Whether you’re headed north to Marquette, south to Cedar Point, west to Grand Haven or anywhere in between (find destination ideas here), there’s nothing like a little music to make the drive more fun.
If you’re thinking Kidz Bop, think again. While we love the kid-friendly pop songs they produce, we think mom and dad deserve a little representation in the family road trip playlist too. Besides, why not unplug from your personal devices and rear entertainment systems for a couple hours and have a good old family singalong to some music everyone can enjoy?
We’ve got you covered, parents. Check out our ultimate family road trip playlist, including newer music and some old-school favorites mixed in. Add your favorite road trip songs in the comments!
1. “Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams
This classic rock hit is dripping with nostalgia and only a teenie hint of angst. Mostly it’s a romaticized jaunt through the ambitions of youths long past.
2. “MMMBop” by Hanson
Cheerful in both tone and content, this sing-song anthem that made Isaac, Taylor and Zac a household name in the ’90s will be an easy sell for your carload of tots.
3. “Hard Times” by Paramore
This funky 2017 release has an ’80s throwback vibe that parents will appreciate – and it’s just plain catchy for your summer drives.
4. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
There’s a great chance that your kids have already developed an ear for this upbeat tune. The title says it all for the song that first made its rounds with gradeschoolers on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack before becoming a chart-topping hit.
5. “Castle On The Hill” by Ed Sheeran
The fast-paced dose of childhood nostalgia from crooner Ed Sheeran will have you tapping the steering wheel and serenading your whole family. Keep in mind, though, that this song’s lyrics reference cigarettes and alcohol mid-way through – so it might be best for an older (or much younger) set.
6. “Dirty Paws” by Of Monster and Men
Channeling a love for fairy tales come easily for most kids. So naturally, this quirky ballad of victory and valor by Icelandic folk-pop sensation Of Monsters and Men will captivate your children (and you’ll be clapping along too).
7. “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors
This genre-defying breakthrough hit establishes itself as fully addictive from the moment the banjo-laden intro begins. You’ll be singing it to yourself and your kids for days to come. It doesn’t get much more optimistic and upbeat than this.
8. “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s
Your urge to buy an acoustic guitar will be growing with every playthrough of this adorably sweet song.
9. “Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford and Sons
Moody yet poppy and full of raw energy, this hipster power ballad will be a favorite of the entire family. Marcus Mumford’s gravelly delivery along with the folksy arrangement are singalong inspiring to say the least.
10. “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus
This may have been Miley’s last bubblegum hit before she abandoned her teeny-bop image. Good thing, because it was a lasting one with its colorful summer vacation vibe.
11. “ABC” by the Jackson 5
This song should require no introduction or explanation. If you haven’t introduced your kids to the vocals of a young Michael Jackson yet, “ABC” is the obvious icebreaker. Be warned, Motown is addictive. Adding this soulful delight to your road trip playlist could easily lead to an entire road trip overtaken by Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves and Stevie Wonder.
12. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
Of course you and your kids all know and love this song. Poignant, confident and addictively rhythmic, “Shake It Off” is an anthem of individuality that represents just the tip of the T. Swift iceberg.
13. “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles
This melodic Abbey Road favorite perfectly captures the relief we all feel after a Michigan winter and it makes a groovy accompaniment to any road trip. Plus, the Beatles. Obviously.
14. “Firework” by Katy Perry
Inspirational and daring you to overcome any obstacle. It’s hard not to look ahead after hearing one of Katy Perry’s many hits.
15. “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer
Is it cheesy? Yes. Will it make you picture yourself wearing parachute pants? Definitely. Will your kids love it? You bet.
16. “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts
Originally penned by Tom Cochrane, the modern country version of this boot-stomping, feel-good hit is sure to make your family smile and sing along.
17. “Holiday” by Madonna
It’s summer, you’re on holiday and maybe you’d like to reminisce about the road trips you took with your parents in the ’80s. As the Queen of Pop says, “Put your trouble down / It’s time to celebrate.”
18. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
While your JT love probably stems back to his *NSYNC days, your kiddos likely only know him as a solo artist. Here is another one of his jams to dance to all summer long. The lyrics are super kid-friendly, too. How can you go wrong?
19. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
It’s a 6-minute musical masterpiece, and it’s about time you introduce your kids to it. Before or after you listen to this classic, have one of the kids read and share these 20 facts about the song with the rest of the family.
20. “No Excuses” by Meghan Trainor
The “All About That Bass” singer is back with another empowering tune with a peppy beat. We’re sure you’ll have this song in you head for most of your road trip. Sorry, not sorry!
This post was originally published in 2015 and is updated regularly.