Q How are the beaches in Toronto?

Lauren Fowler

Oak Hill, Va.

A Most beachgoers flock to the eastern side of Toronto to the 51/2 -mile stretch of Lake Ontario, where the sand is soft on the toes and the water is, well, a bit brisk. (Summer water temps average 57 to 68 degrees, though it's warmer by the shore.)

The strand, simply called the Beach, is about a 20-minute drive from downtown and has a boardwalk with the usual warm-weather attractions, such as an ice cream shack. On Cherry Beach, sun worshipers share the water with canoes and Chinese dragon boats. You can also lounge (but not swim) on the western-side beaches, if you don't mind rocks.

Toronto Island Park, about a 15-minute, $5 ferry ride from the mainland, has a clothing- optional beach on its southern shore, as well as more G-rated beaches. The four-mile-long isle is home to 600 people (oddly, it is also where Babe Ruth hit his first pro home run), but the rest of the island is geared toward summer fun, with cafes, Franklin Children's Garden, a lighthouse, an amusement park, bike rentals and more. There are three ferry stops; take the one to Centre Island. Info: Toronto Parks and Recreation, 416-392-1111, www.city.toronto.on.ca/parks/island/index.htm.

To view 20 miles of waterfront panoramas, bike the Martin Goodman Trail, which winds through Toronto and leads to the beaches. The path is also part of the Waterfront Trail, a 280-mile trail-in-progress that links Ontario lake communities from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Brockville.

For info on Toronto: Toronto Convention & Visitors Association, 800-499-2514, www.torontotourism.com.

A friend took me to Douglas, Ariz., for New Year's Eve. I'd like to reciprocate in Mississippi. Any suggestions?

Nancy O. Jenkins


Mississippi is the place to ring, or rather sing, in the new year. Clarksdale, about 80 miles south of Memphis, is the hotbed of Delta blues, and revelers gather at Ground Zero Blues Club (662-621-9009, www.groundzerobluesclub.com), which is co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman. For New Year's, the club will have music all weekend long, including bands until 2 a.m. on Dec. 31 (the cover charge will be around $20, including midnight champagne) and a blues brunch the next day. The town also has the Crossroads Monument; the Delta Blues Museum (662-627-6820, www.deltabluesmuseum.org), with Muddy Waters's cabin; and the Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art store. Info: Coahoma County Tourism Commission, 800-626-3764, www.clarksdaletourism.com.

If you prefer glitz and gambling, the state has nearly 30 casinos, with 10 in Tunica (about 40 miles south of Memphis), including Bally's and Harrah's. Besides betting, you can also play golf, dine at any of 50 restaurants, visit the historic downtown and catch some live entertainment. Book early though; rooms sell out quickly for the holidays. Info: Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau, 888-4TUNICA, www.tunicamiss.com.

Farther south, the Gulf Coast towns of Gulfport and Biloxi have a New Orleans flavor with a nautical streak. Attractions include the Biloxi Mardi Gras Museum, the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum, bayou boat tours and a shrimping excursion -- though many marine operations close during the deep winter. However, the national seashore is always open, and the mudbugs (aka crawfish) are always fresh. Info: Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, 888-467-4853, www.gulfcoast.org. Info: Mississippi Tourist Information Center, 866-SEE-MISS, www.visitmississippi.org.

How can we take a camping stove on a plane?

Catherine and Vic Bermudez


The Transportation Security Administration recently added a summer travel section to its Web site (www.tsa.gov/public), on which it outlines its rules on flying with camp stoves: "You may pack your camp stove as carry-on or in checked luggage ONLY if it is empty of all fuel and cleaned so that there is NO smell of fuel. Simply emptying the fuel container is not sufficient." Lighters and liquid fuel are also banned, as are matches in carry-on bags.

While the stove itself is allowed onboard, you will have no say on the sniff test: If the screeners get even the slightest whiff of fuel, they have every right to confiscate the equipment (that goes for carry-on and checked bags). "It is almost impossible to get the [fuel] odor off a camp stove," says Jack Evans, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a trade organization that represents U.S. airlines. To improve your odds, Evans suggests replacing your kerosene stove with a newer model that runs on propane gas. Coleman (800-835-3278, www.coleman.com), for example, sells a variety of propane models. Another option is to buy a camp stove at your destination and ship it home. Beats eating cold oatmeal in the morning.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com), fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and home town.