16 U.S. Cities with Black History Sites You Must See

travel destinations to celebrate black history
National Museum of African American History & Culture Photo Credit: Douglas Remley (Smithsonian)

This post was sponsored by Moon Travel Guides and as always all opinions are my own. See full disclosures.

There are so many Black history sites across the country that commemorate important moments in not only Black history but American history.  Many of these sites celebrate the awesome achievements of Black Americans while others honor the lives of so many who were unjustly taken from us.

In fact, Moon Travel Guides has released the U.S. Civil Rights Trail guidebook, authored by Deborah D. Douglas, that highlights the entire Civil Rights Trail that spans throughout the south from Little Rock, Arkansas to Washington D.C.

black history sites

The major destinations highlighted in the Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail guidebook include Charleston, Atlanta, Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham, Jackson, The Delta, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, Richmond, Farmville, and Washington D.C. along with high-level map of the entire trail and individual maps for each location.

What I love about the Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail guidebook is that it provides detailed itineraries and Black history sites, food recommendations, hotel info, and transportation info for each of the destinations.   It also provides the top 10 sites across the trail for quick reference and suggested multi-destination itineraries.

black history sites

It reads almost like a textbook because it also contains facts about notable people of the movement in that destination.  It also includes suggestions for engaging with local communities by supporting Black-owned businesses and seeking out activist groups.

Even if you’re not ready to plan a trip just yet, this guidebook is a great way to learn more about the many places of importance in the journey to freedom and equality and a tangible way for all of us to connect with this important history.

Thank you to Moon Travel Guides for providing me with a copy of the Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail book.

Here are some of my recommendations of travel destinations where you can visit Black history sites in the U.S. year-round.

*Please check with any of the locations mentioned to confirm whether they are open and any safety guidelines or Covid-19 precautions being taken.

1. Washington, D.C.

Black history sites

NMAAHC  (National Museum of African American History and Culture) -The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members.  Though admission is free, you’ll need to plan your visit in advance to get passes for a designated time to visit.

The museum is offering virtual tours and exhibits that can be viewed at any time even if you aren’t able to visit the museum.

2. Hampton, VA

black history sites
Fort Monroe – Photo Credit: Visit Hampton

Visit Hampton, VA to experience numerous Black history sites that shaped America on the 400 Years Forward tour.

Aberdeen Gardens – Historic landmark celebrating the historic neighborhood built for and by African-Americans in 1935 as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program.

Fort Monroe –  Location of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to English North America in 1619 and home of the largest stone fort ever built in the United States.  It’s also the site where the first runaway enslaved Black men were granted sanctuary in 1861 under the Contraband of War decision.  Virtual tours are also offered at this location.

Emancipation Oak – Designated as one of the greatest trees in the world, this 98-foot wide oak tree is the site of the first Southern reading of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.  Emancipation Oak is located on the historic HBCU Hampton University campus.

Hampton History MuseumA museum dedicated to showcasing the contributions of African Americans to Hampton’s rich history.

3. Atlanta, GA

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site – There are so many neat things to see at the MLK National Historic Site.  My son really enjoyed seeing the relics in the King Center.

black history sites in us

Center for Civil and Human Rights  –  Educating visitors on the bridge between the American Civil Rights Movement and the contemporary struggle for Human Rights around the world. The museum features the King Jr. Collection and more exhibits on global and American civil rights.

4. Cincinnati, OH

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – The mission of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is to reveal stories of freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps of freedom today. It serves to inspire modern abolition by connecting the lessons of the Underground Railroad with today’s freedom fighters.

5. San Diego, CA

African Museum Casa del Ray Moro – This is a very unique museum in the heart of San Diego’s historic old town. They showcase ancient, colonial, and contemporary periods of African History, on the African continent and throughout the African Diaspora. There is also a special focus on  African-Spanish, African-Mexican, and African-American heritage.

6. Savannah, GA

celebrate black history

Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum– Set in the original site of one of the first black owned banks in Georgia, the museum chronicles the civil rights struggle of Georgia’s oldest African-American community from slavery to the present. Three floors of historic photographic and interactive exhibits provide a glimpse of what life was like during the civil rights struggle in Savannah and in Georgia. My son and I visited on a trip to Savannah/Tybee Island.

Pinpoint Heritage Museum in Savannah,GA – For nearly one hundred years, Pin Point was isolated and self-sustained, a Gullah/Geechee enclave founded by first-generation freedmen where life was deeply connected to the water. Today, the factory has been reopened as Pin Point Heritage Museum, celebrating the life, work and history of this Gullah/Geechee community that calls Pin Point home.

7. Hilton Head Island, SC

Gullah Heritage Trail Tour in Hilton Head Island, SC – Fourth generation Gullah family members bring history to life with this fascinating tour through traditional Gullah neighborhoods and ‘off the beaten path’ historic sites. During the month of February there is also a Gullah Celebration with various events throughout the month.

8. Philadelphia, PA

African American Museum – The African American Museum in Philadelphia is the first institution built by a major United States city to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. AAMP’s exhibitions promote their mission to interpret art, history and culture. They inspire, educate, promote dialogue, and bring together community.

9. Macon, GA

Tubman Museum – The Tubman Museum is one of the largest museums in the nation dedicated to educating people about the Art, History, and Culture of African Americans.

10. St. Augustine, FL

black history sites

Fort Mose State Park –  This Florida Black history site is an interactive museum that tells the complete story of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what would become the United States. Although there are no remains of the earth and wooden structures, visitors can still view the land where the settlement once stood. In the summer months, there is a reenactment of the Battle of Bloody Mose.

