Black history is American history! Across the country, there are sites where African American people have left their mark on the historical record. Whether they are covering stops on the Underground Railroad or showcasing the homes of literary greats, these five Black history trails trace back to places and people like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Jimi Hendrix, who have left their mark on our community and heritage.

Self-Guided Tour of African American History, Virginia Beach, Virginia

L&J GARDENS, Virginia Beach, VA
L&J GARDENS, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Image: courtesy of Virginia Beach Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.

Commissioned by the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau in partnership with the Virginia African American Cultural Center, this Self-Guided Tour of African American History is a great place to learn about the rich Black history of a city in one of the earliest-settled states in America. The tour includes L&J Gardens, one of the first African American-built neighborhoods where the area's prominent doctors, lawyers, teachers and council members resided in the 1950s and '60s.

Path Through History Initiative, New York

Sojourner Truth Bridge, New Paltz, New York. Image: courtesy of Gyrobo.

New York State’s Path Through History initiative offers an opportunity to learn about and visit the hundreds of destinations that tell the story of New York and its role in America’s history. The new Sojourner Truth State Park offers a range of hikes as well as various community events over 750 miles of trail that lead directly to the Hudson River. A stop in the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center gives visitors an opportunity to learn important history that sheds light on Harriet Tubman and other heroes of the Underground Railroad during such a critical time in our history.

Travel With Tubman Trail, Massachusetts to South Carolina

STEWART’S CANAL, HARRIET TUBMAN UNDERGOUND RAILROAD NATIONAL MONUMENT, Church Creek, Maryland. Image: courtesy of National Park Service.
Stewart's Canal - Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, Church Creek, Maryland. Image: courtesy of National Park Service.

Curated by the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, Harriet Tubman National Historic Park and Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Site, the Travel with Tubman Trail features 13 sites across six states that illuminate Harriet Tubman’s contribution to history. Start in Massachusetts and travel through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and South Carolina to experience Tubman's journey and her many contributions.

Martha's Vineyard African American Heritage Trail, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

The bench across the street from Landladies of Oak Bluffs. Image: courtesy of Point B Realty.

One of the most famous and well-traveled national trails celebrating the African American history of this famed enclave, Martha’s Vineyard African American Heritage Trail celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2023. It has 31 historic sites, from Bradley Square Memorial Church to the Edgartown courthouse, and pays homages to famous residents such as politician Adam Clayton Powell and Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West. 

African-American Freedom Trail, San Francisco, California

Maya Angelou Kris Connor/Getty Images
Author and poet Maya Angelou. Image: Kris Connor/Getty Images.

The African-American Freedom Trail actually runs throughout California, and 400 out of the six thousand sites are in San Francisco. The San-Francisco trailhead starts at Pier 27 and includes other historic sites like the Palace Hotel, the Jimi Hendrix House and Laguna and Post Streets, the location of poet and author Maya Angelou’s childhood home, now occupied by the Kabuki Hotel.