Bucket List February 28, 2022
19 Islands Scattered Across America That Will Have You Dreaming Of Paradise
Months of gray skies, chilly temps, and visits from Old Man Winter have everyone dreaming of vacation. Whether you’re from the middle of the Midwest or the Pacific Northwest, Upstate New York or the South, there’s something undeniably alluring about escaping to an island, with sandy shores, turquoise waters, beach chairs, and umbrella-topped drinks. Happily, our country offers all sorts of beautiful escapes; there are dreamy island destinations all across America where you can experience a real-life slice of paradise.
San Juan Islands - Washington
San Juan Islands, Washington, USA
When it comes to island getaways, we tend to think of tropical oases rather than the Pacific Northwest, but the uppermost corner of Washington State is hiding an island escape that's a true #pnwonderland. The slower pace of life on the San Juan Islands will instantly set your mind at ease, and it’s nearly impossible not to feel relaxed when surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country.
An archipelago comprised of 172 islands
, this is a place of remote resplendence that offers visitors the rare opportunity to step back and embrace a beautiful and peaceful retreat in the most sublime of settings.
Catalina Island - California
Santa Catalina Island, California 90704, USA
Catalina Island is pure California sunshine
, radiating warmth and love from its very core. This dazzling destination feels like it's right out of the movies, and accessing it is a bit of an adventure that only adds to its appeal. To get to Catalina Island by ferry, you can catch a boat in Long Beach, Newport Beach, Dana Point, or San Pedro for a picture-perfect, hour-long ride. Once there, you can explore the island on foot and take in the beautiful surroundings of this stunning SoCal paradise.
South Padre Island - Texas
South Padre Island, TX 78597, USA
Known for Hill Country, cowboys, and larger-than-life attractions, many forget that Texas is also a coastal state.
Texas has its very own tropical island
, in fact; South Padre the very definition of a true island getaway! South Padre Island in Texas is a charming little oasis, filled with wonderful beachfront and calming, cerulean water as far as the eye can see. This barrier island along the coastline is accessible via Route 100, meaning arriving at this beautiful retreat doesn't necessarily require an expensive flight. It’s accessible for those who want to drive in to stay at one of the island's myriad magical resorts; the Isla Grand Beach Resort is a popular choice that's pure Texas luxury.
Washington Island - Wisconsin
Washington Island, Washington, WI, USA
Schoolhouse Beach is an island oasis in Wisconsin
that will take your breath away. A geological wonder, Schoolhouse Beach has a white shoreline, but no sand. Instead, the shore is covered in a layer of white limestone rocks that have literally been there for hundreds of thousands of years. The pebbles are silky smooth, having been buffed by millennia of waves and glacial movement. These rocks are so treasured, in fact, that there's a federal law prohibiting their removal from this beautiful beach. You'll have to travel to the very tip of Door County and then take a ferry to reach Washington Island, but these pictures should convince you that getting to discover this unique and one-of-a-kind island is well-worth the effort.
Mackinac Island - Michigan
Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA
Mackinac Island is a postcard-perfect Michigan isle where cars are not allowed and bikes and horse-drawn carriages line the streets. Most of the island lies within the protected Mackinac Island State Park, meaning it's both well-preserved and filled with untouched natural beauty. A car-free town since 1898, the island is best explored by foot or by bike; or, for an absolutely enchanting experience, horse-drawn carriage. When it's time to rest your feet after a day spent exploring on foot, head to the
, a dreamy and distinguished Midwest destination that's a mix of Victorian-era architecture and modern-day luxuries that feel both indulgent and special. This destination resort features a spectacular swimming pool, prestigious golf course, and delicious on-site dining options, all on the enchanting and magical Mackinac Island.
Florida Keys - Florida
Florida Keys, Florida, USA
are one of the top vacation destinations in the U.S., proving that you don’t have to leave the country in order to enjoy a tropical paradise. When you visit the Keys, you'll have a chance to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime adventures, like flying on seaplanes, scuba diving, and visiting the southernmost part of the country. While you can fly into Key West, we are major fans of
taking the scenic route
: the Overseas Highway. From its origin just outside of Homestead to its terminus in Key West, this 113-mile stretch of highway crosses 42 bridges and travels over the largest of the Florida Keys, and it's a drive that will truly put you in an "island" frame of mind.
