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Easy Spring Breaks

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA From $149 a day per person. With its mint juleps, Spanish moss, and 21 historic squares lined with antebellum mansions, no other Southern city conjures up images of genteel decadence quite like Old Savannah. In March, azaleas paint the sidewalks pink.

WHAT TO DO Wander one of the largest urban National Historic Landmark Districts in the country (2 1/2 square miles), glimpse ornate Victorian mansions from a trolley, or take a tour of brightly hued gardens with Savannah Walks (888/728-9255; www.savannahwalks.com). Visit Flannery O'Connor's childhood house (912/233-6014) and the collection of American Impressionist paintings (like Childe Hassam's Avenue of the Allies) at the Telfair Museum of Art (912/232-1177; www.telfair.org), the South's oldest art museum.

THE MATH Doubles at the Hamilton-Turner Inn (888/448-8849; www.hamilton-turnerinn.com), a Second Empire estate on Lafayette Square with 18 antiques-filled rooms, start at $169. Flights on US Airways from Phoenix to Savannah go for $389; from Milwaukee they're $193.

CHICAGO TO CALIFORNIA $230 a day per person. Travel from the Windy City to the Pacific Coast in just over 52 hours aboard the California Zephyr train known to railway buffs as the Silver Lady. See the wilds of the Wild West as you pass through six states—Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada—on your way to California.

WHAT TO DO Order a glass of Bordeaux, and then grab a seat upstairs in the Zephyr's Superliner Sightseer Lounge car to watch the epic Western scenery go by while the train chugs through the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada.

THE MATH Amtrak Vacations (800/937-7245; www.amtrak.com) has rail/air packages that include two nights in a standard two-person sleeper, all meals aboard the train, a night in San Francisco at the Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf, and a return flight from San Francisco to Chicago on United, from $1,377 for two.

SAN JUAN ISLANDS, WASHINGTON From $143 a day per person. The 743 evergreen San Juan Islands, formed by glaciers, are rich in wildlife but short on people (about 40 of the islands are inhabited). Orcas, Lopez, Shaw, and San Juan Island are the easiest to reach—just a three-hour bus ride from Seattle to the ferry that leaves from Anacortes. Once ashore on San Juan, head for the town of Friday Harbor.

WHAT TO DO With pods of orcas breaching offshore (from May through October) and bald eagles soaring above (year-round), the San Juan Islands are a prime spot for watching animals follow their instincts. The best way to do it: Paddle a kayak with Sea Quest Expeditions (888/589-4253; www.sea-quest-kayak.com; day trips $59) or board a wildlife cruise with Western Prince Cruises (800/757-6722; www.orcawhalewatch.com; half day $49).


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