1. Bald Head Island, North Carolina, 2. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, 3. Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, 4. Fire Island, New York, 5. Governors Island, New York, 6. Halibut Cove, Alaska, 7. Mackinac Island, Michigan, 8. Santa Catalina Island, California, 9. Supai, Arizona, 10. Tangier Island, Virginia. Car-free zones for pedestrians are becoming more common in US cities, but certain towns and islands have been off-limits to cars for a long time. Use your two feet to explore the resort amenities of Santa Catalina Island in California, the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets on Mackinac Island in Michigan, and the Havasu Falls in Supai, Arizona, without worrying about traffic or rental automobiles. This list of car-free destinations in the US for a getaway will introduce to you some ideal suggestions for your holiday.
- Bald Head Island, North Carolina
- Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
- Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
- Fire Island, New York
- Governors Island, New York
- Halibut Cove, Alaska
- Mackinac Island, Michigan
- Santa Catalina Island, California
- Supai, Arizona
- Tangier Island, Virginia
Bald Head Island, North Carolina
Bald Head Island is a loggerhead turtle nesting area situated two nautical miles from the confluence of the Cape Fear River and Atlantic Ocean. It is situated 30 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 60 miles north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. From Southport, North Carolina, a 20-minute ferry ride takes passengers to the southernmost of North Carolina’s cape islands. Visitors can travel about the island’s beaches, golf courses, maritime forest, and Old Baldy Lighthouse, North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse and the location of the Smith Island Museum of History, using trams or golf carts. Old Baldy Lighthouse was first commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. Don’t skip climbing the 108 steps of the lighthouse to obtain sweeping views of the island.
Nationally renowned as a barrier island where humans coexist peacefully with nature is Bald Head Island. The Bald Head Island Conservancy keeps a close eye on the dunes, salt marsh, maritime forest, and water quality. On one of the wells on the island’s west side, the BHI Conservancy and the USGS erected a real-time water quality monitor.
Location: Bald Head Island, east side of the Cape Fear River, Brunswick County, North Carolina
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
The world’s largest outdoor living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg, which is car-free, allows visitors to travel back in time. The Williamsburg Bray School, an 18th-century school devoted to the teaching of enslaved and free Black children, was formerly housed in a modest, white building nestled away on the William & Mary campus, according to Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary. The 301-acre Colonial Williamsburg contains 88 original structures and is a part of Virginia’s historic triangle, which also includes Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg.
Visitors can park their cars at the Visitor Center and use the free shuttle to travel to the town, where they can ride in carriages or carts or wander through the realistically recreated 18th-century residences, pubs, and sites. As some structures are still used as private dwellings, visitors should look for the Grand Union Flags, which designate which buildings are accessible to the general public. Keep reading to discover more best car-free destinations in the US for a getaway.
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
Since there are no bridges connecting Daufuskie to the South Carolina mainland, all entry to the island must be made by boat. Between Melrose Landing on Daufuskie and Buckingham Landing in the Bluffton region, a public ferry operates many daily crossings.
Residents can travel on a ferry that Beaufort County pays for. The Haig Point Club operates a separate, exclusive ferry service. Additionally, a number of private businesses offer 25–30 minute water taxi rides to the island. Although there are some ordinary vehicles on the island, most of the residents of the clubs and some of the other residents use golf carts and bicycles to get around.
Location: Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
Fire Island, New York
A small barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, New York, is called Fire Island. It is renowned for its sheltered beaches and seasonal tourist towns. Although there are two bridges that provide access to Fire Island, only emergency and government vehicles are permitted on the island, hence driving is not permitted once there. The Sunken Forest, a 40-acre maritime forest of centuries-old holly, bayberry, blueberry, sassafras, and shadblow trees, makes Fire Island a year-round wonder and a favorite summer getaway for New Yorkers. However, the beaches and boating along the island’s miles of coastline are what really draw visitors.
Most people stay at the gay-friendly The Pines and Grove and the family-friendly Ocean Beach. The primary means of transportation is cycling. In addition to tanning, islanders enjoy birdwatching, where more than 300 species have been seen, clamming, surfing, and tennis, which is played on courts that are located in almost every community. This is definitely one of the best car-free destinations in the US for a getaway.
Location: Fire Island, New York
Governors Island, New York
The 172-acre, car-free Governors Island is located in the middle of New York Harbor, about 800 yards from lower Manhattan. The Lenape, who established the island in 1524 and utilized it annually as a fishing camp, used it until the US Coast Guard began using it in the middle of the 20th century. The island is now managed by the organization The Trust for Governors Island, which was established by the City of New York to oversee the island’s management when the Coast Guard left in 1996. Visitors can now go by passenger ferry from lower Manhattan and Brooklyn for day trips that include picnicking, catch-and-release fishing, and attendance at seasonal activities for the arts, culture, and community.
Between buildings 406 and 407, you may witness the Monumental Setting for Bronze Plaque, a brick monumental bench with stone trim, which was constructed in 1938 by the WPA. In addition, the Early Birds Monument south of Liggett Hall honors early flying on the island with a bronze cast of a Wright Brothers plane’s propeller on a granite foundation. It was first dedicated in 1954.
