Destination Ideas

U.S. Island Destinations

When you need an island getaway, but the idea of a long flight takes the wind out of your sails, head to an island in the United States―which is often within driving distance.

By Elizabeth Schatz Passarella and Sharon Tanenbaum
Red umbrella on a beachWendell Webber

Block Island, Rhode Island

Why go: Block Island, which sits between mainland Rhode Island and the tip of New York's Long Island, is less developed than Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket but has the same New England charm.
 
 What to do: Head to Mansion Beach for good waves and few tourists, and visit the island's enormous cliffs, Mohegan Bluffs.
 
 Where to stay: The National Hotel (doubles starting at $199 in late June, blockislandhotels.com) is famous, but most families rent houses in the interior of the island (try Sullivan Real Estate, blockislandhouses.com).
 

Bald Head Island, North Carolina

Why go: Cars are not allowed on the island―just golf carts. What's more relaxing than that?
 
 What to do: Visit Eb & Flo's, famous for its pots of steamed seafood. Or stay in and e-mail a grocery list to the Maritime Market―it delivers.
 
 Where to stay: A private house. An average two-bedroom rental runs $2,800 a week in high season, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Renting through Bald Head Island Limited (baldheadisland.com) gets you free access to the Bald Head Island Club, which caters to golfers, and to the beachside Shoals Club.
 

Catalina Island, California

Why go: Catalina has some of the best snorkeling in the United States, and its famous colored tiles (created by local artists in the 1920s and 1930s) decorate everything from fountains to trash cans.
 
 What to do: Shop and eat in Avalon, the island's only city. Hike the many trails or ride horseback. And stop by the airport, a bona fide tourist destination, high on a mesa in the middle of the island.
 
 Where to stay: The Hotel Villa Portofino has a sundeck with views of Catalina Harbor (from $116 May to October, hotelvillaportofino.com).

  
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