Free Journeys is a collection of articles by Steve Atlas detailing
vacation destinations that don't require driving. Steve wrote
these articles in a monthly column for Ecocities
the newsletter of Ecocity
a nonprofit organization dedicated to reshaping cities for the
long-term health of human and natural systems. He has been kind
enough to allow Pubtrantravel to include these articles in our
continuing effort to promote car-free travel.
Last November (2012),
Nathan Landau: a transit planner in Northern California and author
Free in Los Angeles and Southern California (Wilderness Press:
a great guest column for us about where to stay in Los Angeles if
you don’t want to drive. You can read that column by going to
spotlights Pasadena, California: a very walkable and delightful
place to visit—offering far more than the Rose Bowl. (I highly
recommend Nathan’s book: it should be required reading for
anyone considering visiting or moving to the Los Angeles
metropolitan area who doesn’t want to drive.)
DESTINATION - PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - by Nathan Landau
The Los Angeles region
is often derided for faceless sprawl, but Pasadena is a
distinctive, historic, walkable city. Pasadena offers museums,
historic buildings, theatres, and restaurants. Pasadena is an
excellent city for the car-free traveler, because most of its
highlights are concentrated in a small area easily navigated on
foot or by bus. Yet Pasadena is also a good base to see other
parts of LA, especially Downtown Los Angeles. Come spend a few
car-free days in Pasadena.
most fun and affordable to get here from Albuquerque is on the New
Mexico Rail Runner Express. This
commuter train line shares the Alvarado
Transit Center with Greyhound, Amtrak, and local Albuquerque ABQ
Ride buses. The one-way fare from Albuquerque to Santa Fe is $9
($4 for seniors, students, and persons with disabilities), but
consider a one-day excursion where a one-day pass is just $10 ($7
for seniors, students, and persons with disabilities). Save $1 on
your fare by purchasing your tickets or passes online. For details
about schedules and fares, visit http://www.nmrailrunner.com/,
call toll-free (866) 795-7245 (RAIL). A
special bonus for Rail Runner passengers: Ride
any ABQ RIDE, Santa Fe Trails or Rio Metro bus for FREE when you
show the driver your valid Rail Runner Express printed ticket!
Albuquerque International Sunport (the local airport), the easiest
way to get to Santa Fe is to use Sandia Shuttle Express
or call (505) 474-5696 or toll-free (888) 775-5896). Sandia
provides hourly shuttle service between the Airport and downtown
Santa Fe, every day. The one-way fare is $28 per person, the
round-trip fare costs just $48 (a best choice for weekend
visitors). The trip takes 70 minutes each way.
its old age, Albuquerque is nothing short of a funky, eclectic,
sunny getaway. The city boasts a great mix of art, culture,
outdoor recreation and family fun. It is situated in the high
desert which means four distinctly mild seasons and beautiful
sunrises and sets against the backdrop of the beautiful Sandia
Mountains. It is a getaway that is
affordable as well as accessible for weekend travelers. Because
most major attractions are within walking distance of a downtown
hotel, or along a bus route, the city is a good weekend getaway
choice for visitors who don’t want to drive.
Alvarado Transportation Center (ATC), located in downtown
Albuquerque, serves as the hub for Amtrak, Greyhound Lines and the
New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter rail line (to Santa Fe).
It is also the main hub for Albuquerque’s public transit
service, ABQ Ride, and is therefore an easy place to catch a bus
while in Albuquerque.
Minneapolis is a great
place to visit, especially if you enjoy biking, walking, and
exploring interesting neighborhoods. Add a major university
(University of Minnesota), cultural attractions such as the
Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Opera, and Minneapolis Institute of Art
(this is just a start) and you have a great choice for a weekend
(or longer) getaway. Best of all, Metro Transit’s light rail
line (Blue Line, formerly called the Hiawatha Line), network of
local buses, and over 80 miles of on-street + over 80 miles of
off-street bicycle trails make this a good destination to enjoy
without needing to drive. –
you think of Florida, what comes to mind? Sunny winter beaches,
escape from the cold - but don’t forget lots of traffic.
Fortunately, many Florida getaways can be enjoyed without
driving. Today, we visit one of them: Sarasota: the cultural
center of west Florida with many attractive beaches. Our visit
this month spotlights one of Sarasota’s top attractions: The
John and Mable Ringling Museum.
Ringling Museum is an experience you can savor for several days.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is well known for its
outstanding baroque and renaissance art collections.
