Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Traveling while Black in the United States is...complicated. Although we are no longer banned from places legally, there are still many places Black travelers do not feel safe because of either past history or current racial incidents. This is why The Negro Motorist Green Book was created in 1936 to help Black travelers find places they would feel comfortable. This is why the online Black travel movement has become more than a trend.
A common thing that I have heard among Black female travelers is that they feel safer traveling abroad than in the USA. As a result, many Black female travelers do not travel as frequently around the USA. It saddens me that many do not feel comfortable traveling in their own backyard.
Fortunately for me, I have mostly had positive experiences while traveling in the USA. As a person who has a strong desire to see all 50 states (and territories) and particularly patronize Black-owned businesses and uncover Black history in every US state and territory, I hope to inspire other Black females to explore their own backyard.
To help you decide where to go, I mobilized the help of 11 Black Travel Queens who are living their best travel life to share their perspective of MUST TRAVEL USA Destinations for Black women from their own travel experiences. These Black Travel Queens travel frequently and have been to USA spots. Therefore, their perspective is particularly valuable!
In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate these Black Travel Queens. I also want you to know that there are places we can visit comfortably and spread our Black girl magic unapologetically. Moreover, this post was important for me in order to 1. Educate others on taking micro-cations; 2. Inspire people to support Black; 3. Amplify underrepresented voices in the travel industry. This blog post does all three!
As you read through this list and wanderlust on your next vacation, please keep in mind that each experience is personal and so your experience may be different. You ready sis!?!
Table of Contents:
1. Washington DC1. Washington DC
2. Memphis, Tennessee2. Memphis, Tennessee
3. Sedona, Arizona3. Sedona, Arizona
4. Cincinatti,Ohio4. Cincinatti,Ohio
5. New Orleans5. New Orleans
6. Alaska6. Alaska
7. Miami, Florida7. Miami, Florida
8. Atlanta, Georgia8. Atlanta, Georgia
9. St. Louis, Missouri9. St. Louis, Missouri
10. Charleston, South Carolina10. Charleston, South Carolina
11. New York City11. New York City
12. Detroit, Michigan12. Detroit, Michigan
13. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands13. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Destination #1: Washington, DC
Recommended by Naa Adei
Why: DC is a hub for young Black professionals, so there are also other Black women walking around to give you some outfit and hair inspo 😅
Hit a brunch/day party combo
Bar hop at the Wharf in SW DC
Stroll the African American History Museum
Get a glizzy
Hit any of the black-owned soul food spots in town:
Oohs and Aahs is really popular
District Soul Food is a vibe
Destination #2: Memphis, Tennessee
Recommended by Kim
Why: I enjoyed Memphis. There is so much history and a lot of great things to do here!
If you’re looking for something outside of Graceland check out these must-sees:
National Civil Rights Museum/Lorraine Motel
You can not visit Memphis and not have BBQ. If you visit the Lorraine Motel/National Civil Rights Museum, there is Central B.B.Q, which is within steps from the museum.
For a Black-owned BBQ spot in Memphis, check out Cozy Corner.
Need more info? Check out Kim’s Resources:
Destination #3: Sedona, Arizona
Recommended by Jessie
Connect with Jessie: Blog
Why: One destination I would recommend for black women is Sedona, Arizona. I’m all about self-care and good energy and Sedona was both of those things! It’s peaceful and so scenic. I felt welcome as a black woman and I could really sit back and relax and truly enjoy the views.
Slide Rock State Park
The Chapel of the Holy Cross
Visit one of the many spas in the area: I went to Sedona Rouge Spa
There are also some good restaurants in the area like Elote Cafe.
While you are in Sedona don’t forget to try a Prickly Pear cocktail.
Need more info? Check out Jessie’s Resources:
Destination #4: Cincinatti, Ohio
Recommended by Elise
Why: Cincinnati was a location where I felt comfortable but was unsure about prior to going lol. I felt comfortable in Cincinnati because it was way more diverse than I thought/realized 👍🏾. I didn’t research this place much prior to going because it was a random day trip while I was in Louisville, KY.
I would recommend going on a food tour. I found it on Airbnb experiences.
I also recommend walking one of the bridges from downtown from Ohio to Kentucky. I think there are 2 options. It’s just cool to walk from one state to another lol.
Finally, I would recommend visiting the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center!
There are murals all over the city too!
While there you must try a Coney Dog, Goetta, and Cincinnati style chili. Not necessarily because I loved them all (haha), but because you have to try it while there!
I also went to Joella’s Hot Chicken! I enjoyed it.
Destination #5: New Orleans
*NOTE: This was recommended by two Black travelers.
Therefore, you know it’s got to be worth it!
Recommended by Niqua
Why: I visited NOLA for the first time as a Black solo traveler and it was one of my favorite trips to date because of the amazing cultural experience I had. There were also lots of things to do and the food was amazing!
Top Recommendations: Three Must See/Dos in New Orleans, Louisiana based on my research or personal experience:
Whitney Plantation Tour
Visit Cafe Beignet
My top food recommendation is The Ruby Slipper Cafe. The food was scrumptious, tasty and affordable. It was located in a perfect location as well.
