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Drives of a Lifetime: Top 10 Cities in Your Headlights

Drives of a Lifetime: Top 10 Cities in Your Headlights

Continuing on my COVID-related road trip travel tips I purchased a new book, National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime. I love their whole “500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Trips” series and this book is perfect for an altered pandemic travel world. This list is adapted from their “10 Cities in Your Headlights” list. Just because there is is a deadly pandemic raging, does not mean you can’t travel SAFELY!

Read more: Travel Tips: Surviving your Summer Road Trip

Fifth Avenue, NYC, New York

Fifth Avenue is the place for people like us to window shop like its Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Traffic goes one way down Fifth Ave. so start at the north end by Frawley Circus by Central Park, past the Metropolitan Museum of Art then, when you see the famed Plaza Hotel from Home Alone 2, you can start the glitzy (window) shopping (about ~5 miles). Personally in New York City, I always prefer to walk to driving but driving through the city, windows down, is a surreal experience.

Tip: traffic eases up after 8pm

Washington, D.C.

D.C. is monumental during the day and especially beautiful at night, as all the monuments are lit up; they are less crowded at night too. Make a circuit from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol down Independence Avenue along Constitution Ave to the White House. The National Mall, which is lined by Smithsonian museums, is best done on foot.

Tip: a tour bus is probably a better way to drive through D.C.

South Beach, Miami, Florida

South Beach is different but equally busy both during the night and day: beach by day & the streets and clubs by night. My favorite street to drive down is Ocean Avenue for the art deco buildings; expect to drive slow, enjoy the sights and sounds, and have the windows down to enjoy the ocean breeze.

Tip: to get the fullest Miami experience, go during the winter months when all the snowbirds are down and it’s not as hot and humid

Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, Illinois

Driving along Lake Michigan: northbound fishing boats & pinprick lights while southboard lands are the skyscrapers of “America’s second city.” Chicago buildings are famous in the art history world for their innovation & cutting edge technology, you can take a city-wide architectural tour while there. The city also, in my opinion, rivals NYC for food & beauty.

Tip: avoid rush hour, which lasts until about 7:30pm, & avoid wintertime unless you are very very sure of it

The Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada

“Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” is the first thing you will read before entering the strip. While Las Vegas is not my cup of tea, I firmly believe it is a “must visit” for American culture. The Las Vegas Boulevard South is better known as “The Strip” and it is lined with some of the world’s most famous casino hotels. You can “travel” to Ancient Rome at Caesar’s Palace, to Venice at the Venetian Resort Hotel, Ancient Egypt at Luxor Hotel & Casino, and so much more extravagance!

Tip: avoid holiday weekends; summers are too bad because it’s such a dry heat, but make sure to hydrate!

Sydney, Australia

*Note: I have not visited Sydney so the following comes directly from National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime.

“Sydney’s waterside setting around a magnificent harbor makes it great to tour at night, which is why evening tours of all kinds are offered…Take the Sydney Harbour Tunnel to the bright lights of Luna Park, then turn back across the Sydney Harbor Bridge for views of the Opera House. Coming off the bridge, head up Observatory Hill for a panorama of the night time city…”

Tip: there is a toll on the southbound lane of the Sydney Bridge & an Observatory visit needs to be pre-booked

Rome, Italy

I personally would never ever drive in Rome – that’s a death wish for any non-seasoned Italian driver. Rome just has so many ancient and Baroque moments, from the Colosseum along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, piazzas bursting with life and cafes. Crossing the Tiber river to the much quieter neighborhoods and the Vatican’s breathtaking St. Peter’s Basilica.

Tip: Rome is quieter in August, due to Italian vacation, but it definitely gets hot and muggy!

Kurfürstendamm, Berlin, Germany

Berlin has wonderfully broad city streets with cafes to sit at and watch the street traffic. The book specifically recommends the Ku’dam as a perfect place to take an evening stroll. Walk pat restaurants, shops and clubs that terminates at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (photo above). A beautiful tiny tiny chapel heavily damaged during World War II bombing and rebuilt in the 1960s.

Tip: Berlin still feels like two cities in one with the decades long separation between East & West

London, England

*Note: I have not visited London (but my sister has) so the following comes directly from National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime.

“A 2-mile drive from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral takes in some of the city’s brightest lights. From the palace, the Mall leads past snow-white Carlton House Terrace to Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square…The Strand, along the southern edge of the West End, leads pat the Savoy Hotel to Fleet Street ,which St. Paul’s majestically lit, comes into view.”

Read more: London Calling, Part 1

Cape Town, South Africa

*Note: I have not visited Cape Town so the following comes directly from National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime.

“Sunsets in Cape Town are famous. Start at Blouberg Beach for the classic view of the warm evening light playing on Table Mountain. Then head back into town and wind your way to Signal Hill, where you can watch the southern Cross start to shimmer above the mountain while Cape Town twinkles at your feet.”

Tip: the drive is about 15 miles


P.S. the information in this post is adapted by National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime

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