OneTravel - Book cheap flights, hotels and cars!

Getting Jazzed! Exploring Black Cultural History in the Northeast U.S.

Written by Chris Caggiano

This blog post was updated on September 19, 2022.

When one thinks of vacations focusing on culture and history, images of tourists flocking to art museums or the Statue of Liberty instantly come to mind. While those sites are important and make for interesting stops on any traveler’s itinerary, more and more tourists are opting to undertake cultural heritage tours on their vacations, particularly tours that focus on the history of societal subgroups, such as Black Americans. Cultural heritage tours help tourists understand the true identity of a city by taking them to areas off the beaten path, and in the process helping to bring economic vitality to areas that have historically been neglected.

By fully embracing the cultural heritage of a city, tourists can gain a greater appreciation of the location and understand what it means to be a member of the African-American community by fully experiencing a broad range of its cultural traditions. The following cities in the Northeast and Midwest feature some of the finest cultural heritage tours in the region and help vacationers fully understand a city’s cultural identity.

So if you happen to be looking for cheap flights to any of these cities, why not add on a cultural heritage tour as well?


Tours of Chicago’s Black cultural heritage sites focus on the Windy City’s music scene as well as some of the city’s secret historical treasures. Music lovers should first check out Chicago’s Premier Music Tour, which shows travelers how Chicago influenced four major genres of music, specifically gospel, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues. The tour also focuses on how the Chicago music scene of ’50s and ’60s paved the way for the birth of rock and roll. Meanwhile, visitors with an interest in Black history will be interested in the South Side Essentials Bus Tour, which focuses on unique landmarks in the South Side neighborhood. Among the most interesting places tourists will get to see are the home of famed jazzman Louis Armstrong, the site of the 1893 World’s Fair, and the home of former President Barack Obama.


Cultural heritage tours of Detroit show the perseverance and persistence of Black residents of the Motor City. Detroit’s Rise, Fall, and Renewal Tour showcases the turbulent history of the city. Travelers who choose to go on the Rise, Fall, and Renewal Tour will visit locations like the Detroit Opera House and MGM Grand Detroit Casino to learn about the city’s rise in the early 20th Century, decline in the 1980s, and current efforts at urban renewal. Tourists looking to better understand the city’s decline should take the Detroit Urban Exploration and Photography Tour. This tour gives visitors a chance to explore some of the city’s abandoned buildings, including schools and factories, to get a better understanding of what happened to the city in the second half of the 20th Century. At the same time, tourists are encouraged to try their hand at urban photography.

New York City

New York City has something for everyone, including those interested in understanding the Big Apple’s cultural heritage. Those visitors with an interest in music and street art should consider the Harlem Hip-Hop Walking Tour. An exploration of Harlem’s influence on the hip-hop sub-genre, the Hip-Hop Walking Tour takes guests to sites like the famed Apollo Theater and the Graffiti Hall of Fame. Along the way, tourists will see some of the neighborhood’s historic jazz clubs and learn how African American culture strongly influenced musical expression. Tourists with an eye for history should also consider the New York City Slavery and Underground Railroad Tour, which examines New York’s role combating slavery prior to the Civil War by taking visitors to various stops on the famous Underground Railroad.

You Might Also Enjoy: 6 Places to Celebrate New Orleans’ Rich African Heritage

Washington, D.C.

Visitors to our nation’s capital can gain more insight into the full extent of the African American experience by going on several cultural heritage tours of the city. The African American History Tour, for example, presents the most detailed history of African American history in Washington, D.C. Guests of the African American History Tour visit locations such as the Frederick Douglass House and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to see the full range of African American experiences throughout the history of the country. Foodies can also sign up for the Little Ethiopia Food Tour, which allows guests to sample some of the most delectable dishes in the city while also learning of the Ethiopian community in Washington.

So, even if you haven’t started planning the fall yet, it’s great to to look for last minute flight deals to one of these great cities and immerse yourself in the local culture and history.

Do you have a favorite Cultural Heritage Tour? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

Chris Caggiano

Leave a Comment