Classic road trip songs
Classic songs, historic hotels and road trips — blend the three and you have the makings of a travel-inspired playlist that will put you in the mood to hit the open road for any one of these historic American hotels:
Road trip songs for your playlist:
“Fun, Fun, Fun” by the Beach Boys
“With the radio blasting,” road trippers will have “fun, fun, fun” when they check into the Hawthorne Hotel. While this is no California hotel, it shares the same namesake as the city that the Beach Boys hailed from — Hawthorne, California. Hawthorne Hotel, meanwhile, calls Salem, Massachusetts home.
Still, this hotel has more California ties than meets the eye. The Hollywood classic television show, Bewitched, brought Hawthorne some California fame. A façade of the hotel’s exterior was built on a Hollywood studio lot for the show’s “Salem Saga” episodes. During the saga and for years after, viewers flooded the hotel with calls, questioning why the show’s hotel interiors bore no resemblance to the real hotel. The reason — the Bewitched hotel was in California, not Massachusetts. So if you’re taking a road trip toward Hawthorne — either the historic hotel or the California city — it might be fun to blast some Beach Boys.
“Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles
There’s nothing like “life in the fast lane,” especially when road trippers hit the open road. So if you have a need for speed, blast the Eagles and head south to Texas where a 41-mile stretch of toll road between Austin and San Antonio boasts the highest speed limit of any highway in the United States at 85 mph. Only Germany’s Autobahn has faster speeds, with highway signs “advising” speeds of 81 mph.
This toll road, Texas 130, features The Crockett Hotel which is known for the battle cry that rang out during the Alamo. This San Antonio hotel is steps away from the Alamo, where the hotel’s namesake, Davy Crockett, and an outnumbered group of Texans took their last stand against the Mexican Army during a thirteen-day siege. Steps away from this historic hotel, the first shouts of “Remember the Alamo!” were heard.
“Route 66” by Nat King Cole
“If you ever plan to motor west, / Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best.” Nat King Cole’s “Route 66” captured the road trip spirit that turned a 2,448-mile highway stretch into the Main Street of America. Long before the “interstate” was born, this highway-fueled American adventure, and today road trippers take this route to experience its nostalgic journey.
Filled with road trip oddities, like the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, travelers can escape to a bygone era where trivial wonders were the big draw, giving families their “kicks on Route 66.” If you decide to make this trek, make sure you check out our full-featured story on Route 66, a state-by-state look at the “Mother Road” and all the best historic hotels and Americana oddities along the way.
“Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses
In Paradise City, “the grass is green” and “the girls are pretty.” There’s much debate over which city Guns N’ Roses were singing about — Los Angeles, where the band was based out of, or Lafayette, Indiana, where some of its members hailed from. Needless to say, the No. 5 Billboard song is a catchy tune when you’re trying to get somewhere.
Since the band wrote the song in the back of a rental van after playing a San Francisco gig, we’ll hone in on this pretty city and The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco. Here, in the hotel’s ornate Venetian Room, more music history was made when Tony Bennett first sang his signature tune, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” If you’re looking for a soothing drive, Bennett’s song about the “city by the bay” will take you there, but for a rocking road trip, there’s always Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City.”
“Graceland” by Paul Simon
“I am following the river down the highway / Through the cradle of the Civil War.” Go to Memphis, Tennessee, where this Blue City road trip inspired Paul Simon to write his 1988 Grammy Award-winner, “Graceland.” More than just a song, Graceland is the 13.8-acre estate in Memphis that was home to music legend Elvis Presley. Now a music museum, Graceland has become one of the most visited private homes in America with more than 600,000 annual visitors.
The Graceland mansion, Gibson guitar factory and Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum are just fifteen minutes away from The Peabody Memphis, a member of Historic Hotels of America, which has its own celebrity act — The Peabody Ducks. These marching ducks have appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and make their red carpet appearance in the lobby to the tune of John Phillip Sousa’s “King Cotton March.” So whether you want to jam out to Simon, Elvis or Sousa, the Blue City has some road trip tunes for your next getaway.