I’ve lately found some same-day cheap airfares to various U.S. cities, so I’ve experimented with doing day trips by air. (They’re not strict mileage runs since I actually leave the airport, unlike a true MRer.)
So, a few cities where getting from the airport to an interesting part of town doesn’t take a car, more than $2, or more than half an hour:
* Austin: A cheap ride direct to downtown and campus, although I didn’t think it very walkable once off the bus.
* Boston: We’ll see how this goes next week, but I’m going to try the Silver Line instead of the Blue + shuttle, and maybe see how the North End and/or South Boston Piers have changed since the Dig.
* Chicago: From Midway, try the South Loop; from O’Hare, try Wicker Park.
* Los Angeles: A fairly frequent LAX shuttle bus runs to the LAX Transit Center, but don’t bother with LA; instead, explore nearby Venice and Santa Monica with the Big Blue Bus. (The FlyAway to Union Station works well enough, but could take a while.)
* Minneapolis: The train runs to either downtown or the megamall (and Ikea!). To get to Uptown, transfer to a westbound 21 bus at Lake or go downtown (passing the new riverfront area) and take a #6 bus headed down Hennepin, which also swings by Loring Park and the Walker.
* Portland: MAX runs directly to the eminently walkable downtown.
* Queens: The Q33 is a short ride into Jackson Heights from LGA, and from there the #7 goes to Flushing.
* Washington: Perhaps the easiest anywhere: fast and efficient Metrorail stops right at National.
* Two I haven’t tried, but which have rail to the airport: Cleveland and St. Louis.
A sidebar: one-day ski trips on transit. I only know of three ski slopes with 7-day public transit access from a major city, although I’d certainly love to know about others:
* Eldora Mountain near Boulder, Colo.: RTD bus N from the Boulder bus station
* Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, B.C.: Coast Mountain bus 236 [pdf] from Lonsdale Quay
* Snowbird/Alta, along UTA’s Route 998 out of Salt Lake City. Only two buses a day, though.
* Special mentions go to the Winter Park Ski Train, Amtrak’s Vermonter, and the proposed Québec-Le Massif train although these aren’t transit buses. Many other resorts run private motorcoaches within town or to nearby airports or cities.
Additional special mentions go to Santa Barbara Car-Free, which promotes car-free trips to Santa Barbara, Calif., and CATCO’s Going to the Mountains from Calgary. CATCO’s slogan, courtesy Bill Ford: ‘If you live in a city, you don’t need to own a car.’