Unfasten Your Seat Belts! Tired of gas prices, traffic and kids screaming in the backseat? Whether you're looking for a romantic, family or exotic getaway, we've got America's best summer hot spots where cars are literally banned from the roads.
Best Romantic Getaway
North Captiva Island, Fla.
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. 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, from $1,200 for a week.
Best Family Getaway
Mackinac Island, Mich.
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. The Harbour View Inn has pillared porches and plenty of floral prints, from $129. Save room for a box of fudge from Murdick's, the most popular souvenir on the island. It's the reason locals call tourists "fudgies."
Best Outdoor Getaway
Catalina Island, Calif.
The car is king in California, but golf carts rule the streets of this island an hour by Catalina Express ferry from Long Beach. Rent your own golf cart and do the loop up to the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden, landscaped with native plants. Carts aren't allowed in the interior, where 200 buffalo roam, but Discovery Tours offers trips to the region. Since 1896, the Hermosa Hotel has had the cheapest lodging on the island, from $45.
Best Exotic Getaway
Daufuskie Island, S.C.
Daufuskie Island has a unique Gullah population. They're descendants of African slaves who brought with them such traditions as sweetgrass basket weaving. The live-and-let-live vibe is on full display at Marshside Mama's, which serves a delicious low-country gumbo to whoever traipses in—locals, visitors, even the occasional dog. Stay at the Daufuskie Island Resort, from $169. The resort's plantation-style mansion and oceanfront cottages are spread across 1,200 of the island's 5,000 acres.
Best Guys Getaway
Smith Island, Md.
The five-square-mile speck is an active fishing community, and evidence of the islanders' livelihood is everywhere. The daily ferry to Ewell docks right by Ruke's Seafood Deck, known for its crab cakes. Nearby, the Smith Island Cultural Center displays tools of the crabbing. In the town of Tylerton, accessible only by boat, women pick crabmeat from their husbands' haul to sell at the Smith Island Crabmeat Co-op. If you're not ready to rejoin civilization in Ewell, the Inn of Silent Music overlooks the sound, from $110. The Smith Island Cake was just declared Maryland's official state dessert.
Best Remote Getaway
Monhegan Island, Maine