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Black History Month - Family Travel Ideas

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Black History Month is celebrated in the US and Canada in February, and many places that are great to visit with kids year-round stage special events and exhibits during Black History Month.

Depending on ages of kids and interests, families might focus on music history (visiting, for example, the birthplace of the blues), or visit museums and other destinations that celebrate civil rights history. Check out ideas in several regions, below.

1. Atlanta, Memphis

Black History Month - Beale Street Historic District. Photo courtesy of Official Memphis site.
Beale Street Historic District. Photo courtesy of Official Memphis site.

Atlanta is a city where it's easy to introduce kids to some important history. For example, the neighborhood where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up is now a Historic Site (see more below) that includes a Junior Ranger program, for kids. Memphis, meanwhile, has Beale Street, the historical center of African American commerce that became the birthplace of the blues; Beale Street has a Walk of Fame that honors top musicians.

2. Atlanta: Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site

Martin Luther King Jr. Photo credit: James H. Karales / Getty Images.
Photo credit: James H. Karales / Getty Images.
This 23-acre Historic Site draws over 1M visitors a year, and is located in a preservation district that's meant to conserve this historical Atlanta neighborhood. A Visitor Center has exhibits and films about Dr. King and about the Civil Rights Movement. The King Birth Home -- restored to the era of the 1930's-- offers 30-minute guided tours; the Ebenezer Baptist Church is another important building, the place where Dr. King was baptized, served as co-pastor, and had his funeral. Read more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site at About.com's Southeast Travel site, and at the National Parks website, which suggests a tour route. Admission is free, kids can join a Junior Ranger program here.

3. American South Road Trip

Mississippi - Shack Up Inn - photo © Sheila Scarborough.
Mississippi - Shack Up Inn - photo © Sheila Scarborough.

This excellent guest article chronicles a family trip that started in Montgomery Alabama, rolled on past the Big Muddy (Mississippi River) and onto Memphis, with much fun sight-seeing -- and some serious historical sight-seeing-- on the way.

4. New York State Celebrates Black History Month

Harriet Tubman Home, Auburn, NY - photo courtesy of Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.
Harriet Tubman Home, Auburn, NY - photo courtesy of Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.

Read about special events and places to visit in 11 vacation zones: visit the home of Harriet Tubman, walk the Underground Railroad in Rochester, try a Black Poetry Experience for Kids in Plattsburgh, check out month-long exhibits at the Long Island State Park... and more. See also more about Black History in NY State, at iloveny.com.

5. North Carolina's Black History

Photo courtesy of  International Civil Rights Museum & Center, Greensboro, NC
Photo courtesy of International Civil Rights Museum & Center, Greensboro, NC

Check the North Carolina Tourism site, for articles on Cultural Heritage and special places to visit during February. For example: North Carolina's Black History highlights places to visit, such as The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, in Charlotte; Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony, a historic National Underground Railroad “Network to Freedom” site; Pea Island Life-Saving Station at the Outer Banks.

6. Hilton Head Island Annual Gullah Celebration

Hilton Head Island is a popular family getaway, and during the month of February families can explore the "living history" of this unique culture. The Gullahs are African-Americans brought to the Low Country as slaves, who've preserved much of their language and heritage, with storytelling, cuisine, music, crafts, and other traditions.

7. Charleston, South Carolina, During Black History Month

Check visitor information at the Charleston CVB site, for highlights to visit during Black History Month. Charleston has several museums and tours that focus on African-American history: for example, Gullah tours give a chance to explore this unique culture. See also more about Charleston's African-American Heritage.

8. Many More Black History Month Events

The Soul of America site highlights historically black districts in many cities and top black museums in America, and has an National Calendar of Events with listings for February Black History Month.

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