The United States is a driver’s paradise. To get almost anywhere, you need a car. However, for those interested in taking a trip without incurring the fuel prices (not to mention the dangers of the road) here are a few vacation destinations with easy access without a cumbersome car.
New York City and the Northeast Corridor
New York City’s public transportation system is unmatched in the United States. Once you’re within reach of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (which includes all area airports and bus stations), you are literally a subway, bus, or ferry ride away from the city’s sites, hotels, and all the attractions that make NYC so special. Park your car in New Jersey, or arrive at one of the airports, and lose the car for your getaway.
If Amtrak is your thing, the Acela, America’s only high-speed train, will take you from Boston to Washington, DC with relative ease. The major cities along the Northeast Corridor all have comparable transportation systems that in many cases stretch to the city limits, and many times beyond. As a bonus, many Amtrak stations are located right in the downtown areas of major cities.
Las Vegas and Atlantic City
In Las Vegas, taxis are abundant, but the real joy is being able to walk from resort to resort (sometimes via an indoor walkway or tram), and many of the attractions are located indoors, away from the searing heat of the desert. Las Vegas has many parking lots, most in close proximity to the resorts — particularly along the strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. Once parked, you won’t often need to visit your car, as long as you plan on staying inside the city. The airport is extremely close to the strip — a quick taxi ride will get you to your destination.
On the east coast, most of Atlantic City’s resorts are located along an extremely walk-able stretch of Boardwalk (the world’s first Oceanside boardwalk). Although taxis in Atlantic City are expensive and abundant, the Atlantic City Jitney plus various casino-owned transportation buses mean that you will rarely have to step into a cab. Also, the resorts are much closer together than in Las Vegas, so walking from one to the other requires far less of a hike.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland
Disney has gone out of its way to make cars all but useless with its 47-square-mile resort paradise in Florida. A 14-mile monorail and an endless parade of Disney-owned buses means that anybody (even those with mobility requirements) can get anywhere on resort property with ease. Even the shuttle from the airport can be free if you book a package. Best of all, Disney Transport is free to all guests!
In California, the Disneyland Resort property is considerably smaller, but the walking distance between resorts and most attractions make this a place to ditch the car altogether. Nonetheless, Disneyland Resort has its own set of Disney transportation options.
Most of the attractions in Niagara Falls are located in a tiny section around the three most voluminous waterfalls in North America, which reside between the United States and Canada. If you visit during the summertime, there are numerous trolleys that take visitors all over the falls area and beyond. Even when visiting in the winter, most of the major attractions and hotels are so close together than walking is almost always an option. Just bundle up – winters along the Niagara River are very cold.
Not only is Mackinac a great place to vacation without a car, cars are actually illegal anywhere on the island. Except for a few limited emergency vehicles, all transportation is by foot, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. It’s a beautiful, picturesque place that almost seems frozen in history. The only downside is Mackinac Island’s remote location. If you can get to northern Michigan and get to the island, be prepared for the ultimate car-free experience.
Tiny Key West has its own airport and public bus system. Flights to Key West (usually connecting from a nearby major city such as Miami) are available nationwide. Key West’s “Old Town” is the main tourist section, and practically everything in that neighborhood is within walking distance. If you are lucky enough to secure a hotel or guest house in Old Town, you probably won’t even need to get on a bus. “New Town” is a few miles away and may require access to private transportation, but don’t worry! Renting a scooter is very popular and a great way to traverse this tiny island. Exploring the other Florida Keys, however, will require a tour or private car, so you’re basically stuck in Key West until the end of your vacation.