Fall is upon us, but there is still time to celebrate fun in the sun at these islands not far from some of your favorite fall campgrounds.

Catalina Island, California

“Santa Catalina, the island of romance,” as the 1958 song popularized by the Four Preps says. This island is “26 miles across the sea” (again from the song) once you board the ferry in Long Beach (about 40 minutes from Marina Dunes). The island has more than 165 miles of trails, ranging from easy to difficult. Other adventures here could include a Bison Expedition aboard a Hummer to view bison (descendants of a small herd left behind by a movie crew in the 1920s) and other wildlife, a glass bottom boat tour, or a five-foot below water surface tour in the semi-submersible Sea Wolf, where you can view sea life from your very own porthole. Other island highlights include shopping in Avalon (the only incorporated city on the island). On the other side of the island is Two Harbors where biking, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and snorkeling are top activities for visitors.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Oddly, there were no vineyards on this island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts when it was named. The name of this delightful getaway derives from the many vines that covered the island when it was discovered in the early 1600s and the name Martha was that of the daughter of the man of who discovered the island, British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold. If you’re staying at Gateway to Cape Cod, you’re about two hours from the island, which is accessible by ferry.

Gay Head Light and Aquinnah Cliffs at Martha's Vineyard, MA. The current lighthouse was first lit in 1856.
Gay Head Lighthouse and Aquinnah Cliffs at Martha’s Vineyard

There are five lighthouses on this 100-square mile island and all but one are open to the public. Gay Head is unique in that it’s atypical with its red brick structure. Atop the rugged cliffs, this is a great photo op. Martha’s Vineyard is also separated into six towns: Edgartown, Chilmark, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury, and Aquinnah. The beach in Edgartown is the most popular and the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs is the oldest operating platform carousel in the country, built in 1876. Fans of the movie “Jaws” will be excited to learn that the American Legion Memorial Bridge, also knowns as the Jaws Bridge, was featured in the movie and connects Edgartown to Oak Bluffs. To learn the history of the island, visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Vineyard Haven.

Tall Chief RV & Camping Resort -  Fall City, WA
Tall Chief RV & Camping Resort –  Fall City, WA

Bainbridge Island, Washington

The ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island is a mere 35 minutes, but once you arrive on the island, you definitely feel like you’ve left the city far behind. There are seven wineries here (tourbainbridge.com offers several winery tours), two distilleries, and one brewery. There is the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art featuring contemporary arts from the region and the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum (open Wednesday through Sunday). The shopping along Main Street is great with everything from books and record albums to antiques and handcrafted items available. The gem of the island may be the Bloedel Preserve, which is a public garden and forest reserve. A two-mile dirt trail is the best way to explore the forests, wetlands, meadows, and glimpses of wildlife. If you’re staying at Tall Chief, catch the ferry from Seattle and explore Bainbridge Island.  

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