– Read More--
first “Car Free Journey” column this year will spotlight a
popular family vacation spot: Orlando, Florida - home of Walt
Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and
much more. But Orlando offers much more than just Disney World.
Today, we will explore two parts of Orlando itself: downtown
Orlando, and International Drive, and include links for
will find out how to use local public transit to visit Disney
World. (For detailed information about visiting Walt Disney
World and its 4 theme parks, I recommend the Unofficial
Guide to Walt Disney World 2013, published by Wiley and
available in local bookstores and from Amazon.com.)
is the public transportation system for Orange,
Osceola and Seminole counties. A single ride costs $2, a one-day
pass (good for unlimited rides in a single day) is $4.50 ($2.25
for children, ages 10-18), or $16 ($8 for children ages 10-18)
for a 7-day unlimited ride pass. --Read
From the airport to
International Drive, take LYNX routes 42 or 111 to Destination
Parkway. (From here, cross the street to catch the
the airport to Walt Disney World, take LYNX route 111 to either
Downtown Disney or the Ticket and Transportation Center (the
Ticket and Transportation Center is the recommended choice).
the holidays approach, many of us wonder how to spend New
Year’s Eve. One of my favorite New Year’s Eve activities
is “First Night:” A non-alcoholic arts and entertainment
evening available to area residents at little cost (usually a
“button” that costs $10-$20 for all programs). For many
years, my wife and I enjoyed 1st
Night in Annapolis, MD. One year, we celebrated 1st
Night in Alexandria, VA.
is one of many communities that offer First Night for the
entire family. In this month’s column, we will visit
downtown Raleigh, learn about First Night, and suggest a few
self-guided walking tours that you can enjoy without ever
needing to drive or leave downtown Raleigh.
Silver Star serves Raleigh daily from New York, Baltimore,
Washington, Richmond (VA), Savannah Georgia, and Florida.
The Piedmont has a daily train from Charlotte to Raleigh.
Angeles is a great city for visitors. It has topnotch beaches,
museums, shopping, theatre, restaurants, and more. And,
despite what you may have heard, LA is surprisingly navigable
without a car. LA has a large (and growing) rail and bus
transit network that takes you just about anywhere you want to
it’s important to stay in the right place if you’re seeing
LA car-free. Some places in Los Angeles have world-class
transit, elsewhere it’s pretty poor. LA is a big city
geographically, so one part of town may be more convenient for
you than another. Unlike in East Coast cities, attractions in
LA are spread across a wide area. The quality of your
experience as a car-free visitor can be greatly affected by
where you stay. And many LA hotels are interesting places in
their own right.
the past several years, my hometown of Baltimore, Free Fall
Baltimore: held every October to a series of free events,
free admission to several attractions, and many other free
programs and activities.
city offers several free shuttle buses that serve
downtown Baltimore and other nearby attractions. The free bus
service, Charm City Circulator, makes it easy and fun
for visitors to enjoy a weekend here without needing to drive.
local public transit system, Maryland Transit Administration
(MTA) provides light rail, subway (Metro), and local and
regional bus routes. (On weekdays, MTA provides MARC commuter
train service between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—just an
hour away.) A one-day bus (good for unlimited travel on MTA
local buses, subway and light rail) costs just $3.60 ($1.20 for
senior citizens age 65 and older).
June, my wife Karen and I visited Charleston, South Carolina: a
beautiful city with lots of historic and cultural attractions.
Because we wanted to experience both downtown Charleston and
the Atlantic Ocean beach, we stayed on the Isle of Palms, a
popular beach community outside of Charleston.
most of you, we were on a limited schedule, on our way to visit
our son in Gainesville, Florida. We spent two evenings at Isle
of Palms enjoying the beach, and a day exploring downtown
you are not driving, you can reach Charleston by scheduled
airlines (Southwest goes there), Greyhound bus, or Amtrak.
(From the northeast U.S., Amtrak’s Palmetto arrives in
Charleston at 7:15 p.m., still early enough to take a local bus
to downtown Charleston.)
we get so caught up in visiting large cities and famous
vacation spots that we overlook smaller cities that are
delightful, less crowded, and frequently less expensive.
example, most people know about Boston, MA; but how many of you
have ever taken the time to visit Providence, Rhode Island?
It’s easy to get to Providence. Many areas are within a short
walk of downtown or easily accessible by public transportation.
