From steep, sloping mountain forests to lush farmlands that evoke the English countryside, the Carolinas and Georgia offer a landscape as diverse and colorful as the region's residents are personable. Some achingly pastoral countryscapes seem to be torn right from the pages of books by Deep South authors such as Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, and William Faulkner.

Hollywood has been reluctant to let go of its love affair with this colorful Old South, and bestselling novels and Academy Award-winning screenplays continue to mine the mystique of a region clad in its own troublesome history. In fact, so many movies have been made in Wilmington, North Carolina, that it has been dubbed "Hollywood East."

Long burdened with a "Scarlett" reputation cluttered with pickup trucks and good ol' boys, these Southern states are actually aging gracefully with time, while maintaining an amiable drawl and such culinary traditions as hot buttered grits and fresh boiled peanuts. Yet they now also boast neon-lit cities with cutting-edge architecture, high-tech industry, exhilarating sports events, and intricately designed highways -- not to mention big-city gridlock.

The voices of today's Carolinas and Georgia reflect the diversity of a population that not so long ago faced considerable racial inequality, issues that Georgia native son Martin Luther King, Jr., so eloquently challenged. Other key players in the New South include politicos clamoring to fill the shoes and Senate seat of the recently expired Strom Thurmond. And, of course, there's the dignified, soft-spoken peanut farmer who became president of the United States and is now an agent of world peace.

The Carolinas and Georgia rank among the top 10 states for residential travel and are major destinations for international travelers as well. Every year, Charleston and Savannah place in the top 10 U.S. cities in Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards. From the Smoky Mountains to the sun-kissed Atlantic coastline, from Kitty Hawk's windswept dunes to Georgia's Suwannee River country and Okefenokee Swamp, the tri-state area attracts visitors to the tune of almost 140 million per year.

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