If there was one thing you would use to connect country music stars together, to make a through-line through the genre, would there be any choice, really, but a highway? What's more country music (or American) than that? And what's crazy is that this country music highway already exists. (Also it's literally called The Country Music Highway.)
Where is the Country Music Highway?
US Highway 23 begins in Eastern Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains and runs through The Bluegrass State. What makes the highway so special though, is that it is loaded with country music history. Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, The Judds, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tom T. Hall, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, and Patty Loveless all lived or grew up within miles of the highway. Aside from Nashville itself, maybe nowhere in the United States has been home to so many country music legends. Their lives and their Kentucky heritage are fully on display at the highway's crown jewel, the U.S. 23 Country Music Highway Museum in Paintsville, Kentucky.
The highway itself runs through seven Kentucky counties, all in the Appalachian region of the state, and the Country Music Highway Museum is far from the only attraction.
Loretta Lynn's homeplace, Butcher Holler, is located Van Lear, Kentucky and open to the public. There the town honors how Lynn and her sister Crystal Gayle's songs paid tribute to coal miners and the mountain life. Another site to see is the Pikeville Cut-Through, a beautiful spot to see where the highway cuts through some majestic, ancient mountains.
And what would country music be without an Opry, right? The Kentucky Opry at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. The Kentucky Opry troupe started in 1990 and is made up of talented musicians from all over the eastern part of the state. (Wanna bet they do some pretty solid bluegrass tunes there?) The troupe performs at the Opry regularly along with other awesome acts. The Opry is a family-friendly spot so it's a road trip spot even the kids will love.
Whether you're driving to see history or hear some music, there are few better roads to travel in America than the Country Music Highway.