The time-honored tradition of cross-country travel isn't complete without tunes blaring from the car stereo but this summer try experiencing music outside the automobile.
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Give the road trip a new tune and celebrate the 50th anniversary of rock 'n' roll by making pit stops to explore the roots of the music that got hips shaking across America.
From Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn., to Newport, R.I., where Bob Dylan (search) plugged in an electric guitar, historical rock sites are ready for fans to honor the music's roots. Whether you're on the East or West Coast, down South or in the Motor City, there are sights to see where the greats got going.
"Everybody grew up with rock 'n' roll — It's a great experience to go check out the sites where it all started," said Kevin Mazur, 43, a veteran rock photographer who has snapped Elton John, U2 and the Rolling Stones. "For my parents a night out was going to the theater, but for our generation a big night out is going to a concert."
According to rockandroll50th.com, the "official" celebration of rock's 50th anniversary lasts from July 5, 2004, through July 5, 2005. Although rock's roots can arguably be traced further back, July 5 was picked because half a century ago on that date Elvis Presley (search) recorded his first album, "That's All Right," in Memphis.
The King's music lives on, and today visitors can stand in the exact spot at Sun Studios where he belted out a sound considered dangerous at the time. And, of course, no Elvis pilgrimage is complete without a stop to his famous home, Graceland.
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But Memphis is much more than just Elvis' stomping ground. Beale Street, touted as "the home of the Blues," is chockablock with entertainment. Mazur said he loves the strip because different music soars out of every club.
All the way up the East Coast, get things cranking with a visit to Newport, R.I., where Dylan changed American music forever in 1965 when he swapped his acoustic guitar for an electric one at the Newport Folk Music Festival.
"The influence was astonishing," said Dafydd Rees, co-author of "Rock & Roll Year by Year." "He proved you could take one musical style and mix it with another and it works."
The festival lives on, and this year performers including Crosby, Stills & Nash, Wilco and Lucinda Williams will take the stage from Aug. 6 to Aug. 8.
Music enthusiasts can also explore New York City's rocky side. Rees recommended visiting the Ed Sullivan theater, current home to "The Late Show With David Letterman," to see where the Beatles played their first U.S. gig.
Just walking around the city, fans can get a nice taste of rock history: Bleecker Street is home to a slew of clubs where everyone from Bo Diddley to Bruce Springsteen has performed. And Bowery Street is the home of CBGB (search), where punk reared its rebellious head and bands like The Talking Heads came to fame.
A jaunt into musical history, experts argue, is not complete without a pit stop in Detroit, the Motor City. "If you cut out Motown [Records] you are cutting out the history of black music and you have to include that if you want to learn about rock 'n' roll," Rees said.
The Motown Historical Museum traces the roots of the label's history through memorabilia and allows visitors into the original "Studio A," where multiple hits were recorded by groups such as The Miracles, The Temptations and the Jackson Five.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is currently celebrating the classic tunes and cool style of The Supremes in an exhibit called "Reflections: The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy Collection." On display are more than 50 Supremes costumes and other rare items.
And who can forget a sound that emerged down in the bayou in the late 19th century that they called jazz? The New Orleans Jazz Commission (search) offers a variety of walking tour information for fans of the music, which had an undeniable influence on rock. Among the stops on one of the tours is the J&M Studio building in the French Quarter, where Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and other musicians made recordings.
Finally, on the West Coast, check out the sights of Seattle, the birthplace of Grunge (search). The Experience Music Project celebrates the sound made famous by Pearl Jam and Nirvana. The "total sensory experience" lets visitors hear musicians tell their stories, play an instrument and create their own music. Plus, more than 80,000 musical artifacts are on display including instruments used by Muddy Waters and Kurt Cobain.
EMP is "very, very cool," said Mazur. "They have the best Jimi Hendrix collection I've ever seen and really cool interactive musical experiences. I was really impressed — and I've been to all these places."
Even the architecture rocks in Los Angeles: The Capitol Building facade was built to resemble a stack of vinyl records. Artists like the Beach Boys, who brought surf rock to the scene in the 1960s, and Pink Floyd have recorded under the Capitol label. For live music in halls that have featured history's greatest rockers check out The Whisky a Go-Go where Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin played.
In honor of rock's 50th anniversary, Mazur partnered with the travel company Orbitz to create the "Summer of Rock" site that offers maps of music haunts, concert listings and tour information.
From Chicago to Nashville to Austin, there are many other cities where the home-grown roots of rock 'n' roll can be enjoyed, so rev up your engine and rock on.