You Can’t Do This One Major Thing in These 10 Small Towns
Get out and stretch your legs—it's the law.
Sometimes you just want to get away from it all, including the hassle of driving a car. If this sounds like your idea of paradise, you’ll love daydreaming about these amazing U.S. destinations where no cars are allowed.
Rorythomasoconnor (CC BY-SA 4.0)/WikimediaCommons
Bald Head Island, NC
It’s easy to leave your car behind when you visit Bald Head Island, NC : The island is only accessible by ferry or private boat. Bicycles and golf carts are the typical modes of transportation, although the island does have a tram that carries visitors from the ferry dock to their rental home or inn. Be sure to check out the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina, originally commissioned by Thomas Jefferson, hiking trails, fabulous restaurants, and 14 miles of beaches. You can also paddleboard, surf, or kayak through a series of creeks. If you visit during the summer you’ll be treated with the truly awe-inspiring experience of seeing the Loggerhead sea turtles who lay their eggs on the island every summer. Overnight accommodations are available at The Inn at Bald Island, which provides complimentary bicycles and breakfast during your stay.
David Broad(CC BY 3.0)/WikimediaCommons
Tangier Island, VA
Tangier Island is a small fishing community off the coast of Virginia in the Chesapeake Bay. It is accessible by ferry from the coast of Virginia or Maryland. If you want to enjoy a cocktail on your visit, you’ll want to bring your own alcohol. Tangier isn’t just car-free, it’s also dry—alcohol can’t be purchased on the island. The primary modes of transportation are golf carts and bicycles. Tangier Island is famous for its delicious, fresh seafood, especially soft shell crabs so be sure to visit Fisherman’s Corner Restaurant or one of the island’s crab shanties. Be sure to visit the Tangier Museum and Interpretive Center which offers a glimpse of the island’s history and information about the island’s pressing battles with erosion along with free loaner canoes and kayaks so you can explore the area marshes and water trails. Overnight guests will love the private cottages and gourmet breakfasts at the Bay View Inn.
(c) Onpegasus | Dreamstime.com
Mackinaw Island, MI
Located in Lake Huron, Mackinac Island, MI can be reached by ferry, small aircraft, or snowmobile when an ice bridge forms in winter. Once you arrive, foot, bicycle, and horse-drawn carriages are the primary modes of transportation. There are buildings on the island dating back to the 18th century and most of the island is comprised of Victorian-era buildings and historical points of interest such as Fort Holmes, a British outpost built during the War of 1812. For a luxurious, romantic getaway, stay a night at The Grand Hotel, a gorgeous historic property with one of the best hotel porches in the U.S. It’s also where the cult classic movie Somewhere in Time , with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, was filmed.
Rock Island, WI
Rock Island is a tiny island situated in the mouth of Green Bay in Door County, WI. You can get there via a ferry from Memorial Day through Columbus Day or private boat year-round. In winter, the island accessible by snowmobile or foot traffic via an ice bridge. Rock Island is largely undeveloped and the main attraction is Rock Island, State Park, unique for its combination of natural wooded beauty, white sand beach, and historical buildings commissioned by wealthy Icelandic inventor Charles Thordarson in the early 1900s. Other highlights include Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse and a historic water tower. The park is full of forested trails and hiking is another popular activity. There are no hotels on the island but camping is permitted with a permit. Bicycles and cars are prohibited on the island, however, carts are available for rent to get your gear and supplies from the ferry dock to your campsite.
Love Valley, NC
If you stumble across the tiny town of Love Valley in North Carolina’s Brushy Mountains, you’ll probably feel you’ve stumbled back into time. The town was founded by Andy Barker in the 1950s to pay tribute to his love of the Old West and Christianity. The result is an unassuming church perched above a western-themed town that looks like something out of a movie set. Horses and horse-drawn carriages are the only transportation allowed in the streets and horse trails surround the small village, making this destination a unique paradise for equestrians. Love Valley is a popular place for camping but there are also cabins and rooms for rent for those who prefer to stay indoors.
(c) Swdesertlover | Dreamstime.com
Halibut Cove, AK
Halibut Cove is a small community within Alaska’s beautiful Kachemak Bay State Park. On your visit there, you might spot such wildlife as otters, whales, and harbor seals. Halibut Cove is also home to one of the only floating post offices in the U.S. The only way to get there is by private boat, water taxi, or small plane. Once you’re there, the most common modes of transportation are skiff, ATV, or foot. Highlights in Halibut Cove include dining on fresh seafood at the Saltry Restaurant and strolling through the art galleries on the boardwalk. Halibut Cove has a population of fewer than 100 and no chain hotels. It does, however, have some very fine private lodges, many of which offer chef-prepared meals.
(c) Tezcold | Dreamstime.com
Supai, AZ, is located in the Havasupai Indian Reservation in the Grand Canyon. It’s a remote village, located eight miles from the nearest road and only accessible by foot, mule, or helicopter. It is the only place in the U.S. where mail is still delivered by a mule. Once you arrive, you’ll be rewarded with an astonishingly beautiful oasis of waterfalls, majestic canyons, and Supai Indian Village where overnight accommodations are available through the tribe at Havasupai Lodge. Camping is also available but slots fill up fast so be sure to make your reservations well in advance.
Fire Island, NY
Fire Island is located fewer than 70 miles from Manhattan but it couldn’t feel further away. It is a sandy island paradise accessible by ferry, water taxi, or private boat. There is also a vehicle bridge, but once you arrive, you’ll have to park your car. Vehicles aren’t allowed on most of the island and the primary mode of transportation is foot and bicycle. Deer and waterfowl are abundant here, and life is laid back and relaxed. Highlights include beachcombing and exploring charming small towns like the tourist-friendly Ocean Beach, which is full of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops or Cherry Grove, which is bursting with nightlife and LBGTQ+ culture.
Len Holsborg / Alamy Stock Photo
Russell Island, MI
Russell Island is a small island in Michigan’s St. Claire River originally settled by the Ojibwe tribe and colonized by missionaries in the early 1800s. Today, the island is largely residential and accessible through a private boat or a private ferry. If you want to visit, you’ll have to be the guest of a resident or rent a vacation property through Airbnb or another rental service. The island is best suited for a low-key vacation of kayaking and exploring the island on foot since no cars are allowed on Russell Island.
(c) Scouse109 | Dreamstime.com
Monhegan Island, ME
Once a Native American fishing spot, Monhegan Island is known today for being home to a community of artists who show their art at galleries sprinkled throughout the island. The island is full of striking cliffs, bluffs, rock formations, and hiking trails. Monhegan Island is accessible via ferry or private boat. Once you arrive, cars or bikes aren’t allowed, so you’ll need to get around on by foot. Be sure to have a meal at one of the island’s seafood shacks. There are plenty of inns available on the island, but be sure to make your reservations in advance since some aren’t open year-round and space is limited in the summer.
Rorythomasoconnor (CC BY-SA 4.0)/WikimediaCommons