Lea Michele sees plenty of cities from airplanes and tour buses these days, but she doesn’t limit herself to that view. In fact, she prefers a boots-on-the-ground approach to travel.
That way, she and her fellow “Glee” alum Darren Criss, who were on the road in 2018 for their LM/DC concert series, always have a conversation starter with fans in cities from Phoenix to St. Louis to Toronto.
Despite the packed and hectic schedule of an on-the-road artist, Michele, a Broadway favorite who’s been singing and acting professionally since she was 8 years old, takes time to enjoy each place.
“We travel in the morning and then we usually have a few hours before we need to be at the venue in each city,” Michele said about her recent tour. “Rather than sitting in the hotel, Darren and I get out there and explore. Then we can speak to the audience that night about where we went and what we saw. It gives us another connection.”
An added bonus: She’ll never be that performer who greets the crowd with a hearty, “Hello, Atlanta!” when she’s actually in Charlotte.
She often relies on Marriott Moments, she said, so she can zero in on “the best experiences,” especially in new cities where she’s unfamiliar with the turf.
Michele, an Emmy nominee for “Glee” who recently sang at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, heads next to Ireland and the U.K. for an added leg of the LM/DC tour. Shows in London are already sold out.
When she’s not traveling for work, she’s still on the move, living a bicoastal life in L.A. and New York.
“I have the best of both worlds,” said the former star of Fox’s horror anthology “Scream Queens” and ABC’s “The Mayor.” “When New York is too much, I can get on a plane and go to L.A. and Zen out.”
Michele says the West Coast grew on her because of the access to beaches, year-round farmers markets, hiking trails and mountains, which provide a break from Hollywood and the L.A. suburban sprawl.
“When I first moved, I didn’t really love it, and I didn’t think it was for me,” she said of Southern California. “Then I really started to see the connection with nature and the environment. And I love being close to the water.”
The hometown of her heart is still New York, where she catches Broadway shows, tours the museums and samples new restaurants when she’s there. (She’s partial to Italian food.) She and her parents walked across the Brooklyn Bridge not long ago, and she makes a habit of hitting some old stomping grounds like Arthur Avenue in the Bronx’s Little Italy, near where she was born. (She grew up in New Jersey.)
Her dream destinations are too numerous to mention. “The list is endless,” said the veteran of musicals like “Les Misérables,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Spring Awakening.”
Engaged in April to businessman Zandy Reich, she hasn’t yet decided where her upcoming wedding will be held. She’s planning the event now while juggling shows and appearances, and Criss has already agreed to supply the entertainment for her big day.
When she’s sharing her recommendations on must-visit spots, she leans toward New York City and Italy, where a trip with her mother and father a decade ago left an indelible impression, from the art and architecture to the pizza, one of her favorite dishes. “It’s something I’ll never forget,” she said.
Staying put doesn’t seem likely, both because of her thriving career and her innate curiosity.
“Traveling feeds my soul,” Michele said. “I get so inspired, and I can recharge and refuel.”