If you can’t swing Hawaii or the Caribbean this year, that doesn’t mean an island vacation is out of the question. We have seven affordable options (in no particular order) that will provide you with a variety of dazzling experiences.
Listen as air travel expert Rick Seaney picks a few favorites:
Click the city names and we’ll get you started on finding a cheap flight from your town.
1. Catalina Island, California
Fly to Los Angeles or Long Beach. A pretty island just off the coast of Southern California offers snorkeling, scuba diving, golf, hiking, shopping and dining. Take a tour in a glass-bottom boat or see a herd of buffalo then continue exploring Catalina’s wildlife via the island’s eclectic nightlife scene. More attractions here.
2. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Fly to Detroit, Green Bay and more. Cars have been banned here since 1898 but you can get around on foot, bicycle – or horse-drawn carriage (ferry porters will get your luggage to the hotel). Lots of hiking opportunities plus sailing, antiquing and excellent restaurants and charming inns and do not miss the Grand Hotel. More attractions here.
3. Key West, Florida
Fly to Key West, Miami or Ft. Lauderdale (the latter two cities are 160-180 miles away but the cheaper airfare might be worth it). Crystalline waters, shimmery beaches and tons of things to see and do. One of Hemingway’s favorite places (and in case there was any doubt, this was a man who enjoyed good times). More attractions here.
4. Long Island, New York
Fly to New York City. Visit the Hamptons to see how you wish you lived. Then tour a winery, try sport fishing, or shop at amazing one-of-a-kind boutiques and dine on the water. Don’t forget to visit an art museum – that famed North light has been put to good use by countless painters. More attractions here.
5. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Fly to Boston, Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. Historic lighthouses, stately old New England homes, unspoiled beaches and gorgeous restaurants and fine shopping. Get there via ferry from Cape Cod or fly directly to the islands on JetBlue or Cape Air. More attractions for Nantucket here and Martha’s Vineyard here.
6. South Padre Island, Texas
Fly to Brownsville. You may have heard of this place during Spring Break, but it’s a fun venue any time of year with lots of beach activities including windsailing, kiteboarding and dolphin watching. Catch a fish and many local restaurants will cook it for you. More attractions here.
7. Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah
Fly to Salt Lake City. For day-trippers and campers; bring a boat, bring a picnic or bring some hiking boots and feast your eyes on bison, coyotes, bobcats and yes – plenty of antelope. Swim in the extra-briny Salt Lake and see just how buoyant you’ll be. More attractions here.