5 U.S. Beaches You Can Get to Without a Car

Beaches with a car - Chicago's Oak Street Beach
Flickr, Tom Gill

Summer may be winding down, but there are still a few weekends left to spend at the beach. Rather than sit in traffic or rent an expensive car, you can ride public transportation to many beaches in the U.S. Seasonal routes are especially likely to be popular, so go early and pack light.

Boston – CapeFLYER train to Cape Cod
Reintroduced this summer, the CapeFLYER train goes every weekend from Boston out to Hyannis, connecting to ferries for Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and buses up and down Cape Cod. Fares are from $18 from South Station, with a few bucks’ savings if you buy round trip. You can bring a bike, get concessions onboard and get free Wi-Fi. The train will run through Columbus Day, October 14.

Chicago – El train to Oak Street Beach
Not everyone thinks of this city smack in the midwest as a beach town, but thanks to Lake Michigan, there are more beaches around Chicago than Bermuda. There are many to choose from, but Oak Street Beach is the most central with the most spectacular skyline view. It’s a few blocks from the El train at Clark and Division, though a bus up Lake Shore Drive will get you there closer. Beaches are free and open until Labor Day, but you can enjoy the water views year round. CTA fares are $2.25, with deductions for transit cards.Los Angeles – Big Blue Bus to Santa Monica
While it’s a major car city, there are ways to get to Santa Monica and Venice Beach from downtown Los Angeles without wheels. The Big Blue Bus serves all of Santa Monica and connects to Venice Beach as well. Fares are just $1, with day passes available. LA Metro has rapid buses to Venice Beach, with fares from $1.50. A new light rail line will connect Santa Monica to downtown LA, getting you on the beach even faster.

New York – A train to Far Rockaway
New Yorkers are lucky to have lots of options for sand and swimming, from Brooklyn‘s Brighton Beach to Long Island‘s Jones Beach, and Rockaway Beach in Queens has long been an urban favorite. While it suffered a lot from last year’s superstorm Sandy, it’s back in a big way, with many boardwalk concessions reopened and a new boutique hotel. A $2.50 subway fare gets you there on the A train, and there’s also a weekend-only ferry from downtown Manhattan if you’d like a more scenic (and spendy, at $20 one way) ride.

Washington, D.C. – DC2NY bus to Delaware beaches
While a bit much for a day trip, budget bus company DC2NY offers seasonal shuttles to Delaware‘s Rehoboth (one of Dr. Beach‘s favorites in the country) and Dewey beaches from Washington, as well as Wilmington and New York. The trip takes about 2½ hours, leaving Friday night and weekend mornings through Labor Day. Fares are $39 each way, but you do get Wi-Fi, a power outlet and a bottle of water.

What are your favorite beaches to visit without a car?

Fall Colors Make For A Great Road Trip

Autumn, when people travel to the Northeast and Northwest to view colorful fall foliage areas of the United States, peaks around Columbus Day weekend (October 5-8). In many areas, this year’s foliage is in looks to be better and more vibrant than last year. After a dry, hot summer trees will begin to turn color in the next few weeks.

“Hardwood foliage appears to be in better-than-average condition, overall,” says Bill Ostrofsky, a forest pathologist at the Maine Forest Service on Maine Foliage, the state of Maine’s official fall foliage website. “There have been no occurrences of serious or widespread insect defoliation, so to date the Maine forest has the potential to have a great season this year.”

If a road trip, tour or cruise for fall foliage season or just a nice hike in the woods is in your plans, here are some places not to miss.

Hiking trails at Maine’s Aroostook State Park in Presque Isle provides popular foliage viewing from Quaggy Joe Mountain, a moderate climb perfect for a beginner or family hike.

Camden Hills State Park provides spectacular views of fall foliage available from a road that goes to the top of Mt. Battie, as well as from hiking trails on Mt. Megunticook and Bald Rock Mountain.

