9 Best Road Trip Destinations for Music Lovers in the US
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- The French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
- BB King Museum, Indianola, MS
- Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN
- National Jazz Museum, New York City, NY
- Hip hop tour of New York City, NY
- Motown Museum, Detroit, MI
- Paisley Park, Chanhassen, MN
- Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, WA
- Whiskey a Go Go, Los Angeles, CA
- Roadside assistance
Fans of all kinds of music will find scores of destinations to explore for their next road trip. From jazz to country to rock and roll, the United States has a long musical history that crosses many genres.
No matter what your favorite genre is, there’s a museum, memorial, or even theme park to fit your tastes.
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The car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry will help you do just that by showing you up to 50 competitive quotes in a matter of seconds! So compare some rates, and then download your favorite playlist, load your car, and set a course for these musical landmarks!
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Continue reading to learn all about the best road trip destinations for music lovers.
The French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
New Orleans, Louisiana is the city where jazz was born. The venues and the bustling neighborhoods played an important role in the early days of the genre. The music scene is still vibrant there today and most nights you won’t have to go farther than a street corner to hear great live music.
The Crescent City is a major jazz destination and you can see live music in bars and clubs all over town. Preservation Hall has been hosting traditional New Orleans-style jazz for over 60 years! Stop by this historic building to see old-school acoustic sets nearly every night of the year.
To learn more about the history of jazz in NoLa, head to the New Orleans Jazz Museum, which is both a museum and venue. You’ll find archived photos, jazzy relics, old recordings, and even Louis Armstrong’s childhood horn.
Time your trip right and you can even enjoy the Satchmo Summerfest here.
Preservation Hall, New Orleans, Louisiana
BB King Museum, Indianola, MS
The next stop on your road trip is the BB King Museum in King’s hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.
This tribute to the Delta Blues legend aims to, “empower, unite, and heal through music, art, and education and share with the world the rich cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta.”
This museum may not be located in a bustling tourist city, but diehard blues fans should think of it as a bucket-list pilgrimage. Even for music fans who don’t love the blues, this is worth the trip, as the Mississippi Delta is often celebrated as the birthplace of American music.
Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN
Next, we head east to Tennessee, home of Graceland, Beale Street, the Grand Ole Opry, and Nashville, the country music headquarters. Yet, none of these places looms as large as the personality of this theme park’s namesake, one of the country’s biggest music icons: Dolly Parton.
The Dollywood amusement park boasts rides, a water park, a resort, and a theater. Not to mention all your favorite Dolly Parton tunes and a pirate-themed dinner show. This will easily be one of the most unique stops on the whole road trip!
Dollywood amusement park, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
National Jazz Museum, New York City, NY
A long drive will bring you to NYC, New York, where you’ll find the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
While New Orleans may be the city where jazz started, New York City and its burrows played a major role in the history of jazz as well.
At the National Jazz Museum, you’ll find the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, along with classes, exhibits, shows, and conversations that span the jazz scene’s early days in the burrows to the modern-day state of the genre.
One highlight is the Savory Collection, which holds 100+ hours of recorded radio broadcasts from 1935 to 1941. You can listen to legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, and Count Basie the way you would have in their heyday.
Harlem, New York
Hip hop tour of New York City, NY
While New York doesn’t have a standard museum for hip-hop fans, you can still explore the city to find some iconic landmarks.
To mark the anniversary of Jam Master Jay’s death, artist Eduardo Kobra painted a huge mural in the East Village. You can find it on the corner of 12th and Avenue A.
1520 Sedgwick Avenue
New York has historically accepted 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx as the birthplace of hip-hop. It may just be an apartment complex, but experts say this is where some of the genre’s first performances took place.
Graffiti Hall of Fame
In the early 80s, Sting Ray Rodriguez tagged the Jackie Robinson Educational Center. The tagged walls of the center remain a sort of street museum of hip-hop-inspired graffiti art today.
Wu-Tang Clan District
This legendary group has its own street corner in Staten Island, where the group started out. Head to the corner of Vanderbilt Ave. and Targee St. to pay respects to Ghostface Killah, RZA, GZA, ODB, and the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Bronx, New York City, New York
Motown Museum, Detroit, MI
The next stop on this cross-country road trip is the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan. Learn about the history of some of the era’s biggest recording artists, stay for a program or performance, and check out some special exhibits, including the Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On” feature.
You can even take a walking tour of the Empire neighborhood, where original homes from the era can still be found.
Paisley Park, Chanhassen, MN
To round out the Midwest, you could always go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Prince fans shouldn’t miss out on Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
The late artist’s private estate stands today as a museum to the legend who brought us Purple Rain. The design of the mansion and recording studio is worth seeing in itself, but you’ll want to take a tour, too.
You’ll find striking decor, vintage tour posters, concert wardrobes, art, and even motorcycles, giving you a look into the life and mind of a musical genius.
Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, WA
This brings us to Washington, where you’ll find Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop). Featuring exhibits on everything from graphic art to Disney costumes to horror films, this one is much more than a music museum.
With rotating programs, you can find a wide array of music content, too. Check out the guitar gallery and features on artists like Pearl Jam and Jimi Hendrix. There’s also an interactive sound lab, plus a local music showcase, classes, and workshops.
Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, Washington
Whiskey a Go Go, Los Angeles, CA
Going south to Los Angeles, California, you’ll find one of the most iconic rock venues in the country: Whiskey a Go Go. This Sunset Strip nightclub hosted early performances of many groundbreaking artists, from Van Halen, AC/DC, The Byrds, and Alice Cooper to Linkin Park, Metallica, and No Doubt.
You can stop by to take in a bit of rock history or stay for a show. Whiskey a Go Go still books some of the biggest names in rock music.
MORE: Los Angeles road trip
Whiskey a Go Go, Los Angeles, California
Avoid the roadside breakdown blues
If you want to tick all these spots off your bucket list, you’ve got, in the words of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, a long and winding road ahead.
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