Here are snapshots of just a few of the places you can reach by direct flight from South Florida. Some -- like Ponce, P.R. and Savannah -- are perfect for weekend jaunts. Others -- such as Tel Aviv and Düsseldorf -- are best saved for longer stretches.
Sure, you can still zip to New York, Chicago, London, Paris and Madrid -- but we figure you already know about them.
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The charmingly quirky ''garden of good and evil'' made (more) famous by John Berendt's novel offers far more than graveyards. Savannah dishes up low-country cuisine at its tastiest, with she crap soup and stuffed grouper at upscale faves like The Olde Pink House and southern classics at Paula Deen's The Lady & Sons and Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room. Southern hospitality, a bubbling arts scene, historic ambience (Girl Scouts' founder Juliette Gordon Low was born here) and stately squares lined with moss-draped oaks create the backdrop for a picturesque weekend. Ya'll come on down.
Did somebody mention beaches, golf and -- you betcha -- more food? Hilton Head lies just 45 miles away.
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This colonial Colombian city is fast becoming a must on the savvy travelers' circuit. Miami Beach-based Tours Gone Wild added it a few years ago to its roster of party jaunts, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line added it as a port of call last April -- both indicators that in Cartagena, at least, the security scene has calmed. The city where author Gabriel Marquez Garcia was born is now basking in the limelight from the movie recently made from his novel, Love in the Time of Cholera (it was filmed here.) And, we're told, emeralds are a relative bargain.
Info: www.turismocartagenadein dias.com; Colombian Consulate, 305-448-5558, www.consuladodecolom bia.com.
(ALSO FROM FLL ON MIDWEST)
Don't laugh; everything really is up to date in Kansas City. Yes, K.C. has always had killer BBQ, great jazz and blues bars and pretty neighborhoods with rolling lawns. But it's also got a burgeoning entertainment district (the K.C. Power & Light District), a smart new addition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Kempner Museum of Contemporary Art and the exhibition Bodies Revealed in the new gallery space at the impressive Union Station. Don't miss the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and designer shopping at Country Club Plaza (where we've hit some fab sales.) The Big 12 play finals here in March this year.
Info: www.visitkc.com; 800-767-7700.
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If you've had enough of Cancun's bar scene, head to Merida for a dose of culture. This colonial city is the artistic capital of the region, boasting stately palaces, a grand cathedral and 17th century monastery, along with '70s murals by Fernando Castro Pacheco and a museum of contemporary art. The city boasts dozens of restaurants; still, many visitors prefer the vintage ambience of historic haciendas-turned-hotels outside the town.
Don't miss the spectacular Maya ruins at Chichen Itza and the dizzying climb of El Castillo, it's 80-foot-high pyramid; they lie about 75 miles east of Merida. Divers often prefer to go under the surface in one of the area's many cenotés.
Info: Mexico Tourism Board, 786-621-2909; www.visitmexico.com.
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We love the Overseas Highway, but let's get real: We don't love the traffic. So if you're longing for a long slug of a margarita and a long weekend among the leafy gardens and laid-back wackiness of Key West, hop a flight. We can think of dozens of reasons to go, from the sunset busker ritual to more long slugs of margaritas. You can catch a few rays, visit the Truman White House and go diving. You could even catch a play or musical performance; yes, there's cult-chah in the Keys.
Info: www.fla-keys.com; 800-FLA-KEYS.
MARSH HARBOUR, BAHAMAS
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(FROM FLL ON CONTINENTAL, ISLAND EXPRESS, YELLOW AIR TAXI)
Nassau / Paradise Island too glitzy for you? In the Abacos, you can immerse yourself in the historic British ambience of Hope Town, the laidback island charm of Great Guana Cay, or the breezy-yet-fine eateries of Marsh Harbour. The Abacos offer a half-dozen destinations in one, most linked by ferries. While one can be quite different from the next -- the upscale Abaco Club, managed by Ritz-Carlton, can seem a world way from the sailing camaraderie of the Green Turtle Club -- it all seems quite lazy, which is exactly what an island getaway should be.
Info: 800-OUT-ISLANDS, www.myoutis lands.com.
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(FROM FLL ON SOUTHWEST)
So you hate Keith Urban and the Grand Ole Opry. But head over to the Blue Bird Café, a cozy songwriters' showcase, or wander through the music bars along Lower Broadway, and you may find yourself more in tune than you'd imagined. Once you hit country-ballad overload, check out the Parthenon, a true-to-size recreation of the Grecian temple. Hog Heaven, a shack of a barbecue joint with killer Q, is nearby. Or head 75 miles southwest to the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg.
Info: www.musiccityusa.com, 800-657-6910.
