South Dakota may not top everyone’s bucket list. But I promise, you haven’t seen a sunset until that big orange ball sleeps over the plains. My suggestion for a true-blue American summer journey? Park the car in a mom-and-pop motel, snap open a Grain Belt beer, turn up the radio and let the guitar chords of a country-music song remind you why the best road trips cross the country’s unexplored Midwest.
The highways here stretch forever, as do the skies that shadow them. Whether it’s Wyoming or Ohio, Rapid City or Cedar Rapids, pick a place in the Heartland and get movin’. Because if you’re looking for open spaces, unexpected hospitality, firm handshakes and the perfect steak, I’m pretty sure we’ve got it all…
1. Scotty McCreery- Water Tower Town: Your introduction to a typical Midwest town, where “everybody waves/
church doors are the only thing that’s open on Sundays/word travels fast, wheels turn slow…”
2. Rodney Atkins- Take A Back Road: “Put a little gravel in your travel”, Atkins sings, and drive off those dull, gray interstates. Who knows what you’ll find when you lose yourself on some back road.
3. Josh Turner- Time is Love: Some trips are escapes, others are rescues. Everyone’s “gotta put in the hours/
make the money while the sunlight shines”; but, time is love, and every minute you wait is a mile of pavement too far…
4. Jerrod Niemann- Shinin’ On Me: A positive reminder of all those blessings from the road, where “the sun is shinin’ on me/ain’t sweatin’ the little things…”
5. Zac Brown Band- The Wind: Another lyrical tribute to the distances we’ll go for someone we love. It’s the romanticism of a road trip, trading kilometers for heartbeats. “Where the wind blows babe/You can bet/ I’ll be riding high with it…”
6. Kip Moore- Beer Money: If you’re like Moore, stuck in a one-horse town, “gotta a little cash burning holes in my pocket”, then put your “foot on the gas, taking off like a rocket.” Beer money, gas money, whatever it costs to get away for a while.
7. Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffet- 5:00 Somewhere: A classic dream for the office worker, wondering when that happy hour will role around. “I’m gettin’ paid by the hour and older by the minute/ my boss just pushed me over the limit.” Make like Buffet: call it a day and go out in search of your own Margaritaville.
8. Brooks & Dunn- Cowboy Town: A second anthem for small-town America, farmers and ranchers, who “…like our whiskey strong/play our music loud/ get things done by the sweat of our brow.” Some place where Stetsons and red pickup trucks are as common as cans of PBR.
9. Keith Urban- Long Hot Summer: Roadtrips represent summer as much as Popsicles and lemonade stands. Nothing says three months of freedom like “…your feet on the dashboard now/ singing along with the radio/ it’s such a beautiful sound.”
10. Matt Maher- Woke Up in America: With the 4th of July snuggled into the season, a summer drive also inspires patriotism. From the “shoreline shoutin’ over California/ moonlight dancin’ over the Dakotas/it breaks your heart, it’s so beautiful/ Lady Liberty, she leaves the light on.” As you travel across this varied and astounding landscape, maybe you’ll pick up a bit of Maher’s pride…
Which songs make up your Midwest playlist? Let me know the tunes I’m missing…