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50 Awesome Songs for an American Road Trip

“Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway. Lookin’ for adventure, and whatever comes our way.” (Steppenwolf)

Imagine the scene. It’s you and your best buddies. The open road in front of you. Maybe you got the top down. The wind is in your hair. There are amazing views all around. A million possibilities await. You’re on a real American road trip. Life is good. Actually, life is amazing!

But the roads are long, and there’s only one thing that could make this trip ANY better! And that’s an epic soundtrack!

50 Best Songs for an American Road Trip

 

Music has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. From my mum’s cassette tapes on long family road trips, to the many rock bands I’ve been in over the last twenty years, so I like to think my taste in music is pretty ok… (my friends might disagree).

Think of this as the soundtrack to your adventure. Every great road trip movie has one! And believe me, every time those tunes come on the radio, you’ll be taken straight back to that amazing trip you had!

There’s some American classics and a few others I thought appropriate. There were so many more I could have added, but I limited it to 50! Enjoy!

50 Best Songs for an American Road Trip

1. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

2. Running on Empty – Jackson Browne

3. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

4. Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen

5. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Venice Beach California

6. Bright Side of the Road – Van Morrison

7. Hotel California – The Eagles

8. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty

9. Holiday Road – Lindsay Buckingham (the song from the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies)

10. Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

California Road Trip Itinerary - Pacific Coast Highway PCH

11. I Drove All Night – Roy Orbison

12. (I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight – Cutting Crew

13. Drive – The Cars

14. I Wanna Know What Love Is – Foreigner

15. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynrd

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

16. California Girls – The Beach Boys

17. Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley

18. Highway to Hell – AC/DC

19. The Gambler – Kenny Rogers

20. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas

Las Vegas Itinerary

21. Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins

22. Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis

23. On the Road Again – Willie Nelson

24. Maybe Tomorrow – Terry Bush (the theme song to The Littlest Hobo – remember that?)

25. San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)

Arctitecture in San Francisco

26. Holding Out For A Hero – Bonnie Tyler

27. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen (a totally British song, but who can forget the opening scene in Wayne’s World?)

28. American Woman – Guess Who

29. Livin’ On a Prayer – Bon Jovi

30. We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel

California Road Trip Itinerary - Venice Beach

31. Dude Looks Like a Lady – Aerosmith

32. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses

33. Country Road – John Denver

34. Layla – Eric Clapton

35. American Pie – Don McLean

California Road Trip Itinerary - Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

36. Break on Through – The Doors

37. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds (The Breakfast Club – enough said)

38. Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

39. Alright Now – Free

40. Paradise By the Dashboard Light – Meatloaf

Venice Beach, California

41. Black Velvet – Alannah Myles

42. We Built This City – Starship

43. Rockstar – Nickelback

44. Black Betty – Ram Jam

45. Crazy- Aerosmith

American Road Trip

46. Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News

47. Take It Easy – The Eagles

48. Dancing in the Moonlight – Toploader

49. Break on Through to the Other Side – The Doors

50. Proud Mary – Tina Turner

And if you want to freak yourself out, watch Deliverance and add on the Duelling Banjos!

Read More:

Play at full volume and enjoy! Have a missed any good ones?

About Author

I'm a travel blogger and tour operator with a passion for Africa travel. I love the great outdoors, going on epic trips around the world and helping others travel!

42 Comments

  • Rebecca
    April 4, 2014 at 2:52 am

    OMg sooo many good tunes! what a great post!… my download limit will be going crazy tonight!
    Rebecca recently posted…The peril’s of Job Searching in LondonMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      April 4, 2014 at 7:35 am

      I know! It was so fun writing this post listening to all the songs again! Ha ha, enjoy!!!!!

      Reply
  • Naomi
    April 4, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I think I would just play Bruce Springsteen on repeat but I like the variety here! I particularly agree with the 1st song, Fleetwood Mac are just perfect road trip material!
    Naomi recently posted…My worst travel experiences (and how you can learn from them)My Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      April 4, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Can’t beat a bit of Bruce! I wish I’d put Billy Joel on the list now. I love him! Fleetwood Mac, Go Your Own Way is my ultimate road trip song! Love it!!!!

      Reply
  • elaine schoch
    April 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Love this list! Making the playlist now for our summer road trips. 😉
    elaine schoch recently posted…The Steinbeck Center Celebrates 75 YearsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      April 16, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      Brilliant! Fleetwood Mac is my favourite I think! Enjoy!!!

      Thanks Elaine!

      Reply
  • Matt
    April 19, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Great list! But I think you forgot a crucial one with Turn the Page (Bob Seger). That’s a good one for when you’re driving and everyone else is asleep 🙂
    Matt recently posted…Random ExploringMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      April 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Hey Matt, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never heard of that song before! But just listened and I like it! 🙂

      Yeah, I can definitely see that. One of those very cool laid back songs! Thanks for the tip. Need to add it to my playlists.

      Reply
  • Joseff
    July 23, 2014 at 9:19 am

    These are all amazing songs for a great roadtrip. I also love the photos you posted, that adventure just rocks and I wish to experience that too where you get to be wild in having fun with your friends. I hope I could have that roadtrip soon. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Helen
      July 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks for the lovely comment Joseff!

      Get booking or planning your road trip!!! I have some other posts on what we did when we were there also! 🙂

      Reply
  • Joyce
    August 15, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Not only the playlist but also the “picture this…” is awesome!
    Thank you ever so much for the best webpage with the best playlist, you rock!
    Gonna have a blast during the upcoming roadtrip (Chicago->Yellowstone-> Vegas-> Route66 Chicago)
    ‘The wait is so long!

