If you’re interested in exploring African heritage with your family, here are some of the most amazing vacation spots to consider. From New Orleans to Brazil, these Black history-inspired family vacations are unforgettable experiences.
My father took me to visit Niagara Falls in New York State when I was 10 years old. There are recollections of me shivering in the cold mist. On that journey, I discovered a fact that I still recall today. My father told me that in the 19th century, Niagara Falls was an important station on the underground railroad, a clandestine, informal network of people who hid escaped previously enslaved African Americans. Because Black history is omnipresent, our simple family excursion to the falls transformed into a Black history lecture.
Here are several family-friendly sites where African history can be learned or taught.
1. Children’s Carnival and Black History in New Orleans, Louisiana
Families frequently disregard New Orleans, figuring it is only a place for “adult” activities such as drinking and carnival. But the culture of New Orleans, a blend of Spanish, West African, Caribbean, French, and English influences, making it a unique destination in the United States for food, music, and history. Also, the inclusive aspect of the city’s festivity allows children to participate in numerous events (minus the booze) frequently.
A family’s trip to this city must begin with a tour of Treme and Congo Square, the cradle of jazz music. There, slaves and free Black people would assemble on Sundays, their only day off, to play drums and dance to music.
Just west of New Orleans, the Whitney Plantation helps visitors comprehend slavery from the perspective of the enslaved.
Family can also view floats and costumes from prior parades at the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture.
2. Alabama, the Place of Origin of the Civil Rights Movement
Heather Greenwood-Davis, a National Geographic contributing editor, Black Canadian, and avid traveler, wanted her 13-year-old son Cameron to understand the nuances of the Civil Rights movement in the United States, so she took him to Alabama, which is widely regarded as the birthplace of the movement. Among the 130 locations in the U.S. Alabama contains 29 stops along the Civil Rights Trail.
In Birmingham, she and her son visited the 16th Street Baptist Church, which was bombed by members of the Ku Klux Klan in 1963, resulting in the deaths of four young Black girls. Greenwood-Davis and her son met Carolyn McKinstry, one of the bombing’s survivors.
Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, is where the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott began. The major attraction, however, is the Equal Justice Institute’s Legacy Museum, which presents a thorough history of slavery and mass incarceration in the United States.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma was the site of Bloody Sunday on March 25, when police attacked Civil Rights marchers marching from Selma to Montgomery.
3. Joy and Sadness in Ghana
Karen “Kay” Akpan and her family experienced both happiness and sorrow during a trip to Ghana four years ago. Akpan is the digital content developer behind the budget-friendly family travel blog The MOM Trotter. On their tour to West Africa, they visited the Cape Coast and Elmina Castle, where Africans were imprisoned before being forced to cross the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas.
According to Akpan, seeing the “door of no return” at Cape Coast Castle made her family unhappy. Nonetheless, the wealth of Ghanaian culture and history assisted them in overcoming this melancholy. Their three-day journey to Accra included stops at Independence Square for fabric buying, Kakum National Park for trekking, local beaches, and Ghanaian cuisine such as jollof rice and plantains.
4. The Blackest Nation Outside of Africa Is Brazil
Brazil is the Blackest country outside of Africa, with over half of its more than 200 million inhabitants identifying as Black.
Unfortunately, Rio de Janeiro is better known for its beaches and natural beauty than its Black heritage. This is gradually evolving.
Rio’s ports received the biggest number of enslaved Africans of any city in the Americas during the era of slavery. More than eighty years ago, their descendants, Afro-Brazilians, founded Rio de Janeiro’s famed carnival procession, which is now considered one of the world’s greatest spectacles.
During their 2019 spring break, family travel blogger Monet Hambrick and her two kids Jordyn and Kennedy, visited Rio de Janeiro. They climbed a mountain, observed the statue of Christ the Redeemer, danced to samba music, learnt to cook Brazilian cuisine, and watched a soccer game.
The journey resulted in the publication of The Traveling Kid in Rio de Janeiro, a children’s picture book.
5. Where Nature Meets Freedom Is Niagara Falls
As the name suggests, a journey to the twin city of Niagara Falls is an encounter with one of nature’s most effective energy generators: a cascade. The three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls are North America’s most massive waterfall system.
As a city in the state of New York, Niagara Falls was an important station on the subterranean railroad. More than 40,000 African people had to cross the Niagara River to attain freedom in Canada. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Historical Center is located on the banks of the Niagara River, with Canada visible in the distance. Its exhibits tell the tales of individuals who crossed into Canada in search of freedom.
The Canadian side is equally steeped in history: the Niagara Freedom Trail is a 35-mile route that commemorates Canadian historical events that transpired in the Niagara region.
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