25 Islands in the U.S. for an Affordable Getaway

by Christina Garofalo and Lauren Dana

25 Islands in the U.S. for an Affordable Getaway

by Christina Garofalo and Lauren Dana

These islands in the U.S. are easily accessible from the mainland — and you may not even need a plane ticket to reach them. Here’s what to do, how to get there, and what it’ll cost.

You don't have to go as far as the Caribbean for your next getaway. These islands in the U.S. are easily accessible from the mainland — and you may not even need a plane ticket to reach them. Here’s how to see them, what to do when you get there, and what it’ll cost.

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Martha's Vineyard / jnevitt/iStock
Amelia Island, Florida
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Amelia Island, FL

Amelia Island offers a slice of history: Victorian mansions, a Civil War–era fort, and Florida’s oldest lighthouse and saloon. Meanwhile, its sandy shores host dolphins, osprey, the endangered right whale, and nesting sea turtles. Every March, the Amelia Concours d'Elegance dazzles classic car collectors; and in May, a festival celebrates its historic shrimp industry  don’t leave before ordering a plate.

Amelia Island offers a slice of history: Victorian mansions, a Civil War–era fort, and Florida’s oldest lighthouse and saloon. Meanwhile, its sandy shores host dolphins, osprey, the endangered right whale, and nesting sea turtles. Every March, the Amelia Concours d'Elegance dazzles classic car collectors; and in May, a festival celebrates its historic shrimp industry  don’t leave before ordering a plate.

Amelia Island, Florida
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Amelia Island, FL

Getting there: Amelia Island is a 45-minute drive from downtown Jacksonville and 30 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport (service from JetBlue, Southwest, and Delta, among others). The island is connected to mainland Florida by two bridges. Hotels on Amelia Island average out to around $160 per night, depending on the season. 

Getting there: Amelia Island is a 45-minute drive from downtown Jacksonville and 30 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport (service from JetBlue, Southwest, and Delta, among others). The island is connected to mainland Florida by two bridges. Hotels on Amelia Island average out to around $160 per night, depending on the season. 

San Juan Island, WA
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San Juan Island, WA

The second-largest of the San Juan Islands gets only half the rainfall of nearby Seattle, making it easy to enjoy the splendid scenery. Soak it up while sipping wine at the island’s vineyard, or whale watching at Lime Kiln State Park. Stop to see the island’s adorable alpacas, then sit for a picnic at the brilliant 20-acre lavender farm. End the day by dining, shopping, and strolling in Friday Harbor.

The second-largest of the San Juan Islands gets only half the rainfall of nearby Seattle, making it easy to enjoy the splendid scenery. Soak it up while sipping wine at the island’s vineyard, or whale watching at Lime Kiln State Park. Stop to see the island’s adorable alpacas, then sit for a picnic at the brilliant 20-acre lavender farm. End the day by dining, shopping, and strolling in Friday Harbor.

San Juan Island, WA
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San Juan Island, WA

Getting there: Washington State Ferries operates between islands and to the mainland, which will cost you $13.75 round-trip. From the port at Anacortes, Washington (90 miles north of Seattle or south of Vancouver on Interstate 5), is two hours to San Juan Island. Alternatively, you can take a half-hour flight from Seattle to San Juan Island on Kenmore Air. Hotels on San Juan Island average out to around $130 per night, depending on the season.

Getting there: Washington State Ferries operates between islands and to the mainland, which will cost you $13.75 round-trip. From the port at Anacortes, Washington (90 miles north of Seattle or south of Vancouver on Interstate 5), is two hours to San Juan Island. Alternatively, you can take a half-hour flight from Seattle to San Juan Island on Kenmore Air. Hotels on San Juan Island average out to around $130 per night, depending on the season.

Outer Banks, NC
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Outer Banks, NC

North Carolina’s easily navigable barrier islands offer endless open-sea beaches and state parks. While you're there, be sure to check out the popular Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head, where you can see the tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern U.S. (you can hike, hang-glide, and sand board down the dunes). If you love history, be sure to venture out to Roanoke Island, the first English colony; or, if you're looking for some R&R, stake out your perfect spot on any of the secluded beaches of Hatteras.

North Carolina’s easily navigable barrier islands offer endless open-sea beaches and state parks. While you're there, be sure to check out the popular Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head, where you can see the tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern U.S. (you can hike, hang-glide, and sand board down the dunes). If you love history, be sure to venture out to Roanoke Island, the first English colony; or, if you're looking for some R&R, stake out your perfect spot on any of the secluded beaches of Hatteras.

Outer Banks, NC
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Outer Banks, NC

Getting there: The Outer Banks is a scenic drive from Norfolk International Airport (82 miles north) or Raleigh Durham International Airport (192 miles west). The islands are connected by a series of drivable bridges and by ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke, which will take about an hour and is free, and between Ocracoke, Swan Quarter, and Cedar Island, which will take about two and-a-half hours and is $1 for pedestrians, and $15-$45 for cars. Hotels on the Outer Banks average out at about $180 per night, depending on the season.  

