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Lonely Planet Writer

Audiobooks to narrate your US roadtrip

In our opinion, the best way to truly see the United States is by car. There are so many wide open spaces here that you end up missing so much when you fly from one big city to another. Some of the most amazing arts, culture, food and history can be discovered somewhere in the middle. So load up the car, download some audiobooks, and hit the road to uncover the real America.

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A car drives on a windy road that you can barely see because of the dense orange, red, yellow and green foliage while listening to audiobooks for a US road trip through small-town America.
Journey through the northeast with Peyton Place and learn what small-town America is really like © Pete Turner / Getty Images

Peyton Place for your small town Northeastern getaway

The book

While meandering through small towns across the northeast, listen to Peyton Place by Grace Metalious on audiobook. The book caused a sensation when it first came out in 1956. This novel about the lives of three women, reveals the dark underbelly of small-town New England life and will make you think twice about the folks you run into at the local coffee shop. The juicy story will make it hard to press pause when you reach your destination.

The trip

Start with a few hours at Dia:Beacon, the super cool contemporary art museum two hours north of Manhattan, in Beacon, New York. Then drive into Hudson where you can do some antiquing and enjoy some fine dining in the historic whaling town.

The next day, head to Washington, Connecticut the quintessential New England town which inspired Stars Hollow on The Gilmore Girls. Check out the town’s architecture and grab a bite at a local cafe, then head to historic Essex, Connecticut. Browse the shops on Main Street and visit the Griswold Inn and its 18th-century tap room.

An empty street lined with buildings all with grey cedar shake siding and white trimmed windows.
Martha's Vineyard is a quintessential East Coast summer destination © Maremagnum / Getty Images

On day three, drive to Edgartown, Massachusetts. Edgartown is the oldest town in Martha’s Vineyard. Spend a day marveling at the grand historic homes on the island, and later, visit the Edgartown Lighthouse. Enjoy the fine dining the town has to offer and don't forget to schedule some sand and surf time at Katama Beach.

Drive north to Woodstock, Vermont. Wander the cute town center, go for a hike in nearby Quechee Gorge and try some authentic Vermont maple treats. Sample the local cheese at a creamery on The Vermont Cheese Trail.

While this trip can be done in four days, you may want to give yourself a couple of extra days to enjoy the beach in Edgartown.

A road at sunset lined with lit up buildings with neon signs. Southern Lady Code is an excellent audiobooks for US Road trip selection.
Head to lower Broadway on your Southeastern road trip for the live honky-tonk © Denis Tangney Jr / Getty Images

Southern Lady Code for a Southeastern jaunt

The book

Listening to Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis on your Southeastern jaunt will have you laughing till you cry, and need to pull over to collect yourself. Ellis has great comedic timing, and this is one of those books that’s just better in audio form. She tells stories from her childhood in The South and funny anecdotes about the way her southern etiquette has translated to her adult life in New York.

The trip

Begin in Louisville, KY. and swing by the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory to learn about the history of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat in the city of its birthplace. Catch a minor league baseball game at Louisville Slugger Stadium.

Drive two and a half hours south to Nashville, Tennessee. Try some hot chicken at Hattie B’s, and cut loose to some live music at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge or the Ryman Auditorium.

A waterfall drops from a sheer cliff overlooking a verdant valley with some red wildflowers dotting the landscape.
A trip to Lookout Mountain comes with views of falls, a walk through caves and all the kitsch you'll ever need © Gnagel / Getty Images

Spend the next day in Chattanooga. For a classic American tourist attraction, visit Lookout Mountain, the home of Rock City and Ruby Falls to catch a wave of kitschy nostalgia.

From Chattanooga, it’s only a two-hour drive to Atlanta, GA. Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and walk the 1.5-mile landscaped trail to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum and Library. For a little more exercise and a great look at Atlanta, walk or bike the BeltLine. In the evening, enjoy fine dining at Gunshow then check out Atlanta’s nightlife – they don’t call it Hotlanta for nothing.

Drive four and a half hours to Charleston, South Carolina. Take in the elegance of the historic district then test your nerve with a ghost tour. Be sure to work up an appetite, because this is a foodie city. If you don’t mind lines 167 Raw has the best seafood in town.

You’ll want at least five days for this trip.

Historic brick homes line the narrow Elfreth's Alley in Philadelphia. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a fantastic selection for audiobooks for US road trip.
Head to Elfreth's Alley, the oldest residential street in America © Gonzalo Azumendi / Getty Images

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States for your Revolutionary War journey

The book

Spend your Revolutionary War journey listening to Sarah Vowell’s Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. The frequent This American Life contributor is an engaging storyteller. She does a great job mixing American history with stories about the people she meets and adventures she gets up to visiting historic sites. Guest appearances by Nick Offerman as George Washington make it an especially fun listen.

In Philadelphia, walk down the United States’ oldest residential street, Elfreth’s Alley. Tour Betsy Ross House, The Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall.

Head down to Baltimore and explore the Inner Harbour. Sample a local beer at Max’s Taphouse or one of the many other bars in Fells Point.

The Lincoln Memorial lit up at night reflected in the pond below. A trip to Washington isn't complete without a selection from the audiobooks for US road trips.
The Lincoln Memorial is just one of many sights that you must see in Washington, D.C. @ Sen Li / Getty Images

Devote a day or two in Washington, DC, visiting the Smithsonian museums and the Lincoln Memorial.

Pay homage to George Washington at his home, Mount Vernon. Book a guided tour through the home, then explore the grounds on your own. While there, hop on a boat cruise on the Potomac.

A full day in Colonial Williamsburg can't be skipped. Tour the opulent Governor’s Palace, interact with the reenactors and observe the craftspeople.

This trip can be done in six days.

A road leads through a cactus field while the sun lights up interesting clouds. The Tempest is the perfect audiobooks for US road trip out west selection.
Go from arid Arizona to mountainous Wyoming on your western road trip © Danita Delimont / Getty Images

Tempest for your romantic western trail

The book

Cruise across the wild west listening to Beverly Jenkins’ Tempest. In this audiobook, a fiery, headstrong woman from Arizona responds to a doctor’s ad for a bride to help him raise his young daughter in the Wyoming Territory. After making the long train journey north, she mistakes her husband-to-be for a train robber and shoots him. They keep butting heads in their sizzling western romance.

The trip

Start in Tuscon, Arizona and explore downtown by walking the Turquoise Trail. Visit Mission San Xavier del Bac, a Catholic mission founded in the late 1600s.

Set aside a day for The Grand Canyon. Marvel at the views from the less touristy, north rim and stay for the sunset.

A few people walk in opposite directions through monumental rock formations in the red desert in Bryce Canyon, Utah.
Stop in Bryce Canyon for a hike on the Navajo Loop © Ed Freeman / Getty Images

Drive north, into Utah to visit the otherworldly Bryce Canyon and hike on the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Combination Trail.

Continue north, all the way to Cody, WY, a small town at the East gate of Yellowstone, that really retains its wild west feel. Catch the daily gunfight in front of the Irma Hotel, which was founded by Buffalo Bill then take a trolley tour. Explore the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. See some real cowboys at the rodeo.

Head two hours west into Yellowstone National Park where you can hike, look out for wildlife and awe at the geysers that make this park so famous.

Plan at least six days for this trip.

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