Grafton Notch State Park, in Maine’s western viewing area, has roadside turnouts, picnic areas and trails that offer excellent views of the Mahoosuc Mountains and the Presidential Range. Trails lead to popular lookouts, such as the Eyebrow and Table Rock, and trails and lookouts on the Bureau of Parks and Lands’ Mahoosuc Management Unit.The city of Kent, Connecticut was voted “Favorite Foliage Town” in a poll conducted by YankeeFoliage.com, Yankee Magazine’s fall foliage website. A drive to Lake Waramaug is one of several suggested fall foliage-driving tours.

Chatfield Hollow State Park (Killingworth), also in Connecticut, offers Indian caves, wooded trails and jagged rocky ledges fill the park. Oak, beech and hickory trees bring out the best colors of fall and are the perfect setting for a peaceful picnic.

Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill) is a good choice for some family action. Kids will love hiking along the wooded trails of the park and seeing Jurassic-period dinosaur tracks that date back 200 years.

Wadsworth Falls State Park (Middletown) offers reddish-brown rocks tinged with green that amplify the fall colors in this hideaway tucked between Middletown and Middlefield. Travelers can enjoy a hike through wooded trails with meandering streams, a covered bridge and waterfalls.

In the Northwest U.S., the state of Washington suggests the Washington Park Arboretum, Mount Baker and Mount Rainier as good choices for fall color. They have a toll-free hotline for more information (1-800-354-4595).




Flickr photo by ra_hurd

Most popular cities for celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving

canadian thanksgiving in torontoMonday, known in the United States as the Columbus Day holiday, holds another name in Canada – Canadian Thanksgiving, which means that this is a three-day weekend throughout much of North America.

Thus, Hotwire has compiled the most popular cities for celebrating, based on both room nights booked and total price.

“While Thanksgiving means family time to many, others see this three day weekend as an opportunity to pack a few overnighters and take a short leisure trip to a big city,” said Clem Bason, President of the Hotwire Group. “With popular Canadian cities seeing a dip in business travel over the holiday and the Canadian dollar nearly on par with the US dollar, there are deals abound in both Canada and the US. Travelers should take advantage of the Thanksgiving weekend discounts, and it looks like many of them already are.”

Destination

Average Price on Hotwire

1.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

$86

2.

New York City, New York

$231

3.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

$103

4.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

$99

5.

Chicago, Illinois

$117

6.

Boston, Massachusetts

$166

7.

Las Vegas, Nevada

$106

8.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

$64

9.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

$93

10.

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

$79

Sadly, these trends don’t extend to airfare – flying this weekend appears to be expensive!

Climb aboard one of Christopher Columbus’s ships

Whether or not one thinks that Christopher Columbus’s voyage across the Atlantic to the Americas is a day to celebrate, the 1492 journey of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria was an amazing feat.

Although Columbus and his men made it to the Bahamas on October 12– more then 500 years ago, it’s still possible to see what it would have been like to travel on one of these ships during the 15th century.

These days, life-size replicas of the Santa Maria, the Niña and the Pinta serve as floating museums. Although the Santa Maria is permanently located on the Scioto River in downtown Columbus, Ohio, the Niña–and most recently the Pinta, travel to various ports.

The Niña, built to commemorate 500 years of Columbus’s voyage, has been to 425 ports since its beginning. The Pinta, larger than the original version, was built in 2006 and also serves as a dockside charter that can be rented out for parties whenever it is docked.

Both of those ships are owned by the Columbus Foundation in the British Virgin Islands.

Tomorrow is the last day that the Pinta and the Niña will be in Huntington, West Virginia. On the 16th to the 20th, they’ll be in Marietta, Ohio and will finish off October in Steubenville, another Ohio river town.

For the schedule that includes the rest of the year, click here. The two ships will finish off the 2009 season in Pensacola, Florida.

As a note: The Santa Maria will be open until October 25th when it will close until April 2010.

Gadlinks for Monday 10.12.09

Is it just me or do you too wonder why we still celebrate Columbus Day? I think it’s fair to say Columbus did not in fact discover the Americas, so why does he get a day in the limelight? To honor today’s holiday, I thought I’d offer up some interesting holiday-related reads to get your mind thinking about the next strange day off just around the corner: Thanksgiving.

‘Til tomorrow, have a great evening!

More Gadlinks HERE.