10 Gorgeous places you'll enjoy more if you bring a car

Aug 31, 2014 at 7:00 a.m. ET
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Some destinations are best enjoyed with a vehicle. When you plan these gorgeous trips, plan to take your car or schedule a rental.

1. Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

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It's not easy to get to Big Sur from California's main airports, so you'll need a rental car to make it to this pristine town on the wild turns of California's famous Pacific Coast Highway.

2. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

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Portland, Oregon, has great public transit, but if you want to get out of the city to see the Columbia River, Multnomah Falls and jaw-dropping ravines, you'll need to rent a car and pack your courage.

3. Calgary, Alberta

Calgary, Alberta

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Are you the outdoorsy type? Jet-set to Calgary in Alberta, Canada for a fabulous mix of the arts, fishing and hiking. You'll need a vehicle to make the schlep from the city to the Bow and Elbow Rivers, and to the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

4. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Vegas is easy to see on foot, but you need a car for sights that lie outside the city proper. Load up your car to check out Hoover Dam and famous Lake Mead when you need a break from the slot machines.

5. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

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It's challenging to make your way to Rocky Mountain National Park without your own vehicle, since it's a good distance from Denver International Airport. You'll love having a car as you wind through Estes Park and onto Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road for sightseeing.

6. Florida Keys, Florida

Florida Keys, Florida

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Fancy yourself an island hopper? Take the high roads that link Key West and the Florida Keys so you can soak up some of the best beaches in America. Plus, you'll feel like you're driving on water.

7. Lahaina, Hawaii

Lahaina, Hawaii

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The public transit on the island of Maui is lacking, so you really need a vehicle unless you want to be stuck at the beach in front of your hotel. But the good news is that a rental car will give you access to the best Maui has to offer, like the Road to Hana, Makena Beach State Park and Haleakala National Park.

8. Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

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Our nation's capital is easy to traverse by foot and metro, but you simply have to get out of town to fully appreciate the history of the place. Hop into your car to visit Mount Vernon, the Pope-Leighey House and the Arlington National Cemetery.

9. Grapevine, Texas

Texas

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Historic Grapevine, Texas, is just minutes from giant DFW International Airport, but it retains the charm of a small southern town with a friendly and active main street. However, it's just a short drive from the big lights of both Dallas and Fort Worth, so you need a car if you want to see some of the best Texas has to offer.

10. Aroostook County, Maine

Aroostook County, Maine

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The Crown of Maine must be seen from the windows of a car, in order to fully appreciate the string of quaint historic towns and miles of forests and lakes in its midst. Your best option, of course, is to book your road trip in the middle of the fall season's brilliant foliage.

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