U.S. Road Trips That Honor and Celebrate Black History

Plus, support Black-owned businesses along the way.

Little Rock Nine, life-size sculptures.
Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Road trips have become increasingly popular in the past year and a half, and as travelers look to plan their next cross-country adventure, Travel + Leisure has been curating new routes that honor Black history and culture throughout the U.S.

Here, we mapped out two road trip routes that showcase the abundance of Black history and influence in some of America's cultural hot spots.

The tomb of Martin Luther King Jr., and his wife Coretta Scott King is seen during the early morning hour
Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Civil Rights Tour Through the Southeast

Start in Atlanta, Georgia, and end in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Atlanta, Georgia: In Atlanta, the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., you can take a self-guided tour of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, which includes highlights such as Ebenezer Baptist Church, The King Center, and the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

Birmingham, Alabama: Visitors should head to the Birmingham Civil Rights District, home to historic landmarks such as Kelly Ingram Park, which served as a gathering point for demonstrators in the early 1960s, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which holds the door and the bars of the cell where Dr. King composed the famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail."

Memphis, Tennessee: In Memphis, tourists can visit the historic National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. The museum now serves to honor and preserve the legacy of Dr. King through its exhibits, art collections, and special events.

Little Rock, Arkansas: In Little Rock, Arkansas, visitors can make use of the Arkansas Civil Rights History Tour app to find information on more than 35 African American-related sites in the area, including the Little Rock Nine monument and the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

A general view of an exhibit during the National Civil Rights Museum Tour on January 20, 2019 at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Black Culture Road Trip Up the West Coast

Start in San Diego and end in Napa Valley, California.

San Diego: Start your road trip in sunny San Diego, where you can visit the WorldBeat Cultural Center, an institution that celebrates African, African American, and other Indigenous cultures related to the African diaspora, and the Casa del Rey Moro African Museum.

Los Angeles: In Los Angeles, you can use resources like Black Book LA to search for Black-owned businesses by neighborhood, such as Honey's Kettle in Culver City and Nimbus Coffee in Downtown LA. Near the University of Southern California campus, you can also visit the California African American Museum, which aims to highlight the important role African Americans have played in the development of California and the West Coast.

Oakland: Visit the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, and check out the Black Power exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California. You can also take a self-guided tour around the city to learn more about the history of the Black Panther Party, which was founded in Oakland in 1966.

San Francisco: San Francisco has lots of Black history and culture. Art and history lovers should visit the African American Art & Culture Complex and the Museum of the African Diaspora; music fans should check out one of the many jazz clubs around the city; and foodies can try Black-owned restaurants like Osteria Bella in Richmond and Eko Kitchen in SoMA.

Napa Valley: End your road trip in Napa Valley, where you can eat at Black-owned Buster's Southern BBQ, and visit the Brown Downtown Napa tasting room, which is owned by the Brown Estate, the first and only Black-owned estate winery in Napa Valley.

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