Sanibel Island - Florida
Sanibel Island, Florida, USA
Hailed as one of the
most beautiful places in the entire world
, Sanibel Island is extraordinary in every way. This island is best-known for its white sand beaches dotted with a kaleidoscope of vibrant seashells. The sunsets here are incredibly colorful, too; truly one of the most sublime spectacles you'll ever experience. With a drink in hand and toes in the sand, Sanibel Island is the Platonic ideal of paradise.
Tybee Island - Georgia
Tybee Island, GA 31328, USA
While Georgia is perhaps best-known for its overhanging oak trees, immense history, and Southern flair, it's also a bit of a dark horse when it comes to beautiful beaches and islands. Tybee Island is a prime example of the state's paradisiacal prowess, boasting wide, sandy beaches, clear-blue waters, and warm, gentle waves. Tybee Island offers guests the quintessential "beach" experience, complete with waterfront restaurants, luxurious resorts,
, iconic attractions, and charming shops.
St. Simons Island - Georgia
St. Simons Island, St Simons Island, GA 31522, USA
The Golden Isles of Georgia include some of the most pristine islands in the country -- Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island, and St. Simons Island. It's on St. Simons Island where you'll find
one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the country
, an attraction worthy of planning an entire trip around. Of course, the rest of the island is equally dazzling, flush with abundant foliage, pristine beaches, and winsome beach town charm. The beaches are also a great way to get a feel for the area, whether it’s setting up shop on East Beach with a towel and umbrella or simply exploring the St. Simons Island Trail System.
Hilton Head Island - South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, SC, USA
Perhaps the most iconic and beloved island in the country,
is a top vacation destination that's home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. From the moment you drive over the iconic James F. Byrnes Bridge into Hilton Head, you'll truly be on island time. This well-planned island boasts 12 miles of beaches and is divided into 11 primary locales, each with its own restaurants, shopping, recreation, and beach access. Nothing about Hilton Head feels commercial or touristy either, as the main attraction here truly is the beach. And with a near-endless expanse of picturesque shoreline, you're sure to have the ultimate island getaway at Hilton Head Island.
Kiawah Island - South Carolina
While Hilton Head is the best-known island in South Carolina, it's not the only vacation-worthy isle in the state. The beaches along the 187 miles of South Carolina coastline all offer extraordinary experiences, and
is a lesser-known spot that's a true hidden treasure. Kiawah Island has some of the whitest sand on the South Carolina shores, with clear-blue waters that rival any Caribbean coastline. This is a place of untouched natural beauty that offers guests a scenic and luxurious island escape, complete with a big dose of Southern charm and hospitality. And if you're into golfing, Kiawah has some of the best courses in the country!
The Outer Banks - North Carolina
Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA
Close your eyes and imagine a place where wild horses run free across endless, expansive beaches. A place where soft sand dunes form hills and valleys, stretching out as far as the eye can see. A place where foamy waves crash against rugged coastlines, with weather-worn beach houses blending in as if part of the natural scenery. A place where historic lighthouses still keep watch during the darkest nights and harshest storms. A place with absolutely charming downtowns that truly feel like home. A beach vacation that truly feels like a beach vacation. This is the magic of the
Outer Banks in North Carolina
, a bucket-list-worthy island retreat that's wholly, wonderfully within reach.
Land Between the Lakes - Kentucky and Tennessee
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, 238 Visitor Center Dr, Golden Pond, KY 42211, USA
Land Between the Lakes
is a natural paradise in the South that stretches from the western part of Kentucky and into Tennessee, offering 170,000 glorious acres of outdoor beauty and adventure. This naturally diverse area is filled with hiking trails (even some that cross the water!), opportunities for water-bound recreation, and one-of-a-kind experiences you can only have at this inland island. Given its remote location and little in the way of light pollution, the
is particularly phenomenal here, offering visitors the chance to slow down and revel in the resplendent expanse of this immensely beautiful place... and the world.
