road tripping with kids

By Megan Walsh

It’s very common for me to spend my weekends road tripping with kids—mine are 2 and 6—down the scenic 280 highway from my home in San Francisco to Santa Cruz, where my family often gathers. There’s nothing I love more than passing the journey as one long sing-along dance party in the car with my kids.

Whether you’re taking a local jaunt or going on a larger adventure, the time is well-spent watching the scenery go by and connecting over great music rather than plugged into screens.

Road Tripping With Kids Summer Playlist

Here are my top song picks for road tripping with kids aged 18 months to 18 years. It’s hard to choose because there are so many genres to pick from, but hopefully clicking through to some of these will get you started on your own musical adventure.

1. Sheppard – Geronimo. Play this as you start out on the open road and set the tone for adventure!

2. Okee Dokee Brothers – Can You Canoe? Also great for a campfire if that’s where your travels take you.

3. Ozomatli Kids – Moose on the Loose. Way more spunky and fun to sing along to, even for the youngest family members.

4. Talking Heads – Naive Melody. The Talking Heads have cross-generational appeal.

5. B52’s Rock Lobster. I’ve found it to be a universal truthall toddlers instinctively love psychedelic surf rock. Beware: inspires silliness.

6. Yakety Yak by the Coasters. Excellent saxophone solos to be had by all. From one of the best soundtracks of all time: Stand by Me. Get the whole thing; it never gets old.

7. My Morning Jacket – Black Metal. I know, sounds a little “heavy” for kids. But actually my kids love this whole album, and it includes several sweet lullabies that we often rely on to put them to sleep when an in-car nap is necessary.

8. Cake – You Part the Waters. Another song not explicitly written for kids, but totally kid-approved.

9. Jackson 5 – Rockin’ Robin. Classic! Also includes an opportunity to inspire the budding naturalist to look out for various different types of birds while out and about. Wish there were a similar song about all the different types of trucks, which is my son’s personal favorite thing to catalog.

10. Dolly Parton – Little Sparrow. Love this whole album for kids — she reprises today’s hits in her signature bluegrassy sound.

11. John Prine – Big Old Goofy Man. This song has such a sweet sentiment and pairs well with family memories.

12. Elvis Presley – Little Sister. Isn’t it also our job as older people to introduce our kids to the King?

13. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Bored Is A Bad Word. “The King of Kid-Hop” is definitely cooler than me. I love his message, especially while road tripping!

Wherever your summer travels take you, I hope these songs keep you upbeat when you’re road tripping with kids. What are your favorite songs for summer?


Megan’s favorite school memory is discovering a peer counseling program that helped her become a leader in her toughest year of grade-school – when she grew 11 inches in 12 months and changed schools as a 5’8” fifth-grader.  Now she is a mom of two Bay Area babes, and spends the workweek helping more parents find and leverage Schoola to fund their school programs.