Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 21, 2017
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Conferencing USA: getting around

The easiest way to get around your favourite conference cities is also the greenest


Atlanta
Walkability: Sprawling Atlanta is the land of the SUV, but you can get to most areas of interest without a car.
Public Transit: The subway and buses are cheap and reliable. There's also "the buc" (the Buckhead Uptown connection), a free shuttle that runs every eight to 15 minutes between major hotels, restaurants and the Buckhead and Lenox transit stations. (404) 848-5000; www.itsmarta.com.
Taxi or rental? Taxi, when you need to. Traffic jams are a growing problem and parking has become a nightmare in Midtown and trendy Buckhead. Unless you're planning an outing to the nearby Appalachians or the award-winning Chateau Élan Winery, stick to your feet.
Where to: Stroll the funky neighbourhood of Virginia-Highland (likened to Greenwich Village), the tony shops and restaurants of Buckhead, or the museums of midtown. Or take a walking tour of "Sweet" Auburn, which leads to the Martin Luther King, Jr. historic site tracing the civil rights movement and the history of black urban culture in the South.


Boston
Walkability: Boston bills itself as America's Walking City and, not surprisingly, walking is still the best and easiest way to experience Beantown.
Public Transit: The "T" is the oldest transit system in the country, and the subway will get you around town faster than anything above ground. Since most sights are clustered in a couple of sections, you'll cover a lot of ground easily. (800) 392-6100; www.mbta.com.
Taxi or rental? Taxis are pricey and hard to find; you'll want to call ahead if you need one. That said, they're still a better option than driving yourself: streets are narrow and congested.
Where to: One of the most popular attractions is the Freedom Trail, a walking tour connecting
16 historic sites covering the US's revolutionary history. For aimless walking, start at Boston Commons and head for the gorgeous architecture and chic shops of the Back Bay.
Water works: The MBTA runs ferries between the Aquarium and the Navy Yards in Charlestown. There are also on-call water taxis that hit at a dozen stops along the Inner Harbour, including the airport. One-way fare is US$10. (617) 422-0392; www.citywatertaxi.com.


Chicago
Walkability: Definitely a city to discover on foot. Though you will need to take transit to get between neighbourhoods, there is plenty to see downtown and on the waterfront.
Public Transit: Taking the "L" (elevated subway trains) downtown is a must, just to get a different perspective. There is an extensive and efficient bus and subway system that should be able to cover everything you want to see. (800) YOUR CTA; www.transitchicago.com.
Taxi or rental? Taxis are a good choice to hit the dining and entertainment options in Near North Side, Old Town and Lincoln Park, and they're easy to hail in most central locations.
Where to: Head to River North, an old warehouse district that now has many of the city's hottest restaurants, nightspots and art galleries. Walk along the river on South Wacker Drive to experience the canyon of skyscrapers or stroll the crescent of sand of Oak Street Beach.
Water works: The "RiverBus" runs daily from April through October between Madison Street (near the Sears Tower) and River East Plaza, near the lake. The ride takes about 10 minutes each way. (312) 337-1446; www.wendellaboats.com.


Fort Lauderdale
Walkability: Surprisingly, you can easily get around downtown without a car. The network of Venetian-inspired canals helps dissipate that feeling of Floridian vastness -- just don't expect Europe.
Public Transit: The SunTrolley offers weekday shuttle service throughout the city centre. There is also weeknight and weekend service connecting the beach with Las Olas Riverfront. (954) 761-3543; www.suntrolley.com.
Taxi or rental? It can be hard to hail a cab if you're not on a major strip like Las Olas, so head to a hotel cab stand or call a taxi service. Unless you want to hit the Everglades or explore the shopping havens of West Palm Beach, you won't need a car.
Where to: It's not historic or pretty per se, but the city has gotten younger and more cosmopolitan. Stroll past the trendy shops and restaurants of Las Olas Boulevard or head to the Arts and Entertainment District along New River. Smack in the middle of it all, there's also a 73-hectare park for picnicking, swimming and canoeing.
Water works: The Water Bus provides service along the canals between several downtown hotels, major museums and the beach. (954) 467-6677; www.watertaxi.com.


