One universal truth holds: on any decent road trip playlist, Taylor Swift’s name must show up at least once. In every one of her albums, from Taylor Swift to her newest release Midnights, Swift paints the full spectrum of human emotions and takes us on journeys across the places she holds closest to her heart. To not include her in your drive-by karaoke simply breaks all logic. What if, instead of only hearing her sing about the bright lights of New York City, you drive past them at the same time?
If you know all the lyrics to “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” and long to see for yourself the places that inspired your favorite singer, then check out this list for 10 essential road trip ideas for Taylor Swift lovers.
1. New York City
Welcome to New York. Inspiration for 1989 and home to Taylor Swift for a number of years, New York City does it all. Take a ferry out to Liberty Island and climb up the Statue of Liberty, or marvel at the dazzling billboards and stores in Time Square. If you intend on catching a Broadway show, make sure to check out TKTS ticket booths, which offer discount tickets up to 50 percent off for both Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.
“I love NYC because it holds some of my most treasured memories like the carefree evening strolls with my parents under the city’s dazzling lights or the summer get-togethers with my extended family and friends after school was over,” said Winnie Zhang, a junior at New York University. “It is ‘the spot’ for my family and I.”
Extra devoted Swifties should visit Cornelia Street, the location of Swift’s New York apartment that inspired the song of the same name. The surrounding neighborhood of West Village boasts countless stylish boutiques and galleries for those itching to window-shop, along with the historic landmark and bar Stonewall Inn. A ten-minute walk up also brings you to the High Line. As an elevated park, the High Line grants pedestrians a different perspective of the city from between its buildings. So go ahead and weave through New York City on the repurposed rail line and, for once, walk among the skyscrapers.
2. Upstate New York
Where should you go from New York City? Consider taking a convenient drive up to the rest of New York state. The mesmerizing reds and oranges of the fall foliage will surely enhance any listening of the Red album. Consider apple-picking at one of the many apple orchards in the state. A quick one-hour-and-fourteen-minute drive will get you to Dr. Davies’ Farm, where 27 varieties of apples anticipate your picking. The farm offers free parking and admission, making it a great option for college students.
3. Rhode Island
On the southern tip of Rhode Island perches Holiday House, Taylor Swift’s name-dropped property in “the last great american dynasty.” Since the house is private property, you can’t actually tour the historic colonial mansion. You might still catch a glimpse of it, though, from the surrounding town of Westerly, which offers expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean and a beautiful stretch of beaches and bars. With good food in your belly and the shifting sounds of the water, you’ll feel too content to ever leave. However, better things lie upon the shore as well.
While you admire the waves and the sailboats, make sure you don’t forget to check out the state capital, Providence. Passionate artists and museum-goers would find their artistic appetites satisfied at the RISD Museum attached to the Rhode Island School of Design. Tickets for college students go for $8 with valid student ID and become free to all on Sundays. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to access and admire art from a diverse range of cultures and periods. You might just come out of the museum with a new favorite artist.
The birthplace of both Taylor Swift and the United States of America, Pennsylvania overflows with history. As you make your way to Philadelphia, make sure to circle Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell on your map. Independence Hall witnessed two major turning points in American history—the secession of the thirteen original colonies with England and the signing of the Constitution—proving itself a must-see for American history lovers. The Independence Hall holds regular guided tours for the public, so those wanting to deepen their historical knowledge should not forget follow a tour guide.
Moving to Taylor Swift’s hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania, history buffs will find an abundance of landmarks and niche museums. From the Reading Area Firefighters Museum to the Mid Atlantic Air Museum, you’ll discover histories you never even knew existed. For those who prefer the outdoors, fret not. A major landmark of the city, the Reading Pagoda, provides a 360-degree panorama of the landscape below and stunning architecture in the form of a Japanese-style pagoda. Understated but packed with surprises, Pennsylvania will leave you wanting more.
The origin of country music and Taylor Swift’s career, Tennessee’s music legacy remains its most defining feature. Drop by the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville to explore the “American Currents” exhibit. Inside, you can learn how Taylor Swift (and other country artists) contribute to the development of country music. The exhibit also features many artist memorabilia, including the props and outfits Swift used and wore for her Red and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) album covers.
If leftover excitement still bubbles in you, Dollywood’s got you covered. With more than fifty rides and every possible method of making you wet at their water park, you’ll receive all the splashing and thrill you can ever dream of in your life. A short drive from there will also take you to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the prime location to hike, picnic and observe wildlife. Particularly lucky individuals might also chance upon a black bear.
6. Los Angeles
Onto the land of fortune and fame and another one of the spotlighted cities in Taylor Swift’s songwriting. Obviously, you have to walk down classic tourist spots like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and snap candids in front of the Hollywood sign. Or perhaps head to Disneyland and Universal Studios for your dose of thrill. But ever consider visiting a hotel? And not necessarily to sleep in it?