Getting there: The Outer Banks is a scenic drive from Norfolk International Airport (82 miles north) or Raleigh Durham International Airport (192 miles west). The islands are connected by a series of drivable bridges and by ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke, which will take about an hour and is free, and between Ocracoke, Swan Quarter, and Cedar Island, which will take about two and-a-half hours and is $1 for pedestrians, and $15-$45 for cars. Hotels on the Outer Banks average out at about $180 per night, depending on the season.  

Santa Catalina Island, CA
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Santa Catalina, CA

Just 20 miles from L.A., Santa Catalina is home to swanky hotels, beach clubs, and even a historic casino-turned-movie theater and museum. But, the real appeal here is the protected reserve (nearly 90 percent of the island). Bike or hike some 40 miles of trails, or join a Jeep Eco Tour to see the diverse animal population, including a herd of American bison whose ancestors were brought here in 1924 as extras for a movie.

Just 20 miles from L.A., Santa Catalina is home to swanky hotels, beach clubs, and even a historic casino-turned-movie theater and museum. But, the real appeal here is the protected reserve (nearly 90 percent of the island). Bike or hike some 40 miles of trails, or join a Jeep Eco Tour to see the diverse animal population, including a herd of American bison whose ancestors were brought here in 1924 as extras for a movie.

Santa Catalina Island, CA
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Santa Catalina, CA

Getting there: You can reach Santa Catalina island by ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach, Dana Point, and Newport, which will take you about an hour and costs $75 round-trip. You can also take a 15-minute helicopter ride from Long Beach, which will cost you around $270 round-trip. Hotels on Santa Catalina Island average out to around $142 per night, depending on the season.

Getting there: You can reach Santa Catalina island by ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach, Dana Point, and Newport, which will take you about an hour and costs $75 round-trip. You can also take a 15-minute helicopter ride from Long Beach, which will cost you around $270 round-trip. Hotels on Santa Catalina Island average out to around $142 per night, depending on the season.

Hilton Head, South Carolina
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Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head’s shell-lined shores, vast selection of rental properties, and shallow, gentle water make it an ideal family destination. Its postcard red-and-white lighthouse is a launch point for sightseeing cruises, water sports, and, is the perfect spot for dolphin-watching. Off the coast, tee-off at some two dozen golf courses, and visit the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge to see deer, alligators, and birds.

Hilton Head’s shell-lined shores, vast selection of rental properties, and shallow, gentle water make it an ideal family destination. Its postcard red-and-white lighthouse is a launch point for sightseeing cruises, water sports, and, is the perfect spot for dolphin-watching. Off the coast, tee-off at some two dozen golf courses, and visit the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge to see deer, alligators, and birds.

Hilton Head, South Carolina
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Hilton Head, SC

Getting there: Hilton Head Island is 45 minutes by car from Savannah, Georgia, and two hours from Charleston, South Carolina. Visitors can fly to either city, or take Amtrak or a bus from Savannah. Alternatively, there are daily flights to Hilton Head Island Airport via Charlotte (USAIR Express) and via Atlanta (Delta). Hotels on the island average out to around $130 per night, depending on the season. 

Getting there: Hilton Head Island is 45 minutes by car from Savannah, Georgia, and two hours from Charleston, South Carolina. Visitors can fly to either city, or take Amtrak or a bus from Savannah. Alternatively, there are daily flights to Hilton Head Island Airport via Charlotte (USAIR Express) and via Atlanta (Delta). Hotels on the island average out to around $130 per night, depending on the season. 

Hamptons, Long Island
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Long Island, NY

East of New York City, Long Island is easily overlooked but, it's dense with its own fair share of attractions. In the summer, Jones Beach springs to life with nightly concerts. The island's North Shore boasts mansions (once owned by the Vanderbilts and President Roosevelt), which, fun fact, inspired The Great Gatsby. On the East End, tour the wine trail of the North Fork, and see and be seen among the rolling dunes and chic eateries in the Hamptons.

East of New York City, Long Island is easily overlooked but, it's dense with its own fair share of attractions. In the summer, Jones Beach springs to life with nightly concerts. The island's North Shore boasts mansions (once owned by the Vanderbilts and President Roosevelt), which, fun fact, inspired The Great Gatsby. On the East End, tour the wine trail of the North Fork, and see and be seen among the rolling dunes and chic eateries in the Hamptons.

Montauk Point Lighthouse, Long Island
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Long Island, NY

Getting there: Visitors can fly into either John F. Kennedy International Airport or LaGuardia Airport and either rent a car or take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to various points across the island. Fares start around seven dollars for a one-way ticket. Hotels on the island average out at $130 per night, depending on the season.

Getting there: Visitors can fly into either John F. Kennedy International Airport or LaGuardia Airport and either rent a car or take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to various points across the island. Fares start around seven dollars for a one-way ticket. Hotels on the island average out at $130 per night, depending on the season.

Isle Royale National Park, MI
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Isle Royale, MI

This remote and untamed island on Lake Superior is worth the trek for those seeking to get in tune with nature. Pack hiking boots and binoculars: Moose, wolves, and rare birds roam freely throughout some 165 miles of forested trails. Experienced divers can explore nine haunting shipwrecks, and in spring and fall you may even see the Northern Lights. Best of all: There are never any crowds.

