Exploring Music Video Trails: Where Famous Songs Meet Iconic Cities

Step into a world where music and cities harmonize! Join us on an extraordinary musical travel journey through the streets that inspired the most iconic music videos.
A living room with a flat-screen TV showing the Empire State Building in New York

Welcome to a musical travel journey where tunes and travel intersect!

According to research, music has a growing influence on tourism. That’s why today, we will take you on an exploration of iconic cities through the lens of legendary music videos. From the sunlit avenues of Los Angeles to the pulsating heart of New York City and the nostalgic corners of San Francisco, each location is not just a backdrop but a character in its own right. With their unique charm and history, these cities have provided the canvas for artists like the Beastie Boys, Björk, and Scott McKenzie, turning everyday locations into landmarks of musical heritage.

Let’s take a virtual stroll along these streets, explore their hidden gems, and live the lyrics and rhythms that made these places a part of global music culture.

Björk’s “Big Time Sensuality” — New York City’s Moving Stage

In Björk’s “Big Time Sensuality,” New York City is not just a backdrop; it’s a character in its own right, pulsating with life and energy. The music video, shot on a moving truck, captures the essence of the city — its dynamism, communities, and the sense of possibility that permeates its streets. It’s an ode to freedom, with Björk dancing uninhibitedly as the city moves around her. This visual masterpiece, which tops Björk’s best music videos, offers more than just a worthy musical travel journey or a glimpse into the city’s gems far from what outsiders see; it’s an invitation to experience its infectious vibrancy.

For those seeking to immerse themselves in the same exuberant spirit, staying in a high-rise hotel in Manhattan is the way to go. It provides an unparalleled opportunity to soak in a musical travel journey highlighted by the city’s skyline, bustling streets, and the inexhaustible energy.

Imagine watching the sunrise over the East River or seeing the lights of Times Square twinkle at night, all while reflecting on the iconic scenes from the video. Exploring this music video trail doesn’t just connect you to the heart of New York; it plunges you into a world where art, music, and urban life intertwine in a beautiful dance.

A street in San Francisco, California with vintage cars lined on the side of the street

Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” — A Musical Travel Journey Of San Francisco’s Retro Streets

The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” is an epic throwback to the cop dramas of the 1970s, with San Francisco’s streets as its dynamic stage. Exploring this music video trail will brilliantly capture the city’s essence, blending the nostalgia of vintage aesthetics with the urban landscape. The video’s adrenaline-pumping chase scenes, shot across various San Francisco locations, offer a glimpse into the city’s diverse and historic hoods.

For visitors wanting to dive into this musical travel journey, staying in a boutique hotel in the heart of the city, especially in areas like the Mission District or near the Golden Gate Bridge, would be the most ideal. These locations provide a sense of the city’s rich history and contemporary cultural vibrancy. Walking these streets, one can almost hear the beats of the video’s energetic soundtrack, and the spirit of the ‘70s feels tangible, blending past and present in a uniquely San Franciscan experience.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” — Los Angeles’ Urban Canvas

In the music video of RHCP’s “Under the Bridge,” the soul of Los Angeles is captured in a raw, unfiltered lens. The video traverses the city’s multifaceted landscape, revealing its glamorous façade and hidden, gritty underbelly. Los Angeles is well known as a melting pot of cultures and stories, and this musical travel journey reflects both the glitzy Hollywood streets and the less-traveled alleys from where the song anchored its melancholic theme.

To fully explore this music video trail, staying in a boutique hotel in downtown LA is ideal. It positions you in the heart of the city’s artistic vibrancy, echoing the video’s exploration of Los Angeles’s diverse emotional landscapes. Each street corner here tells a story, much like the scenes from the video, offering an authentic taste of the city’s spirit.

The Empire State Building in New York during daytime

Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” – New York’s

Skyline Serenade

The huge hit “Empire State of Mind” released by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys is more than just a pop chart-topper; it’s an anthem that celebrates the spirit of New York City. Exploring its music video trail — with its panoramic views of the city’s skyline, showcases the metropolis in all its glory. Take it from the song’s lyrics, paired with sweeping shots of towering skyscrapers and bustling streets, and you’ll truly encapsulate the dreams and ambitions that the city that never sleeps represents. It’s a tribute to the Big Apple’s ability to inspire and elevate, making it a beacon for dreamers worldwide.

For those who want to experience this musical travel journey and all the entailing sense of awe and aspiration, staying in a loft in Brooklyn with views of the Manhattan skyline is highly recommended. This location offers a unique perspective, allowing visitors to gaze upon the city that has inspired countless artists and musicians. From this vantage point, one can reflect on the powerful lyrics and scenes from the video, feeling connected to the city’s rhythm and soul.

This is one music video trail worth exploring as you immerse beyond sightseeing, offering a deeper understanding of why New York City is more of a feeling than just a destination.

Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco” — The Flower Power Movement

Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco” is an iconic anthem of the 1960s Flower Power movement, encapsulating the era’s spirit of love and freedom. While not accompanied by a traditional music video, the song evokes vivid imagery of San Francisco during this transformative period. The Haight-Ashbury district, known as the birthplace of the American counterculture, serves as the perfect backdrop for a unique musical travel journey.

As you stroll through the streets adorned with psychedelic murals and vintage shops, you can almost feel the presence of the “flower power movement” that once thrived here. This experience isn’t just about seeing a place; it’s about stepping into a time capsule where the virtues of peace, love, and artistic expression still resonate through the city’s vibrant heart.

The Haight-Ashbury Street in San Francisco with colorful murals and vintage cars

Turn Your Favorite Playlist Into A Musical Travel Journey

As our exploration of these iconic music video trails and locations comes to a close, it’s clear that the streets, alleys, and skylines we’ve visited are more than just settings; they are living, breathing embodiments of musical history.

Steeped in artistic legacy, these cities beckon you to experience their stories firsthand. Whether it’s the rhythmic pulse of New York, the nostalgic charm of San Francisco, or the eclectic vibrancy of Los Angeles, each city awaits with open arms. So why wait? Plan your trip, walk in the footsteps of musical legends, and let these cities reveal their melodies and tales to you. Book your next great adventure in these urban music muses is just a journey away.

Felicity Knowles
Author: Felicity Knowles

With our mantra "Know Before You Go," we’ve dedicated our platform to the uber curious and adventurous. Drawing from well-traveled lives and a collective, insatiable appetite to uncover the best-kept secrets of global cities, our team of seasoned travelers and local experts generously share their treasured experiences and insights with those who want to know everything about each city (and that’s even before they board a plane). As urban trekkers with a penchant for charting maps through travel, each woven narrative aims to bring each city's culture, cuisine, and character to life, making every ThisCityKnows guide and resource essential “pre-visit reads” for travelers worldwide. Let’s discover the world together—because ThisCityKnows, and so should you!