There is something so energizing and fun about leaving your hotel room, turning the corner, and exploring a new city on foot. There are numerous iconic places to travel in the US without a car. Many of these cities and towns offer historic charm, amazing food and nightlife, and outdoor adventure. If you ready to grab a train or plane (and ditch the car) to a nearby US city for some tourism on foot, check out these 7 totally walkable and amazing best places to travel in the US without a car.
Don’t mistake Portland, Maine, for an old fisherman town. Au contraire, the city is buzzing with trendy shops and vibrant culinary scene. It was named the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year, according to Bon Appetit Magazine. But with all that hype, Portland remains true to its identity – a charming port town.
Things to do in Portland
- Visit the Old Port
- Check out the Portland Museum of Art
- Visit Casco Bay or any of the small islands
- Visit one of US “Greatest Streets” Commercial Streets
- Slurps on fresh oyster at Harbor Fish Market
- Check out the many great eateries and bars
Portland is a great city to visit without a car. The downtown area and waterfront are pedestrian-friendly and small enough to walk everywhere. If you want to go further out of the downtown area, you can take the METRO Bus. It’s convenient and very affordable. Want to get around faster? Rent a bike! You can easily pick one from the bike racks located near METRO Bus stops. Want to visit the nearby islands? Hop on a Mail Boat. Want to check out the lighthouses? Take a trolley tour. No matter where you want to go, Portland makes it easy for you to visit without a car!
Philadelphia is a super easy city in the USA to visit without a car. It only takes 80 minutes from New York and 90 minutes from Washington, D.C. to arrive in Philadelphia using an Amtrak train. As well as being frequent and fast, the trains are very comfortable – far roomier than a cramped airline seat!
Once you arrive in Philadelphia, it’s easy to get around without a car by using the metro system or the ample supply of city buses. Since the distances are relatively short between destinations, Uber and Lyft are also cheap options for getting around Philadelphia without a car.
While in Philadelphia, don’t miss out on visiting Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. This historic site is where both the US Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were debated and signed and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other highlights include tours of the Eastern State Penitentiary and feasting on a Philly Cheesesteak.
Boston is one of the most walkable cities in America, but one of the worst cities for driving. So when you visit, skip the car rental. The compact city layout puts the key sights within walking distance from the city’s best hotels.
If you will be visiting for your first time, you have to see some of the historical sights from Boston’s role in the American Revolution.
Then venture to the chic Back Bay neighborhood for some shopping on Newbury Street and lunch at MET for some people watching.
After a day of exploring, finish your evening off with dinner at Ruka on Washington Street in the Downtown Crossing neighborhood. The Peruvian Japanese fusion restaurant serves up some flavorful dishes and lots of creative cocktails.
Whether you are visiting for a girls trip, a family vacation, or a business trip, there is lots to see and do in Boston for every type of traveler.
Miami Beach, FL
Miami Beach, Florida is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a car-free getaway. There are so many things to do in Miami Beach and the best part, they are all easily accessible by foot or bicycle. Miami Beach even has a free trolley that you can take advantage of with routes all the way from South Beach to North Beach.
Getting to Miami Beach from the airport is also easy (and cheap). You can take the Miami Beach Airport Flyer Bus (Route 150). It will cost less than $3 and you will be in the heart of Miami Beach.
Opt to stay near Lincoln Road. From here you will be within walking distance to the beach, bars, restaurants, and shopping. While in Miami Beach some must-visits are of course the beach. But also check out Pane e Vino for handmade pasta, The Delano for people watching and the SLS for a pool party.
Ditch the car and head to South Beach Miami for your next getaway.
New York, NY
New York City is the perfect place to travel without a car thanks to an efficient subway system and how walkable the city is. Once you land in one of the three airports that service New York City, you can take a car to get you into the city and you won’t need to get inside of one until you leave back home. As a matter of fact, having a car is more of a detriment due to the crazy high parking rates and insane traffic.
Manhattan has several subway lines that service all areas and make it easy to get from point A to point B. Since most people rent a hotel near Midtown, it is easy to walk to Times Square, a broadway show, restaurants, museums, Grand Central Station, the public library, Bryant Park, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and more.
From Times Square you can take the subway down to the Financial District and visit One World, the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, the Oculus, Wall Street, Battery Park, and also take a ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Exploring some of New York City’s other neighborhoods are also very easy to do if you take the subway. You can go shopping in Soho, eat some delicious food in Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Chinatown or Little Italy, and see the Yankees play in the Bronx, or check even out Brooklyn’s hipster scene all without a car.
Washington, D.C. is one of the very few big cities in the United States that you can explore easily without a car. Thanks to its old school urban planning and the DC Metro, there is very little in the District that you can’t get to by train or on foot. Both Dulles Airport and the gorgeous Washington Union Station connect to the DC Metro, so you’re good to go from the moment you hop off your plane or train.
Another great thing is that so many of DC’s best attractions are clumped together! For example, the National Mall has to have the densest concentration of world-class institutions in the whole country. Bookended by the Washington Monument and the National Capitol, themselves must-sees in DC, the National Mall is bordered by no less than 11 museums of the Smithsonian Institute. The Natural History Museum, American History Museum, and African American History and Culture Museum stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and you can literally walk to the Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and several others in a matter of minutes. In the surrounding city blocks you’ll find restaurants and shops to suit every taste and budget.
The best part? The Mall is directly served by two DC Metro stations and is within a block of four more, so chances are you can get here easily from wherever you’re staying.
Chicago is an easy city to visit without a car and is one of the most walkable cities in the United States. Most of the popular tourist attractions including Millennium Park, Willis Tower and Navy Pier are concentrated in or near the downtown area so it is possible to get around entirely by foot for those that enjoy walking. Visitors can also rent bikes through Divvy, Chicago’s bike sharing program.
Chicago also has numerous public and private transportation options. Chicago has an extensive public transportation system (both bus and train) with routes across the city and service to both major airports.
A scenic way to travel are water taxis that connect some attractions and neighborhoods located along Lake Michigan and the Chicago River and sightseeing cruises (although services are seasonal as the water sometimes freezes during cold winters). Finally for those that prefer not to walk, bike or use public transportation, Uber and Lyft ridesharing services and taxis are all plentiful and very easy to find throughout the city.
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