weekend.0710 travel/cq

Plan a weekend camping trip three ways: On a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.

Budget: Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key, Florida

Getting there: One-way sale rates start from $114; regular 21-day advance fares from $191; valid on AirTran, nonstop (round-trip purchase required on Delta, nonstop).

Stay: For day visitors ($8 per vehicle; 2-8 people), Bahia Honda State Park offers picnic areas, rest rooms, and outside showers located near the two award-winning beaches -- Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach (ranked as the most beautiful in the Florida Keys). This 524-acre park features three camping areas for tent (and RV) campers at $36 per night, including water and electricity. Book up to 11 months in advance (1-800-326-3521); Hwy. 1 at Mile Marker 37, 305-872-2353; www.floridastateparks.org.

Eat: Big Pine Restaurant & Coffee Shop is a comfortable diner-style spot with friendly service for hearty breakfasts and lunch. Crowd pleasers from the enormous menu includes the Catch of the Day, prime rib and pork ribs. Save room for a Chocolate Volcano or Fried Cheesecake. Lunches under $10; dinners $10-$18; Hwy. 1, Mile Marker 30, 305-872-2790 (editor: no web site).

Experience: Visit Looe Key, one of the most biologically diverse marine eco-systems in the world and North America's only living and protected coral reef. Take an eco-tour to this National Marine Sanctuary to check out more than 300 fish species and gorgeous corals. The Park Concession operates two daily tours (90 minutes of snorkel time) at $29.95 per adult; $24.95 children under age 18. Rental mask and fins are $4 additional; 305-872-3954; www.bahiahondapark.com/looe-key-snorkeling-tours.


Moderate: The Martyn House Bed and Breakfast, Ellijay, Georgia

Getting there: The drive from Atlanta is about 75 minutes; off Hwy. 515 in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

Stay: The adult-only Martyn House Bed and Breakfast features four environmentally-friendly and enchanting (some say magical) Gypsy Faire luxury sleeping tents with all the comforts of home. Call this "glamping" or glamorous camping as each 100% cotton tent has a private 6′ x 12′ bathroom with on-demand hot showers and composting toilets; a 6′ x 12′ covered front porch with a table and chairs and a 12′ x 12′ bedroom with luxe bedding (two twins, one queen or king bed) and a sitting area. Two-night minimum stay required. Nightly rates for two persons is $180, including a full breakfast and an evening cocktail gathering; 912 Flat Branch Rd., 706-635-4759, www.themartynhouse.com.

Eat: You might believe you are in the middle of Louisiana and not the middle of nature when dining at the Cajun Depot Grill. Authentic dishes such as Gumbo, red beans and rice, Jambalaya to fresh seafood are served up in large portions at reasonable prices. It's not fancy, but who cares about decor when the food is this good. Dinners $10-$25; 67 Depot St., 706-276-1676 (editor: no web site).

Experience: Coosawattee River Tubing Co. offers $15 per person rates for tubes $25 per person for a single kayak for wet fun on Class 1 and Class 2 waters of the 50-mile long Coosawattee River. Rates include shuttle service to and from the river and all equipment; 25 Eagle Mountain Dr., 706-635-1609, www.coosawatteerivertubingco.com.


Splurge: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Getting there: One-way Economy Class rates to Jackson Hole start from $139; valid on American, Delta, United (one connection required).

Stay: Jenny Lake Lodge is the only AAA Four Diamond eco-resort in the national park. The romantic and rustically elegant Western cabins have hand-made quilts, down comforters, Internet access, fans, beamed ceilings, wood floors and tiled bathroom. For evening entertainment (no TVs or radio in cabins), take in the grandeur of a sunset and the Grand Teton mountains from the rocking chairs on the front porch. Three lakes and numerous walking trails are within walking distance. Stay include daily gourmet breakfast, daily five-course dinner, horseback rides, walking sticks and cruiser bicycle rentals. Nightly rates are $620 per couple (each additional person is $150 per night); five miles north of Moran, Hwy. 89, 307-733-4647, www.gtlc.com.

Eat: When it's time to trip into the ‘big city' of Jackson for shopping and lunch, try the Sweetwater Restaurant. This cozy log cabin offers inside tables or outdoor picnic tables. Lunch menu items such as soups and salads start from $10. The highest ticket item is the Elk Melt sandwich at $12.69; 85 King St., 307-733-3553, www.sweetwaterjackson.com.

Experience: Take a 3-hour, 10-mile "Wild & Scenic" float trip along the Snake River for the spectacular Teton scenery and the chance to view wildlife, including bald eagle, moose, bison, elk, osprey, and beavers. Adults $56; $35 children ages 6-11, includes round-trip transportation; www.gtlc.com/activities.


Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.