George Strait loves singing about places. So we thought it would be fun to create a mega road trip based off places the King of Country Music mentions in his songs.
With apologies to Honolulu, Seattle and New York City, we think it came out pretty well. If you’ve already tried our ultimate Texas country road trip and want a bigger challenge, look no further.
If you’re up for completing the whole loop, go for it. Otherwise, you can always fly to one of the end points and drive the rest of the way.
Oh, and here’s a Strait song to listen to as your peruse your itinerary.
We’ll start with an open-ended destination. King George mentions the beautiful state and its wide open skies in “Baby Blue.” And excitingly enough, Colorado actually offers some excellent country music opportunities. If you’re there in January, make it out to the Music Fest in Steamboat Springs. It’s the premier event for Texas country, red dirt and upcoming Americana acts. Plus, skiing is great! If you’re on a summer trip, hit up the Country Jam festival outside Grand Junction, Colo.
Las Vegas, Nevada
In “She Let Herself Go,” Strait sings the praises of a woman who finally enjoyed the life she wanted. Short of going on a single’s cruise or booking a big ticket to Hawaii, you can do the same. Head to Las Vegas just like Strait’s heroine. While there, catch a show from one of several country legends playing residencies. If you go at the right time, you’ll catch George Strait himself. Others regularly performing on the strip include Reba with Brooks & Dunn and Rascal Flatts.
Marina Del Rey, California
Well he’s got a whole dang song about Marina Del Rey, so you have to go there! Enjoy some time on the beach just like in the song. Just don’t get your heart broken. Head to Montana’s in nearby San Dimas for some traditional country dancing (they even have lessons) and honky tonking, LA-style. On your way into Marina Del Rey, stop in Bakersfield (under two hours north) and check out the Kern County Museum or Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame to brush up on your Merle Haggard and Buck Owens knowledge — both influences of Strait’s.
San Diego, California
Strait sings of San Diego in “If You Can Do Anything Else.” And truthfully, that song represents most of the distance in this road trip. But it’s great for you, because San Diego is an excellent town with tons of history. But you don’t have to abandon country music while you’re there, either. Stop by local favorite InCahoots for a night of near-the-border honky tonk entertainment.
You could also crossover and escape to Mexico like some of your favorite country tunes, but that’s only for the really bold. It’s worth noting, too, that Indio, Calif. sits a little over two hours East/Northeast of San Diego. That’s the home of Stagecoach every April, and totally worth the drive if you can snag tickets.
Obviously, there’s no ocean front property in Arizona. That fact alone led to a huge hit for Strait with the sarcastically titled “Ocean Front Property.” But you got your ocean fix a day ago in California, and there is some gorgeous scenery, and some great stopovers for country music fans. In fact, Arizona actually has strong country ties as the home state of artists like Jessi Colter and Dierks Bentley. You can also head south to Nogales, Ariz. to check out Paul Bond Boots, one of the premier boot makers in the entire world. Or, if you stay a bit north, Handlebar J in Scottsdale is known across the state as a go-to country drive. Same with Norton’s Country Corner Southeast of Phoenix.
Obviously you’re going to Amarillo. But it’s not just a matter of going to the famous locale of “Amarillo By Morning.” You need to check out the event Strait so often sings praises of: the rodeo. Amarillo has several, including the World Championship Ranch Rodeo, Coors Cowboy Ranch Rodeo and the Tri-State Fair & Rodeo. Cadillac Ranch is always worth a stop, too.
Now that you’re in Texas (possibly again), there are tons of options. Strait sang about tons of places throughout the state, but the Dallas/Ft. Worth area packs an amazing amount of punch in the world of country music. And hey, you’ll drive through Abilene on the way, and then Temple on your next trip (both mentioned in “All My Exes Live In Texas”). From Billy Bob’s Texas and the Ft. Worth Stockyards to Dallas’ Poor David’s listening room and Adair’s, you have your hands full with country options. And hey, if you need a break from the country fun (blasphemy), Six Flags calls.
This is George Strait ground zero, sung about in several tunes, including “Remember The Alamo.” On the way down, stop by and pay your respects to Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas. It’s the birthplace of Strait’s career and a legendary venue for all kinds of acts coming out of Texas. Once in San Antonio, there’s no shortage of great country history to soak in. We don’t recommend trying to find Strait’s home for legal reasons, but you may catch him watching a San Antonio Spurs basketball game. Or if country music history is more your thing, head to Gruene Hall or Luckenbach.
Similar to your DFW stop, this one is really up to you. If you haven’t gotten enough of big cities, Houston offers all the flash and glamour of a big town with country roots. The Houston rodeo is world famous. Firehouse Saloon is a must for any true country fan (both modern and traditional). Meanwhile, Galveston gives you more of that ocean air and the opportunity to see a show in the amazing Grand 1894 Opera House. There’s always some cool festival going on at Galveston Island too, so if you’re looking for a change of pace, here’s your place.
If you haven’t noticed on this George Strait tour, you’ve got plenty of options for sunshine and beaches. Another place mentioned in “If You Can Do Anything Else,” Pensacola gives you nearly year-round sunshine and a chance to see just how much Floridians enjoy country music. There are also tons of cool museums in the area if history is your thing, including the Naval Aviation Museum. And if you’re there around the right time, hit up the Gulf Coast Jam music festival on your way to your next stop (just under two hours East).
Gorgeous and historic Savannah (another “If You Can Do Anything Else” town) offers a great chance to slow down and take in some amazing U.S. history. Spend your night at country bar Saddle Bags after a day of beautiful nature in Forsyth Park and shopping along River Street.
Finally, make your way up to Tennessee, where Strait had to hang his hat, thanks to all those exes (fictitiously, of course). The home of country music offers great opportunities, including the Country Music Hall of Fame (which Strait plays a large role in) and the Grand Ole Opry.
Congratulations! You completed a massive road trip of some of the best places George Strait has mentioned in his songs. The whole trip covers more than 4,500 miles and should take you a few weeks if you’re doing it right and are really taking time to enjoy it. Just imagine if we’d included places King George mentions in his songs like Seattle and West Virginia!