W hen the torpor of hot summer days threatens to take over, take off on a summer adventure. Recline on the white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast, go back in time through historical venues or become an explorer of New Orleans hidden treasures. There’s so much to see and do one can almost forget about the heat. Here is a list of some terrific summer escapes.
Go to the Gulf Coast

Mississippi’s West Coast, Hancock County is a pleasure-seekers paradise, characterized by diversity. Come enjoy the relaxed pace and interesting sites in Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, Waveland and Kiln. Serious sophistication in a rural setting, world-class casino resorts, cultural arts across disciplines, inspiring environment and a recreational Mecca for the sporting enthusiast and fabulous food are all on the Mississippi West Coast palette of pleasure. Artistic creativity is signature to the area, with a host of artists who call it home, including sculptor Richmond Barté, artist Kat Fitzpatrick and writer Stephen Ambrose. Mississippi’s West Coast, Hancock County boasts a mixture of ethnicity and revels in its French, Spanish and Choctaw roots. Experience the embarrassment of riches that the area offers for travelers of every stripe from beaches to boutiques, down-home diners to four-star cuisine.

Get all the information you need to experience the best Mississippi’s West Coast has to offer at the Visitor Center located in the Historic Bay Saint Louis Train Depot, 1928 Depot Way. Visit them online atwww.mswestcoast.org or call (800) 466-9048.

Sandestin® Golf and Beach Resort is an award winning resort that features seven miles of sugar-white beach and pristine bayfront on Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast and the Choctawhatchee Bay. Only a short drive from New Orleans and just eight miles east of Destin, Sandestin is perfect for a weekend trip or a long family vacation.
Sandestin guests can enjoy a wide variety of amenities, including four championship golf courses; a putting course; a 98-slip marina with water sports, including Wave runners and fishing; 15 tennis courts; a fitness center and day spa; children’s programs; complimentary use of bicycles; one-hour free rental of canoes, kayaks, boogie boards and tennis court time; property-wide tram and water shuttle service; and more. The Market Shops at Sandestin and The Village of Baytowne Wharf provide a variety of unique shops, fine and casual dining and exciting nightlife.
At Sandestin, guests can discover plenty of lodging options to fit every taste and budget. Sandestin’s 1,700 accommodations and vacation rentals are grouped into five resort areas: Beachfront, Beachside, Village, Bayside and Dockside. Featuring one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom condominiums, villas, townhomes and hotel rooms, each offers a unique locale for a resort stay, as well as a rate range designed to suit different styles and accommodate a range of budgets.

For more information about planning a trip to Sandestin visitwww.sandestin.com or call (866) 544-1026.

Views, value and variety are excellent reasons to choose Meyer Real Estate for a summer vacation. Meyer offers a large selection of coastal getaways for every traveler at 2,000 vacation rental beach homes and condominiums located in 186 buildings. Enjoy grand coastal views along 50 miles of sugar-white sand beach and blue azure gulf waters of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island (Ala.) and Perdido Key (Fla.). Upscale luxury condos on the gulf-front, as well as mid-range priced condos and value priced properties often desired by budget-conscious families are available and include spacious living areas, gulf-front balconies and fully-equipped kitchens to enhance the retreat to paradise. At Meyer Real Estate, Customer Service is paramount. Meyer’s STAR Treatment services have set them apart in the industry for 41 years and the staff continues their focus on delighting customers.

Build lasting memories this summer at the beach. Preview a wide variety of floor plans and decórs by viewing interior property photos, take a virtual tour or shop online using the interactive Treasures of the Gulf Vacation Planner at MeyerRE.com. Enter the Enchanting Beach Vacation Giveaway and reserve a vacation getaway online or call the 24-hour reservation specialists at (866) 269-6927. Ask about Meyer Market grocery delivery and 25 percent off mid-week specials.

Families are always juggling busy schedules, especially when the kids are in school, but the summer is a great time to refresh the soul in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and forget about the day-to-day demands. Precious family summer memories have been made for generations on the sugar white shores of Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, and with over 20 years of experience providing vacation lodgings, Dale E. Peterson Vacations has been a part of those memories. Dale E. Peterson provides vacation homes, condominiums and villas with offices throughout the area from Panama City all the way to Navarre Beach. With a variety of properties available, there are accommodations for every size group or budget.

For the 2008 summer season, Dale E. Peterson Vacations is offering discounts that can equal up to $200 in savings on a new weekly reservation. This discount amount will vary by property and some restrictions apply. In addition, the majority of beach rentals offer a Family Fun Package that includes water park tickets, golf, deep-sea fishing and movie rentals, making your vacation planning easy!

For more information visit:www.destinresorts.com, call (800) 336-9669 or emailvacation@destinresorts.com.

Scheduled to open by the fall of 2008, Magnolia Private Residence Club offers an ideal way to own luxurious vacation real estate on Florida’s Emerald Coast at a fraction of the price and without the hassles of whole ownership. Although often confused with timeshares and destination clubs, private residence club owners have significantly greater flexibility in how they utilize their ownership. Magnolia Sales Director Laura Gerard says the Club was developed with families in mind. “We have created a residence club that provides an exceptional family environment. A complete range of amenities and services has been specifically tailored for family fun and relaxation. Our owners are free to visit their Magnolia vacation home as often as they wish, subject only to generous and flexible Club reservation policies.”

