Have you ever envisioned a “get away from it all” vacation that turned out poorly? Sure, the brochures looked flashy and the surrounding terrain was pretty enough. The price was right, but the vibe was wrong. Chances are, it was the sounds. Revving engines, honking, tires chirping. You may as well have stayed home and watched commuter traffic. Gildshire understands because we have been there, as well. Today, we offer up something entirely different. These vacation places (or maybe your future home) are free of car noises, car fumes, and car anything. In fact, they are places to visit that don’t allow cars at all. We can almost feel the peacefulness…
Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia: There’s a good reason for cars to be restricted from Colonial Williamsburg. It’s a living museum of life during early-Colonial times. Instead of internal combustion engines, you’ll hear the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages. Folks in period garb will interact with you, sing and dance with you, and dine with you. It’s one of America’s vacation places with some education thrown in for free.
Venice Canal Historic District, Venice, California: Not to be confused with Venice proper, which is an eclectic mix of MMA gyms and greased six-packs on the beach, the Historical District is something else entirely. It’s man-made and completely motor-driven vehicle free. Privately-owned gondolas ply the canals and pedestrians walk hand-in-hand across the bridges. You’ll forget that you’re seven miles from LAX.
Daufuskie Island, South Carolina: The eight-square-mile community in Calibogue Sound places strict restrictions on cars, but that hardly matters. You see, the only way to get to Daufuskie Island is by passenger ferry. Once you arrive, notice golf carts carrying folks from the art gallery to the restaurant to the golf course and back again. Bask in the quiet, broken only by quiet conversation and the clucking of the ducks.
Rock Island, Wisconsin: Talk about taking this kind of thing seriously! Rock Island doesn’t even allow bicycles. The island is 1.6 miles around but with no permanent population. It is, however, loaded with colorful plants and flowers, along with a lighthouse.
Isle Royale, Michigan: Actually, it isn’t that cars are banned from Isle Royale. Rather, it is that there are no roads on which to drive! Lake Superior’s largest naturally formed island is a hiker’s paradise, but also a designated National Park.
Beaver River, New York: You can’t drive a car to Beaver River, but once you arrive the eight permanent residents will offer a friendly greeting. They will tell you how much they enjoy their one-half square mile bit of paradise, even if it doesn’t have electricity except for the train that is one way into town! Other modes of transportation include skis or snowmobiles.
Phantom Ranch, Arizona: Have you ever gone to the Grand Canyon and wondered who lives at the bottom? The answer is the 100 residents of Phantom Ranch. You can get into the ranch by foot, mule or raft, but if you choose to stay you will do without mail service. It might be worth it.
Tangier Island, Virginia: Don’t expect to run across Tangier Island on a trip down I-95, because you can only get here by boat or air. However, just over 700 people have chosen to make it their permanent residence. If you’re up for the journey expect to find pristine beaches and the island’s active marine life as well as southern comfort food.
Bald Head Island, North Carolina: Serenaded by the sounds of the sea turtles, a visitor to Bald Head Island arrived by ferry because his car is 40 miles away in Southport. That’s how this place rolls. Golf carts are in abundance, though, because some great courses beckon the intrepid linksman. Oh, you don’t golf? That’s ok because there are 10,000 acres of nature preserves and trails.
Fire Island, New York: After a couple of days in The Big Apple, this is one of the truly welcome vacation places you can find. Heck, New Yorkers themselves make the 15-minute ferry ride across the Great South Bay to Long Island’s south shore to escape the manic speed of life in Manhattan. There are 31 different communities on this car-free island. Each one is worth visiting.
Monhegan, Maine: True to its name, derived from the Algonquin word for “out-to-sea island,” you’ll need to leave your car at a port and board a boat to reach Monhegan. While you’re there you may just wish you were one of the fewer than 70 people who call it home.
Mackinac Island, Michigan: Designated a National Historic Landmark, Mackinac Island may be the nation’s most-popular car-free zone. The abundance of horse-drawn carriages will make you believe you are in the mid-19th-Century. Architecture lovers can’t get enough of the period buildings. The island is less than four miles square, but the scenery is spectacular.
Are you ready to ditch your car and get some real peace and quiet? If so, one of these vacation places will suit you just fine. Who knows? It may turn out to be your Mayberry.