Things To Do In St. Augustine

11. Memphis, TN

National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel – This is the site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and now home to a museum with 260 artifacts, more than 40 new films, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts that guide visitors through five centuries of history.

Memphis is also home to the Stax Museum of America Soul Music.

12. St. Petersburg, FL

Dr. Carter G Woodson African American History Museum – A museum in South St. Pete dedicated to preserving the history of African Americans in the St. Petersburg community and throughout the African Diaspora.

It’s also home to the Black Lives Matter mural.

African American Heritage Association of St. Petersburg, FL – Guided walking tours, trolley tours, and bicycle tours along the African American Heritage Trail.

Pinellas County African American History Museum – Visit this museum to see culturally significant exhibits related to Black life in Pinellas County. They also have exhibits on loan from other museums around the country.

Visit these Black History Sites in Florida

13. Greensboro, NC

International Civil Rights Center and Museum – This museum is on the site that commemorates the Feb. 1, 1960, Woolworth sit-ins at a whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, by the N.C. A&T Four students.

14. Detroit, MI 

Motown Museum – Located in the original headquarters, Hitsville USA, and music recording studio for Motown Records, the Museum is dedicated to telling and preserving the history of Motown Records and its global impact on the music industry. Visitors will see authentic company artifacts, photographs, costumes, and other memorabilia.

15. Montgomery, AL

National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum – From Equal Justice Initiative, “The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened to the public on April 26, 2018, is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved Black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”

This museum explores the history of racial inequality and its relationship to a range of contemporary issues from mass incarceration to police violence.

It is impactful but can also evoke very strong emotions so you will want to be prepared to decompress after your visit.

16. Columbia, SC

Museum of the Reconstruction Era – The Museum of the Reconstruction Era at the Woodrow Wilson Family Home is the nation’s only museum dedicated to interpreting the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. The tour offers a great perspective particularly on the strides Black residents of South Carolina made during that time and how some of that impact can still be seen today.

BONUS:  New York City

Museum of Food and Drink 

MOFAD has an exhibit dedicated to the African American legacy of food throughout American history.  The museum helps visitors trace the people, food, and culinary knowledge from Africa to the Americas and across the US.

While Black History Month is a great time to reflect on the accomplishments from the past and present, it can and should be celebrated year-round. I hope you’ll make it a point to learn a little bit more about black achievement and black contributions to the world by researching and learning more about these Black history sites.

Have you visited any of these Black history sites?  Are any of them on your list?  If you have a suggestion of a place to visit please tell us in the comments below!

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  • Reply
    February 3, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    This is awesome! I am gonna add this to my roundup post I did!

    • Reply
      February 3, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      Awesome!! Thank you Kenya. Please do.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    One word! Retweet! #1 on your list is my personal #1.

    • Reply
      February 3, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks Danika. I think right now #1 on the list is everybody’s #1. Getting those passes for a time slot is no joke. LOL

  • Reply
    Tia | Pennies In My Pocket
    February 3, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I see I still have some exploring to do. I definitely want to be more informed about my history. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      February 3, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      Have you been to any of these already Tia?

  • Reply
    Marquita Polite
    February 4, 2017 at 6:26 am

    The National Civil Rights Museum and Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Both are awesome and in Memphis, TN. For sure the National Civil Rights Museum it’s on the property where MLK was assassinated.

    • Reply
      February 4, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Thanks Marquita. I hadn’t heard of the Stax Museum.

  • Reply
    LaShon Renee
    February 6, 2017 at 12:39 am

    I haven’t visited any of these museums. There’s the CA African American Museum in Los Angeles which I plan to visit this month.


    • Reply
      February 6, 2017 at 11:54 pm

      Awesome. Thanks LaShon for sharing another museum.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I love this. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been to an African American History Museum. Never thought to go to one during black history month. It might be a tradition I need to start now.

    • Reply
      February 7, 2017 at 9:31 am

      There’s no time like the present to start Terri. I’m sure you will enjoy your experience wherever you decide to go.

  • Reply
    Melanie Edwards
    February 7, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Will definitely have to get started on this list with a trip to St. Augustine!

  • Reply
    Amber Ferguson
    February 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Lauren this is such a great post. Are you a HuffPost blogger? I think you should be one. These types of posts do well.

    • Reply
      February 16, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Thanks so much Amber. I am a HuffPo blogger. I don’t know why I didn’t think of submitting this one. I’ll work on that.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2020 at 6:45 am

    Great round up!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2020 at 10:50 am

    A great post. Been to CA African-American Museum in LA. Did not know about African-American Museum in San Diego, CA. Thanks for sharing this informative post and do submit to Huffington Post!

  • Reply
    Andre Surkis
    July 13, 2020 at 7:15 am

    Awesome list. I look forward to the time when we can again travel freely!

  • Reply
    Ernestine Stewart
    February 5, 2021 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Black History Month: Support Museums And Destinations Across The Unites States - Black Travel Alliance
    February 11, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    […] US Cities with Black History Sites You Must See […]

  • Reply
    Black History Month: Support Museums And Destinations Across The United States - Black Travel Alliance
    February 11, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    […] US Cities with Black History Sites You Must See […]

  • Reply
    April 21, 2022 at 4:02 am

    The National Civil Rights Museum and Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Both are awesome and in Memphis, TN. For sure the National Civil Rights Museum it’s on the property where MLK was assassinated.

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