New Orleans
Walkability: Even 200 years of American urbanism couldn't undo the ambling charm of a city originally built by the French and Spanish. As long as the levies hold, you'll want to walk.
Public Transit: Given that the St. Charles Avenue streetcar is a national historic landmark, it's as entertaining as it is useful to get Uptown. Not to mention, the bus and streetcar system is comprehensive and efficient. Best bargain: a VisiTour pass with unlimited rides on streetcars and buses. (504) 248-3900; www.norta.com.
Taxi or rental? With minimal parking, narrow one-way streets and too much action in a small area, you don't want to have a car here unless you plan to head out to the Bayou. Plus, it's easy to hail a cab.
Where to: When you've done a thorough tour of the French Quarter head to the stunning Garden District for a stroll through the neighbourhood that inspired the setting for novels from Anne Rice to Truman Capote. Then head to Algiers Point, one of the city's most pleasant strolls past the gingerbread cottages of the city's original Creole neighbourhood.
Water works: The Canal Street ferry is one of the Big Easy's hidden gems. It'll take you across the Mississippi River from the foot of Canal to Algiers Point in 10 minutes, with great views of downtown. And it's free.


New York
Walkability: Almost everyone in Manhattan gets around without their own car. In fact, given the gridlock, it's often the best way to get around. You can walk from one end of the island to the other -- count on about a minute per block, if you're fit. That said, it's still a big place, so plan your activities for the day in one neighbourhood.
Public Transit: Banish images of graffiti-riddled subways filled with young thugs -- you can safely ride the subway, even at night, on most central lines on the island. Annoyances include easy-to-miss, hand-written signs indicating which platform trains will run from during construction and weekend closures of certain subway entrances. Unless it's early in the morning, skip the buses: they'll just get stuck in traffic.
Taxi or rental? Even if you drive in from Canada, you're better off shelving your car. Yellow cabs are synonymous with the city for a reason: everyone takes them. They're reasonably priced and usually available -- unless it's raining or a weekend night!
Where to: Hit the museums and high-end shops of the Upper East Side one day; explore Greenwich Village and the galleries and cafés of Chelsea another, and save SoHo and Little Italy for a separate outing. Harlem, Riverside Park or the architectural smorgasboard of Midtown all make for great walks. They're also a great reminder that Manhattan is above all a city of neighbourhoods. If you're adventurous, take the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge for spectacular views.


San Antonio
Walkability: On the outskirts of Texas Hill Country, San Antonio's downtown is compact, flat and has everything you want.
Public Transit: The city is well covered by bus and streetcar. The new number 7 bus covers the tourist hit list: the San Antonio Museum of Art, Japanese Tea Garden, San Antonio Zoo, Witte Museum, Brackenridge Park and the Botanical Garden. Fares are under US$1. (210) 362-2020; www.viainfo.net.
Taxi or rental? Taxi. Parking is limited and the one-way streets are confusing. The convention centre is smack downtown, but if you'll be heading outside the central "loop" for some reason, you may find a car necessary.
Where to: The River Walk is the obvious destination. If you stray from its busy South Bank section, you'll find plenty of quiet lush stretches to wander. The genteel historic district of King William has opulent mid-19th-century mansions, a couple of which are open to the public. Home to the Blue Star arts complex, Southtown is a trendy Hispanic neighbourhood filled with funky coffeehouses and galleries; you can easily get to the historic Spanish missions from there. Hobnob with the upper crust among the expensive shops and trendy restaurants of Alamo Heights.
Water works: River taxis run daily from 9am to 9pm and pick up at 39 downtown stops. (800) 417-4139; www.sarivercruise.com/riotrans.htm.


Seattle
Walkability: Seattle's downtown is a great place to explore on foot, but its hills will definitely test your cardio level. Jaywalkers be warned: you may get busted and fined.
Public Transit: The bus system is free downtown on weekdays from 6am to 7pm. On weekends, your best bet is the one-day pass. The tourist-oriented streetcar along the waterfront will get you to the Pioneer Square, the Seattle Aquarium and Pike Place Market. (800) 542-7876; http://transit.metrokc.gov.
There aren't many cities with a monorail. And besides being unusual, it's a great way to get to the Seattle Center from downtown, while you zip past Frank Gehry's undulating Experimental Music Project. (206) 905-2620; www.seattlemonorail.com.
Taxi or rental? If you're sticking to the city, taxi is the way to go. The city has mushroomed over the last decade and traffic is a major issue. Not to mention, as it is laid out over a series of hills and surrounded by water, it's less than obvious to navigate by car. That said, cabs can be tough to flag, so call a service or head to a hotel stand.
Where to: The historic Pioneer Square district has antiques shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars dotting tree-lined streets and cobblestone plazas. Waterfront parks abound in the city, and strolling with your toes in the sand or hiking an old-growth stand are a perfect antidote to a day in a conference room.
Water works: Hitch a water taxi from the waterfront to Alki Beach for a romantic dinner with a view of the skyline (US$3 one way). (206) 205-3866; http://transit.metrokc.gov.

Or for a complete break, take a ferry to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island and look for porpoises and bald eagles in Puget Sound along the way. (888) 808-7977; www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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