the Fourth Annual Bear Creek Bluegrass Festival, May 5th and Dora the Explorer July 26-29. Admission is $7 for children and adults. The Discovery Center is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free Friday Nights offer free admission for all visitors from 5 a.m.-8 p.m. Hop over to the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, where learning and laughter go hand in hand. For more information call 228-897-6039 or visit the Web site www.lmdc.org.