Are you dreaming of an island vacation but worried about breaking the bank? There’s good news: Finding your little slice of paradise is closer — and more affordable — than you might think. In fact, there are a variety of budget-friendly island getaways in the USA. Check out this guide to three island vacations for your family’s next adventure.
Dauphin Island, Alabama
Getting there: Drive about 35 miles south of Mobile Regional Airport.
Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Dauphin Island offers a serene family island adventure. Stretching over 6 square miles of pristine beaches, maritime forests and sandy dunes, Dauphin Island is a natural escape with a laid-back vibe. Start your vacation by relaxing on the beach; though most visitors head to Dauphin Island Public Beach, West End Beach also offers stunning coastal views with less traffic. Whichever beach you select, expect to pay a small entry fee.
After a couple of hours of sunshine, bring the family to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Estuarium to explore its 10,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 31 aquariums and interactive activities like a 7,000-gallon stingray touch pool. Here, your family can discover more about the marine life of Mobile Bay, the fourth-largest estuary system in the U.S. Then set your sights on the sky at the nearby Audubon Bird Sanctuary, where up to 420 officially documented species migrate annually (or live permanently), making it one of the top birding spots in the world.
While on your Dauphin Island vacation, add a dose of history to your itinerary at Fort Gaines, a key site in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. The masonry fort features original cannons and a blacksmith shop, plus a museum and tunnels to explore. Admission is $8; children ages 5-12 are $4.
After your journey back in time, drive to a local favorite: the Lighthouse Bakery, known for its tasty sandwiches and scrumptious pastries. You can’t go wrong ordering a strawberry danish, bacon twist or the ever-popular pigs in a blanket.