Assateague Island - Maryland
Assateague Island, United States
For an island experience that's straight out of a fairy tale, venture out to
. A beautiful, 37-mile island off the coast of Maryland, Assateague Island is an enchanting place where wild horses roam free and rumors of buried treasure abound. Whether or not the stories hold true, the wild horses are wholly real, with two handsome herds roaming free on the isle. Beautiful beaches, stately stallions, and some of the most stunning sunsets and stargazing in the country, Assateague Island is a place sure to satisfy and stoke even the most insatiable wanderlust.
Block Island - Rhode Island
New Shoreham, RI 02807, USA
Off the shores of Rhode Island, Block Island is 17 miles of pristine beaches, protected by lighthouses and extraordinary bluffs, and surrounded by rolling roads and winding paths. It's a picture-perfect island that's peak
vibes, offering an experience that's wholly unique to this region. Crashing waves, rocky outcrops, startling blue waters, and moody skies;
Block Island is an immensely beautiful place that's a dream to explore
When it comes to iconic New England islands,
Nantucket is in a league of its own
. This entire island feels like a postcard, with weathered grey inns framed in white trim, scenic waterfront restaurants, charming shops, and pebble-topped streets. A tiny island just 14 miles long, Nantucket is a beloved vacation destination for busy New Englanders, and once you visit, you'll undoubtedly understand why.
Mount Desert Island - Maine
Mount Desert Island, Mt Desert Island, Maine, USA
Blissfully tucked away in Acadia National Park,
Mount Desert Island
might just be America’s best-kept secret. This island -- the largest off the coast of Maine -- is peak Pine Tree State beauty, its landscape one of rocky coves, pristine Atlantic beaches, and endless lush green forests. For visitors, there are countless ways to enjoy the simplicity and fresh, untamed beauty of the Mount Desert Island, with its sweeping vistas where the mountains meet the coast. Come and watch the sunrise from this lovely isle, and revel in the resplendence of this beautiful national treasure.
When it comes to American islands, no place is more celebrated than Hawaii. And truly, this collection of islands lives up to the hype; Hawaii is absolutely one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The third largest island in Hawaii, and also the most populated, Oahu is home to approximately two-thirds of Hawaii’s population, so it's certainly not under the radar. However, there is a reason this island is so popular, and it's really quite simple: Oahu is, hands down, one of the most breathtaking places in the world. Kailua Beach is consistently rated as one of the best beaches in America, as well as Oahu's Hanauma Bay, Lanikai, and Waimanalo beaches. The turquoise waters off Oahu's shores are spectacular, offering superlative snorkeling and unrivaled water recreation. This island paradise is a true kingdom, too, home to the country's one and only royal palace, the
incomparable Iolani Palace
Aleutian Islands - Alaska
Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA
Alaska might be the last place that comes to mind when conjuring up visions of an island escape, but the Last Frontier is home to what's perhaps the country's most unspoiled isle paradise: the Aleutian Islands. Challenging the very definition of an "island getaway," these archipelagos are a place of gorgeous grandeur. The
are a magnificent collection of islands that span the divide between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, with the isles split between the U.S. and Russia. A place of harsh, harrowing beauty, the Aleutians are marked by volcanos, stormy seas, bone-chilling winds, lush forests, and some of the most incredible natural wonders in the world. For wanders and adventurers, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska offer an unrivaled and immersive island experience that's nothing short of extraordinary.
Warmer days are on the way, but in the meantime, check one (or several) of these islands across America off your bucket list, and know that no matter where you are in the U.S., you’re never far from paradise.
Address: Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA Address: Mount Desert Island, Mt Desert Island, Maine, USA Address: San Juan Islands, Washington, USA Address: Tybee Island, GA 31328, USA Address: Kiawah Island, SC, USA Address: Nantucket, MA, USA Address: St. Simons Island, St Simons Island, GA 31522, USA Address: Florida Keys, Florida, USA Address: New Shoreham, RI 02807, USA Address: Sanibel Island, Florida, USA Address: O‘ahu, Hawaii, USA Address: Santa Catalina Island, California 90704, USA Address: South Padre Island, TX 78597, USA Address: Hilton Head Island, SC, USA Address: Assateague Island, United States Address: Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA Address: Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA Address: Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, 238 Visitor Center Dr, Golden Pond, KY 42211, USA Address: Washington Island, Washington, WI, USA