This remote and untamed island on Lake Superior is worth the trek for those seeking to get in tune with nature. Pack hiking boots and binoculars: Moose, wolves, and rare birds roam freely throughout some 165 miles of forested trails. Experienced divers can explore nine haunting shipwrecks, and in spring and fall you may even see the Northern Lights. Best of all: There are never any crowds.

Isle Royal National Park, MI
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Isle Royale, MI

Getting there: Fly to Thunder Bay International Airport in Ontario or Houghton County Memorial Airport in Houghton, Michigan. Then, book a ferry from Houghton (five hours, $53 one-way); Copper Harbor, Michigan (three-and-a-half hours, $65 one-way); or Grand Portage, Minnesota (one-and-a-half hours, $67 one-way). Alternatively, Isle Royale Seaplanes offers service from Houghton (35 minutes, $310 RT). Hotels on the island average out to around $110 per night, depending on the season.

Getting there: Fly to Thunder Bay International Airport in Ontario or Houghton County Memorial Airport in Houghton, Michigan. Then, book a ferry from Houghton (five hours, $53 one-way); Copper Harbor, Michigan (three-and-a-half hours, $65 one-way); or Grand Portage, Minnesota (one-and-a-half hours, $67 one-way). Alternatively, Isle Royale Seaplanes offers service from Houghton (35 minutes, $310 RT). Hotels on the island average out to around $110 per night, depending on the season.

Jordan Pond, Mount Desert Island, ME
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Mount Desert Island, ME

This East Coast island is known best for Acadia National Park — home to the highest seaside summits on the Atlantic north of Rio de Janeiro. Sheer granite peaks overlook crashing waves and more than 120 miles of hiking trails, white-water rafting, and tons of wildlife, so there's plenty to explore. After your action-packed day, unwind over fresh lobster and shopping in the charming seaside village Bar Harbor.

This East Coast island is known best for Acadia National Park — home to the highest seaside summits on the Atlantic north of Rio de Janeiro. Sheer granite peaks overlook crashing waves and more than 120 miles of hiking trails, white-water rafting, and tons of wildlife, so there's plenty to explore. After your action-packed day, unwind over fresh lobster and shopping in the charming seaside village Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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Mount Desert Island, ME

Getting there: Mount Desert Island is a five-hour drive from Boston, or, you can also fly from Logan Airport (Boston) via Cape Air, which will cost you around $190 round-trip. However, although the drive is long, a car allows you to explore Acadia National Park more thoroughly (plus, it's more affordable than flying). Accommodations on the island range from historic waterfront hotels to small B&Bs. Hotels on Mount Desert Island average out to around $130 per night, depending on the season.  

Getting there: Mount Desert Island is a five-hour drive from Boston, or, you can also fly from Logan Airport (Boston) via Cape Air, which will cost you around $190 round-trip. However, although the drive is long, a car allows you to explore Acadia National Park more thoroughly (plus, it's more affordable than flying). Accommodations on the island range from historic waterfront hotels to small B&Bs. Hotels on Mount Desert Island average out to around $130 per night, depending on the season.  

Sanibel Island, FL
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Sanibel Island, FL

With year-round warmth and plenty of tennis, golf, and biking, Sanibel Island is an ideal, low-key getaway for athletic travelers. The island boasts nearly 15 miles of beaches that are among the best in the country for collecting seashells. Tour the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, with some 6,000 acres of marshlands, and home to more than 300 species of mammals, reptiles, and birds, including the elusive bald eagle.

With year-round warmth and plenty of tennis, golf, and biking, Sanibel Island is an ideal, low-key getaway for athletic travelers. The island boasts nearly 15 miles of beaches that are among the best in the country for collecting seashells. Tour the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, with some 6,000 acres of marshlands, and home to more than 300 species of mammals, reptiles, and birds, including the elusive bald eagle.

Sanibel Island, FL
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Sanibel Island, FL

Getting there: Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers is just 20 miles from Sanibel Island via Interstate 75 (approx. 50 minutes by car). Alternatively, Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport is a two-hour drive from the island. Sannibel Island is connected to the mainland by the Sanibel Causeway ($6 toll), which offers sweeping views of the Gulf. Hotels on the island average out to about $310 per night, depending on the season.  

Getting there: Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers is just 20 miles from Sanibel Island via Interstate 75 (approx. 50 minutes by car). Alternatively, Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport is a two-hour drive from the island. Sannibel Island is connected to the mainland by the Sanibel Causeway ($6 toll), which offers sweeping views of the Gulf. Hotels on the island average out to about $310 per night, depending on the season.  

Beach, Port Aransas, TX
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Mustang Island, TX

This Texas barrier island is an unsuspecting paradise for bird lovers. The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center is home to Roseate Spoonbills and Reddish Egrets, and hosts the annual Whooping Crane Festival in February. The warm waters surrounding the island are home to more than 600 species of fish, and is ideal for deep sea fishing. Shop and dine in Port Aransas and explore the island by golf cart.

This Texas barrier island is an unsuspecting paradise for bird lovers. The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center is home to Roseate Spoonbills and Reddish Egrets, and hosts the annual Whooping Crane Festival in February. The warm waters surrounding the island are home to more than 600 species of fish, and is ideal for deep sea fishing. Shop and dine in Port Aransas and explore the island by golf cart.

