FEATURE

Unfasten Your Seat Belts!

Gas prices, traffic, kids screaming in the backseat.... It's enough to make you want to get out and walk. So why not do just that? At these 10 spots, there are no cars at all (unless you count a golf cart or two).

NEW YORK
Chautauqua
When the sounds of the Chautauqua Symphony reach your inn's porch, it's time to stroll over to the amphitheater for a few hours of Mozart or ballet. Cars have never been allowed in the hamlet (there are lots where you can leave yours), which was designed as a walkable community just outside Jamestown. At its heart is the historic Chautauqua Institution, an education center that's only open in the summer, with workshops by the likes of Garry Trudeau and Joyce Carol Oates (800/836-2787, ciweb.org). Its website lists the lodging options, including The Maple Inn (716/357-4583, themapleinn.com, from $80).

The genteel haven has 750 acres of lawns, a lake, and a daily farmers market. Until last year, alcohol was also a no-no, so people sipped it out of teacups and called it "Chautauqua tea." Even though the ban is over, residents still sit on their front porches and drink their evening cocktails out of teacups. –Ann Hood See photo

FLORIDA
North Captiva Island
A four-mile-long crescent off southwestern Florida, North Captiva Island has an exclusive feel and a simple soul. Visitors arrive hauling a week's worth of groceries and then disappear into rented beach houses in the scrubby, coquina-shell-covered landscape. "You get so busy doing nothing that you forget what you came here for," says Kristie Anders, a year-round resident who boats to work on neighboring Sanibel Island.

North Captiva was once part of larger Captiva Island until storms in the 1920s severed the landmass. Families, honeymooners, and sand castles dot the public beach, but walk far enough into Cayo Costa State Park and the beach is all yours. Dolphins frolic close to shore, and gopher tortoises burrow in the sand.

Part of the beauty of the island is that there are no hotels. You can book a beach house through the North Captiva Island Club Resort (800/576-7343, northcaptiva.com, from $1,200 for a week). Island Girl Charters operates ferries from Pine Island, near Fort Myers (islandgirlcharters.org, $37 round trip). –Rachael Jackson See photo

MICHIGAN
Mackinac Island
Michigan's Lake Shore Road, along the perimeter of Mackinac (ma-ki-nah), is the only state highway that doesn't allow cars. Yet it's still busy on summer days: Tandem bikes and horse-drawn carriages, including some fringe-topped surreys, create a symphony of spinning wheels, clomping hooves, and dinging bells. The route is one of the main draws for visitors because of its views of Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac.

Other attractions include Fort Mackinac, built by the British in 1780 (mackinacparks.com, $10), and the pricey Grand Hotel, the setting for Somewhere in Time. The hotel charges nonguests $15 just to set foot inside, but you can gawk from the front lawn for free (800/334-7263, grandhotel.com). There are other places to stay, anyhow. The Harbour View Inn has pillared porches and plenty of floral prints (906/847-0101, harbourviewinn.com, from $129). Save room for a box of fudge from Murdick's, the most popular souvenir on the island (906/847-3530, $14 per pound). It's the reason locals call tourists "fudgies." –Susan Stellin See photo

MARYLAND
Smith Island
The five-square-mile speck is an active fishing community, and evidence of the islanders' livelihood is everywhere. The daily ferry to Ewell (410/425-2771, smithislandcruises.com, $24 round trip) docks right by Ruke's Seafood Deck, known for its crab cakes (410/425-2311, from $8). Nearby, the Smith Island Cultural Center displays tools of the crabbing trade (smithisland.org, $2.50).

DITCH THE CAR!

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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