Magnolia Private Residence Club is desirably located along Highway 30-A, a coastal stretch of road known for old Florida charm, sea-oat covered dunes and white sand beaches. In addition to beach recreation, there are miles of coastal bike paths and award-winning eateries ranging from rustic oyster bars to open air seafood cafes to romantic dining. With a host of amenities such as concierge service, daily housekeeping, a rooftop deck with heated pool, grilling areas and owners’ lounge, guests can stay in comfort and luxury. Prices start at $159,000 for a one-eighth deeded share of a fully furnished three-bedroom residence.

The Magnolia Private Residence Club is located at 8377 East County Highway 30-A in Seacrest Beach, Fla. For more information visitwww.magnoliaresidenceclub.com or call (850) 231-3257.

See all Louisiana has to offer

After all, summer is a time for relaxation and fun. Located about 200 miles west of New Orleans, L’Auburge du Lac Casino Resort offers guests resort amenities and world-class gaming. Consistently recognized by the The Times of Southwest Louisiana for outstanding guest service and amenities and recently named Best Spa, Best Pool and Best Golf Course by Southern Gaming Magazine, L’Auburge has something for everyone. Spend a lazy summer afternoon at L’Auburge du Lac’s resort pool. Float round and round the lazy river, find a seat at the swim-up bar or go poolside for their summer concert series “Party by the Pool” with upcoming shows by Candlebox and Better Than Ezra. After a dip in the pool enjoy pampering at Spa du Lac before heading out for the nighttime excitement of the 30,000-square-foot gaming area, live music in Jack Daniel’s® Bar & Grill and retail therapy at The Shops At L’Auberge. The Tom Fazio designed golf course is lush and imminently playable in the summer months.
L’Auburge du Lac offers several packages for the summer that appeal to golfers and spa addicts alike; visitwww.ldlcasino.com/hotel-specials.aspx or call (866) 580-7444 for further details and pricing.

Take a journey into the past this summer, by touring the historic plantations of New Orleans Plantation Country. The lavish homes are still here, despite Civil War sieges, sheriff’s sales, and time. Hear their remarkable stories and see breathtaking views of 300-year-old avenues of oaks, gracious verandas overlooking sugarcane fields and priceless heirloom antiques. There are so many extraordinary plantations to visit: Destrehan Plantation, Oak Alley Plantation, Laura Plantation, St. Joseph Plantation, Felix Poché Plantation, San Francisco Plantation, Evergreen Plantation and LaBranche Plantation. If adventure and nature inspires you, then a swamp tour is sure to thrill. Glide through beautiful cypress-filled waters as a native guide quietly approaches alligators, raccoons, nutria, owls, egrets, and other animals that call the Louisiana swamps home. After a full day of events, indulge in an authentic Cajun or Creole dining experience at any of the fabulous restaurants. Enjoy entrées as unique as the chefs that prepare them: crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya and oysters to name a few. With so much to see and do, make a vacation out of your visit by staying at any of the hotels or recreational vehicle parks.

For more information about the attractions, restaurants, and accommodations of New Orleans Plantation Country, visitwww.NewOrleansPlantationCountry.com or call (866) 204-7782.

With great locations that are easy to find in the charming city of New Orleans, the Hilton Garden Inns offer a place to stay for business travelers and families alike. The Hilton Garden Inn/New Orleans Convention Center and the Hilton Garden Inn CBD/French Quarter offer fresh, spacious guest rooms that have mini-fridges, free wireless, great outdoor swimming pools and are just a cab ride away from the French Quarter Experience. Both Hilton Garden Inns are within walking distance to the Children’s Museum, the New Orleans Cruise ship terminals and the famous Saint Charles Street car line. Families can save precious money on fuel, take advantage of packages that include free parking and hit the road. From exuberant staff to cook-to-order omelets to the highest in speedy technology to the custom Garden Sleep System bedding, the Hilton Garden Inn promises guests they’ll have everything right where they need it.

This summer, be sure to enjoy the Hilton Garden Inn’s special packages. Take advantage of the “Sizzlin’ Southern Summer Special!” Enjoy parking for one standard size vehicle, one in-room movie* of choice and two sodas. Offer valid April 1-Sept. 25, 2008. Rates from $89/night. Traveling on business? Enjoy the “Business Traveler’s Dream” with overnight accommodations, parking for one standard size vehicle and two drinks in the Pavilion Lounge. Offer valid Jan. 1- Dec. 29, 2008. Rates from $99/night, based on single occupancy:

To reserve, visit www.hgi.com or call (877) 782-9444. For more detailed information about each hotel property, visitwww.neworleansconventioncenter.hgi.com orwww.neworleansfrenchquartercbd.hgi.com.

Or go a little farther …

Town and Country Travel provides experienced travel agents who can take care of anything relating to travel, from reservations and a ticket to planning a complete itinerary, recommending locations and assisting in the preparation of visas and other travel documents. Using a travel agent can streamline the process and make planning a trip to paradise stress free. Town and Country’s agents offer personalized
attention and will help plan a weekend getaway or a more extended journey. With special packages and deal like the “Girlfriend Getaways” offered by Sandals Resorts, a summer trip is as easy as a phone call.

For more information about Town and Country Travel’s services, visit their offices at 723 Aurora Ave. in Metairie or call 838-8702.