10Best Island Escapes You Can Drive To

  • Tropical road tripping through the Florida Keys

    The Florida Keys are a necklace of tropical islands connected by the Overseas Highway, running from Key Largo, just south of Miami, to the end of the road at Key West. In 2009, the famed highway was designated an All-American Road, the highest recognition under the National Scenic Byways program, and the drive offers a myriad of island escapes with a beautiful blend of emerald-green harbors, turquoise seas, swaying palms and wildlife-rich mangroves.

    Photo courtesy of Andy Newman

  • Coronado: An island oasis minutes from urban San Diego

    A laid-back island escape just a short drive from the heart of downtown San Diego, Coronado Island boasts a long stretch of award-winning beach that sparkles in the sun thanks to a mineral in the sand called mica. The small beach town is the perfect place to rent a bike and explore the beautiful gardens and mansions. And if you're staying overnight, the historic Hotel del Coronado is a must stay.

    Photo courtesy of Naomi Lan

  • Georgia's best kept secret, Tybee Island

    The sleepy beach town on Tybee Island may be one of the best-kept secrets in all of the American Southeast. This under-the-radar barrier island sits along the pristine Georgia coast just 20 minutes from the historic colonial center of Savannah, and it makes the ideal spot for every sort of beach activity, from beach-combing for shells along the secluded northern beaches to kite surfing and kayaking with dolphins from the wind-swept south end.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Tybee

  • Oysters and wild horses on Virginia's Chincoteague Island

    Virginia's Chincoteague Island is best known for two things: sumptuously salty oysters and its unique population of wild ponies. The island is part of a 14,000-acre national wildlife refuge, which means it remains blissfully underdeveloped. Tours offer the chance to see the wild ponies in their natural habitat, or visit during late-July to watch the local "saltwater cowboys" move the herd on their annual pony swim.

    Photo courtesy of Sarah and Jason via Flickr

  • Florida's Marco Island, home to fine dining and fabulous beaches

    Florida's Marco Island sits along the Gulf Coast between Naples and the mangroves of the Ten Thousand Islands as they stretch into the Everglades. Here you can find perfect white-sand beaches along with some of the best beachfront dining and shopping in the state.

    Photo courtesy of Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB

  • Whales, waterfalls and island rainforest on Washington's Orcas Island

    Drive onto a Washington State ferry in Anancortes, and you'll soon land on Orcas Island, a rugged, rainforest-clad jewel in the San Juan Islands. Take a whale-watching tour to spot killer whales spy hopping in the emerald sea or hike through lush forests to visit Cascade Falls in Moran State Park. And a drive to the top of Mt. Constitution offers exceptional views of the islands and snow-capped peaks in the distance.

    Photo courtesy of Mark Gardner

  • History and adventure on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

    Off the coast of North Carolina, the barrier islands of the Outer Banks are connected by a coastal highway, offering easy access to many great beaches and attractions, from Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the site of the Wright brothers' first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk. Not to mention you'll find miles of offroad beach and opportunities for great fishing, surfing, scuba diving and many other watersports. 

    Photo courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

  • Mount Desert Island, the jewel of Maine

    Mount Desert Island, Maine's largest island, is a popular escape for those looking to truly get away from it all, including celebrities like Martha Stewart who appreciate seclusion. Those looking to hobnob can stay in Bar Harbor to see the estates of Millionaire's Row and hike Cadillac Mountain. But nature fans should head straight to Acadia National Park, where you can explore remote beaches and glacier-cut canyons.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Maine

  • The island castles of New York's Thousand Islands

    The Thousand Islands in Upstate New York are the eponymous home of Thousand Island dressing, which you can sample at its birthplace in Clayton, and they also sit along the The Great Lakes Seaway Trail, an iconic and picturesque drive past Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The region is chock full of activities, from world-class fishing and birdwatching to wineries and riverboat cruises. And don't miss the chance to explore a unique pair of island castles, Boldt Castle and Singer Castle.

    Photo courtesy of Thousand Islands

  • Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, the Key West of the Midwest

    Nicknamed "Key West of the Midwest" for its eclectic characters and lively nightlife, Put-in-Bay is a town on South Bass Island in the Ohio section of Lake Erie. A car ferry makes it easy to drive onto the island, and once there you can rent a bike, golf cart or scooter to get around the friendly town. Adventurers can take a kayaking trip on the lake or visit Crystal Cave to see the world's largest geode.

    Photo courtesy of Lake Erie Shores and Islands