Recommended by Francesca
Why: I felt comfortable, and really enjoyed learning about the Black culture there because it's so unique. They have an interesting Creole history, and the cuisine is amazing. There are so many Black owned restaurants to visit!
For a great night out, enjoy live music in the French Quarter, beignets at Beignets Cafe, and a walk down Bourbon Street at night for the experience
Dooky Chase is an iconic restaurant that everyone should dine at.
Beignets from Beignets Cafe
Sunday Brunch at Commander’s Palace – a New Orleans landmark since 1893. Make sure to order the Biscuit & Gravy. They have a jazz band on Sundays
Superior Seafood for Oysters: Every day from 4 pm-6:30 pm you can get as many oysters as you can eat for just .50¢ a pop during happy hour!
Need more info? Check out Francesca’s Resources:
Destination #6: Alaska
Recommended by Ashley
Connect with Ashley: Instagram
Why: My favorite trip in the USA was Alaska! I feel like it is a forgotten 'state" and often overlooked. It is extremely beautiful. The locals were extremely polite and helpful.
a helicopter ride around Mt. Denali
The Northern Lights! Yes, the Northern Lights are noticeable in Alaska during certain times of the year. I stayed in a city called Talkeetna which is about 2 hours north of Anchorage.
A famous signature dish in Talkeetna is any seafood dish because it borders a river.
Destination #7: Miami, Florida
Recommended by Dacia
Why: If you like sun, sand, and surf then this is the place to be. Personally, I would stay in Miami Beach vs the downtown area since you’re right at the ocean.
Can’t miss out on South Beach and the Art Deco Historic District architecture. You have to see it during the day in all white and then at night with all the neon lights. Such a cool vibe.
Definitely walk Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue for food and shopping. If you’re into the club scene, then these two streets will meet all of your needs. Some of the hot spots were popping at 8 PM on a Saturday night. I lucked out and got into LIV Nightclub at the Fontainebleau Hotel in North Beach. This is THE spot to get your party on! I danced for at least 3 hours non stop since the music was banging!
Downtown Miami also has a lot going for it. A few things to check into:
Hop-on, hop-off bus sightseeing tour - takes you around both downtown and Miami Beach areas ($35)
Wynwood Walls - outdoor museum of graffiti art downtown (FREE)
Little Havana - The center of Cuban culture in Miami. There are a number of walking tours available
As far as a great meal, I highly recommend Cuban diner Puerto Sagua in Miami Beach. The food is off the chart! Be sure to go early since it gets very busy around the lunch hour.
Destination #8: Atlanta, Georgia
Recommended by Raqhelle
Why: It’s cliche, but I love Atlanta! It’s full of Black art, entrepreneurs, black-owned businesses, and great food.
Definitely take time to visit the museums Including the Trap Museum, National Center for Civil & Human Rights Museum, and Brooks art museum.
The Compound is perfect post-pandemic to get your party on and celebrate the world *hopefully* going back to normal with this vaccine out!
My favorite place to eat in Atlanta is Tom. Dick & Hank where they smoke everything including CRAB LEGS! The ribs fall off the bone, the sides are super scrumptious, and they have such a great vibe!
Destination #9: St. Louis, Missouri
Recommended by Franny
Why: St. Louis is a hidden gem with so much USA history, but more importantly Black history! For example, it played a significant role in the Underground Railroad and the location of the infamous Dred Scott Decision. St. Louis has managed to remain a low-key city, which means that it still has an authentic feel and is not overrun by tourists. The city also has more FREE major tourist attractions than any other city in the United States, aside from DC! Who doesn’t like free!?! Since it was part of the Midwest Jazz Movement, you will find great live music and delicious food to eat. On top of it all, it is in a convenient location: only a 2.5 hour flight from NYC or 4.5 hour drive from Chicago! As a Black woman, I not only felt safe, but I felt embraced and welcomed.
Missouri History Museum: The museum is located next to St. Louis Zoo & St. Louis Science Museum. All of these attractions are FREE! This is a great way to learn about Missouri’s history in more detail
Museum of Westward Expansion Underneath Gateway Arch
Gateway Arch National Park (FREE): There are lots of activities there including: Museum of Western Expansion: FREE; Gateway Arch Tram Experience: $14-16; Documentary Movie Screening: $7
National Blues Museum: Visit the museum on a Sunday as you can pay extra to attend their Soulful Sundays, where they have live Blues music
Char-grilled oysters while listening to lives Blues music at Broadway Oyster Bar
Eat St. Louis BBQ at Pappy’s Smokehouse and Sugarfire
Try gooey butter cake and snoot -- these are both St. Louis staples
Goody Goody Diner for Chicken & Waffles -- this is a local spot!
