10 Places to Visit in Honor of Black History Month

January 31, 2024

Since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as Black History Month. It’s a great time to pay homage to Black history-makers and movers, some of whom are memorialized in historic sites managed by the National Park Service. In fact, many Black men and women played, and still play, an important role in helping to preserve our country’s public lands. This year the theme of Black History Month is “African Americans and the Arts.” The goal is to raise awareness about the Black community’s important contributions to music, art, literature, and more. There’s nothing they haven’t influenced. And because the best way to learn something is to experience it firsthand, here are ten places to visit in honor of Black History Month. Can’t make it in February? Don’t worry. All of these museums, parks, trails, etc., are open year-round.

An exterior shot of the International African American Museum with palm trees in the foreground.

1. International African American Museum, Charleston, S.C.

IAAM opened last June, but it’s been in the works since 2000. Through permanent and rotating exhibits, its nine galleries and memorial gardens tell the tales and shares the faces of the African diaspora. The museum, which is located above Gadsden’s Wharf (where nearly half of the enslaved Africans brought to North America were processed), is also home to the Center for Family History. Here,  you can research your own African American ancestry via the extensive reference library.

Nearby KOAs:
Mount Pleasant / Charleston KOA Holiday

Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

2. Civil Rights Trail

Not unsurprisingly, the Civil Rights Trail isn’t linear. It connects a myriad of museums, courthouses, schools, churches, and other landmarks spread throughout 15 states including Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, and North Carolina. To help you build your route, check out this helpful website where you can search stops by state and type.

Exterior shot of Martin Luther King Jr.'s childhood home. A two story, yellow-sided house.

3. Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Park, Atlanta

While Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home is closed for rehabilitation through 2025, you can still walk in the civil rights leader’s famous footsteps by visiting his old stomping ground. This popular historical site (it’s one of Atlanta’s top tourist attractions) includes a visitor center – where your kids will be impressed by the “Courage of Children” exhibit – as well as a monument, church, and fire station.

Nearby KOAs:
Lake Oconee / Greensboro KOA Holiday

4. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Kansas City (MO)

When Jackie Robinson was playing for the Kansas City Monarchs, all the Black churches in town would change their service times so that fans could catch his games. That’s just one fun fact you’ll learn at this self-guided museum that paints a picture of what it was like for baseball’s early Black players who had to play in the Negro Leagues until 1947 when Robinson broke the barrier by joining a team in the MLB.

Nearby KOAs:
Kansas City East / Oak Grove KOA Holiday
Kansas City West / Lawrence KOA Holiday

5. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

While their white counterparts had it much easier during WWII, the first African American pilots in the military had to prove their worth at this practice field 2.5 hours southeast of Birmingham. “They fought two battles and came off victorious in both,” reads the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site’s website. Today, the site is the perfect place to have a picnic and learn about the incredible history of the Tuskegee Airmen, 66 of whom perished in combat.

Nearby KOAs:
Montgomery KOA Journey

6. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park

Before exploring the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, stop at this 480-acre park where you can get to know the courageous “conductor” who helped free 70 slaves. There’s a visitor center (with an informative film), a legacy garden, a research library, and a museum store where you can pick up a copy of “An Apple for Harriet Tubman” for the kids. Not only is it an educational story, but it’s also quite entertaining.

Nearest KOA:
Washington D.C./ Capitol KOA Holiday

A gallery with large paintings with Black subjects at the Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco.

7. Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco

Affectionately referred to as MoAD, this contemporary art museum is dedicated to depicting the African Diaspora, and its aftermath, through the incredible multimedia artwork of Black artists like JoeSam. and Lishan AZ. Can’t visit in person? Check out the online exhibits that include moving pieces like “The Only Door I Can Open: Women Exposing Prison Through Art and Poetry.” On the second Saturday of each month, admission is free.

Nearby KOAs:
San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA

An image of one of the remaining buildings at the Nicodemus National Historic Site in the middle of a yellow field.

8. Nicodemus National Historic Site, Nicodemus (KS)

The first Black settlement west of the Mississippi, the town of Nicodemus was once the gateway for African Americans looking to settle the Great Plains and eventually, move further west. Today, you can learn about this pioneering community via a ranger-led (or self-guided) tour of what remains: five historical buildings, including two churches, a township hall, a private residence, and a school.

Nearby KOAs:
Wakeeney KOA Journey

A gallery of Black musical artists.

9. National Museum of African American Music, Nashville

Since opening in 2021, this new 56,000-square-foot Nashville institution has welcomed thousands of visitors (and return visitors) interested in understanding how Black culture influenced, and even birthed, more than 50 genres of music. All six galleries use state of the art technology, and it’s a highly interactive experience. I.e. be prepared to participate!

Nearby KOAs:
Nashville KOA Resort
Nashville East / Lebanon KOA Journey

10. Northern Nevada African American Firefighters Museum, North Reno

While this new museum, which opened in 2022, doesn’t attract huge crowds, it’s still worth visiting to learn about a group of unsung heroes who served Northern Nevada for decades. It’s one of the only African American firefighter museums in the country, and it’s only open on Saturdays (weekday by appointment), so plan accordingly.

Nearby KOAs:
Reno KOA Journey at Boomtown

KOA Author Katie JacksonKatie Jackson is a writer and media specialist based in Montana’s Big Sky Country. Living and working everywhere from New York to Nicaragua, Katie is no stranger to adventure. When she’s not traveling the world (or writing about it!) she’s busy chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus. Follow Katie’s travels on Instagram @katietalkstravel.

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