Endless Summer: 8 American Islands That Are Warm NOW
The snow is piling up and all you want to do is escape to a warm island? These gems are perfect for a winter vacation—and closer than you think!
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TX
Average highs of 70/75 in February/March
Here's one place where the building industry is in full swing—if you count building sand castles, that is. Professional teachers have specialties ranging from one-on-one instruction to creating huge sculptures for weddings and other special events. Sons of the Beach, which has been around for more than 20 years, charges $25 for private lessons. This barrier island off the southern coast of Texas also attracts kids with rowdier activities in mind—spring breakers. Don't worry, though. Get there before the college crowd, and it's still a sleepy beach town. Among the dive bars are boutiques selling goods like rustic pottery and silver jewelry, much of it from Mexico.
Sleep The Palms Resort is a hipped-up beach motel with an oceanfront café and a heated pool. Off-season rates start at $75 a night.
Refuel The menu at Cap'n Roy's is exactly what you would expect from a pirate-inspired restaurant on a barrier island. Try the famous Camaronitas Diablitos—shrimp wrapped in bacon with cream cheese, jalepeño, and pineapple.
Easy Escape From Brownsville (26 miles), Corpus Christi (179 miles).
TYBEE ISLAND, GA
Average highs of 61/67 in February/March
Unlike many nearby islands with higher profiles (and higher prices), Tybee Island isn't out to impress anyone. It's more akin to Coney Island than Jekyll Island, and therein lies its nostalgic charm—imagine boardwalks, food vendors, and stalls selling beach-themed kitsch. This is the kind of place where the restaurants have place-mat menus and the lodgings are of the park-at-your-door variety. There's a wooden pier where you can stroll and five miles of sugary beaches fringed by sea oats. The Tybee Island lighthouse was picture-perfect enough to make it onto a postage stamp. On nearby Cockspur Island is Fort Pulaski National Monument, where you'll find a magisterial brick fort used during the Civil War.
Sleep The Ocean Plaza Beach Resort has been thoroughly updated, but it still reminds many people of beach hotels from when they were kids. Even the rates are retro, starting at $69 in low season.
Refuel The Crab Shack is a local institution that's all it's cracked up to be, serving you-shuck-'em steamed oysters. One favorite is the seafood low-country boil, filled with shrimp, sausage, and potatoes.
Easy Escape From Savannah (17 miles), Richmond Hill (34 miles), Charleston (124 miles).