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Even if you vacation this year can't be a lavish affair, staying home shouldn't be the only option. Whether you are looking for romance, heritage, relaxation, or a bit of an adventure, a bed and breakfast stay can provide you with the perfect vacation without the stress of large impersonal hotels and huge crowds. Innkeepers are friendly and welcoming, and you'll almost feel like you're at home -- except of course when you are spoiled with bountiful breakfasts and you don't have to do the dishes. They'll also be an invaluable source of information about your destination, giving you special insight into neighborhood eateries, off the beaten track must sees and where to experience authentic local culture. Step back in time for a weekend or a mid-week interlude at a historic Bed and Breakfast property. Here are a few of our favorites located in some of the country's most historic enclaves.

Charleston, South Carolina

The 1837 Bed and Breakfast (tel. 877/723-1837; www.1837bb.com), is, as the name suggests, housed in a 19th century Victorian grand home and offers visitors a chance to step back in time with ornate antique filled rooms, romantic canopy bed and true southern hospitality. Located in the Harleston Village area of historic Charleston, this is an intimate property with only nine rooms, serving delicious gourmet breakfasts daily in its formal dining room or out on the piazza. Afternoon tea with homemade scones and lemon curd makes it worth heading in a little early after a busy day of exploring downtown Charleston. Rooms in both the main house and the adjoining carriage house range from $99 to $209 per night, with the higher end of the scale getting you a suite.

Natchez, Mississippi

Home to some of the most stunning antebellum mansions in the country, the Bed and Breakfasts in Natchez will not disappoint with their own architectural merits. Although smaller in scale than its plantation neighbors, Historic Oak Hill Inn (tel. 601/446-2500; www.historicoakhill.com) is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are only three guest rooms, priced from $110 per night including a sumptuous home-made breakfast featuring their signature dish: crème brûlée French Toast and eggs benedict. If you are traveling with another couple, then your best bet may be to take the entire second floor, which features two guest rooms and a shared bath -- for $165 per night. Upon arrival you will be greeted with homemade iced tea and cookies, which you are welcome to enjoy on the front verandah or back porch, with views over the grounds and a historic fountain. All rooms are tastefully decorated with period antiques and canopy beds.

Savannah, Georgia

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/savannah/H27842.html">Planters Inn (tel. 800/554-1187; www.plantersinnsavannah.com) is an early 19th century Victorian property offering some 60 guest rooms. Located on Reynolds Square in downtown Savannah, it is within easy walking distance of the river, the City Market, Forsyth Park, Lucas Theatre and most historic attractions. The Inn offers a perfect combination of B&B intimacy and the amenities of a more traditional boutique hotel, including WiFi access, complimentary breakfast and evening wine and cheese. Room rates start at $129 per night for a room with a queen bed or two twin beds.

Newport, Rhode Island

The Jailhouse Inn (tel. 800/427-9444; www.jailhouse.com) gives guests the opportunity to stay in the "Big House" without committing a crime. This historic 18th century colonial style jail was converted to a Bed and Breakfast in 1986 after housing the Newport Police Department for several decades. It is located just off of Washington Square in downtown Newport within walking distance of historic Thames Street, the wharves, Cliff Walk, the beaches, and Ocean Drive. You can get last minute mid-week rooms here from $109 per night but regular rates for double rooms start from $129. The inn keepers can also arrange local tours for you including Newport Mansions, vineyards and schooner rides, plus secure reservations at nearby restaurants. The also offer a number of two night packages featuring add-ons like tours and meals.

Deadwood, South Dakota

A National Historic Landmark, Deadwood is the epitome of a wild wild west town, located in the famous Black Hills of South Dakota and less than an hour from Mount Rushmore. Historic accommodations in town are a little slim, but 20 miles outside Deadwood, you'll find the tiny town of Spearfish, home to Sand Creek Bed and Breakfast (tel. 800/238-9511; www.sandcreekbedandbreakfast.com). This farm-house homestead is so authentic that it even offers to stable your horses on its 40 acres of grounds, if you happen to be traveling by horse (or have your horse with you). There are three rooms in the main house and one room located in the summer house (but that doesn't have plumbing so you'd need to use facilities in the main house). Double room rates start at $85 in the main house and $75 in the summer house and that includes what they refer to as a "full size breakfast."

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