The best family vacations are the ones that are not just relaxing or educational, but also blackety black black black ya’ll.
Throughout Black History Month this February (and beyond), consider making a trip with your family to one of these seven destinations — where you can remember the significance of our history and our contributions to this country, while also spending time with your loved ones.
As a home to the African Diaspora Heritage Trail, pink sand beaches and infamous "Dark and Stormy" cocktails, Bermuda makes for an extremely exciting destination to visit for those looking for an untraditional black history vacation. The African Diaspora Heritage Trail was created in 2001, and traces the legacy of Bermuda’s slavery and preserves the heritage and culture of those belonging to the African Diaspora. Roughly 60 percent of Bermudians are of African ancestry, many of whom are descendants of West Indian and West African slaves brought here during the 18th century. All sites in the trail, including dozens of monuments and museums, are officially designed as UNESCO Slave Route Project.
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Our history is deeply rooted in the south, so it’s only right that a visit to South Carolina is in order. Instead of Charleston this year, why not start your own family history tour at the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center (GCEC) in Greenville, a African-American history museum and culture center? Then head to John Wesley United Methodist Church, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Place, just down the road. One of Greenville’s pride and joys is its incredible public art initiative, which supports local and emerging artists and their beautiful art displays – perfect for any family selfies. Visitors should seek out the Sterling High School Students statue and the Peg Leg Bates statue– both located downtown- and rooted in Upstate history. From jazz and blues to southern comfort food, there’s plenty to explore in this Southern gem city.
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When people think of Baltimore, typically they have two pictures in their head. But it’s much more than the grit and grime of ‘The Wire’ fame and the pristine beauty of the National Harbor that we’re all familiar with. Baltimore offers a rich and diverse history that has touched African Americans along the east coast. You can’t think about Baltimore, without thinking about Black History. With a range of options such as the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, to the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum to Visit Baltimore’s annual Legends & Legacies Jubilee, where visitors will spend the afternoon with free and interactive activities for the whole family to experience Baltimore’s African-American culture at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park.
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Virginia’s Historic Triangle is arguably the premier destination for families looking to explore the 400-year arc of African American culture in our country. Families can explore several markers and touchpoints that allow for an in-depth and thorough understanding of when African culture became an indelible part of the American story, making it the perfect history lesson for any age group. While the area tells the story of African American history, from 1619 through today, it also offers a variety of activities and entertainment that families seek while traveling. For an exploratory and educational trip, you can visit sites such as Fort Monroe, also known as Freedom’s Fortress, to Freedom Park, which is very compelling and provides incredible insight into African American life during the early to late 1800s as an early settlement for former slaves. At the Jamestown Settlement families can explore several galleries and exhibitions at the settlement which contain more than 500 total artifacts. And most importantly, the African American Experience in Colonial Williamsburg, which is where few people are aware that a sizable portion of Williamsburg, which neighbors Jamestown, were African Americans who settled there around the time of the 18th century. Aside from these historic and engaging sites, visitors to the Historic Triangle can also enjoy beach time at James River Beach (or take a short drive to Virginia Beach); take up ziplining at Go Ape Ziplining and Treetop Adventure; explore award winning wines at Williamsburg Winery; and for the thrill seekers - spend a day at Busch Gardens & Sesame Street Forest of Fun.
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A destination rich with black history and serving as the backbone of America, it's only right to celebrate in the nation's capital during Black History Month. Home to a wide range of museums that are $ free 99, including the newest Smithsonian, National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), there are plenty of ways to be #woke and learn about us, in what is (formerly) known as “Chocolate City”. This museum features collections documenting art, history and culture, with artifacts from the African Diaspora to present day. And as 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of MLK's assassination and the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass, it’s only right to pay homage to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 50th anniversary of his assassination by visiting his memorial and the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Then while you’re at it, visit the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (aka Cedar Hill) in celebration of Frederick Douglass. To round out Explore the U Street neighborhood known between the 1920s and the 1950s as Washington's Black Broadway.
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Perhaps one of the lesser known Caribbean Islands, Guadeloupe is a must visit for any family vacation this year. From its ties to the slave trade, to the Memorial ACTe Museum, the Guadeloupe Islands hold a wealth of cultural significance for all black families. The island, which is rooted in French, African, Caribbean, and even Indian influences, has a storied history dating back to slavery and there is much to be learned and desired. Not only is this destination budget friendly, but getting there is also easy thanks to Norwegian Air’s discounted and direct flights from the east coast. You can experience fun, sun, island culture and delicious food, while also taking in a bit of black history.
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Many may be unaware, but Maryland’s Eastern shore is the crucible of African American leadership. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of two key leaders, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass who were both were born on the Eastern Shore – Tubman in Dorchester County and Douglass in Talbot County. If you’re looking to explore the rich history, there’s plenty to do. Last year a state park opened near Tubman’s birthplace to help interpret her story, and this week, ground will break on a county park on the banks of the Tuckahoe River, where Douglass was born. The neighboring town of Easton already erected a statue in his memory, and a driving tour will be unveiled for the summer travel season, which makes it the perfect place for the family to visit all year long.