Today, our Car Free Journey spotlights Providence, Rhode
is a very easy city to navigate on foot, by bike, or on bus,”
says Lani Stark, a local resident who walks or pedals across
the city daily. “I moved here nearly three years ago and,
after quickly realizing I wasn’t using my car, went
very favorite walk (or ride) is from Benefit Street, over the
river, and down Westminster Street — particularly during warm
evenings or weekend afternoons, when the area is lively and
full of things to see and do.”
now, you are probably sweltering in the summer heat. If you are
like me, and love the water, you want to enjoy a weekend or
vacation at the beach. But the cost of gas is so high that you
wonder if you can find a beach to enjoy without driving.
Isle of Palms is an island near the Mount Pleasant section of
Charleston. It's easy to spend a few days here, soaking in the
sun and swimming in the warm ocean. This family-oriented beach
is very expansive with great sand, a chance to watch the
dolphins, pick up sea shells, walk along the beach, and-if you
get up early enough-watch the sun rise over the nearby fishing
beach is popular and a good choice for walking or running in
either high or low tide. The ocean here is warm and a good
place to swim. According to Jared Becknell at the Palms Hotel,
the beach at Isle of Palms has won the blue tide award for many
consecutive years or having the cleanest beach in South
about a memorable vacation in the Pacific Northwest-that you
can enjoy without driving? Today's column spotlights one of
County on Oregon's Pacific Coast, just a two-hour bus ride from
Portland, is a welcome change from a big city. Walking
and biking are popular. Many areas are easy to reach by public
transportation. Visitors love the small town atmosphere and how
easy it is to walk to most places you need to go.
lovers and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the quiet beauty of Cannon
Beach. There are galleries, and performances of musicals,
serious drama, and comedies at the Coaster Theatre Playhouse
This is a more quiet beach with art galleries, a four-mile
beach walk, and a free summer town shuttle bus that takes
residents and visitors between the three sections of Cannon
Beach: Downtown, Midtown, and Tolovana.
Diego, California is an exceptional city in many ways. This
popular city offers a special reason for beach lovers without
cars to come here: an in-town beach that is a short ferry boat
ride from downtown. Stay downtown, and you can enjoy not only
Coronado Beach, but also many of San Diego's other beaches as
well as many other attractions.
Beach has some of the whitest sand on the California coast, and
wide beaches with gentle surf and no undertow. This makes it
ideal for children and beginning swimmers or surfers. Swim,
surf, sail, body board, fish, or just fall asleep in the sun.
Other activities here include beach volleyball, tide pool
exploration, and kite flying. There is also a bike path south
of the Hotel Del Coronado. --Read
Credit Joanne DiBona
good way to sample what is special about San Diego is to visit
Balboa Park: the largest urban park in the United States
(according to Balboa Park staff) (www.balboapark.org,
or call  239-0512. You will want to spend several days
here if you have the available time. In addition to walking
trails and playgrounds, you can experience the park's stunning
Spanish Renaissance architecture, and a wide variety of things
to see and do. Balboa
Park, just minutes from downtown San Diego, is the nation’s
largest urban park. It’s easy to spend several days here.
park houses 15 museums, ranging from art to science and from
air and space to natural history or anthropology. If you love
the outdoors, allow time to explore the wide variety of
gardens. The San Diego Zoo is world famous --Read
autumn approaches, the changing leaves, mountains and lakes
exert their special spell. At this time of year, you want a
mountain or natural lake escape that is scenic, walkable, and
(preferably) away from a big city.
York State is a magical world, especially during fall. A great
choice for a weekend getaway is Ithaca: home of Cornell
University, Ithaca College, and much more. Lovers of the
outdoors will enjoy Lake Cayuga (one of the Finger Lakes),
scenic gorges, Ithaca Falls, and much more. .
getaways don't need to be limited to major cities and
metropolitan areas. Frequently, smaller cities and vacation
spots can be enjoyed without driving. For example, this month's
weekend getaway is Duluth, Minnesota, located on Lake
Superior-largest of the Great Lakes.
Shaw, from Visit Duluth (the city's visitor center) is our
guide to a car free weekend in Duluth.Tom Elwell, from Duluth
Transit, has tips about how to enjoy your weekend by bus,
walking, and bicycle.
the Downtown-Waterfront area’s restaurants, art galleries,
attractions and the world famous Aerial Lift Bridge. The Duluth
Harbor is on one side and the 7 mile long public beach is on
the Lake Superior side. Kids love to “skip rocks” on
the Canal Park side of Lake Superior and thousands of visitors
walk, bike or roller blade the 7.2 mile long “Lake Walk”
that is everyone’s place to see the Largest of the Great
Lakes from her shores line. --Read
you enjoy a vacation that includes a downtown with lots to do,
trolleys, a Harbor Ferry, and an opportunity to enjoy both
popular beaches near downtown, and the unspoiled Gulf beach?
