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Most of Nassau's hotels are city hotels and are not on the water. To stay right on the sands, choose a hotel in Cable Beach or on Paradise Island.

Rawson Square is the heart of Nassau, positioned just a short walk from Prince George Wharf, where the big cruise ships, many of them originating in Florida, berth. Here you'll see the Churchill Building, which contains the offices of the Bahamian prime minister, along with other government ministries.

Busy Bay Street, the main shopping artery, begins on the south side of Rawson Square. This was the turf of the infamous Bay Street Boys, a group of rich, white Bahamians who once controlled political and economic activity on New Providence.

On the opposite side of Rawson Square is Parliament Square, with its government houses, House of Assembly, and statue of a youthful Queen Victoria. These are Georgian and Neo-Georgian buildings, some from the late 1700s.

The courthouse is separated by a little square from the Nassau Public Library and Museum, which opens onto Bank Lane. It was the former Nassau Gaol (jail). South of the library, across Shirley Street, are the remains of the Royal Victoria Hotel, which opened the same year the American Civil War began (1861) and hosted many a blockade runner and Confederate spy.

A walk down Parliament Street leads to the post office. Philatelists may want to stop in -- some Bahamian stamps are true collectors' items.

Moving southward, farther away from the water, Elizabeth Avenue takes you to the Queen's Staircase. One of the major landmarks of Nassau, it climbs to Bennet's Hill and Fort Fincastle.

If you return to Bay Street, you'll discover the oversized tent that contains the Straw Market, a handicrafts emporium where you can buy all sorts of souvenirs.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.