    Reply
    • Helen
      August 15, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks Joyce for the lovely comment! Your trip sounds amazing!!! Hope you have a great time! Sing loud for me!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  • Terry S
    August 30, 2014 at 7:29 am

    It’s a good play list, and you did include Billy Joel, so no worries. Even though I’m an American, I began my 30-year DJ career back in 1982 because of the music I heard coming out of the U.K. in the 70s and early 80s, (can’t drive without Joy Division/New Order, or side 2 of Abbey Road by you-know-who) so my road trip play list differs significantly. One exception is “Dancing in the Moonlight”. I just listened to the Toploaders version, which certainly isn’t bad at all, but I have to say I prefer the American original by King Harvest. “Alright (sic.) Now” is another that I think I have on my BlackBerry for road trips, too.

    Reply
    • Helen
      August 31, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Hi Terry,

      I’m from Liverpool, and work in Manchester, so very familiar with the bands you mention! 🙂

      As a foreigner driving in the US, I like to listen to a lot of American songs! The best playlists are the ones that make you happy! Happy driving!

      Helen

      Reply
  • Rashaad
    February 7, 2015 at 5:21 am

    I would add Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead

    Reply
    • Helen
      February 8, 2015 at 11:36 am

      Yeah, that’s a great song! Thanks Rashaad! 🙂

      Reply
    • Helen
      February 8, 2015 at 11:36 am

      Yeah, that’s a great song! Thanks Rashaad! 🙂

      Reply
  • Fulvio Golfieri
    April 17, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Very remarkable compilation I would just add Rockin’ down the Higway by the Doobie Bro

    Reply
    • Helen
      April 19, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Thnaks for the new suggestion! 🙂

      Reply
  • Monika
    August 23, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I love this list. Thanks! I would add one more song: 500 miles – Proclaimers 🙂

    Reply
    • Helen
      August 24, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Yes! The Proclaimers are great! I saw them at V Festival this weekend! 🙂

      Reply
  • Ian
    September 6, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    I think your blog is fantastic, I just read your entire Cali road trip and it’s going to be very similar to mine and my friends except we are starting in San Fran and heading down to Diego. We’re hiring a convertible mustang for the job (we are two guys so we are doing it in true ‘brits on tour’ style). Reading all of it, you’d got us even more completely stoked than we already were.

    Cheers for the write up.

    Reply
    • Helen
      September 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks so much Ian! 🙂 Comments like this are what keep me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing! Glad you enjoyed my posts! Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Wow, convertible mustang, now THAT is how you do an American road trip!!! 🙂 Have a great time and let me know you get on!!!!!

      Reply
  • RICHARD
    July 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    What a fantastic song list, lots of great music to listen to even if my road trips are mostly the North Yorkshire Moors. My few additions would be: Dakota (Stereophonics), I Need an Energy (Greg Holden) and certainly a bit of U2 and Coldplay.

    Thanks for compiling this though, lots of excellent choices.

    Happy travelling

    Reply
    • Helen
      July 7, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Thanks Richard! Great additions! 🙂 (a lot of my road trips are in the UK too)!!

      Reply
  • tim
    September 19, 2016 at 11:22 am

    this is a great list. I’m heading on a big road trip in the USA this weekend and downloaded all the songs. Very excited now. Thanks

    Reply
    • Helen
      September 19, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      No worries Tim! Have a great trip!!

      Reply
  • Luke Hall
    March 16, 2017 at 1:07 am

    Awesome list Helen! Thanks so much for the suggestions! 🙂

    Reply
    • Helen
      March 16, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      No worries Luke! Glad you enjoyed!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Peter Kraus
    April 24, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing your listing. We did six road-trips, 3 weeks each, through the USA so far. Every year has it favorites. But this one is our favorite: Lonestar – What About Now (Lonely Grill).
    I was searching on road trip music as I’m an Indoor Spinning instructor and wanted to make a “Road trip” themed lesson. Your input will for sure help me and good to keep the listing for our next road trip to come! Peter – Netherlands.

    Reply
    • Helen
      April 24, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      Hi Peter, no worries! Spinning to a road trip soundtrack? That sounds like my kinda spinning class!!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Guy
    July 1, 2017 at 10:01 am

    You included The Doors – Break On Through twice!

    Reply
    • Helen
      July 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks! I’d never noticed! Will change when I get a sec.

      Reply
  • Anton
    August 3, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks to you and everyone else for a great selection of songs!

    Reply
  • Peter
    August 4, 2017 at 4:52 am

    No PHD “I won’t let you down”
    REO speed wagon “Take it on the run”
    Wow!

    Reply
  • Joanne Mcnaughton
    August 4, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Can you buy this play list as a cd

    Reply
  • Rayan khan
    January 2, 2018 at 6:46 am

    There are many reasons why travelers decide to take a road trip. For many with larger families, a road trip could be much more economical than flying. For many others, nothing beats becoming a good old street map and plotting where to proceed. There are numerous major reasons why choosing a road trip is this wonderful adventure. 1 popular explanation is that the road trip provides the excitement of seeing what’s round the corner. For the spontaneous road tripper, a car ride to where the road takes you’ll result in many surprises along the way.

    Reply
  • Dan
    May 13, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Magnificent Seven – Elmer Bernstein

    Reply
  • Farenexus Nexus
    September 5, 2018 at 10:59 am

    All are amazing songs for a great road trip. I wish to experience with my friends. Hope so we gonna plan road trip very soon. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • vishal kumar
    July 28, 2020 at 10:02 am

    All songs are awesome listed above, i find almost all song on spoytify.

    Reply

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