Travel: 4 places to go, right now

Forget about going to a resort factory this winter. Instead, go someplace different.

This column has you covered with four destinations that are perfect to visit right now.

Beaufort, North Carolina

An example of the old homes that line the quaint streets of Beaufort, North Carolina. |

One place that could be the dictionary definition of a quaint small town is Beaufort.

The streetscape in North Carolina’s third-oldest town is full of old homes with many dating to the mid-1700s. The Instagram set will love the curb appeal, which creates endless photo opportunities.

Among the oldest houses are those on Front Street facing Beaufort’s harbor, the waters of which were known to Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard) and other pirates more than a half-century before American independence in 1776. One of the houses belonged to Jacob Henry, a Jew twice-elected to the state Legislature at a time when Protestantism was established by law as the state religion.

Stay at the aptly named Beaufort Hotel.

Beaumont, Texas

The open-air Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum in Beaumont, Texas. |

Beaumont, located near the Gulf of Mexico in southeast Texas, was where the Texas oil boom started back in 1901.

The eruption of the Lucas geyser transformed what had been a very small town literally overnight. With oil as its defining industry, Beaumont’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the years.

To learn about the history of the boom era — a chapter of history probably not taught outside Texas — visit the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum.

The open-air museum on the campus of Lamar University recreates Gladys City as the town would have looked around the turn of the last century. It reminded me of one of those Old West frontier towns, although here it was oil and not gold or cattle.

Stay at the Holiday Inn & Suites Beaumont-Plaza.

Cleveland, Mississippi

The downtown in Cleveland, Mississippi, during the 50 Nights of Lights festival. |

In the heart of the Mississippi Delta, a swath of northwest Mississippi in the shadow of its namesake river, is Cleveland.

The smallish college town, which is technically a city, takes its name from President Grover Cleveland, the first postbellum Democrat president and the only occupant of the White House to ever serve two non-consecutive terms. Cleveland is also the seat of Bolivar County, which was named after Latin American revolutionary Simon Bolivar.

This time of the year the big draw is the 50 Nights of Lights. The annual Christmas festival sees Cleveland illuminated by more than a million lights through New Year’s Eve. Best of all, admission is free.

Be sure to also visit the Grammy Museum Mississippi, which highlights the Mississippi Delta’s role in creating blues music.

Stay at Cotton House, a boutique-inspired hotel within Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio.

Key West, Florida

Key West
Key West, Florida, is the southernmost city in the continental United States. |

There is more to do and see in the southernmost city in the continental United States than the stereotypical bohemian lifestyle.

The real Key West is a family-friendly destination with immense charm, great history and a vibrant culture.

Just forget the kitsch of Duval Street and instead focus on visiting the museums, including Ernest Hemingway’s house, the Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters, President Harry Truman’s Little White House, the Art & History Museum and Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

Stay at The Reach Key West, which is flagged under Hilton’s Curio Collection brand. It’s pretty much the closest thing to a beach resort in a part of Florida where there aren’t many real beaches.

Dennis Lennox writes a travel column for The Christian Post.

Dennis Lennox writes about travel, politics and religious affairs. He has been published in the Financial Times, Independent, The Detroit News, Toronto Sun and other publications. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.

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