Egret, Aransas Wildlife Refuge, TX
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Mustang Island, TX

Getting there: Fly into Corpus Christi International Airport, with connections to Dallas and Houston. From there, take the Highway 261 and the causeway. Alternatively, fly into San Antonio and drive (about three hours by car). What's more, the Port Aransas Ferry System provides free transportation seven days a week between Mustang Island and Port Aransas. Hotels on the island average out to about $90 per night, depending on the season. 

Getting there: Fly into Corpus Christi International Airport, with connections to Dallas and Houston. From there, take the Highway 261 and the causeway. Alternatively, fly into San Antonio and drive (about three hours by car). What's more, the Port Aransas Ferry System provides free transportation seven days a week between Mustang Island and Port Aransas. Hotels on the island average out to about $90 per night, depending on the season. 

Beaver Island, MI
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Beaver Island, MI

In the 19th century, this Lake Michigan retreat was integral to the global fishing industry (the island's two museums and lighthouses tell its history). Today, the walkable town center is packed with various shops and eateries for travelers to explore. Though not essential, a car lets you access the sugar maple forests and sparkling lakes on the island’s undeveloped side. At night, there’s excellent star gazing and, occasionally, you can even see the Northern Lights.

In the 19th century, this Lake Michigan retreat was integral to the global fishing industry (the island's two museums and lighthouses tell its history). Today, the walkable town center is packed with various shops and eateries for travelers to explore. Though not essential, a car lets you access the sugar maple forests and sparkling lakes on the island’s undeveloped side. At night, there’s excellent star gazing and, occasionally, you can even see the Northern Lights.

Lake Michigan, MI
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Beaver Island, MI

Getting there: Beaver Island Boat Company operates a two-hour ferry from Charlevoix, Michigan, from early April through mid-December (twice-daily in peak season). Accommodations on the island are primarily B&Bs and small, no-frills hotels, which average out to about $150 per night, depending on the season.  

Getting there: Beaver Island Boat Company operates a two-hour ferry from Charlevoix, Michigan, from early April through mid-December (twice-daily in peak season). Accommodations on the island are primarily B&Bs and small, no-frills hotels, which average out to about $150 per night, depending on the season.  

Marco Island, FL
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Marco Island, FL

On the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, it’s all about nature. Kayak through the marshes and waterways of a supreme nature reserve to Key Island, home to a pristine beach and floating food stalls. The East River and Isles of Capri reveal spooky mangrove tunnels, where archeologists recently unearthed Pre-Columbian artifacts, now on display at the free Marco Island Historical Museum

On the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, it’s all about nature. Kayak through the marshes and waterways of a supreme nature reserve to Key Island, home to a pristine beach and floating food stalls. The East River and Isles of Capri reveal spooky mangrove tunnels, where archeologists recently unearthed Pre-Columbian artifacts, now on display at the free Marco Island Historical Museum

Marco Island, FL
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Marco Island, FL

Getting there: Marco Island lies about 20 miles (30 minutes) from Naples Municipal Airport and 50 miles (one hour) from Ft. Myers Southwest Florida Airport. The northern entrance to Everglades National Park is a 40-minute drive, and Miami is a little more than two hours by car on US Route 41, which cuts through the Everglades. Hotels on the island average out to about $350 per night, depending on the season. 

Getting there: Marco Island lies about 20 miles (30 minutes) from Naples Municipal Airport and 50 miles (one hour) from Ft. Myers Southwest Florida Airport. The northern entrance to Everglades National Park is a 40-minute drive, and Miami is a little more than two hours by car on US Route 41, which cuts through the Everglades. Hotels on the island average out to about $350 per night, depending on the season. 

Aquinnah Beach, Martha's Vineyard
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Martha’s Vineyard, MA

There’s a reason “The Vineyard” has been favored by American presidents and elites for centuries. While the east side is home to charming seafood restaurants, pubs, and shops, the sleepy, scenic west side is the perfect place to go off the grid. Bike to the Jaws Bridge, where scenes from the movie were filmed before heading to the sheer cliffs at Aquinnah (formerly called Gay Head), where you can walk the trail to Moshup Beach for idyllic sunset views. 

 

There’s a reason “The Vineyard” has been favored by American presidents and elites for centuries. While the east side is home to charming seafood restaurants, pubs, and shops, the sleepy, scenic west side is the perfect place to go off the grid. Bike to the Jaws Bridge, where scenes from the movie were filmed before heading to the sheer cliffs at Aquinnah (formerly called Gay Head), where you can walk the trail to Moshup Beach for idyllic sunset views. 

 

Chappaquiddick, Martha's Vineyard
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Martha’s Vineyard, MA

Getting there: Martha’s Vineyard is accessible by ferry from Woods Hole ($8.50), Hyannis ($30), New Bedford ($40), Falmouth ($14), Nantucket ($36) in Massachusetts; North Kingstown, Rhode Island ($56); and Manhattan, New York ($165) — all prices one-way. Hotels on the island average out at about $130 per night, depending on the season.  

Getting there: Martha’s Vineyard is accessible by ferry from Woods Hole ($8.50), Hyannis ($30), New Bedford ($40), Falmouth ($14), Nantucket ($36) in Massachusetts; North Kingstown, Rhode Island ($56); and Manhattan, New York ($165) — all prices one-way. Hotels on the island average out at about $130 per night, depending on the season.  

