Tuesday, August 4, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

10 US Cities Where You Don’t Need to Rent a Car

Trying to slim up your vacation budget—or your waistline? A great way to get lighter on both accounts is by skipping a rental car and walking during your next big trip! While this isn’t always possible, there are plenty of United States cities that offer the ability to walk everywhere. Even those that aren’t pedestrian friendly often offer car alternatives, like subway or affordable bus systems! Forget the car on your next trip to any of these great U.S. metro destinations.

1    Boston

The weather may not be the best for pedestrians during the coldest months of the year, but it is beautiful during spring, summer, and early fall! Forget about the rental car and stroll through Boston’s historic streets. After all, these were designed in an era before motor vehicles, and that is the best way to experience them today. There are many walking tours you can take in the city, too! If you need to get a little further than your feet can go, take a bus or water taxi. It’s cheaper than daily parking.
2    Chicago

The Windy City doesn’t belong to cars; it belongs to pedestrians and bikers. Usually, you’ll see more people using calories rather than gas to fuel their excursions. Although you’ll probably want a car during winter (unless you’re the abominable snowman), you can definitely be outdoors the rest of the year. One of the cheapest and best ways to get around Chicago is by the Divvy bike sharing system, which costs less than $10 per day and allows you to ride a bike any time you need it. And of course, there’s always the bus and rapid transit system that the locals use daily to get from place to place.
3    Honolulu

Hawaii’s big city is a metropolitan center, but it’s still a slice of paradise. The tourist area is all pretty much in the same general region, and you really don’t need to go far to do the interesting things. The weather is nice and balmy year-round, with constant sunshine during the tourist season. Ditch the wheels and walk! You’ll love strolling past the open-air shops, aromatic restaurants, and beautiful beaches. Besides the fun, walking also saves you a lot of money. While you won’t really need a rental car in Honolulu, you’ll pay a pretty penny to park it. So skip the cost and stick with the fun of strolling through this Hawaiian city.
4   Minneapolis

This Minnesota city has overcome the harsh elements with a temperature-controlled walkway system called the Skywalk System. Get from building to building without ever having to step foot in the frigid weather outside! The system connects apartment complexes, businesses, and interesting attractions for a whopping 69 blocks over 11 miles. Now, that is impressive, and it sure beats scraping ice off a windshield! Or getting all sweaty in the muggy summers, for that matter. Want to walk outside when the weather is nice? You can do this, of course, and take advantage of the great public transport system. And, believe it or not Minneapolis is one of the most bike friendly destinations in the world!
5    New York City

This is one of those places where you really won’t ever need a car. And not only that, you won’t want a car while you’re there. Parking is massively expensive, and driving the streets is slow, frustrating, and confusing. Manhattan in particular is pretty much a no-go for rental cars. Just stick with the subways, and if you need to go somewhere far, you can always take a taxi! Every driving service you can imagine is available here, as well.
New York City
6    Philadelphia

This city was designed by William Penn as a walking city way back in the 1600s. Of course, there were only a couple dozen blocks back then! Still, the city’s heart and historic area is the best place to visit as a tourist, and it’s the place where you’ll want to spend all your time if you visit the City of Brotherly Love. Forget the car and take a stroll through the historic avenues. If you need to get into the more modern parts of the city, no worries—you can take a bus, trolley, subway, or train.
7    Portland

Oregon’s weirdest city is also one of its best biking cities. It’s not unusual to see the city’s residents biking wherever they need to go. Not only is it great for cyclists, it’s also an excellent place to walk around. The city is pretty small, so you don’t have to go too far see everything. If you need public transport, you can get that, too—there’s a light rail system, buses, and plenty of Uber or Lyft drivers available. The one drawback to not having a car in Portland is that it rains—a lot. However, a good umbrella and a friendly Uber driver can keep you undeterred.
8    San Antonio

While Texas in general isn’t very good for traveling without a car, San Antonio is a wonderful exception. Once you’re in the heart of the city, you can walk just about anywhere! Take the river walk for a chance to see some of the best attractions in the city, or float down the river on boat to get where you need to go. Touristy, yes, but also fun and useful! You can also walk many of the interested places around the city’s historic district, from the Alamo to more bizarre attractions like Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
San Antonio
9    San Francisco

Like New York, this crowded city has busy streets and an excellent transport system. If you need to get around, you can easily take a bus. A bus pass is pretty cheap, so you’ll save a whole lot if you opt for public transport over a rental car. If you’re visiting, you might even just like walking around and going even cheaper. The city is filled with interesting things to see, and you won’t miss a thing if you use your own two legs to get around.
San Francisco
10    Washington, D.C.

If you’ve ever walked the entire length of the National Mall, you know that this city can leave you with a pair of extremely sore feet. On the bright side, though, you can burn a lot of calories in a day! While walking seems like a bit much in D.C., driving isn’t really necessary, since everything is pretty close and parking is more trouble than it is worth. If you visit the city, you’re stuck with three options: sore feet, splitting up the attractions into multiple days, or finding alternate transport. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative transportation options! You can use the subway, or sacrifice your dignity and rent a Segway. Or, get a bike for your trip!
Washington, D.C
Go green, burn some calories, and save money! There really isn’t any reason to not go car-free when doing the tourist circuit in these cities. Get to know local life a little better, slow down, and have a new experience. You won’t miss a rental car at all!


  1. Yassine
    September 16, 2017 - 1:16 pm

    This article is very helpful, for someone who want to go green, and save some money, i come from a city where you don’t need a car most of the time, (except summer of course), so i know that this list could be very important for many travellers

  2. September 18, 2017 - 8:56 am

    Hey, I’m a nature lover and I mostly walk and bicycle. I’ve my own business two streets away from my home, so I don’t have to care about anyone. This list has great places in it and I’ve shared this article in my Whatsapp circle. Good work bro.

  3. Kyle N.
    September 20, 2017 - 9:40 am

    Washington, D.C. is somewhere I would not have thought to actually not need a rental car but it makes sense. I guess it is more crowded and compact than I thought. I have been to New York City as well as Chicago and both are just easier to rely on taxis and ubers to get around than renting a car.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *