A July 17 Travel article incorrectly said that Michigan's Mackinac Island is in Lake Michigan. It is in Lake Huron. (Published 7/20/2005)
Fuel costs are enough to make you abandon the car on the side of the road. So do just that. Maroon yourself on an island where vehicles are banned. Several small islands in the United States don't permit cars, making visitors and residents use other modes of transportation, including bicycles, horse-drawn carriages and golf carts.
-- Elissa Leibowitz Poma
* Bald Head Island, N.C.
Perfect for: Families wanting beaches untouched by little more than loggerhead turtles.
What's there: A few miles off the southeast coast of North Carolina, the 14-mile-long barrier island mostly is a protected maritime forest and salt marsh. The island has stellar bird watching and alligator spotting, and nature enthusiasts walk the beaches at night in search of loggerheads. There's a golf course, croquet greens, pools and a handful of restaurants and shops.
Getting there/around: The ferry from Southport, N.C., is 20 minutes. Cost is $15 round trip unless included with your house rental; reservations suggested, 910-457-5003. Once on the island, zip around in an electric golf cart.
Where to stay: About 150 condos, cottages and houses are rented through Bald Head Island Ltd., the partnership that owns the island. Rentals include temporary membership at two clubs and at least one electric cart. Rates from $243 a night (minimum stays required in summer). Info: 800-432-7368, www.baldheadisland.com.
Don't miss: An ascent of Old Baldy, the island's only beacon and North Carolina's oldest (1817).
Info: 800-515-1038, www.baldheadisland.com.
* Catalina Island, Calif.
Perfect for: Fans of Old Hollywood looking for a classic California experience sans smog.
What's there: Catalina is 22 miles west of Los Angeles in the Pacific, making it a paparazzi-free getaway for celebs -- and regular folks, too. The Mediterranean-style town of Avalon has played host to the famous for decades. For the less star-struck, the island's waters are a great place to snorkel and scuba dive.
Getting there/around: Take an hour-long ferry from several spots (from $38 round trip; check www.catalina.com for a list) or via a 15-minute helicopter ride with Island Express (800-228-2566; $140 round trip). Around town, rent a bike or ride the Avalon trolley ($1.50 one way). (A few cars are allowed by permit only.)
Where to stay: Catalina has about 30 hotels and B&Bs. Author Zane Grey's 1926 home is the 16-room Pueblo Hotel (310-510-0966, www.zanegreypueblohotel.com; from $85). The six-room Inn on Mount Ada (800-608-7669, www.catalina.com/mtada/main.htm; from $320) is the former home of gum magnate William Wrigley Jr.
Don't miss: A trip to see descendants of buffalo brought to Catalina for a 1924 movie filming.
Info: 310-510-1520, www.catalina.com.
* Mackinac Island, Mich.
Perfect for: History buffs interested in the nation's military past, French fur-trading and fudge shops.
What's there: Mackinac Island -- in northern Lake Michigan between Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas -- hasn't changed much since Victorian days, when Michiganders retreated there during hot summers. Built by the British during the Revolutionary War, Fort Mackinac saw action during the War of 1812. The island is a top spot for art and architecture lovers, too.
Getting there/around: A 16-minute ferry trip from Mackinac City and St. Ignace runs year-round, except when ice makes the water impassable ($18 round trip; check www.mackinacisland.org for a list of providers). On Mackinac, horse-drawn taxis cart visitors around (from $4); call 906-847-3323 for a reservation.
Where to stay: The Inn on Mackinac (800-462-2546, www.4mackinac.com; from $104) has period furniture and an on-site fudge shop. Sit and chill on the 660-foot porch of the 385-room Grand Hotel (800-334-7263, www.grandhotel.com; from $205).
Don't miss: The island's designated pub crawl.
Info: 800-454-5227, www.mackinacisland.org.