1. Orcas Island, Washington
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: North of Seattle, nestled in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is the gem of the San Juan islands — Orcas Island, a beautiful, lush Northwestern getaway.
STUFF TO DO: Activities include kayaking, hiking, and observing Orca whales and other marine wildlife.
QUOTABLE: From their website: “Taking in the sunset over Puget Sound, with fog clinging to the island’s forests, can truly be a spiritual experience.”
2. Lake Havasu, Arizona
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: Lake Havasu City also attracts many visitors for its calm water and beautiful beaches, as well as the imported London Bridge, which once sat on the Thames.
SPECIAL FEATURE: For those interested in cool rocks, specimens such as volcanic rock, geodes, jaspers, obsidian, turquoise, and agate can be found all over within a ten mile radius of the city.
3. New Braunfels, Texas
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: New Braunfels was originally a German settlement (“Neu-Braunfels”) in the heart of Texas, near San Antonio. Now it’s also a popular vacation spot.
SPORTS: Warm climates and the Guadalupe combine for excellent water sport conditions, especially tubing.
LOSE YOURSELF TO DANCE: New Braunfels is home to Gruene Hall, which claims to be the oldest dance hall in Texas.
4. Tybee Island, Georgia
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: Drive 20 minutes east of Savannah, and you’ll find one of the most laid-back vacation spots on the southeastern coast. It’s got miles of beach, and the great old lighthouse pictured above.
LIGHT ME UP: Tybee’s Light Station was built in 1773 and is Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse.
5. Peaks Island, Maine
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: Great for a taste of Americana, Peaks Island is technically part of Portland, but it’s always trying to secede.
THE BIG SECRET: Once a year the residents of Peaks Island do participate in an art experience called The Sacred Profane. The only way to find out when it’s happening is by word of mouth.
6. Marfa, Texas
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: In 1971, minimalist Donald Judd moved here to permanently install his art. Now, it’s known for its art scene. Look at all the art!
FUN FACT: Supposedly the name Marfa comes from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, or so the legend goes.
AS SEEN ABOVE: Prada, Marfa is actually an art installation, a fake store, displaying luxury items with the sparse Texas landscape as the only surrounding. It was created in 2005 by an artist duo: Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset.
7. Orange Beach, Alabama
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: Warm gulf waters, cotton-white sand, and year-round activities.
WHEEL IN THE SKY: The Wharf in Orange Beach claims to have the largest Ferris wheel in the southeast. It’s over 112 feet tall.
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED: Orange Beach is also home to the Sportsplex, which holds many tournament sporting events as well as concerts.
8. Brunswick, Maine
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: It’s home to tiny, renowned Bowdoin College and if you’re looking for a small fishing town that has inspired hundreds of artists, look no further.
FUN FACT: Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a large majority of her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin here.
ARTY PARTY: Hundreds of artists and thousands of people flock every year to the Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival.
9. Pawleys Island, South Carolina
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: It’s a barrier island that’s four miles long and mostly one house wide, and prides itself on its laid back attitude. Their website claims certain parts haven’t changed much since the 1700s, unlike neighboring resort towns.
BEYOND THE BEACH: If you get tired of Pawley’s pristine beaches (unlikely) you can cross the sound and visit Brookgreen Gardens to view over 550 pieces of “America’s finest 19th and 20th century sculptures”.
TURTLE POWER: Pawleys Island beaches act as a nesting habitat for Loggerhead Sea Turtles, the official state reptile.
10. Mackinac Island, Michigan
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: Mackinac (pronounced “Mackinaw”) is one of those charming, clean islands that doesn’t allow automobiles, so the only way to get around is by bike or horse-drawn carriage. Even the mail is delivered by buggy.
DESSERT STORM: Mackinac Island is known for its fudge, listing a variety of stores that make it fresh.
BEAUTIFUL BUGS: There is not one, but two butterfly conservatories on the island featuring butterflies of all sizes frolicking in tropical fauna. Both offer their gardens for ceremonies, including weddings.