How Did These Tiny Pieces of Land Get So Famous?
The United States is home to hundreds of islands from the coast of California to the bays of New England. Islands tend to develop their own sense culture and identity, miles away from the mainland. Each one exists as its own private universe, filled with history and stunning views. Learn why these amazing island hideaways are among the most beloved vacation spots in the country.
Fire Island, NY
Run, walk or bike — but you can’t drive here. Fire Island is one of the few places in this country that isn’t accessible by car. It’s a 32-mile stretch of land that runs parallel along the southern border of Long Island. Pristine with awe-inspiring views, Fire Island has become one of the most gay-friendly destinations on the planet. Every summer, thousands of LGBT individuals escape the bustling streets of NYC for a little rest and relaxation on the edge of the Atlantic. You’ll find dozens of firework shows, wild parties and some stunning lighthouses.
Amelia Island, FL
Named after Princess Amelia, the daughter of George II of Great Britain, Amelia Island has long been seen as a glamorous destination in Northern Florida. This fragment of an island is just 13 miles long and is known for its white sandy beaches. Amelia Island has also been the object of countless wars. Native Americans first inhabited the island as early as 1000 A.D. The French landed here in the 1500s, only to go to war with the Spanish a few years later. Finally, in the 1800s, the U.S. made claim to the island and forced the Spanish to high tail it back across the Atlantic. Our country fought long and hard to retain control of this gorgeous piece of real-estate. Today, it’s one of the most soothing vacation destinations in the state.
Mackinac Island, MI
A true gem of the Midwest, Mackinac Island sits in between the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. This island remains largely underdeveloped with miles and miles of gorgeous trails and woods. It features a historic downtown area with 18th-century style buildings and the notorious Fort Mackinac, the oldest building in the state of Michigan. The Fort was constructed by the British during the Revolutionary War and eventually became an important asset in the War of 1812. Today, the island feels like another place in time, separated from the rest of the world by the mighty Lake Heron.
Key West, FL
No list would be complete without Key West, perhaps the most beloved island in all of the United States. At only 3.5 miles long, Key West sits at the southernmost tip of Florida, just 90 miles off the shores of Cuba. Ernest Hemmingway was one of the most famous inhabitants of the island, drinking rum and paddling from one marina to another. His house is still standing, now one of the island’s most notorious tourist attractions. The downtown area is bustling with amazing seafood, live music venues and plenty of places to go scuba diving. Don’t forget to try a piece of key lime pie.
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
The crème de la crème of islands, Martha’s Vineyard might be one of the most expensive places to vacation in the country, but it’s well worth the trip. According to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the cost of living on the island is 60 percent higher than the national average with the price of real estate a whopping 96 percent higher. The island grew in popularity after Steven Spielberg filmed his summer blockbuster “Jaws” here on location in the summer of 1974. This rosy piece of land has also been a highly coveted vacation spot for some of the country’s most elite individuals, including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barrack and Michelle Obama.
Just a few miles away from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket offers equally dazzling views from a more remote location. Nantucket has a much smaller pool of tourists and locals, as much of the island is filled with historic, somewhat dilapidated homes and wide open green fields. There’s really only one hub of civilization on the island with a few upscale souvenir shops and seafood restaurants. Nantucket is home to some of the wealthiest 1 percenters in the country. You’ll find a number of multimillion-dollar yachts sailing by on any given day. Filled with peaceful shores and centuries-old buildings, this island will leave you with dozens of memories that you won’t soon forget.