The filming site of parts of the “Delicate” music video, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel and its extravagant ballrooms possess a storied history. The hotel hosted grand events like the Academy Awards, as well as significant figures like the Beatles and infamous gangster Al Capone. History also knits itself into the very walls of the hotel. You can find murals and frescoes by master painter John B. Smeraldi, who imbued the hotel with an added sense of elegance. So as you dance around the reception like Swift did in her “Delicate,” remember to also absorb the elaborate interior and rich history of the hotel.
In between trying to stumble into celebrities, you might also want to check out the similarly lavish and historic Los Angeles Theater that appeared in the same music video. The theater’s chandeliers and French Baroque design might just evoke the feeling of acting in your own production of The Phantom of the Opera. Oddly enough, so does its restrooms. Full-length mirrors line the walls of the ladies’ restroom, allowing whoever stands before them to experience the pinnacle of extravagance.
After bustling all around LA, wind down at one of Malibu’s cornucopia of beaches. Point Dume State Beach, also the filming location of the “22” music video, provides a relatively secluded spot for surfing, diving and watching sunsets. There’s an easy hiking trail tucked behind the beach, giving you access to the ultimate view of the Pacific Ocean and the headland from a higher vantage point. When you reach the overlook, remember to take pictures of the belt of pristine white sands for your memories.
Overlooking the rolling waves, local favorite Malibu Seafood serves casual, stress-free cuisine. The restaurant’s signature hand battered Alaskan Cod simply draws you in with its crispy golden batter. Aside from that, they also offer other seafood classics like clam chowder and shrimp sandwiches. Even from across the screen, doesn’t it all sounds amazingly mouth-watering?
On a study abroad trip in the UK? Don’t worry, Taylor Swift planned out your entire London road trip in her song “London Boy.” First stop, Camden Market—an eclectic congregation of vintage clothing stores, souvenirs shops and restaurants with cuisines from all over the world. Those who want to find something unique to add to their closet or collection should definitely spend a few good hours here.
Next, West End, the theater and entertainment district of London. Though many of the stores in the area pop up in the States as well, a handful of heritage stores remain worthy of visiting. Hamleys—the world’s oldest toy shop—comes as a personal favourite when I went to London. With its colorful and dizzying array of dolls, Legos and games, the ginormous store will transform any weary college student back into a child. Of course, you also can’t go to West End without catching a show.
“London Boy” also mentions other locations like Shoreditch, Brixton and SoHo, all of which boast thriving cultural scenes and vibrant nightlife. A hipster’s paradise, Shoreditch houses an interesting selection of museums and bookstores, along with colorful eccentric street art to feed the eye. Brixton possesses a unique Afro-Carribean heritage. Beside trendy new bars and clubs also sit restaurants and vendors of African and Carribean cuisine. And last but not least, for the bar-hopping friend, SoHo’s pulsing alternative nightclubs will provide a party that lasts all night long.
9. Lake District, UK
If you want some time away from all the noise and hustle of the city instead, the Lake District (of “the lakes”) remains a great alternative. With towering mystical mountains and wonderfully reflective lakes, the Lake District national park beckons any lover of nature or picturesque environments to drop by. As you arrive, don’t mistake the largest lake—Windermere—for a river. Known as a ribbon lake, Windermere naturally forms a long and narrow shape. You can hire a boat or kayak out onto Windermere to fully immerse yourself in your surroundings.
Once you get out of the water, take a relaxing walk around the town of Ambleside, just a mile out from Windermere. With a great collection of cafés and bookshops, the town provides perfect places for a quiet afternoon of people-watching. Those feeling a bit more adventurous can also try out Stock Ghyll Force, a small waterfall off the center of the town. In any case, whether you choose to hike or walk around town, the Lake District offers no short supply of beautiful and quaint scenery for you and your camera.
10. Wicklow, Ireland
The newest addition (from “Sweet Nothing”) to Taylor Swift’s meaningful song locations, the county of Wicklow hides a treasure trove of interesting activities for the wandering spirit. Also known as the “Garden County” of Ireland, Wicklow’s mountains and numerous hiking trails will take your breath away. With trail walk-times ranging from under two hours to over six hours, Wicklow’s walks will satisfy everyone. Neither those who can’t handle too much strenuous activity nor those who want a challenge will need to worry.
Wicklow also contains a fascinating monastic history. The valley of Glendalough houses monastic churches and cathedrals from the 12th and 13th centuries. Many of them remain well-preserved and enchanting among the hills. So if you want to take a step back into the Medieval past, don’t forget to drive to Wicklow on your next trip to Ireland with “Sweet Nothing” as your personal soundtrack.