Alabama: Dauphin Island
Dauphin Island’s original name was an ominous-sounding “Massacre Island,” given by the French when they arrived in 1699 to discover a beach littered with skeletons. In 1707, the French renamed it Dauphin, after Louis XIV's great-grandson. Today, this barrier island’s powder white sand (absent any ghoulish visitors) and turquoise waters draws tourists year-round. Dauphin Island is also renowned among birders for its 164-acre sanctuary, where you might spot a Gray Kingbird, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, or a Painted Redstart. At the eastern tip is Fort Gaines, a Civil War-era brick fort that guarded the Mobile Bay entrance. Dauphin’s 155-acre campground has free WiFi, access to a secluded beach, an off-leash dog park, and laundry facility. Before you explore this quaint town, carb load on cinnamon rolls and pigs in a blanket at the Lighthouse Bakery, or feast on steamed seafood-by-the-pound at the no-frills Skinner’s Seafood.