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Block Island, RI

Featuring old-school Victorian charm, gorgeous views, pristine beaches (the island boasts 17 miles of coastline!), incredible hiking and biking opportunities, plus an array of shopping and dining options, it's easy to fall in love with the 6,200-acre Block Island. Start your day with a visit to the 200-foot-tall Mohegan Bluffs (which got its name from a Native American battle back in 1590!). Then, refuel at Payne's Donuts before soaking up the sun at Crescent Beach. 

Featuring old-school Victorian charm, gorgeous views, pristine beaches (the island boasts 17 miles of coastline!), incredible hiking and biking opportunities, plus an array of shopping and dining options, it's easy to fall in love with the 6,200-acre Block Island. Start your day with a visit to the 200-foot-tall Mohegan Bluffs (which got its name from a Native American battle back in 1590!). Then, refuel at Payne's Donuts before soaking up the sun at Crescent Beach. 

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Block Island, RI

Getting there: Block Island is easily accessible via ferry from Point Judith, RI (30 minutes); Newport, RI (60 minutes, but currently on hold for 2020); Fall River, MA (two hours, but currently on hold for 2020); New London, CT (just over one hour); and Montauk, NY (just over one hour; seasonal). Block Island is home to an array of quaint hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. Some of our favorites include the six-room Sullivan House (from $295 per night, depending on the season), the beachy-chic Block Island Beach House (from $239 per night, depending on the season); and 1661 Inn (from $225 per night, depending on the season). 

Getting there: Block Island is easily accessible via ferry from Point Judith, RI (30 minutes); Newport, RI (60 minutes, but currently on hold for 2020); Fall River, MA (two hours, but currently on hold for 2020); New London, CT (just over one hour); and Montauk, NY (just over one hour; seasonal). Block Island is home to an array of quaint hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. Some of our favorites include the six-room Sullivan House (from $295 per night, depending on the season), the beachy-chic Block Island Beach House (from $239 per night, depending on the season); and 1661 Inn (from $225 per night, depending on the season). 

Daufuskie Island, SC
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Daufuskie Island, SC

Located between Hilton Head and Savannah, this tiny, charming South Carolina island features stunning sunsets, sugar-sand beaches, and a vibrant shopping and dining scene -- along with a fascinating history that dates back 9,000 years. Here, adventure enthusiasts can golf, kayak, bike, golf, or fish. Meanwhile, history buffs should follow The Robert Kennedy Historic Trail, which outlines 20 of the island's cultural and historic landmarks. Daufuskie Island is also home to several art galleries and a winery. 

Located between Hilton Head and Savannah, this tiny, charming South Carolina island features stunning sunsets, sugar-sand beaches, and a vibrant shopping and dining scene -- along with a fascinating history that dates back 9,000 years. Here, adventure enthusiasts can golf, kayak, bike, golf, or fish. Meanwhile, history buffs should follow The Robert Kennedy Historic Trail, which outlines 20 of the island's cultural and historic landmarks. Daufuskie Island is also home to several art galleries and a winery. 

Daufuskie Island, SC
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Daufuskie Island, SC

Getting there: Daufuskie Island is only accessible via ferry from Hilton Head (one hour); Bluffton (30 minutes); and Tybee Island (30 minutes). The other option is to charter your own boat to the island. While there are no hotels on the island, we found Airbnbs for around $300 per night. However, if you're looking for more affordable accommodations, consider staying in nearby Hilton Head. 

Getting there: Daufuskie Island is only accessible via ferry from Hilton Head (one hour); Bluffton (30 minutes); and Tybee Island (30 minutes). The other option is to charter your own boat to the island. While there are no hotels on the island, we found Airbnbs for around $300 per night. However, if you're looking for more affordable accommodations, consider staying in nearby Hilton Head. 

Mackinac Island
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Mackinac Island, MI

Whether you're into history, art, or nature, Mackinac Island offers something for everyone. Mackinac Island State Park (Michigan's first-ever state park!) covers most of the island and is home to beautiful beaches along and scenic hiking and biking trails. Meanwhile, art enthusiasts can visit the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, which features works from local artists, as well as 19th-century era photographs. Before you leave, be sure to stop by Fort Mackinac, which was built by the British in 1780 during the American Revolution.

Whether you're into history, art, or nature, Mackinac Island offers something for everyone. Mackinac Island State Park (Michigan's first-ever state park!) covers most of the island and is home to beautiful beaches along and scenic hiking and biking trails. Meanwhile, art enthusiasts can visit the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, which features works from local artists, as well as 19th-century era photographs. Before you leave, be sure to stop by Fort Mackinac, which was built by the British in 1780 during the American Revolution.

Mackinac Island
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Mackinac Island, MI

Getting there: Mackinac Island is car-free, which makes it all the more charming (albeit a little tricky to navigate). However, you can take the ferry from either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. The other option is to take a seven-minute plane ride from St. Ignace via Great Lakes Air. In terms of accommodations, Grand Hotel is among the most famous properties on the island. While it is all-inclusive, rates are on the costly side (from around $350 per night). You can also rent an Airbnb on the island for about $160 per night. 
 

