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Travel Inspiration | Road Trip
9 Underground Railroad Sites and Museums to Visit

A JOURNEY THROUGH BLACK HISTORY—FROM SELMA, ALABAMA, TO WASHINGTON, D.C.

As a 25-year-old bike messenger, John Shackelford of New York City discovered not just freedom on two wheels, but a powerful tool to confront the questions of Black identity and liberation. Inspired by attending Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, Shackelford organized an 1,114-mile cycling journey that September with a handful of friends, tracing the Underground Railroad route from Mobile, Alabama, to Washington, D.C.

It took the bike crew two weeks to complete the historic ride. Shackelford’s adventure-cycling tale, powerfully told through a documentary, unfolds as a story of activism, endurance, hope, and connection to ancestors.

Inspired to take your own journey to learn more about Black history? You can map out a similar Underground Railroad route by car, starting in Mobile, Alabama, and ending in Washington, D.C. Along the way, discover key destinations, historic sites, and immersive experiences that allow you to trace the footsteps of freedom seekers and gain a deeper understanding of this pivotal chapter in American history.

Memorial wall at Africatown Heritage HouseDescendant of the Clotilda, the last known US slave ship, visits Clotilda memorial wall with his mother; Photo courtesy of Visit Mobile

AFRICATOWN HERITAGE HOUSE—MOBILE, AL
Start your journey at a museum dedicated to the history of Africatown, a small community founded by the survivors of Clotilda—the last known slave ship to arrive in America. Through artifacts and exhibits, the Heritage House shares the story of Clotilda’s survivors and descendants.

The Legacy MuseumLegacy Museum entrance; Photo by jackienix/stock.adobe.com

LEGACY MUSEUM: FROM ENSLAVEMENT TO MASS INCARCERATION—MONTGOMERY, AL
Dig into the harsh realities of racial injustice as you explore the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation in America. Engage with powerful exhibits, interactive displays, and movies to foster dialogue, awareness, and a commitment to change.

Edmund Pettus BridgeEdmund Pettus Bridge; Photo by HABesen/iStock.com

EDMUND PETTUS BRIDGE—SELMA, AL
Stand on hallowed ground at this iconic bridge where civil rights activists faced brutality for advocating for voting rights. Commemorate the Selma-to-Montgomery March that symbolizes the fight for civil rights and the ongoing struggle for equality.

Birmingham Civil Rights InstituteStatue of Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Photo by EWY Media/stock.adobe.com

BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE—BIRMINGHAM, AL
Featuring oral histories and exhibits, this heritage site delves into key events of the Civil Rights Movement, shedding light on Birmingham’s role. In the Barriers Gallery you can see the 1950s-era pews, podium, and window of Movement churches in Birmingham.

Montgomery Bus Boycott Exhibit, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TNMontgomery Bus Boycott Exhibit, National Civil Rights Museum; Photo courtesy of the National Civil Rights Museum

NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM—MEMPHIS, TN
This museum, located at the site of the Lorraine Motel, walks you through the gripping narrative of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Explore the history and lasting impact of the Civil Rights Movement through films, interactive displays, and exhibits.

Martin Luther King Jr National Historical ParkMartin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park; Photo by Katherine Welles/stock.adobe.com

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK—ATLANTA, GA
As a tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this historical site showcases his profound impact through significant sites, including the peace garden, his church, and his memorial. (Note: His birth home will be temporarily closed for renovations through November 2025.)

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HARRIET TUBMAN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD VISITOR CENTER—CHURCH CREEK, MD
Immerse yourself in the heroic journey of Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and then led slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. This 10,000-square-foot visitor center walks you through Tubman’s life and offers multimedia exhibits honoring her courage, inviting reflection on resistance and liberation.

National Underground Railroad Freedom CenterNational Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Photo courtesy of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD FREEDOM CENTER—CINCINNATI, OH
This “museum of conscience” invites you to delve into the Underground Railroad's clandestine network to understand the harsh challenges faced by freedom seekers and those who helped them escape slavery. Engage with powerful stories of heroes—from the Underground Railroad to modern times—that inspire advocacy, justice, freedom, and human rights.

National Museum of African American HistoryNational Museum of African American History and Culture; Photo by georgeclerk/stock.adobe.com

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE—WASHINGTON, D.C.
This Smithsonian takes you on a profound journey of Black history, tracing the roots from slavery to freedom to achievement. Learn from exhibits—including 40,000 artifacts—that celebrate resilience and cultural contributions, highlight ongoing struggles, and foster understanding and unity.