Then, Corpus Christi, Texas may be the perfect vacation spot
you don't want to drive, downtown Corpus Christi is a
convenient location to stay during your visit. Several
attractions are within walking distance, and two popular
beaches are a short bus ride away.
of its bay location, there is very little seaweed and no
undertow, making McGee Beach the perfect location for children.
Swim—from April until Thanksgiving; enjoy the view of
sailboats, wind surfers, and shrimpers hauling in their catch
or turn street-side to watch the pedal carts and passersby.
McGee Beach has a pier, with rest rooms and a small restaurant,
where you can bring a rod and some bait and try your hand at
we think of a weekend vacation without a car, Phoenix does not
usually come to mind. But that is changing, thanks largely to
new light rail and subway systems. Since Phoenix’s light rail
system opened on December 27, 2008, a non-driving weekend in
Phoenix can be fun and easy to accomplish. In this month’s
column, Scott Dunn, from the Greater Phoenix Convention and
Visitors’ Bureau, (assisted by customer service reps from
Valley Metro in Phoenix) shares some tips for anyone who wants
to visit Phoenix for the weekend without driving.
Phoenix is about the size of Delaware and encompasses more than
20 cities and towns. Sometimes, the most rewarding trip to
Phoenix is one that keeps it simple. Limiting your visit to
locales accessible by light rail certainly simplifies things.
You might miss out on the dining and nightlife of Scottsdale or
the sports and entertainment of Glendale, but you’ll still
get a great sense of the city’s Southwestern character and
possibly have a more satisfying visit than if you try to drive
all over the place and see all Metropolitan Phoenix’
weekend getaway is Cleveland, Ohio: a transit-friendly area
that can be easily reached inexpensively either by bus
or air (Southwest Airlines). Once you arrive, there is so much
to do that your only problem is choosing how you will best
enjoy your time here.
front and center for your favorite Broadway blockbuster. Cruise
a crooked river at sunset or commune with Costa Rican
butterflies. Sample ethnic delicacies at a bustling public
market. Ride the vintage rails of a scenic railroad through a
national park. Dine in the restaurant of a celeb chef. Shop for
retro collectibles at a vintage toy store. Visit the home of
gridiron greats. Admire the work of artistic masters at our
museums and release your inner rock star at the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame. --Read
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month, we spotlighted Denver. This month, we focus on the
nearby college community of Boulder. Boulder is much more
compact, a great choice for biking or walking enthusiasts, and
has the world-renowned University of Colorado. Also, unlike
many other communities, Boulder’s downtown includes many
locally owned businesses (rather than the chains that are so
easiest way for out-of-town visitors to reach Boulder is by
plane. From Denver International Airport (DIA), RTD’s
(Regional Transit District) hourly Sky Ride service to Boulder
costs $13 each way. The Boulder Transit Center is in downtown
Boulder, and is served by most RTD (Regional Transit District)
buses serving Boulder. Downtown Boulder is also the most
convenient area to stay, during your visit. --Read
you plan your weekend getaway to Denver, take time to read this
article (written by a Denver writer, and recommended by Visit
Denver: the official travel and visitor bureau for Denver):
visitors may not want the hassles of choosing which of Denver’s
many attractions to visit. If you are one of these people, an
organized tour may be the best solution. For information about
local tours, visit
should focus on downtown Denver, and use RTD buses and free
Street mall shuttle to get around. Visit RTD’s website:
or call (303) 299-6089 for live customer service from 6 a.m.-8
p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends and holidays (all
times are mountain time). --Read
Orleans is well known for its annual Mardi Gras celebration,
and for being the birthplace of jazz. But the city is more than
Mardi Gras and jazz. It’s also grand Greek revival mansions
of the Garden District, river cruises on the Mississippi River,
parks, festivals, a college community (Tulane and Loyola), and
of course the famed French Quarter with its music, restaurants,
and bars. Unfortunately, a weekend here is never long enough.
is so much to do—and so little time to do it. You will
probably want to spend at least one evening in the famed French
Quarter, sampling the bars and music. The New Orleans
Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends that anyone
interested in music should visit Frenchmen Street, also known
as the local's Bourbon Street. The clubs that line this street
give you a sample of every genre of music, including brass,
jazz and zydeco. Fabulous food is a bonus at many of these
month, we will spotlight South Florida. This popular,
expensive, and traffic-clogged area includes Palm Beach and
Palm Beach County, Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, and
Miami/Miami Beach and Dade County.
are airports in Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Each
county has its own transit system, and visitor center.
