The best islands in America


The coasts of the United States are dotted with too many magnificent islands to count, let alone summarize on a Top 13 list.

So first, our deepest, breeziest apologies to Alcatraz, Manhattan, Molokai, Key West, Whidbey Island, Isle Royale, Gasparilla, Chincoteague, Jekyll, South Padre, northern Minnesota and dozens more escape-worthy island hubs from sea to great lake to gulf to bay to shining sea — all of which will surely be featured in upcoming “best islands” travel sequels.

But, for now, we had to stop somewhere.

The following 13 offshore destinations around the nation are standouts for a variety of solid island-ish reasons: Beautiful beaches with crazy seashell collections, giant bears, no cars, bewitching bike paths and carriage roads, idyllic national parks, veritable Victorian vibes, and oyster cocktail pubs among them.

The one common point. All are worth bridge-crossing, ferry-hopping, helicopter-splurging, twin engine-braving or front crawling to savor for yourself. And they’re listed in alphabetical order, because even we couldn’t agree on a No. 1:


Floating Near: Jacksonville, Florida

Famous For: Its turbulent history and tranquil present.

Fun Times Ahead: Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival (2020 dates to be determined)


Floating Near: Los Angeles, California

Famous For: Friendly golf cart traffic and backwoods bison herds

An outlier of the distant Channel Islands chain, L.A.’s fabled leisure isle (26 miles off the SoCal coast) officially got off the ground when William Wrigley Jr. bought the entire 76-square-mile isle for a few million bucks sight unseen in 1919.

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