Featured Route: Historic African American Cities

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From the flash point of the Civil War in Charleston, South Carolina, to a pivotal site for the Civil Rights Movement in St. Augustine, Florida, a road trip through the Southeastern U.S. is rich in African American history. Wheeling past moss-draped oaks, grassy marshes, lazy rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find the beauty and splendor that you can only experience in “The South.” AAA Travel has an itinerary you’re sure to enjoy.


This recommended drive trip begins in Charleston, SC, where you can learn about the enslavement of Africans, the Civil War and Emancipation, The Civil Rights Movement, and the artistic and culinary traditions that Africans have contributed to Charleston’s culture. Stroll down Market Street and purchase a Sweetgrass basket or dine in one of the many exceptional restaurants that prepare Low Country cuisine. Shrimp and Grits is a favorite among locals.  


Your journey continues about 89 miles south along Route 21 to Saint Helena Island, where you can visit Penn Center, the country’s first school for African Americans. The 50-acre campus is preserved as a National Historic Landmark, with a small museum that displays Gullah artwork. While visiting, enjoy some of the local food like she-crab soup and sweet potato pie.


The next notable stop is about 69 miles south in Savannah, Georgia, where much of the city survived the Civil War. In fact, the city was offered to President Lincoln as a Christmas gift. Historic preservation is a priority in Savannah, so many of the buildings have been restored. Take a stroll along the river where you can stop in for a bite to eat, shop, or just enjoy the majestic scenery. Be sure to take a horse-drawn carriage ride through town or join a ghost tour, before heading out.


Once you’ve had your fill, hit the road again for about three and a half hours towards Jacksonville, Florida. Known for its rich African American history, you’ll want to explore stops along the Jax Heritage Trail. Check out the Catharine Street Fire Station and the Clara White Mission, founded by a former slave. Make sure you don’t miss a live performance at the Ritz Theatre and Museum, which features nationally acclaimed African American performers. On your way through, stop at the Kingsley Plantation, which dates back to the early 1800’s.


This featured route ends just 42 miles south at your destination in St. Augustine, Florida. Here you can learn about the first free black settlement, located at Fort Mose; local demonstrations that helped to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and some of the most important work completed by Dr. Martin Luther King during his stay. Take a walking tour or a train tour and learn all about St. Augustine’s Black Heritage.

With so much beauty and history, a drive through the South is sure to educate and entertain you. Let AAA Travel plan your road trip to include directions with TripTiks, hotel stays, tours, and more. We give exclusive deals to members with extra added value versus booking on your own. Call 1-800-444-8691 to get more information, or stop by a local AAA Travel branch to start planning your trip.

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