Photos: Big Easy returns

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  1. Katrina's mess

    A junked car lies near empty houses in the Lakeview neighborhood near the site of the levee breach on the 17th Street Canal, August 29, 2005. More than five months after caused by Hurricane Katrina made landfall, there was little progress in some areas of New Orleans. Today, tours are offered to visitors to have a better understanding of events pre and post Katrina. (David Rae Morris / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Big Easy blues

    Costumed revelers dressed as blue roof tarps pose at the annual MOMs Ball, thrown each year by the Krewe of Misfits, Orphans and Mystics in New Orleans. Many of this years Mardi Gras floats and costumes reference the blue tarps that still protect broken roofs across the city after Hurricane Katrina. (Matthew Cavanaugh / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Soul sounds

    Jen Pearl (L) and Michelle Loughnane stand under an umbrella with a reference to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, April 2006. Jazz Fest '07 will be held on April 27-29 and May 4-6. (Lee Celano / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Dancing in the streets

    A member of the Young Olympia Aide and New Look Social Aid and Pleasure Club dances in a second line parade at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. (Lee Celano / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Jeweled celebration

    Members of the Krewe of Thoth throw beads as they travel down St. Charles Avenue where thousands of revelers showed up to enjoy 2006 Mardi Gras festivities. Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is the day before Ash Wednesday, and a celebration of the last the day before the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Mardi Gras 2007 will be observed on Feb. 20. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Eye candy

    Revelers ogle a woman exposing herself on Bourbon St. during Mardi Gras festivities in the French Quarter of New Orleans. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Closing time

    Orleans Parish mounted Police Officers march down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter announcing the official end of Mardi Gras 2006. (Sean Gardner / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A shout for freedom

    "Big Chief" Victor Armstrong wears an elaborate Mardi Gras Indian costume. The Indian tradition of Mardi Gras pays homage to the relationship between Native Americans and escaped African slaves of the 1700s. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 3/23/2009 10:16:45 AM ET 2009-03-23T14:16:45

The deal
For a romantic long weekend or family adventure, the Southern U.S. offers a full range of exciting vacation options to suit all tastes. Check out these affordable breaks in lively cities and national parks from just $79/night. Read on for details.

Smoky Mountains: Lakeview at Fontana from $79 a night
Come help celebrate the 75th anniversary of one of the most beautiful national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers something for everyone, from scenic drives to backcountry camping.

Adventurous travelers can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking and whitewater rafting. Try a rustic stay at the secluded Lakeview at Fontana, a boutique resort with a charming courtyard, gourmet coffeehouse, yoga studio and spa.

Nightly rates, starting April 3, start at $79.

Savannah, Ga.: The Mulberry Inn from $129 a night
A stay at The Mulberry Inn is one filled with both elegance and style. Dating back to the 1860s, this lavish 145-room lodge is listed as one of the Historic Hotels in America. All 144 rooms and suites come with a 27” cable TV, microwave oven and free morning newspaper.

The elegant hotel features a delightful courtyard, outdoor heated pool and complimentary high-speed internet. Be sure to stop in for some daily afternoon tea complete with sweet treats and a live pianist.

Rates start at $129/night.

New Orleans: Monograms Travel 4-night stay from $409
It's A Snap! Readers' best shotsNew Orleans is an amazing city full of great culture, delicious cuisine and a lively spirit. Monograms Travel will give you a well-rounded Big Easy experience with its four-day New Orleans getaway.

Highlights include a scenic sail aboard the Steamboat Natchez and tours of the many outstanding sights and delightful restaurants within the city’s historic French Quarter.

Package rates start at $479 through May 31 and drop to $409 in June, July and August. The price includes hotel, airport transportation and meals.

The dollars
Based on double occupancy. Taxes and fees are additional.

The catch
Sweet tea not included.

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