Special Report

Places Where Cars Are Not Allowed

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Giethoorn, Netherlands

This lovely Dutch village, 75 miles from Amsterdam, is actually a group of tiny peat islands connected by bridges. There are no roads or cars, and the silence adds to the village’s picturesque allure. Visitor and residents get around by foot or bicycle along the village paths and across its many pedestrian bridges, or by boat through its network of canals. There is a nearby wildlife park, also accessible by boat.

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Smith Island, Maryland

Smith Island, in the Chesapeake Bay, is home to 276 residents, whose heritage dates back to the earliest dates of European settlement. As they’ve always done, they make their living mainly by crabbing. Though many locals drive cars and trucks, tourists are not permitted to bring motorized vehicles to the island and must rely on golf carts or shoe leather. There isn’t much in the way of the usual tourists accommodation available, but visitors come for the boat ride over and the back-in-time feel.

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Cività di Bagnoregio, Italy

Cività is a 2500-year-old Etruscan Village, clinging to the edge of a cliff in central Italy. Several earthquakes over the course of time have taken their toll on the structures and the population, but people still live here and warmly welcome visitors. Tourists park in the “modern” city of Bagnoregio below and hike the steep path upward — and back into the Middle Ages — where they enjoy events in the main piazza, explore the narrow streets and historic buildings, and eat in the local restaurants.

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Fire Island, New York

Fire Island is a popular vacation destination off the coast of Long Island and readily accessible from the New York City metropolitan area. The 31-mile-long island is home to protected beaches, 17 resort communities, and a state park, a county park, and two national wildlife preserves. Access is by ferry to the walkable resorts and parks, and on-island travel is by foot and bicycle — with little red wagons serving as a popular means of carrying goods and possessions.

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Catalina Island, California

Though not strictly car-free, Catalina discourages motorized vehicles, with tight restrictions and decades-long waiting lists for car permits. But getting around the island is not a problem; there are taxi and trolley services, hotel shuttles, and bicycles and golf carts for rent. And the main town of Avalon, less than three square miles in size, is quite walkable. People visit the island for its shops, art, museums, restaurants, and endless recreational opportunities — including a zip line eco tour, water sports, golf, camping, hiking, and biking.