Location: Governors Island, New York
Halibut Cove, Alaska
Halibut Cove, which was once a fishing community, is now the location of various businesses and artists. The cove, a well-liked vacation spot, has a number of lodges and cabins, and the only method to get around the cove is by boat. At the 2010 census, there were 76 people living there, up from 35 in 2000.
Halibut Cove is tucked inside Kachemak Bay State Park, the first state park in Alaska, and is surrounded by the 400,000 acres of the park’s rocky terrain. The 60-person secluded, calm town is home to animals including sea otters, seals, and whales, as well as tranquil views and a floating post office. The 8.12 square-mile village is reachable by water taxi from Homer, Alaska, and people and visitors can get around on foot, skiffs, or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) there.
Halibut Cove can be reached from Homer by float plane, the locally run ferry known as the Danny J. Stormbird, or by private boat. The only ways to get around the cove are on foot, by skiff, or by ATV because there is no road access. Boardwalks connect the public areas surrounding the lagoon, and many houses and businesses are entirely or partially built on pilings above the water.
Location: Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska
Mackinac Island, Michigan
The American state of Michigan’s Mackinac County contains the city of Mackinac Island. The city had 470 residents who lived there permanently as of the 2020 Census. Due to an influx of tourists and hundreds of seasonal workers, the population reaches tens of thousands from May 1 to November 1.
The allure of Mackinac Island, its enchanted sunrises and sunsets, and its delectable fudge entice tourists by boat and plane to northern Michigan for leisurely travel. Mackinac Island is situated on Lake Huron between Michigan’s higher and lower peninsulas. The state park covers more than 80% of the car-free island, replacing the roadways with walking paths. The island is renowned for its absence of chain hotels and its abundance of quaint inns, independent shops, and regional eateries. Visitors can travel on foot or in a charming horse-drawn carriage.
Ferries across Lake Huron are used to access the island. One of seven municipalities in the state of Michigan, along with the townships of Grosse Ile, Drummond, Bois Blanc, St. James, Peaine, and Sugar Island, is the city of Mackinac Island.
Location: Mackinac Island, Mackinac County
Santa Catalina Island, California
Santa Catalina Island, a scenic island 22 miles off the coast of southern California, was the site of the Chicago Cubs’ spring training for 30 years and a brief residence by Marilyn Monroe. The island, which has two communities—Avalon on the east and Two Harbors on the west—can be reached by plane or helicopter, but most visitors take quick boat excursions from San Pedro, Long Beach, Dana Point, and Newport Beach.
While there is a bus route and a taxi rank in the center of Avalon, locals, and tourists navigate the town’s winding streets in golf carts to reach the town’s waterfront establishments, such as the Tuna Club, the world’s oldest big-game saltwater fishing club, and the campsites, bike trails, and marine reserve of Two Harbors.
The island is renowned for its fauna, dive spots, and tallest peak, Mt. Orizaba. To the north is the vacation destination of Two Harbors. Descanso Beach is bordered by palm trees and cabanas in the city of Avalon to the south. The circular, art-deco Catalina Casino in Avalon serves as a cultural hub with a theater, ballroom, and museum.
Location: Santa Catalina Island, California
Supai, the most isolated community in the lower 48 states, is one of the car-free destinations in the US for a getaway. It is quite a distance to travel. Everybody and everything must travel the eight-mile distance on foot or by mule from Hualapai Hilltop at the rim of the Grand Canyon to Supai, which has been the home of the Havasu Baaja for 1,000 years (the US Postal Service even delivers mail by mule). A helicopter can also be brought down. The community is renowned for the stunning, year-round Havasupai waterfalls, which are blue-green in color. Visitors can camp under the stars and enjoy a refreshing swim in the Havasu Creek, a branch of the Colorado River.
In the Grand Canyon’s Coconino County, Arizona, United States, Supai is a census-designated place. There were 208 people living in the CDP as of the 2010 census. Supai, the seat of the Havasupai Indian Reservation, is the only location in the country where mail is still delivered by mules.
Location: Coconino County, Arizona
Tangier Island, Virginia
Tangier Island is only reachable by air or water and is situated 12 miles into the Chesapeake Bay. The 740-acre island faces extinction because of the rising sea level. There are just approximately 1.2 miles to explore, and it is situated off Virginia’s eastern shore. The primary sources of mobility are golf carts, boats, mopeds, and motorcycles despite the fact that there are a few vehicles and the roads can only accommodate two golf carts at a time. Since crabbing is the principal industry in the watermen settlement, which is regarded as the “soft-shell crab capital of the world,” travelers can visit the remote island to get a glimpse of this and island life.
An unusual American English dialect is spoken by many people in Tangier. How much of the dialect is influenced by British English phonetics and lexicon has been debated by academics. Although it may sound like a British dialect of English, according to linguist David Shores, the dialect off Virginia’s eastern shore is a unique product of its own time and place. The geographic isolation of the people from the mainland is frequently cited as the reason for the maintenance of this dialectal variant. The National Register of Historic Places includes Tangier Island.
Location: Tangier Island, Virginia