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8 U.S. islands where summer lasts all year long

The mercury is dropping and now all you want to do is hit the beach for a warm day in the sun. These islands offer all your favorite warm weather activities—365 days a year.

You don't need to splurge on a trip to the Caribbean to spend time on the beach this winter. These eight U.S. islands have the sandy shores, seafood shacks, and sunny skies that will have you thinking it's summer—even when there's snow on the ground back home.

 

TAKE A TOUR OF THE ISLANDS

About as far north as you can go and still be in the Sunshine State, Amelia Island's 13 miles of beaches are mostly deserted until March—so it's easy to find a spot where there are no other people in sight. Horseback riding along the sand is one of the most popular off-season activities. Kids have a blast exploring the nooks and crannies of Fort Clinch, one of the country's best-preserved 19th-century fortifications. It was also one of the last of its kind, as new weapons made brick forts obsolete during the Civil War. Boutiques and lovingly restored Victorian mansions make up the historic district.
Sleep The Seaside Amelia Inn is steps from the beach and has a rooftop terrace perfect for taking in the sunset. Rooms start at just $69 a night.
Refuel Grab one of the umbrella-shaded tables in the courtyard of Joe's 2nd Street Bistro, where the menu leans, naturally, toward seafood.
Easy Escape From Jacksonville (33 miles), Gainesville (101 miles).

AVERY ISLAND, LA
Average highs of 65/72 in February/March

Things get hot here, and not just because of the steamy weather. It's home to the Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory, where you can taste the fiery mixture during the free daily tours. (If you come on a Friday, you won't see the sauce being made, however.) E.A. McIlhenny, son of the company's founder, converted his private estate into a bird sanctuary, which he opened in 1935 as Jungle Gardens. McIlhenny was intent on saving snowy egrets, then endangered because their plumage was popular for ladies' hats. You can still see the brilliantly white birds inside the sanctuary and out. Surrounded by bayous, the mostly undeveloped island is also a great place to spot alligators, deer, and raccoons. You'll want to base yourself in one of the nearby communities; New Iberia, a half-hour drive north, has a good selection of restaurants and gracious homes transformed into B&Bs.
Sleep A bungalow dating from the early 1900s, the Estorge-Norton House in New Iberia is chock-full of antiques. Rates start at $85.
Refuel Landry's Cajun Restaurant specializes in Cajun camp cooking with a menu offering all the classics like gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and oyster po'boys.
Easy Escape From Baton Rouge (85 miles), New Orleans (140 miles).

CALADESI ISLAND, FL
Average highs of 73/77 in February/March

The three miles of white-sand beaches on this pristine barrier island offer some of the best shelling on the Gulf of Mexico. And because it's a state park, you won't search for sand dollars in the shadow of high-rise hotels. In fact, there's not a single place to stay on the island, unless you count the 108-slip marina. There are no cars, either. Once you disembark the ferry ($14 roundtrip from Honeymoon Island, a short drive from Dunedin), the only way to get around is with your own two feet. Not a bad way, actually, as the boardwalk nature trail passes through stands of mangroves and around sand dunes. As you stroll, you may spot one of the rare gopher tortoises. Kayaking around the bay side of the island is a popular pastime, as the sea-grass flats are populated with ospreys, herons, and other birds. Pack a picnic lunch because there's just one small concession stand on the island.
Sleep You can fish from the dock at the Sea Captain Resort on the Bay in nearby Clearwater, a small city popular with water sports enthusiasts. Winter rates start at $101 through the end of January and at $122 for February through April.
Refuel: On the mainland, very close to Caladesi Island, Dunedin's kitsch-filled Casa Tina serves surprisingly authentic Mexican fare. A local favorite is the Veracruz-style fish, sautéed with tomatoes and onions.
Easy Escape From St. Petersburg (20 miles), Tampa (24 miles), Orlando (103 miles).

