We’re celebrating summer all month by highlighting historic Black travel destinations and places for Black families to visit.
From historic Idlewild, Mich. to Oak Bluffs, Mass., and American Beach in Florida, you’ll want to pack up the family and hit the road to explore these amazing locales and attractions.
Check out a few of our favorite places to unwind and learn about African American life and culture:
The resort started in 1912 by white investors. Word spread among Black professionals in New York, Chicago, and Detroit of this outdoor getaway which was one of the few places in the country where they could vacation and buy land. From 1912 through the mid-1960s, Idlewild was an active year-round community and was visited by well-known entertainers and professionals from across the country. Idlewild is still a popular destination amongst vacationers with its many parks and trails as well as festivals and entertainment venues.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture, the National Museum of African American History and Culture was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. Located in Washington, D.C., the museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
Oak Bluffs, Mass.
People of African descent first arrived in this town (located on Martha’s Vineyard) in the 1600s as slaves who worked on farms owned by European settlers. The area drew freed slaves, laborers and sailors in the 18th century, and white locals sold them land. By the 1950s, middle- and upper-class black doctors, lawyers, and executives and their families had formed their own society in Oak Bluffs. Today, the community hosts many African American art and cultural events, including music, comedy, and food festivals.
Gullah Geechee Corridor
The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is a 12,000 square mile, federal National Heritage Area designated by the U.S. Congress to recognize the unique culture of the Gullah Geechee people who have traditionally resided in the coastal areas and the sea islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The Gullah Heritage Trail Tour on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina will drive you through compounds and stop at several historic sites. This includes Mitchelville – the first freedmen’s village in the United States. The Gullah Geechee Visitor Center in Beaufort is also a quick drive away.
American Beach, Fla.
Located on Amelia Island and established in 1935, American Beach is Florida’s first African American beach. This tourist destination was founded by the state’s first Black millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis of Jacksonville’s Afro-American Life Insurance Company. During the time of segregation and the Jim Crow era, African Americans were not allowed to swim at most beaches in Jacksonville, and several Black-only areas were created. American Beach was the largest and most popular of them. Visit the American Beach Museum to learn about the history and heritage of the resort community through objects, photographs, and video documentation.