Getting there: Mackinac Island is car-free, which makes it all the more charming (albeit a little tricky to navigate). However, you can take the ferry from either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. The other option is to take a seven-minute plane ride from St. Ignace via Great Lakes Air. In terms of accommodations, Grand Hotel is among the most famous properties on the island. While it is all-inclusive, rates are on the costly side (from around $350 per night). You can also rent an Airbnb on the island for about $160 per night. 

Tybee Island
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Tybee Island, GA

Tybee Island is best known for its pristine, sugar-sand beaches (South Beach is a local favorite). After you soak up the sun, consider exploring the rest of the island, which is home to Fort Screven (which dates back to 1897) and the historic Tybee Island Light Station and Museum. Once you're done exploring, feast on some fresh seafood at one of the dozens of restaurants, including The Crab Shack and The Deck.

Tybee Island is best known for its pristine, sugar-sand beaches (South Beach is a local favorite). After you soak up the sun, consider exploring the rest of the island, which is home to Fort Screven (which dates back to 1897) and the historic Tybee Island Light Station and Museum. Once you're done exploring, feast on some fresh seafood at one of the dozens of restaurants, including The Crab Shack and The Deck.

Tybee Island
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Tybee Island, GA

Getting there: Tybee Island is just a 20-minute ride from Savannah, which feels like a world away. If you plan on staying overnight, consider booking a room at the recently renovated, pink-hued 17th Street Inn. The tropical-inspired boutique hotel, which is housed in a 1920s-era cottage, is just 400 feet from the beach and offers eight charming suites. Its spacious, wraparound porch is also not to be missed. For rates, contact the property directly.

Getting there: Tybee Island is just a 20-minute ride from Savannah, which feels like a world away. If you plan on staying overnight, consider booking a room at the recently renovated, pink-hued 17th Street Inn. The tropical-inspired boutique hotel, which is housed in a 1920s-era cottage, is just 400 feet from the beach and offers eight charming suites. Its spacious, wraparound porch is also not to be missed. For rates, contact the property directly.

 

 

 

Antelope Island
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Antelope Island, UT

Antelope Island is a nature lover's paradise. The 28,000-acre island is home to Antelope Island State Park, where visitors can picnic, camp, bike, and hike. The park is a popular destination for wildlife spotting; deer, sheep, birds, and bison (which were first introduced to the island in 1893) can all be found here. Antelope Island is also home to plenty of beautiful white-sand beaches, along with several scenic hiking and biking trails. The island is surrounded by the Great Salt Lake, which as its name suggests, is extremely salty. As a result, visitors can easily float along its surface. Antelope Island is also a great spot for stargazing, so bring your binoculars. 

Antelope Island is a nature lover's paradise. The 28,000-acre island is home to Antelope Island State Park, where visitors can picnic, camp, bike, and hike. The park is a popular destination for wildlife spotting; deer, sheep, birds, and bison (which were first introduced to the island in 1893) can all be found here. Antelope Island is also home to plenty of beautiful white-sand beaches, along with several scenic hiking and biking trails. The island is surrounded by the Great Salt Lake, which as its name suggests, is extremely salty. As a result, visitors can easily float along its surface. Antelope Island is also a great spot for stargazing, so bring your binoculars. 

Antelope Island
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Antelope Island

Getting there: Antelope Island is about 40 miles away from Salt Lake City. To get there, take the Antelope Drive exit on Interstate-15 and head west for about 15 miles. Since there are no hotels on the island (although, you could always camp), your best bet is to stay in nearby Layton or Syracuse, where you can find comfortable, affordable accommodations for under $100 per night. 

Getting there: Antelope Island is about 40 miles from Salt Lake City. To get there, take the Antelope Drive exit on Interstate-15 and head west for about 15 miles. Since there are no hotels on the island (although, you could always camp), your best bet is to stay in nearby Layton or Syracuse, where you can find comfortable, affordable accommodations for under $100 per night. 

Whidbey Island
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Whidbey Island, WA

Whidbey Island's rocky terrain features everything from beaches to rolling hills, to lush farmland.  Deception Pass State Park offers beautiful clifftop views, scenic trails, and several freshwater lakes for swimming and fishing. On the other end of the island, you'll find the 467-acre Fort Casey Historical State Park, which is home to a lighthouse & gun battery, several trails, and a dive park. Meanwhile, the charming seaside towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Langley are all teeming with eclectic galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. 
 

Whidbey Island's rocky terrain features everything from beaches to rolling hills, to lush farmland.  Deception Pass State Park offers beautiful clifftop views, scenic trails, and several freshwater lakes for swimming and fishing. On the other end of the island, you'll find the 467-acre Fort Casey Historical State Park, which is home to a lighthouse & gun battery, several trails, and a dive park. Meanwhile, the charming seaside towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Langley are all teeming with eclectic galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. 

Whidbey Island
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Whidbey Island, WA

Getting there: The island is an easy trip from both Seattle and Vancouver. You can take the ferry from either Clinton/Mukilteo or Coupeville/Pt. Townsend (more information can be found here). The other option is to drive; click here for specific directions. The island is also home to an array of quaint inns and bed and breakfasts at all price points, including The Inn at Langley (from $350 per night), The Boatyard Inn (from around $250 per night; minimum stays may be required), Captain Whidbey (from $195 per night), and The Saratoga Inn (from $188 per night). 