CATALINA ISLAND, CA
Average highs of 64/65 in February/March

You won't entirely escape the state's notorious traffic on this island 22 miles off the southern California coast. But since golf carts are just about the biggest things on the road, you probably won't mind. You can get your own cart through Island Rentals ($40 for an hour rental plus a $40 deposit), but to explore the island's rugged interior, you'll need to rent a two-wheeler from Brown's Bikes ($20 per day) or enlist the help of an outfitter like Discovery Tours. Spotting one of the island's bald eagles, which were almost entirely wiped out by chemical contamination a few decades ago, will put a feather in your cap. The island is an hour and a half from Dana Point on the Catalina Express ferry ($74.50 round-trip), which drops you off at the town of Avalon, a pleasant place for window-shopping. That cylindrical building on the edge of the harbor is the Casino, an art deco movie house that still screens the latest releases.
Sleep On Avalon's main drag, the Hermosa Hotel welcomed its first guests in 1896. Standard rooms start at $75 per night from December through February and $100 March through November. Cottages with their own kitchens start at $100 from December through February and $150 March through November.
Refuel This is California, so the home cooking at Original Jack's Country Kitchen includes free-range chicken, and beef and pork raised without antibiotics or hormones. Sound too wholesome? Try one of the gooey doughnuts from its adjoining bakery.
Easy Escape From Los Angeles (60 miles), San Diego (66 miles).

DAUFUSKIE ISLAND, SC
Average highs of 61/67 in February/March

Still weaving baskets from the sweetgrass that grows wild along the coast, Daufuskie Island's tiny Gullah population—descended from slaves—carefully tends to its traditions. You can take a peek into local life at landmarks like the white clapboard First Union African Baptist Church, built in the 1880s and still in use today. Less than a quarter of this 5,000-acre island has been developed, leaving plenty of open spaces to explore. (And we mean exploring by foot or by golf cart, as no cars are allowed.) One especially nice excursion point is the Haig Point Lighthouse, which has a tower extending from the roof of an antebellum-style house.
Sleep As you might guess, Daufuskie isn't an all-inclusive-resort kind of place. A good option is the two-bedroom Daufuskie Island Cottage, a vacation-rental property that's on a quiet dirt lane in the historic district. In January and February, the rate drops to $115 (two-night minimum), including use of a golf cart.
Refuel There's nightly live music at Marshside Mama's, which one local calls a "put-your-feet-up place." The ladies in the kitchen ladle out a tasty low-country gumbo.
Easy Escape From Savannah (44 miles), Charleston (116 miles).

MOLOKAI, HI
Average highs of 76/77 in February/March

When Hawaiians talk about Molokai, they often say it's "how the islands used to be." It's true that there are no traffic lights or sprawling hotels. The least visited of the major Hawaiian islands has a rugged northern coast with the world's highest sea cliffs, a southern coast that gently wades into the sea, and a rocky interior punctuated by three extinct volcanoes. The biggest town, Kaunakakai, has barely 7,000 people, along with a three-block-long main street and a tiny airport. The top tourist attraction is the former leper colony in what is now Kalaupapa National Historic Park, a peaceful place reachable only on foot or by mule. The scenery is exhilarating, and the remaining buildings, such as the pair of squat churches, are thought-provoking. There's also a nearly endless string of beaches, including the lovely Papohaku, a three-mile-long stretch of glimmering gold sand.
Sleep Lodgings are limited and can be expensive. Try Kaunakakai's Hotel Molokai, a cluster of A-frame buildings set in a tropical garden. Winter rates start at $159 if you book online.
Refuel A local favorite is the Paddlers Inn in downtown Kaunakakai. Enjoy island specialties like mahi-mahi on a breeze-cooled patio.
Easy Escape From Honolulu (50 miles).

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).

 