Need more info? Check out Franny’s Resources:
Destination #10: Charleston, South Carolina
Recommended by Winter
Why: Charleston's history as the pioneer and perfector of large-scale slave trade operations in America during 18th century should cause any Black person to pause when deciding to visit the city. However, over the past few years, Charleston has been going through a revitalization where historic places are reflect an own their nefarious contributions in the subjugation and enslavement of African Americans. This, coupled with seeing Charleston on the top of so many travelers, voted "best cities to visit" lists had me decide that I wanted to explore the city and get to know the history and present of the city. While visiting Charleston as a Black woman, I've been able to see, feel and learn so much about the history of slavery in America while feeling safe every place I visited and while feeling welcomed by every local who I've spoken to throughout my many visits.
Charleston City Market: Established in the 1790’s, the Charleston City Market runs four city blocks between Meeting and East Bay Streets. I highly recommend reading the plaque that tells the history of the market. Within its walls are independent vendors who sell their wares including art, clothing, food, tchotchkes, and souvenirs. You can spend hours walking through the market, looking at every item in every stall, and working up quite an appetite. It is a shopper’s paradise!
H.L. Hunley: The H. L. Hunley was a submarine that fought and disappeared during the Civil War. In 1864, it became the first successful combat submarine in the world after sinking the USS Housatonic. After completing her mission, she mysteriously vanished and remained lost at sea for over a century. In 1995, the wreckage was found and in 2000, it was raised from the seabed. If you like history, this is a definite must-see.
MacLeod Plantation: The nearest historic Plantation to the Charleston city center. Visit the slave cabins and view the majestic beauty of the 600-year oak tree on the grounds. I recommend taking the guided tour around!
Bakehouse Café on East Bay: Must eat the Coffee Cake! This is hands-down the best coffee cake I’ve ever eaten. As a matter of fact, I would highly recommend ordering a couple to take home with you. It freezes well. It is that good!
Cru Café: Everything I’ve eaten at Cru Café has been absolutely delicious. The two things on the menu that makes my mouth water are the General Tso Caesar Chicken Wrap and the Orange Creamsicle Cake. If you don’t see the cake on the menu, ask for it. You won’t be disappointed! I like this place so much that I make it a point to dine there at least 2-3 times while I am in Charleston.
Peninsula Grill at the Planters Inn: This is a splurge, but it is worth every penny. I recommend the She Crab Soup and the Pork Osso Bucco with Root Vegetable Risotto. Save room for dessert because the real can’t miss star of the menu is the Ultimate Coconut Cake. This cake is luxurious and decadent. It was so good, the next year, I had a whole cake shipped to me for my mom’s birthday.
Need more info? Check out Winter’s Resources:
Destination #11: New York City
Recommended by Kalyn
Why: There are so many great destinations within the US, but there is one that absolutely stands out for me, one that feels like home every time I visit, that I absolutely recommend to all of the black women in my life: New York City!
For NYC, I specifically highlight Harlem and Brooklyn because of the vibrant culture and history - both are very BLACK and very proud. I spent my early twenties living in Brooklyn and I cherish this experience as much as I do my various travel adventures. Between both Brooklyn and Harlem, you’ll find a slew of black-owned (and black, woman-owned) boutiques, restaurants, cafes and more, as you walk along black murals and artwork.
Explore neighborhoods Bedstuy and Williamsburg
National Jazz Museum & Studio Museum in Harlem!
NYC is obviously known for its pizza, so I’d be remiss to not mention some of my favorite spots to grab a pie, Grimaldi’s and Lombardi’s!
When in Harlem, not to be missed: Seasoned Vegan, BLVD Bistro, Melba’s, Amy Ruth’s and Harlem Shake!
Need more info? Check out Kalyn’s Resources:
Also check out Franny the Traveler’s resources!:
Destination #12: Detroit, Michigan
Recommended by Franny
Why: While living in Asia, I absolutely loved visiting South Korea. Perhaps it’s because a lot of US troops had been based there in the past. Nonetheless, I felt welcomed and embraced.
It’s an absolute must to explore the food scene, the shopping scene, and historical landmarks
N Seoul Tower
You can’t leave without trying authentic Korean BBQ!
Destination #13: St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
NOTE: This is a US Territory. Therefore, it is a US Destination you can go to while still getting Caribbean vibes and culture!
Recommended by Naa Adei
Why: I like the vibe here a lot. As soon as I landed, I felt comfortable and in touch with the community. Sadly, there were a lot of white people, and most of the Blacks were in subservient roles. However, once you leave the resort, it feels much more like a real Black place where you can embrace the culture (and be embraced back). I am definitely planning to come back ASAP.
The Mountaintop - really good views of the island! There’s also a major tourist shop with margaritas up on the hill. I’m sure the prices are inflated, but it’s definitely easy to get everything that you need. The hill to the top is steep, so be ready lol
Red Hook: There’s a nice strip of bars and restaurants that overlook the marina, so it’s definitely a nice place to chill and relax.
FYI: The resorts here aren’t all-inclusive (unfortunately). The lodging on the island is very expensive. A rental car is definitely ideal and those tend to sell out quickly. Therefore, t’s best to make a reservation in advance.
Ansons/Restaurant 39: Bomb local restaurant on Coki Beach! They serve curry chicken, shrimp scampi, and some southern staples. The food is reasonable and they give big portions. I highly recommend it!