Photo: Kayaking river rapids

Kayaking rapids on the Okatoma, outside Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Photograph by VISITHATTIESBURG

Pop. 51,993
GPS: 31°18'N 89°18'W

Hattiesburg still clings to its rich, cultural roots. You can browse the grand Tudor and Victorian homes lining the elegant, oak-edged streets; drive along the Freedom Summer Trail, a tour of 15 sites integral in the civil rights movement; and listen to tunes at the Saenger Theater, a restored 1929 art deco movie house that still plays its original Robert Morton pipe organ.

PLAY

Bike the Longleaf Trace, a 41-mile (66-kilometer) park created from an abandoned railroad line (www.mylongleaftrace.com). Kayak Black Creek, a Wild and Scenic river that flows along the De Soto National Forest's Black Creek Hiking Trail; Black Creek Canoe Rental provides boats and shuttles from $32 a day (www.blackcreekcanoe.com).

EAT

The Crescent City Grill serves up gourmet Southern comfort favorites like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and the local specialty: crispy fried Mississippi Delta catfish (www.nsrg.com/crescent-city-grill).

SLEEP

Ash-leah Manor, an estate on the outskirts of the Timberton Golf Club greens, offers bed and breakfast for a steal (doubles from $89; www.ash-leahmanor.com).

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