Everybody knows that America is the land of highways, freeways, roadways, byways, parkways, longways, shortways…ok we made up the last two. But you know, they might exist somewhere out there. Americans are known for using cars. And if they need to go farther than their car will take them, they use the plane. And that’s pretty much it. Once you get to your destination airport, you rent a car! Americans live their whole lives in cars! Ok, hold up. There is some truth to that. But there are plenty of places in Europe where people use cars more than public transport too. And besides, America is a pretty diverse land. It’s not all just cars and suburbs. The northeast is very similar to Europe. In fact, in some parts, owning a car is the exception and not the norm. There are high speed trains that run from Washington DC to Boston daily. And other places like the Midwest (Chicago), Cascadia (Seattle, Portland), and California (San Fransisco and LA) are actually covered with extensive public transport grids, its just that they don’t receive much publicity. To be honest, it is wholly possible to live in the US and never get behind the wheel of a car. These are 25 American cities where you don’t need a car.
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Los Angeles, California
Ok, hear us out. We know, it’s the epitomy of car culture, but depending on where you live in LA, you can actually make it work. Between car sharing, uber, metro, light rail, and busses, it is possible. Maybe not your preference, but it’s possible.
While it’s not the first place you think of going without a car, between buses, walking, and biking, it is possible to make it work.
Thanks to being in the Boston metropolitan area, living here without a car is not a problem.
Being so close to the nation’s capital, Arlington shares lively neighborhoods with great transport options. It’s an ideal place to live without a car.
Thanks to being highly bikeable and walkable, along with decent light rail and bus systems, it is definitely possible to live in Sacramento without a car.
Located in the Bay Area, the region is known for having above average walkability. And in spite of Oakland’s bad rep, it has cleaned up a lot. These days it is a vibrant city with arts, culture, and of course, sunshine. The best neighborhoods for going car free are Downtown and Laney College.
Charlotte, North Carolina
It’s not the best place in the world to go carless, but it is certainly possible. You just have to make sure you are close to the public transport (bus, light rail). Neighborhoods like Plaza Midwood are the best.
Twin Cities, Minnesota
Between light rail, busses, and walking, there are many parts of this metropolis in which a car wouldn’t be necessary. The farther you get from the center though, the harder it will be.
This will largely depend on where you live in the metro area. North Point, Murray Hill, and Juneau Town are some of the best when it comes to walkability.
Newark, New Jersey
Although it’s not as well connected as some of the other New Jersey cities on this list, New Jersey is one of the densest states in the union, so it’s not a surprise that it would show up on this list so much. Pro-tip: the closer you get to NYC, the better the transport gets.
New Haven, Connecticut
Two things make New Haven navigable without a car – its compactness, and the fact that it is a university town (Yale). Bikes and busses would be the preferred alternative forms of transport here.
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Hoboken, New Jersey
This little city is right across from downtown NYC and as you may suspect, its neighborhoods are extremely well connected to public transport.
Jersey City, New Jersey
Full of young professionals who commute to Manhattan everyday, Jersey City is a great place to get by without a car. And you’ve got a great view of downtown!
Buffalo, New York
Although car used is dominant in the city, there are many areas where you won’t need a vehicle. Light rail and busses will do the trick.
Unless you are living in the suburbs, many neighborhoods are very well connected. Downtown, the Pearl District, and Northwest Portland are three of the best.
Depending on where you live, having a car might be more of a hassle in Baltimore than going car free. The bus and light rail are pretty good.
As long as you live in Brickell, Downtown, or South Beach, your need for a car will be limited to visiting friends in the suburbs.
You’ll probably notice that many of the cities on our list can be found in the northeast corridor, and Boston is no exception. Living here without a car isn’t much of a problem.
Although it’s not the first city that comes to mind when considering car-free living, Denver has a relatively well developed public transit system. You can even get into the nearby Rocky Mountains via train.
Seattle is an extremely compact and easy to navigate city. There are even some ways to get into the nearby mountains (like in Denver) using public transport. Europeans and others seem to have little trouble acclimating here.
Like most major cities, unless you plan on living in some distant suburbs, within the city itself you can easily get around. Philly has always ranked high for its walkability.
San Fransisco, California
Except for some outlying neighborhoods, public transport in the Bay Area is relatively good. Just remember, the closer you get to downtown San Fransisco, the less you will need a car.
The New York City of the midwest, Chicago is proud of its transport (Chicago Transit Authority). Most neighborhoods can be accessed by metro, bus, or foot.
The nation’s capital is extremely well connected. The metro runs all the way to the airport and most of the suburbs can be accessed by by public transport.
New York City, New York
Of course, the Big Apple comes first. Here, owning a car is the exception and not the norm.