Tips For Visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture + Other U.S. Black Historical Sites

Black history month always seems to fly by, not only is a short month but it is also the month where some celebrate the Superbowl, Mardi Gras, NBA All star weekend and Valentine’s Day. If you feel like you didn’t learn enough in February or it’s just too short; here are a few places in the U.S. that I’ve visited and enjoyed learning more Black History. I have also included tips for visiting the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Washington, DC

National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave NW., Washington DC, DC 20230

Admission: Free

This is now the mother of all places and my favorite museum. Referred to as NMAAC or #APeoplesJourney (on social media), this historical museum opened in September of 2016. Ever since the opening, I kept my eye on tickets. I was able to finally score tickets and visited the awesome museum recently. It was the best way to kick of Black History Month. The museum is open 364 days a year (closed on Christmas) from 10am-6pm and best of all it’s FREE. The gotcha is you have to reserve tickets online (6 max) and the tickets are grabbed within minutes of being released. They are released on the first day of the month about 3 months in advance. The only other way is to try to grab same day tickets (4 max) online starting at 6:30 am the day of. Walk-Up tickets are available on weekdays only starting at 1 pm (1 ticket max per person). There are no food or drinks allowed and lockers are limited. The museum is 4 levels and you need the full day to really see all of the exhibits. Although the museum is free entry the food and souvenir prices can get pricey if you have a family. I paid about $20 for a meal and a drink. Parking is very limited, we were able to park in the parking deck of the Ronald Reagan and International Trade building but we had to go through a car security check and a check once we went back to the car. The deck is at the corner of Constitution and 14th Street, about a 3 min or less walk. Click to Map It. Download a parking app for help but it’s better to use other transportation or expect to pay $25 or more. Street parking is capped at a certain time and you need a lot of time in the museum so I would not recommend.





Don’t forget to download the museum’s mobile apps to enhance your visit.

Be sure to start at the bottom and work your way to the top and wear comfortable shoes. There are rooms on each level where you can share your thoughts on your visit. There are other museums in DC to learn about black history but I would really suggest starting with this museum if possible.

 

 

Other great places in DC include the Martin Luther King Monument and the Capital building. I love all of the quotes etched in and just the peacefulness At the Capital you can take a tour and learn about political history but there is of course Black history facts throughout the tour. You can even sit in on the senate or house and listen to bills being passed.

Dr. Martin Luther King Monument

 

Atlanta, Ga

  • Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site 450 Auburn Ave. NE Atlanta                                          Atlanta is the birthplace of Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You can visit the home he grew up in, his Church Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached and where he is buried. Admission is free.
  • Center for Civil and Human Rights 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. The museum has exhibits around the Civil Rights movement as well as Global Human Rights. Tickets start at $12 and up.

Black History

Savannah, Ga

  • The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum 460 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.  Exhibits include information on the civil rights struggle of Georgia’s oldest African-American community. Admission ranges from $4-$8.
  • The First African Baptist Church 23 Montgomery St, Savannah, GA 31401 The oldest black church in the US and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
  • The Haitian Monument is located in Franklin Square near the First African Baptist Church and pays homage to the largest unit of soldiers of African/Haitian descent to fight in the American Revolution.





Chicago

Chicago was founded by a Haitian pioneer, Jean Baptise Pointe DuSable. There is a statue located in downtown. There is also a museum in Chicago that has several events throughout the year with various exhibits. Prices range from $3 children (ages 6-11) to $10 for adults. As of January 2017 they have free entry on Tuesdays. Click here to learn about the latest events and exhibits.

  • President Obama There are many historical sites in Chicago that chronicle the life in Chicago of the 44th President of the United States. Check out this cool info-graphic that shows you 21 sites you can visit across the city.

 

Obama miss me

Fort Lauderdale

Old Dillard School Museum 1009 NW 4th Street, Fort Lauderdale FL 33311

Curator Derek Davis led us on a tour of the first school developed for people of color in the area. We learned about the history of education in the area and there was a lovely exhibit of the Black Trail Blazers of Broward County. We also had a chance to see former classrooms, a Jazz room and African playroom. The museum hosts various exhibits, lectures and events. Derek did an excellent job and we later learned he is instrumental in the success of black history in Broward County. Check out more from my post: A Look Into The Black History of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

 

This year I plan to check out more whenever I travel. In addition I am fascinated by The Green Book which was a travel guide book for black during segregation. You can view the digital copy here. There is an edition location in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Green Book
Photo via Susan Seubert

I also am interested in checking out some of the Black-owned hotels from Essence’s post.

 

 

Now I’ve only touched on a few highlights and I know there are many underrated opportunities in each city from historical restaurants to notable bed and breakfasts. Comment below with your favorite black historical place to visit and city and why?

 

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Tips for visiting the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and other black historical spots I've enjoyed visiting.

 


 

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Kim H.

Kim H. is the creator and chief editor for Work Hard Travel Well. Born and raised in College Park, Ga. She is a true “FILA” :) and UGA Alumna. Go Dawgs!