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100 things to do before you die: scenic drives

Thursday, August 24, 2006

37. Icefields Parkway, Canada
The 233-kilometre Icefield Parkway drive from Lake Louise to Jasper in Alberta offers breathtaking beauty. The local Rocky Mountains terrain is habitat for elk, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats, grizzly and black bear. The landscape is a picture of waterfalls, emerald lakes, alpine meadows and snow-capped peaks.

The engineering feat to build the road began in 1931, starting at each end and meeting in the middle.

38. San Francisco to Los Angeles, United States
State Route 1, also called Highway 1, runs the length of California's coast. A very scenic portion of the highway begins in the San Francisco Bay area and heads south to San Jose, the state's third most populous city and its first capital.

Carmel by the Sea and Monterey are charming towns with a rich history of resident artists beginning. The environment is home to the California sea otter, the San Joaquin kit fox, brown pelicans and many bird species. A stop at the Enchanted Hill, high above the ocean at San Simeon, is a must. The 115-room Hearst Castle took 30 years to complete, starting in 1919. There are guesthouses, pools and hectares of cultivated gardens.

The pretty and affluent town of Santa Barbara is a picture of white stucco houses with red tiled roofs. Downtown has outstanding architecture and is well worth a look before heading for the metropolis of Los Angeles.

39. Monaco
The tiny principality of Monaco has a sublime climate, natural beauty and is a tax-free haven. Along with its history and culture, gambling and glitz, its big claim to fame is the Grand Prix which takes over the streets each May. The barrier-lined circuit leaves absolutely no margin for error and demands more concentration than any other Formula 1 circuit.

40. New Zealand drive: top to bottom
Mangonui at the tip of New Zealand's north island is a fair starting place for the drive through some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see. Head across to Kaitaia and Cape Reinga, through Auckland to Hamilton and down to the coastal city of New Plymouth. The southern coast of Taranaki and Kapiti are spectacular, good stopping places before getting to Wellington.

Across the Cook Strait to the south island, the journey continues through Christchurch, Arthur's Pass, Queenstown and Invercargill. You may even want to go that little bit further and cross to Stewart Island off the southern tip.

41. Positano, Italy
Positano is a small seaside resort town on the Amalfi Coast. It is breathtakingly beautiful and worthy of renting a car and having a good look around. If you don't fancy navigating the winding roads and hairpin bends, you can enjoy the fantasy of a lifetime and hire a Ferrari with driver. They probably know just where to stop for the best views and food!

42. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
One of the great drives in Australia is along the Great Ocean Road. It runs between Geelong and Warrnambool and was built by returned servicemen in honour of their fallen comrades. It has many diversions, including 25 beaches, 13 waterfalls, eight lighthouses, eight shipwrecks and many delightful towns. There are plenty of cafés, restaurant and places to stay along the way.

A highlight is the Twelve Apostles, rising majestically from the Southern Ocean. Actually, there aren't 12 any longer — the elements have caused four to be lost.

The road is good, the scenery superb and there is some really interesting history to learn along the way.

For further information:

37. The Icefields Parkway

38. Hearst Castle
Ph: 0011 1 916 414 8400

39. Monaco Grand Prix
Ph: 377 931 5260
Fax: 377 932 5800

40. Interisland Line

41. Positano Tourist Office
Via del Saracino 4
Ph: 39 089 875 067

42. Tourism Victoria
Ph: 132 843

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