Thinking of taking an island vacation? What are the first few destinations that pop into your head? Hawaii? Jamaica? Aruba? Those are all great options, but there are some excellent options in the United States that might save you a penny or two over these traditional island escapes.
The Outer Banks – North Carolina
One of the major tourist attractions in the state of North Carolina, the Outer Banks is a 200-mile long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast that separates the Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and the Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.
You will find an abundance of attractions to enjoy during your time in the Outer Banks. The Wright brothers’ first flight took place at Kill Devil Hills, near the seafront town of Kitty Hawk. You can visit this area, as well as the Wright Brothers National Memorial during your trip to North Carolina.
Roanoke Island is another area of North Carolina that holds a special place in American history. The English Roanoke Colony was the first colony created in what is currently the United States in 1587. Unfortunately, these colonists were unable to survive and we remember the pilgrims who traveled over on the Mayflower as the original colonists.
Long Island – New York
This may not have been the first thing that popped into mind when you read island vacation destinations, but Long Island is one of the most unique island chains you will find in the world. It is both the longest and largest island in the contiguous 48 states as it extends 118 miles eastward from New York Harbor to Montauk Point.
Long Island is the most populated island in a U.S. State or territory with 7,740,208 people inhabiting this space and is the 17th-most populous island in the world (ahead of Ireland and Jamaica). Home to both LaGuardia and JFK International airports, it is also one of the major airline transit hubs on the East Coast.
In addition to the main island, several smaller islands comprise what is collectively considered Long Island. These islands include Fire Island, Plum Island, Robins Island, Gardiners Island, Fishers Island, and Shelters Island.
San Juan Islands – Washington
Heading from the East Coast to West Coast, the San Juan Islands are an archipelago in the northwest corner of the contiguous states between the U.S. mainland and Vancouver Island, British Columbia. In the distance, you may be able to see the Cascades, the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean, the perfect triumvirate for outdoor enthusiasts.
Orcas Island, San Juan Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island are the four landmasses you can access from passenger ferries. Once on the islands, you can partake in a wide variety of activities. Visit an alpaca ranch, tour the tasting room of a local vineyard, visit one of the two iconic lighthouses on San Juan Island, or tour the terraces of a lavender farm. These options and more await your visit along the U.S.-Canadian border.
One of the best parts about the San Juan Islands is that this area is incredibly pet friendly. If you are looking to bring Fido along during your next island getaway, the state of Washington is a great option.
Galveston Island – Texas
Galveston Island is about 27 miles long and no more than 3 miles wide at its widest point, and creates a barrier between West Bay, Galveston Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. The island was the site of one of the greatest natural disasters to ever strike the United States. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 destroyed most of the city a killed at least 6,000 people in just a few hours.
The island offers wonderful golfing, fishing, and birding options and attracts a wide variety of walkers, joggers, bicyclists, surfers, sunbathers, skaters, and sightseers year-round. Spend a day on the sandy shores of East Beach, or take a day to explore Galveston Island State Park.
History buffs will love a trip to Galveston because they have an opportunity to visit the Railroad Museum, the Seaport Museum, the Galveston County Museum and even the Moody Gardens. Head back to the mainland and take a trip to the Houston Space Center. Enjoy your own fun-filled Texas island getaway on Galveston.
Lake of the Woods – Minnesota
We’ve covered both the East and West Coasts, and the southern part of the country. Now it is time to head to the North Star State of Minnesota at the Lake of the Woods area. Like the San Juan Islands, this area creates a border between the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba and Minnesota in the United States. It also separates a small land area of Minnesota from the west of the United States, known as the Northwest Angle.
In total, Lake of the Woods is over 70 miles long and wide, and contains more than 14,552 islands and 65,000 miles of shoreline. It would amount to the longest coastline of any Canadian lake, except that the lake is not entirely within Canada. It is also the sixth largest freshwater lake in the United States, after the five Great Lakes.
Many of the islands within the Minnesota boundary are home to fishing and lakefront resorts, perfect for travelers looking for an authentic Northwoods adventure. Whether you are casting your fishing line in hopes of landing a trophy bass, northern pike, or walleye, or just prefer the privacy of your own island, Lake of the Woods has the outdoor adventure you have been looking for.