Getting there: The island is an easy trip from both Seattle and Vancouver. You can take the ferry from either Clinton/Mukilteo or Coupeville/Pt. Townsend (more information can be found here). The other option is to drive; click here for specific directions. The island is also home to an array of quaint inns and bed and breakfasts at all price points, including The Inn at Langley (from $350 per night), The Boatyard Inn (from around $250 per night; minimum stays may be required), Captain Whidbey (from $195 per night), and The Saratoga Inn (from $188 per night). 

Dauphin Island
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Dauphin Island, AL

This 14-mile-long Alabama island is best known for its incredible beaches and stunning sunsets. However, when it comes time to take a break from the sunshine, visit Fort Gaines (which features 19th-century era cannons and a blacksmith shop), go bird watching at the Audubon Bird Sanctuary (it spans 137 acres of forest, marsh, and dunes), and spot stingrays, turtles, and over 100 other marine life creatures at The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium, (where you'll also find a living marsh boardwalk!). 

This 14-mile-long Alabama island is best known for its incredible beaches and stunning sunsets. However, when it comes time to take a break from the sunshine, visit Fort Gaines (which features 19th-century era cannons and a blacksmith shop), go bird watching at the Audubon Bird Sanctuary (it spans 137 acres of forest, marsh, and dunes), and spot stingrays, turtles, and over 100 other marine life creatures at The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium, (where you'll also find a living marsh boardwalk!). 

Dauphin Island
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Dauphin Island, AL

Getting there: Dauphin Island is about 30 miles (35 minutes by car) outside of Mobile, Alabama. If you don't have a car, you can also take the ferry (approximately 40 minutes) from Mobile Bay. Pensacola, FL and Biloxi, MS are both around 60 miles away. If you plan on staying overnight, your best bet is to rent an Airbnb (there are few hotels on the island), some of which are available for under $100 per night.

Getting there: Dauphin Island is about 30 miles (35 minutes by car) outside of Mobile, Alabama. If you don't have a car, you can also take the ferry (approximately 40 minutes) from Mobile Bay. Pensacola, FL and Biloxi, MS are both around 60 miles away. If you plan on staying overnight, your best bet is to rent an Airbnb (there are few hotels on the island), some of which are available for under $100 per night.

Padre Island
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Padre Island, TX

This 113-mile-long island is home to Padre Island National Seashore, which, according to its website, is "The Longest Stretch of Undeveloped Barrier Island in the World" -- over 70 miles, to be exact. The Padre Island National Seashore dates back to 1554. Today, it's home to hundreds of adorable sea turtles that come here to lay eggs each year. Birders will appreciate the Grasslands Nature Trail, while surfers, fishers, and sunbathers will love the 374-acre Padre Balli Park.
 

This 113-mile-long island is home to Padre Island National Seashore, which, according to its website, is "The Longest Stretch of Undeveloped Barrier Island in the World" -- over 70 miles, to be exact. The Padre Island National Seashore dates back to 1554. Today, it's home to hundreds of adorable sea turtles that come here to lay eggs each year. Birders will appreciate the Grasslands Nature Trail, while surfers, fishers, and sunbathers will love the 374-acre Padre Balli Park.

Padre Island
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Padre Island, TX

Getting there: Corpus Christi is around 40 miles away (38 minutes by car), and it's also home to the nearest airport. The other option is to charter a private boat. South Padre Island, which is part of Padre Island, is home to plenty of hotels, including the Isla Grande Beach Resort (from $134 per night) and Pearl South Padre Beachfront Resort Hotel (from $115 per night) along with the Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island (from $170 per night) and the Courtyard by Marriott South Padre Island (from $145 per night). 
 

Getting there: Corpus Christi is around 40 miles away (38 minutes by car), and it's also home to the nearest airport. The other option is to charter a private boat. South Padre Island, which is part of Padre Island, is home to plenty of hotels, including the Isla Grande Beach Resort (from $134 per night) and Pearl South Padre Beachfront Resort Hotel (from $115 per night) along with the Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island (from $170 per night) and the Courtyard by Marriott South Padre Island (from $145 per night). 

Roanoke Island
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Roanoke Island, NC

This Outer Banks island has a fascinating history. The very first colony on North American ground was established here back in 1584 (though it's reported that Native Americans have lived here since 8,000 BC). However, several years later, all of the island's 200-plus British inhabitants had mysteriously disappeared. Today, visitors can learn more about Roanoke Island's rich history by visiting the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Roanoke Island Festival Park. Other popular attractions include the North Carolina Aquarium and the tranquil Elizabethan Gardens. Meanwhile, downtown Manteo offers an eclectic mix of shopping and dining options. 

This Outer Banks island has a fascinating history. The very first colony on North American ground was established here back in 1584 (though it's reported that Native Americans have lived here since 8,000 BC). However, several years later, all of the island's 200-plus British inhabitants had mysteriously disappeared. Today, visitors can learn more about Roanoke Island's rich history by visiting the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Roanoke Island Festival Park. Other popular attractions include the North Carolina Aquarium and the tranquil Elizabethan Gardens. Meanwhile, downtown Manteo offers an eclectic mix of shopping and dining options. 

