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Even though I’m a motor-head, I can see the appeal of some of these quite oases in nature. Whether it’s because of the mountains or sea, here are four towns in the United States that are either inaccessible by car, or chose to remain car-free sanctuaries.

Monhegan Island, Maine

View of a Maine island's harbor town from a nearby mountaintop.
Monhegan Island, Maine | j76n via iStockPhoto

I love the islands of Maine. Some small islands have relatively high populations of lobsterman. And while many are small enough to walk across, I’ve found most residents keep an “island car,” at least for hauling things. But Monhegan Island is different. As of the 2020, the island had just 64 year-round residents. Though it has a village on the shore, much of its interior is only accessible via its 17 miles of hiking trails. The gorgeous island has attracted countless artists over the decades, and is a popular day trip for tourists. But you can’t bring your car on the ferry, so remember your hiking boots.

Halibut Cove, Alaska

The harbor of Halibut Cove, Alaska.
Halibut Cover, Alaska | John Pennell via iStockPhoto

On the opposite end of the country from Monhegan is Halibut Cove in Alaska. This town is definitely on my bucket list. It is on the distant tip of the peninsula that protects Anchorage from the open ocean. Much of the town is technically on an island, but its just 500 feet from the main land. This cove is surrounded by the absolutely gorgeous Kenai Mountain Range which plunges dramatically into the Pacific. So instead of roads, its 74 residents are connected to the rest of the world by ferry boat. “Main street” is the marina.

Supai, Arizona

Mule train returns from carrying the mail to Supai, Arizona in the Grand Canyon
Supai, Arizona | cilohtac3 via iStockPhoto

Compared to Monhegan Island and Halibut Cove, 201-resident Supai is a teeming metropolis. But because it lies 2,000 feet down the Grand Canyon, getting in or out requires an eight-mile hike. No ferries here, Supai actually has the distinction of being the last place in the U.S. that still gets its mail via pack mule. Most of this mail consists of food deliveries for the residents. Supai certainly has tourists. But with only one lodge renting rooms, it’s never very crowded.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

View of the carless village in Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island, Michigan | Xi Wang via iStockPhoto

Mackinac island lies between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas. It is very much a summer tourist destination, though also has 583 official residents. The Ojibwe people named it for its turtle-like shape. The island is about four square miles, half of which is a preserve. Its harbor town includes a main street, stores, hotels, and no cars. This is part of the island’s appeal for many tourists who rent bicycles or hire horses and carriages to get around. That’s one way to take a vacation from motor city.