For generations, Ocean Springs, Miss., has been a favorite destination for New Orleans families seeking the sea breezes and small-town atmosphere the little town is noted for. Fortunately, Hurricane Katrina spared downtown Ocean Springs for the most part and new businesses and restaurants are opening up to welcome visitors. People come for the beautiful landscaping, the calm atmosphere and a chance to show their children what an authentic downtown looks like.

One of Ocean Springs’s jewels is the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. The museum, which is open seven days a week, shows a film detailing the life of Walter Inglis Anderson, who with his brothers created works of art that draw people from all over the world. On display at the museum are more than 800 works by Walter, Mac and Peter Anderson, including watercolors, ceramics, sculpture and furniture. Peter Anderson founded Shearwater Pottery, and in the late 1930s Walter moved to a cottage on the Shearwater compound and created outstanding art detailing the beauty of the natural world around him. Shearwater is still a functioning pottery studio and offers tours.

Another great Mississippi destination is The Alluvian Hotel. Located in Greenwood, on the banks of the Yazoo River, this boutique hotel of 45 rooms and five suites combines Delta charm with modern furnishings. The Alluvian has a fine restaurant and luxurious spa and Greenwood is an interesting town to visit. Sites include the Viking Cooking School, restaurants both upscale and casual and places to hear authentic Delta blues music.

If you’re looking for a vacation closer to home, book a retreat at Magnolia Mansion. The elegant white mansion at 2127 Prytania St., which dates from 1858, is known for its romantic atmosphere. Owner Holly Vest says the B&B’s nine rooms are all themed – check out the “Gone With the Wind” room – and decorated in traditional colors and furnishings. Magnolia Mansion was selected one of the Top 10 Most Romantic Inns in America in 2007 by American Historic Inns and Iloveinns.com, and is popular for elopement packages, weddings of all sizes and those who want to renew their wedding vows.

If wanderlust is more your thing, cruises remain one of the best ways to maximize your travel dollars. Hot right now are cruises along the Norwegian coast, says Chuck Brown of the Cruise & Vacation Shop. River cruises in Europe are also popular; with the Euro so strong right now, a cruise prepaid in U.S. dollars is the way to go, he says. Another popular destination is the Yangtze River in China. The Chinese are getting ready to dam the river, so some travelers are opting to cruise the Yangtze now.

Those seeking privacy, luxury and beauty a little off the beaten track should consider Fiji, Brown says. “You can get an incredible private villa in Fiji,” he says, and some of
the resorts there are real bargains compared to the Caribbean, which is more expensive right now.

Lock in your own permanent getaway, one you can live in year-round or visit with the family, at Turnberry Harbour, an 80-acre residential community being built along Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, Fla. Golf, tennis, swimming, white sand beaches, restaurants – what’s not to love about life in a community like that? Construction is beginning with a 19-story condominium tower that will contain 136 condos plus two four-story maisonettes with six residences each. All homes will feature the upgrades that make life luxurious, such as Jacuzzi tubs, marble bathroom floors, granite kitchen countertops, Thermador appliances (including a fully automatic and programmable built-in coffee machine) and private balconies. Prices range from the $900,000 to $2.5 million.

Condo, cruise, B&B, hotel – no matter what your pleasure, taking time to get
away this spring and summer is guaranteed to recharge your batteries and reduce
your stress.