How to Plan a Car-Free Vacation in the Northeastern States

You may think a car-free vacation in the U.S isn’t possible. This itinerary shows you how. You’ll visit some of the country’s most walkable cities that are well connected by train and bus. Your car-free travels are not only doable but incredibly enjoyable.

Your reasons for seeking out a car-free vacation may be varied. Maybe it’s because you don’t drive, as is the case for many Europeans. Or perhaps you’re looking to take an eco-friendly vacation and reduce the impact of your vacation on the planet. Kudos to you! Or maybe you just don’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of driving in an unfamiliar city. Not to mention finding and paying sky-high rates for parking.  Whatever your reason, a good resource for your train and or bus tickets and schedules is GoTicket.


I’ve created a car-free itinerary that takes you to four of the most iconic cities in the Northeast States:


Washington D.C.

washington DC USA

Plan your trip to the nation’s capital by starting with a visit to the National Mall. The mall, as it’s more commonly called, is a national park. It runs from the Capitol Building to the Potomac River. You’ll find some of the country’s most famous monuments and memorials like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. In addition, it’s a great nature escape. There’s also free admission to the Smithsonian museums.  You can walk or explore the National Mall by bike. The National Park Service provides bike rentals at the Thompson Boat Center.

Washington D.C. is rated as the seventh most walkable city in the U.S. by Walk Score and also receives high marks for its public transportation. I used to live in nearby Annapolis and would spend hours strolling along the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, picking my dream home from the grand homes along the C&O Canal.

From Washington D.C. it’s less than a two-hour train ride to our next stop, Philadelphia.



Philadelphia is the 4th most walkable city in the U.S.

The city of brotherly love is the nation’s fourth most walkable city according to Walk Score. One of my favourite places in the entire city is Reading Terminal. It’s the country’s  oldest continuously operating farmers’ market. Tip: go hungry. You can also discover one of the city’s many museums and historical treasures. Or treat yourself to a 360° view of the city from the One Liberty Observation Deck.

Be sure to try the famous Philly Cheesesteak. Unsurprisingly, it’s the best one I’ve ever eaten in my life. I bought it from a street vendor in Philly which I still remember years later. They’re that good!

Next stop? The Big Apple. Just a 90-minute train ride away.


New York City

NYC was voted the most walkable city in the U.S.

Voted the country’s most walkable city you could spend weeks exploring the five boroughs that comprise NYC. Little Italy, the Flatiron District and Chinatown are the city’s most walkable neighborhoods.  When you need a break from the hustle and bustle, there’s no better place to recharge than with a walk in Central Park. Batteries recharged, it’s time to hit a Broadway show.

It may be hard to pull yourself away from NYC, but you’ll be glad you did. Our last stop is Boston. It takes anywhere between 3:36 – 5:13 hours to reach by train from New York City.



Boston is the 3rd most walkable city in the U.S.

The city dates back to 1630 making it one of the oldest cities in the entire U.S. As the country’s third most walkable city, you’ll want to check out the themed trails like the JFK Trail,  the Freedom Trail or the Boston Sports Trail to name just a few. There is an abundance of museums and galleries exhibiting its rich history. In addition, there’s also something for sports fans who will be enthused discovering hidden secrets about the Boston Red Sock and the New England Patriots.

I absolutely loved the Walk to the Sea which takes you on a walking tour of four hundreds years of historical landmarks, and skyscrapers finishing at Boston Harbour.

That includes our car-free tour of the northeast. You want to get the most from your vacation and this itinerary of four walkable cities in the northeastern states shows you how.  You’ll spend less time travelling from one place to the next, giving you more time to spend exploring.

A car-free vacation without compromising is possible. Let the train, bus and walking journey begin!

visit these 4 walkable cities in the northeastern states for a car free vacation

Images by: Nicolas Raymont, Michael W Murphy, Jerry Ferguson, Jeff Gunn from Flickr Creative Commons.

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their hiking, cycling and wildlife vacations in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.



  1. Irfan February 24, 2017 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Car free vacation gives you a non- hetick tour, enjoy with your luxurious journey.

    • Laurel February 27, 2017 at 12:20 pm - Reply

      @Ifran – Agreed! I’m a big fan of train travel where possible.

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