Roanoke Island
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Roanoke Island, NC

Getting there: To get to Roanoke Island, you can either drive, fly (the closest airport is Dare County Regional Airport), which is on the island itself. The closest major city is Virginia Beach, which is about 70 miles away. Norfolk, VA is around 90 miles away (about two hours by car), while Raleigh, NC is 167 miles (three hours) away. Consider booking a room at one of the charming inns located in the lively town of Manteo; White Doe Inn (from $215 per night) is one of our favorites.  

Getting there: To get to Roanoke Island, you can either drive, fly (the closest airport is Dare County Regional Airport), which is on the island itself. The closest major city is Virginia Beach, which is about 70 miles away. Norfolk, VA is around 90 miles away (about two hours by car), while Raleigh, NC is 167 miles (three hours) away. Consider booking a room at one of the charming inns located in the lively town of Manteo; White Doe Inn (from $215 per night) is one of our favorites.  

Thousand Islands
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The Thousand Islands, NY

The Thousand Islands are comprised of 1,800 islands, which span from New York to Canada. The region is known for its beautiful hiking and biking trails, great fishing, and historic sites, including Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic SitePickering Beach Museum, and the Stone Mills Museum. The region is also chock-a-block with gallery exhibits, museums, theater productions, and charming villages to explore. 

The Thousand Islands are comprised of 1,800 islands, which span from New York to Canada. The region is known for its beautiful hiking and biking trails, great fishing, and historic sites, including Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, Pickering Beach Museum, and the Stone Mills Museum. The region is also chock-a-block with gallery exhibits, museums, theater productions, and charming villages to explore. 

Thousand Islands
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The Thousand Islands, NY

Getting there: Watertown, NY is located in the heart of the Thousand Island region. It's about one hour from Syracuse and three hours from Buffalo. The area is home to big-brand properties like Marriott, Victorian inns, and almost everything in between. If you're looking to save, your best bet is to rent an Airbnb; many of them are under $100 per night. 

Getting there: Watertown, NY is located in the heart of the Thousand Island region. It's about one hour from Syracuse and three hours from Buffalo. The area is home to big-brand properties like Marriott, Victorian inns, and almost everything in between. If you're looking to save, your best bet is to rent an Airbnb; many of them are under $100 per night. 

Apostle Islands, WI
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Apostle Island, WI

The Apostle Islands is comprised of 22 islands in northern Wisconsin. Here, adrenaline junkies can enjoy almost-otherworldy scenery, like massive cliffs. Other popular activities include kayaking, diving, and hiking. If you're feeling brave, you can also explore several shipwrecks in Lake Superior. 

The Apostle Islands is comprised of 22 islands in northern Wisconsin. Here, adrenaline junkies can enjoy almost-otherworldy scenery, like massive cliffs. Other popular activities include kayaking, diving, and hiking. If you're feeling brave, you can also explore several shipwrecks in Lake Superior. 

Apostle Islands, WI
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Apostle Island, WI

Getting there: Apostle Islands Cruises (an authorized National Park Service concessioner) offers a variety of sightseeing excursions, cruises, and shuttles. Madeline Island is the only island in the Apostle Islands that's accessible by car. When it comes to accommodations, we recommend staying at the Victorian-era Rittenhouse Inn in Bayfield; the town offers an array of shopping and dining establishments to choose from.  
 

Getting there: Apostle Islands Cruises (an authorized National Park Service concessioner) offers a variety of sightseeing excursions, cruises, and shuttles. Madeline Island is the only island in the Apostle Islands that's accessible by car. When it comes to accommodations, we recommend staying at the Victorian-era Rittenhouse Inn in Bayfield; the town offers an array of shopping and dining establishments to choose from.  

Put-in-Bay, OH
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South Bass Island, OH

Located in Lake Erie, this small island is home to the 36-acre South Bass Island State Park, a popular spot for fishing, sunbathing, and picnicking. The island's largest city, Put-In-Bay, is often dubbed “The Key West of the North" thanks to its tropical-inspired vibe (think pool parties, swim-up bars, and tiki bars). Oenophiles should pay a visit to Heineman Winery, which offers affordable wine tastings and underground cave tours.

Located in Lake Erie, this small island is home to the 36-acre South Bass Island State Park, a popular spot for fishing, sunbathing, and picnicking. The island's largest city, Put-In-Bay, is often dubbed “The Key West of the North" thanks to its tropical-inspired vibe (think pool parties, swim-up bars, and tiki bars). Oenophiles should pay a visit to Heineman Winery, which offers affordable wine tastings and underground cave tours.

Put-in-Bay, OH
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South Bass Island, OH

Getting there: The island is easily accessible by ferry from Port Clinton, Sandusky, Kellys Island, and Cedar Point (find more information here). While the hotels here aren't fancy, per se, they do provide comfortable lodging -- but rates tend to soar to around $300 per night in the summer season. The other option is to book an Airbnb, which range in price from $135 to $700-plus per night. 

Getting there: The island is easily accessible by ferry from Port Clinton, Sandusky, Kellys Island, and Cedar Point (find more information here). While the hotels here aren't fancy, per se, they do provide comfortable lodging -- but rates tend to soar to around $300 per night in the summer season. The other option is to book an Airbnb, which range in price from $135 to $700-plus per night. 

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