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  • Marking his 100th day in office, President Donald Trump brought back memories of his campaign for the White House by using a raucous rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to proclaim progress on his agenda, throw some long distance elbows at the news media, and vow that he would follow through on his pledge build a wall along the southern border with Mexico. “I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles way from Washington’s swamp,” Mr. Trump said to cheers, as he began his speech by verbally smacking the news media, drawing the chant of “CNN sucks!” from the crowd. Mr. Trump’s visit to the Keystone State – one of a series of pivotal victories for him on Election Night – coincided with his 100th day in office, as he made clear he is not giving up on his promise to shake things up in the nation’s capital. President Trump greets the crowd at his 100-day rally in PA: 'I love this state and I love the people of this state' https://t.co/KAsKR8OUSO — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 29, 2017 The President again pledged to not only repeal the Obama health law, but also make health care coverage – in general – more affordable for all Americans. “We’re going to get the premiums down, we’re going to get the deductibles down; we’re going to take care of every single need that you’re going to want to have taken care of,” Mr. Trump said, as he labeled Obamacare a “catastrophe.” President Trump: Obamacare is 'a catastrophe created exclusively by the Democrats in Congress' https://t.co/VC6XrrEADB — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 30, 2017 Among those on hand for the 100 day rally was Vice President Mike Pence, who told the cheering audience that President Trump was doing what he promised during the 2016 campaign. “Across the board, our new President is doing exactly what he said he would do,” the Vice President said. Before the event, Mr. Trump signed two more executive orders on trade, as he continued to follow through on his tough talk from before and after the election, vowing to do more to protect U.S. jobs at home from what he says are unfair practices by Canada, Mexico, and other nations. Many political reporters might not have been watching the Pennsylvania event with the President, as some were instead back at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in Washington – and Mr. Trump was very happy to throw a few jabs at the news media – and remind everyone that he was not going to the event. President Trump slams the White House Correspondents' Dinner https://t.co/QbYS1KTBho — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 30, 2017 “The media deserves a big, fat, failing grade,” the President said, delighting the crowd, in an event that was much like one of his 2016 rallies. The event ended on that exact note, with the playing of the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a fan favorite from the campaign trail.
  • A woman was recently arrested for allegedly embezzling nearly $9,000 from a Broken Arrow Mazzio's. Police report Diana Pruett confessed to processing false refunds when customers used cash. She would then pocket the money. One resident we spoke to says Pruett is hurting the community by her actions. “It’s really sad when you feel like you can depend on the people that live in our community to be fair and honest,” the resident said.  “We’re all in this community together. “ She was discovered, when a manager noticed something suspicious with the number of returns and refunds at the store. Pruett was booked into the Tulsa County Jail and has since bonded out.  
  • We have updated information regarding a clerk getting fatally shot on Friday at the S&K Food Mart near East Virgin Street and North Sheridan. Following a standoff that lasted a few hours, police confirm three people have been taken into custody at an apartment complex near 31st and Garnett.  One of those suspects wasn’t involved in the standoff.    Police tell us the clerk didn't deserve to have this happen to him. “It’s never good when someone is dead,” TPD said  “It’s senseless.  For very little gain.” It's believed one or more of the suspects may also be responsible for a robbery at a bakery near 11th and Lewis around the same time. As of early Saturday morning,  no names have been released.  
  • President Donald Trump will use his 100th day in office to make a return to the campaign trail, holding an evening rally in the Pennsylvania state capital of Harrisburg, taking his message of change back to the familiar crowds of the 2016 race for the White House. While Mr. Trump has been happy to highlight his accomplishments of his first 100 days – he has also mixed that 100 day review with jabs at the news media, saying the measurement for a new President is a “false standard.” “We’re moving awfully well, getting a lot of things done,” the President told the press after signing an executive order on offshore oil and gas exploration on Friday. “I don’t think there’s ever been anything like this,” Mr. Trump added. President Trump: 'I don't think anybody has done what we've been able to do in 100 days' https://t.co/lww9H061kG — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 28, 2017 In a speech on Friday in Atlanta at a gathering of the National Rifle Association, the President visited familiar campaign themes, replaying the events of Election Night, and jabbing at Democrats at every opportunity. “Only one candidate in the General Election came to speak to you, and that candidate is now the President of the United States, standing before you again,” the President said, eagerly reminding the crowd that few people gave him a chance to win last year. “And remember they said, “There is no path to 270.” For months I was hearing that,” Mr. Trump added, as he vowed to protect the Second Amendment during his time in office. President Trump: 'I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms' https://t.co/Gsk5Vz2iOV — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 28, 2017 The President’s choice to go to Harrisburg – the state capital – is an interesting one, as Dauphin County was one of only 11 counties to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, going 49 to 46 percent for the Democrats. Mr. Trump won the Keystone State by just 44,000 votes, as his wins in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin were a linchpin for his overall victory. “It was a great evening, one that a lot people will never forget,” Mr. Trump said Friday. “Not going to forget that evening.” The President’s decision to hold a Saturday evening rally in Pennsylvania is also notable for what he will leave behind in Washington, D.C. – the White House Correspondent’s Dinner – which Mr. Trump and his top aides decided not to attend.
  • If you have outdoor plans for Saturday, you will need an umbrella and a good pair of rain boots. National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Lacy tells us most of Saturday will be a rain out. “Pretty good chance for rain, about 100 percent,” NWS said.  “Especially, during the early part of the day.”   We also have a chance for severe weather.   “The main threat should begin to shift to the east and south of Tulsa,” NWS said.   The high for Saturday will be around 73 degrees. There is also rain in the forecast for Saturday night and Sunday.