Summer Roadtrip Playlist: 50 Songs for 50 States

prepare for your summer roadtrip

The summer road trip is a rite of passage. We know first-hand how much time and preparation goes into a cross-country trip. There are campsites to book, schedules to coordinate, and bags to pack. In all that planning, it can be easy to forget one of the most crucial elements of any long journey: the soundtrack.

You want the right music to set the tone for your trip. This is a topic I’ve always taken very seriously. Growing up, we had a minivan with a six-disc CD player not-so-conveniently located in the trunk. This meant we had to decide what albums would be playing us home from Grandma’s house before we ever loaded the car. (There was no way my mom was going to tunnel through luggage while in a truck stop parking lot just to change out a CD).

My mom was very diplomatic about the whole thing: she picked two CDs, my sister picked two CDs, and I picked two CDs. This led to a lot, and I mean a lot, of homemade CDs filled with my of-the-moment favorites. You could play one for me today, and I could probably tell you how old I was and the book I was reading at the time I was selecting the songs. Some of those tracks even ended up on this list.

Thankfully, music streaming apps have rendered that 6-disc changer as obsolete as my dad’s shoebox of 8-track tapes. It has never been easier to customize a playlist for a trip or, in this case, a theme. Here is a three-hour-long playlist, with a song for each of the 50 states, to keep you company on the road.

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AlabamaSweet Home AlabamaLynryd Skynrd
AlaskaFairbanks, AlaskaThe Front Bottoms
ArizonaTake it EasyEagles
ArkansasArkansasChris Stapleton
CaliforniaCaliforniaPhantom Planet
ColoradoRocky Mountain HighJohn Denver
ConnecticutConnecticutBing Crosby and Judy Garland
DelawareHello, I’m in DelawareCity and Colour
FloridaFlorida TimeBob Seger
GeorgiaDevil Went Down to GeorgiaThe Charlie Daniels Band
HawaiiTiny BubblesDon Ho
IllinoisMeet Me in ChicagoBuddy Guy
IndianaSmall TownJohn Mellencamp
IowaOur State FairState Fair Cast
KansasCarry on Wayward SonKansas
KentuckyBowling GreenThe Everly Brothers
LouisianaBorn on the BayouCreedence Clearwater Revival
MaineNothing But TimeJackson Brown
MarylandGood Morning BaltimoreNikki Blonsky
MichiganDetroit WavesMatt Nathanson
MinnesotaRock N Roll is Alive ( And It Lives in Minneapolis)Prince
MississippiJacksonJohnny Cash and June Carter Cash
MissouriMissing MissouriSara Evans
MontanaMontana SkyJonas Brothers
NebraskaOmahaCounting Crows
NevadaWaking Up in VegasKaty Perry
New HampshireNew HampshireSonic Youth
New JerseyRaise Your HandsBon Jovi
New MexicoNew Mexico’s No BreezeIron & Wine
New YorkEmpire State of MindJAY-Z and Alicia Keys
North CarolinaWagon WheelDarius Rucker
North DakotaBest I ever HadGavin Degraw
OhioOhioAndrew McMahon in the Wilderness
OklahomaOklahoma SmokeshowZach Bryan
OregonComing Home (Oregon)Mat Kearney
PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia FreedomElton John
Rhode IslandRhode Island is Famous for YouBlossom Dearie
South CarolinaHeads Carolina, Tails CaliforniaJo Dee Messina
South DakotaBadlandsBruce Springsteen
TennesseeWalking in MemphisMarc Cohen
TexasLa GrangeZZ Top
UtahThe Great Salt LakeBand of Horses
VermontLong Time SunshineWeezer
VirginiaVirginia MoonFoo Fighters
WashingtonHello SeattleOwl City
West VirginiaTake Me Home, Country RoadsJohn Denver
WisconsinThat 70’s SongCheap Trick
WyomingWyoming GirlChris LeDoux