10 Greatest Escapes in America

Get away without going far away. These amazing destinations are fun, beautiful, and just a few hours from home.

By Charles Runnette


Cumberland Island, GeorgiaBeauty and the Beach
Cumberland Island, Georgia

This barrier island in Georgia is one of the great secrets of the East Coast: a rare unspoiled gem of wide, beautiful, pristine beaches and old Southern charm. Visit with your family and you'll quickly understand why glamorous couple JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette chose to be married there in 1996.

Once maintained by the Carnegie family as a private estate, this 17 1/2-mile-long, five-mile-wide strip of arcadia was designated a National Seashore in 1972. After playing in the surf and relaxing on the shore, you can tour some of the ruins of the Carnegie family's mansions and have a picnic under magnificent live oak trees. Cumberland Island is also a breeding ground for sea turtles and home to herds of wild horses that roam freely.

Check in to the Greyfield Inn, a graceful mansion built in 1901 by Thomas Carnegie and currently run by his great-great-grandson, Oliver. Check out the property's two cottages; the larger one has a deck from which you can watch the horses graze in the marshes until the sea turtles come home. Rooms and cottages, $395 to $575 per night, double occupancy; greyfield inn.com. For information about the island, go to cumberlandisland.org.