While there are a myriad of islands that claim the U.S. as home, there are a select few that hold the designation of having no cars in sight. Offering a step back in time and the bliss of noise-free beaches, each one of these destinations provides visitors a unique type of relaxation.
Monhegan Island, Maine
At last count, less than 100 people claimed full-time residency on this tiny island off the coast of Maine. Long an inspiration to art and artists, Monhegan has played host to a number of artistic luminaries from Edward Hopper to Rockwell Kent, all drawn to the island's beautiful, rocky terrain. Don’t leave without a visit to the Monhegan Island Light, the island’s original lighthouse (originally built for just $3,000) and now a solar-powered fixture still in use.
Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
The island that inspired Pat Conroy’s heartbreaking memoir The Water Is Wide is now home to Haig Point, a private community on an island so idyllic, it just may inspire you to invest in a golf cart of your own. You’ll find residents and visitors riding their carts all around the island—not just on the links—and always with a friendly wave or hello for a newcomer. Just be sure to pace yourself when enjoying a Scrap Iron, a Southern-style Long Island Iced Tea, and the house special at the Old Daufuskie Crab Company.
Fire Island, New York
New Yorkers looking for a Hamptons alternative have long been familiar with Fire Island, which is free of paved roads. Bicycles are the transportation of choice along the boardwalks and sandy paths, and guests and residents have charmingly taken to wheeling groceries around in long wooden carts. For the nightlife crowd, there are options for every orientation, from Ocean Beach to the Pines, yet the island’s nature is the real gem here. Make time to explore the Sunken Forest, a maritime preserve more than 200 years old.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Popularized during the Victorian era, Mackinac Island offers a refreshing glimpse into the glamorous past of railroad tycoons and shipping barons. These industries were responsible for the creation of the Grand Hotel, which opened in 1887 and still stands today. Walk through town or catch a horse-drawn carriage as you imagine life on the island as it must have once been.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest