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?

Six great North Carolina sights

North Carolina has long harbored a startling wealth of attractions the “natives” have quietly keep to themselves. But no longer. From the undiscovered locales of Carolina’s magnificent coast to the lesser-known spots further inland, it’s time to share these venues with the rest of the world. Come along as we investigate some of North Carolina’s most picturesque and unique attractions.

The North Carolina Coast
Start on the coast in Wilmington at EUE Screen Gems Studio’s “Hollywood East,” the largest movie studio this side of the Mississippi. Home to more than 350 films, television shows and commercials, tours run on Saturdays and Sundays at noon and at 2 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Other times of the year, tours run on Saturday only. The one-hour walking tour takes visitors through sets for the series,”One Tree Hill.” It’s like being an insider to the film industry, looking at back lots and stages during an easy walk.

Within a 30 minute drive of the studio is Carolina Beach State Park where carnivorous Venus Flytrap plants live. Ask the ranger for information, as the plants are protected. Native in a 60 to 75 mile radius of Wilmington, the modified leaves of these plants trap insects, then secrete a digestive fluid so they can absorb nutrients from the insect. The park also offers camping, nice walking trails and a small beach suitable for launching kayaks into the Cape Fear River. Fort Fisher and the NC Aquarium are only minutes away.

Continuing up the coast, head to Topsail Island, which is home to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. It’s worth standing in line for a short while to get a close look at turtles cared for in the facility. Most of them have head and carapace fractures due to boat propellers or injuries from being caught in nets. Whatever the ailment, they are treated with medications and lots of love by a cast of volunteers. Jean Beasley, Animal Planet’s 2007 Hero of the Year, started the center in honor of her daughter in 1996. Closed in winter, the center is open June through August from 2 to 4 p.m.; closed Wednesdays and Sundays.

Continuing on the coast to Beaufort, look across at wild horses–looking back at you–from the islands paralleling this historical town. The Rachel Carson Coastal Estuarine Reserve serves as a sanctuary for these ancestors of horses left ashore by crashed boats in centuries gone by. Tame horses can be rented for beach rides in the area and kayak rentals give visitors a superb way to explore the coast. Nearby Cape Lookout, accessible only by water, offers the chance to explore the lighthouse and search for photo-perfect sea shells. You can arrange for a water taxi from Harkers Island.

North Carolina Inland
North Carolina’s hidden sights aren’t just on the coast. There’s plenty to see further inland as well. Head toward Seagrove where many eighth and ninth generation potters continue crafting their work. Visitors make a day of trailing around from one potter’s studio to another, chatting with the artists, finding every texture, style and glaze she could want.

Pack the pottery in the car and finish in the western part of the state at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Cool in summer, but hot with activity on seven different rivers–you can paddle, raft, fish, or ride the rapids. Take it easy with children as young as three or whoop it up on Class IV rapids. The store at NOC stocks all types of outdoor gear, so you can look good even if you stand on the bridge and observe.

No matter what your interest, these North Carolina sights offer something worth discovering – check them out!

Jasmine Lounge

JasmineAs some of you may remember I am on the road touring for HP. While I’m working very hard out here in the Northeast I’m making sure I grab every opportunity possible to stay far away from chain restaurants to try the local and new tasty flavors. I do this mainly because I love getting the word out on good food as well as bad food on menus less explored, but also because it gives something to serve you here on Gadling. (Yes, I know – everything I do, I do it for you.)

My latest stop for lunch was at the Jasmine Lounge found in Wilmington, Delaware. The Zagat rated restaurant serves Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines. When I drove by the first time all I spotted was Sushi so I had my mind set on a roll of Hamachi with scallion and some miso, although the Vietnamese dishes sounded extremely tempting too. Considering how I was on a late lunch break, the place was pretty quiet. There were a couple of patrons scattered throughout the large size restaurant and lounge. I soaked in the silence as I slurped down my miso soup. Something about the seaweed in this particular bowl was extra delicious. The Hamachi and scallion roll was equally tasty, though I’d have to say it didn’t knock my socks off. I also ended up ordering the house salad, which was okay, but the ginger dressing didn’t thrill me either. So my overall thoughts about the food – it’s good. There are tons of other items I’d love to come back and sample one day, but I don’t know what the chances of me spending time in Wilmington are like outside of work related reasons.

Anyhow, in the evening the restaurant turns into a lively lounge where people drop in for drinks, eats and after work gossip I’m sure. If you’re in Wilmington one day stop in to fill up and share your own thoughts.

Jasmine is located at 3618 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803. Ph. 302.479.5618. www.jasminelounge.com