Most Americans live in a car-centric world, depending on automobiles for sometimes lengthy commutes to work, shopping and entertainment, social interaction, and family vacations.
As noisy as it is, the perpetual sound of motor vehicles in the background of our daily lives, and the sound of the road when we travel, is taken for granted and barely noticed — until it’s not there.
Quietude can be a revelation, as it’s experienced in places where cars are scarce, or — more impressively — not allowed at all. The tranquility of a car-free destination is enhanced by the slower pace that comes with the walking or biking required to get from here to there. The pace and the noiselessness also allows for a deeper appreciation of the surroundings, for more satisfying outdoor recreation, and for heightened enjoyment of such simple pleasures as romantic strolls or ice cream with the kids.
For people looking for unique travel experiences, car-free vacations can be truly enjoyable, and, not surprisingly, locations that ban cars tend to be particularly scenic or otherwise visually interesting. These are the most beautiful vacations in the U.S.
24/7 Tempo has collected a list of car-free places open, some of them extremely popular with tourists, others virtually unknown outside their regions. Some of these places are roadless because of their unique geography, but more usually, they’re places are car-free by choice. More and more, communities, particularly in Europe, are embracing the concept of pedestrian zones, where cars are periodically or permanently banned. All of these destinations, whether completely or just mostly without cars, offer a calming experience rare in the modern world.
But in case you’re looking for a more standard kind of vacation, one where ancient history, natural wonders, or nightlife are key attractions, you’re not alone. Such places are so popular, visitors flock to them every day. Here are destinations where tourists outnumber locals.