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Düsseldorf doesn't make a bit splash on the tourism radar, but from those who have visited, this city at the confluence of the Rhine and Düssel rivers in Germany's north rates high for the elegance befitting a capital of both fashion and advertising. It's a rich city, with all the benefits of wealth -- shopping, museums and fine dining. World War II wiped out 80 percent of its historic buildings; for a whiff of medieval charm, head 29 miles south to Koln, also known as Cologne. One of Düsseldorf's big claims to fame is its pre-Lenten Carnival, a length party that starts in mid November and runs through Ash Wednesday.
Info: www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de; 212-661-7200 (German Tourist Office in New York.)
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This is also the airport for Jerusalem, cradle both of three of the world's largest faiths and -- unfortunately -- many resentments. Don't let those age-old conflicts put you off; Arabs, Christians and Jews coexist remarkably peacefully in the walled Old City. Here you can follow Jesus' stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa, leave your prayers at the sacred Jewish site at the Western Wall, and visit the area surrounding the Dome of the Rock, where Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven. Two musts: shopping for tea in the Arab quarter and a falafal lunch.
Headed to Tel Aviv? Check out the boutiques in the historic district of Neve Tsedek.
Info: www.goisrael.com; 888-77-ISRAEL.
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Even if you aren't addicted to Laverne and Shirley reruns, you want to go to Milwaukee. The Santiago Calatrava-designed addition to the art museum is enough to leave you in awe. Or perhaps you'd rather hit the suds tour at the Miller brewery, a Brewers game, a visit to Hog mecca (that would be the Harley-Davidson Museum, opening this summer). Don't ignore arts and culture; from the moving Black Holocaust Museum to live performances, Milwaukee has more than you'd figure. (Summer is awash with festivals, from Gay Pride to the nation's largest Polish Festival and the musical Summerfest.) Don't forget just to stroll -- unless it's winter, when you should probably stay in cozy South Florida.
Info: www.milwaukee.org; 800-554-1448.
PONCE, PUERTO RICO
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Puerto Rico's second largest city doesn't get much of the international limelight -- which may be all the more reason to visit it. Founded in the 1600s by Ponce de Leon's grandson, Ponce is known for its neoclassical splendor and its Museum of Art, housing the Caribbean's most extensive art collection. Outside town are Castillo Seralles, the stately former home of the Don Q rum family (some members still live in Miami), the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center (discovered after a storm in the 1970s), and Hacienda Buena Vista, a 19th century plantation-turned-museum.
Info: www.gotopuertorico.com, 800-866-7827.
ISLIP, LONG ISLAND
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If you don't have family here, why would you want to come? For starters, Islip is the airport closest to the toney faux-farm-country-by-the-sea getaway of the Hamptons (East, West, Bridge, etc.) Getting to them -- or the burgeoning wineries of Long Island's laid back North Fork -- means a pricey limo ride or a rental car -- and plenty of weekend traffic. Ah, but it's worth it. And we've got another reason: the Tangier Outlet Mall at Riverhead (got a fab Armani jacket there after Thanksgiving for $111!).
Feeling lazy? Try mostly-carless Fire Island instead.
Info: 877-FUN-ON-LI; www.discoverlong island.com.
QUEBEC CITY, CANADA
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This service runs in our winter months. So why head north when a warm day means the mercury has hit freezing? The cozy fireplace in the bar at the Chateau Frontenac hotel, a romantic dinner at La Cremaillere, a horse-and-carriage ride around the old city, a run down the toboggan on the promenade above the St. Lawrence River and the city's annual winter carnival, slated for Feb. 1-17. This year, Quebec is also celebrating it's 400th anniversary, with events throughout the year.
Not cool enough? Chill out at the Ice Hotel, about 35 minutes outside of town. It's open until April.
Info: www.quebecregion.com, 877-783-1608.
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Atlantic city may not have the glitz of Vegas -- but it doesn't come with jetlag, either. And it does have casinos galore, jazzy hotels (Borgata and the Trump Taj Mahal, among them), outlet shopping, nightclubs and that famous Boardwalk. In winter, those hotels offer all sorts of bargains -- though alas, most are not available on weekends. The Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Championship will be played here March 12-15.
Info: www.atlanticcitynj.com, 888-228-4748.
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Service on Air Sunshine, Lynx
No, the ban on travel by Americans to Cuba hasn't suddenly lifted. These airlines operate charter flights to the famous detention camp for those with ''travel orders'' issued by the base -- usually lawyers, personnel on leave, families of soldiers and journalists with clearance. Unless you've got a great reason, don't apply. Besides, who wants to visit a prison camp unless they need to?