Ferries shuttle visitors to the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound.
For an affordable island getaway try these: Santa Catalina, Calif.; San Juan Island, Wash.; Sauvie Island, Ore.; and Kodiak Island, Alaska.
ANGEL ISLAND, SAN FRANCISCO BAY
Load a pack and hike two miles to one of nine state park camping sites. Book a few months ahead. $27.50. (800) 444-7275, www.reserveamerica.com.
Before boarding the Tiburon ferry, head to Shark's Deli in town for picnic fixings including chicken salad sandwiches ($6) and cookies (two for $1). (415) 435-9130.
On a docent-led bike tour, explore the island's former military installations such as Camp Reynolds and the Nike missile site. Tour $2, bike rental $30. (415) 435-3522, www.angelisland.org.
CATALINA ISLAND, LONG BEACH, CALIF.
Boats leave from three Southern California ports: Long Beach, Dana Point, and San Pedro. About an hour; from $54. www.catalinaexpress.com.
Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel—the novelist's former home—offers unmatched views of Avalon Bay. From $135. (310) 510-0966, www.zanegreypueblohotel.com.
The enticing lunch menu at Armstrong's Seafood is identical to the dinner one, but with lower prices. Red snapper: $11 at lunch, $16 at dinner. (310) 510-0113.
Take a guided tour of the Catalina Casino, the island's 1929 art deco landmark, and get free admission to the Catalina Island Museum. $15.25. (800) 626-5440, www.visitcatalinaisland.com.
SAN JUAN ISLAND, ANACORTES, WASH.
Walk or drive aboard the Washington State Ferry about 80 miles north of Seattle in Anacortes. One to two hours; $10–$13. www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.
The Wayfarer's Rest, a ranch-style hostel located four blocks from the ferry terminal, offers coed and private rooms. From $30. (360) 378-6428.
Check the blackboard at the Backdoor Kitchen for the Curry of the Day, which might be a Thai, Indian, or Moroccan dish. $9. (360) 378-9540.
At Lime Kiln Point State Park, hike the Lighthouse Trail overlooking the water and scan for orcas along the way. No admission or parking fees. (360) 378-2044, www.parks.wa.gov.
Photography courtesy Washington State Ferries
This article was first published in March 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.