Tri-Rail, operated by the South Florida Regional Transportation
Authority, is a commuter rail system (operating every day) that
links all of these areas.
planning your trip, contact these visitors’ centers and
Beach and Dade County
(305) 539=3000 or
County Public Transit: www.miami-dade.fl.us/transit
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you a lover of history? Do you enjoy walking? Would you enjoy a
weekend where you can leave your car at home, and walk nearly
anywhere you want? If you answered “yes” to at least 2 of
these questions, a visit to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia
may be your ideal getaway.
largest living history museum in the United States, Colonial
Williamsburg is a private not-for-profit foundation that
operates the restored 18th-century capital of colonial
Virginia. Anyone can walk the streets in the Historic Area and
shop in the stores around Merchants Square.
visit the buildings, craft shops, ride the shuttle buses, and
enjoy the concerts and other attractions that make this a
unique getaway, you need to purchase a ticket. The best value
is a Multi-Day ticket (good for 3 consecutive days) which costs
just a few dollars more than a one-day ticket. (You can save
by buying a Multi-Day ticket online.) If you plan to visit
several times during the year, an Annual Pass offers great
value. For current ticket prices, and to learn more about
attractions and special events, visit
don’t need a car to enjoy a weekend getaway here. Metro’s
Blue light rail Line will take you to Long Beach either from
Los Angeles’ Union Station, or (with 2 easy connections) Los
Angeles International Airport (LAX). Take the Blue Line to Long
Beach’s Transit Gallery station. Once here, it’s a short
walk to restaurants and hotels. Long Beach Transit’s
Passport buses (either free or $1.25-$4 for a day pass) will
take you to major attractions and walkable neighborhoods.
off your walking shoes and make your way to Long Beach! Long
Beach boasts more than 100 quality restaurants within an eight
block radius and many recognizable hotel brands along the
shoreline. The Pike at Rainbow Harbor in downtown Long Beach
features not only stunning views of the shoreline but exciting
nightclubs and a wide selection of restaurants. Share a laugh
with friends at the world’s largest comedy club, the Laugh
Factory. Sip a drink, enjoy the music and dance the night away
at The Auld Dubliner, Mai Tai Bar or Kavikas. ---Read
starting your trip, go to
more information about attractions, dining, and other
highlights along each of Metro’s rail and rapid bus line.
month, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, provided
an introduction to public transportation and other resources
for visitors who don’t want to drive.
month’s column (the 2nd
of 2 parts) is a special report by Richard Risemberg: a
lifelong resident of LA and writer on sustainable cities.
(Visit Rick’s two websites: http://www.bicyclefixation.com
Also, check out our March 2012 Car Free Journey column,
spotlighting Long Beach. In a future column, we will spotlight
Pasadena: home of the Rose Bowl and many other attractions.
Angeles might not be the first place you think of as a
destination for the automobile-averse tourist...after all,
isn't it the Sultan of Sprawl, a city sliced and diced by
freeways, hammered by traffic, and nowadays more famous for
parking woes than palm trees?
this is true...as far as it goes. But Los Angeles is so much
more. Much of the unknown LA we residents know so well is rich
in both transit and the kinds of pleasures that are best
sampled afoot. --Read
vacationers travel to southern Maine's ocean beaches, most
people sigh and join the traffic lines and congestion. They
assume anyone visiting Maine needs a car.
that doesn’t need to be true. Take AMTRAK’s Downeaster
train, from Boston (North Station) or Portland, Maine, to
the Wells (Maine) station, get off the train and transfer to
the Shoreline Explorer’s Shoreline Trolley (Route 4). The
Shoreline Explorer is a network of four summer trolley routes
(three are private operators), and three shuttle buses that
serve five beach communities in York County. Because many
beaches and hotels are located near a trolley stop, you don't
need a car to enjoy a vacation here.
Downeaster has five trains every day between Boston and
Portland, ME. Take the train to Wells, ME ($19 one-way from
Boston, or $11 from Portland). The Shoreline Trolley stops at
the station. --Read
you have a favorite vacation spot visitors can enjoy without
driving? Let us know. Perhaps, we can spotlight it in a future
column. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
with your comments or suggestions.
Angeles Union Station Mackerm
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