No-car vacations from coast to coast

/ Source: Sherman's Travel

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Fall 2008

The deal: Vacations are all about leaving reality behind, if only for a while. What better way to park the day-to-day than to opt for a car-free retreat? No carpool duty, no wallet-busting gas tabs, no traffic jams — of the vehicular variety, anyway. Act quickly to enjoy the hotel deals we found in these virtually car-less destinations, from Nantucket to Mackinac Island and Aspen to Avalon. Nightly rates start at just $143/night!

The Cottages, Nantucket
To get in on the lively tourist season that stretches from late May through early October on this charming, historic island named from the native Wampanoag word for “faraway land,” you’ll want to jump at the special offered by The Cottages at the Boat Basin. The property, featuring 29 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages with waterfront locations or harbor views is cutting fall rates by 35 percent. That means rooms are starting at just $143/night. Despite its etymology, Nantucket is a mere 50-minute flight from Boston and a one-hour fast ferry ride from Hyannis, Mass.

Hotel Iroquois, Mackinac Island
Ferries from either Michigan’s Lower Peninsula or Upper Peninsula will whisk you to the sandy shores of this Great Lakes getaway, where horse-drawn buggies share the road with bicycling visitors, and Victorian architecture and fudge shops abound. Ready to go? We recommend the 46-room waterfront Hotel Iroquois, named one of Travel + Leisure’s top 500 hotels, which has special rates on select dates through October. Starting at $175/night, these include baggage service; complimentary coffee or tea service; and reduced ferry tickets.

Sky Hotel, Aspen
Aspen’s appeal extends beyond the mountain scenery, skiing and shopping. The city’s compact layout means hotels and restaurants are all easy to walk to, bike paths abound and free shuttles take visitors all over town, year-round. The Sky Hotel whose Aspen Gold package includes 15 percent off accommodations, starting at $178/night, is a good slopeside bet for those looking for hip, modern, centrally located digs. Shuttles connect Aspen to the airport as well, so you can fly directly into Aspen/Pitkin County Airport and leave the car keys behind.

Avalon Hotel, California
For a Mediterranean getaway, California-style, look no further than Catalina Island. The one-square-mile town of Avalon and surrounding rocky landscape is easy to navigate on foot, bike or handy golf carts available for rent. Book a midweek stay through August at the posh Avalon Hotel, where the roof terrace provides exquisite views of picturesque Avalon Bay, and receive $50 off your nightly tab. High season room rates range between $295-495/night.

The dollars
The quoted Nantucket discount is valid Sunday-Thursday Sept. 2-Oct. 6, and from Oct. 7-Nov. 1. Regular nightly fall rates for studios range from $208 to $490.

At the Iroquois, the quoted price is for garden-view rooms; suites range from $320-$400 under the deal.

The Sky Hotel package is valid Sept. 14-Oct. 31, includes complimentary valet parking for one vehicle and a $25 gas card. It requires a 10-day advance purchase.

The Cool Summer Savings special at the Avalon is valid Sunday-Thursday during July and August. If you can wait to visit until October, off-season prices start at $195.

The catch
With the popularity of the above destinations, these discounts for prime dates will sellout quickly and by October, parkas may be more practical than flip-flops. (Although Catalina Island’s weather remains pleasant year-round.)

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