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African American History Road Trip

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Courtesy of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
388.1 miles: 8 hours, 21 minutes
From the flashpoint of the Civil War (Charleston) to a pivotal site of the civil rights movement (St. Augustine), a road trip through the Southeast U.S. is rich in black history. The narrative isn't always pretty. But wheeling past moss-draped oaks, grassy marshes, lazy rivers and the Atlantic Ocean, you'll find the beauty and peace to which every American is entitled.
Wikimedia Commons/Galen Parks Smith
Charleston, SC to Saint Helena Island, SC
88.9 miles: 2 hours, 7 minutes
Leaving the antebellum elegance of Charleston behind, you're soon in the scenic heart of Lowcountry. Stately oaks frame the road. The songs of tree frogs fill the air. Thanks to wonderfully preserved Old South architecture, Beaufort has been a favorite location of Hollywood filmmakers. On rural Saint Helena Island, the roots of African-American Gullah culture run deep.
Courtesy of Savannah CVB
Saint Helena Island, SC to Savannah, GA
69.0 miles: 1 hours, 51 minutes
After departing the island you'll head for the Georgia state line. Savannah, once a major port in the Southern slave trade, offers an interesting albeit wincing look at the 19th-century black experience. The city's lovely historic district—with its antebellum homes, shady squares, cobblestone waterfront and moss-hung oaks—is thick with Southern Gothic atmosphere.
Wikimedia Commons/AndrewAvitus
Savannah, GA to Jacksonville, FL
188.6 miles: 3 hours, 28 minutes
Welcome to the trip's longest segment. Fortunately, you'll spend most of it on speedy I-95 as it parallels the Georgia coast. Along the way, a few quick detours deliver you to black history-related attractions. Jacksonville, the Sunshine State's largest city, has no shortage of touristy fun.
AAA/Inspector 564
Jacksonville, FL to St. Augustine, FL
41.6 miles: 0 hours, 54 minutes
From Jacksonville it's a quick shot down to seaside St. Augustine. Though better known for its Spanish colonial past, the town played an important role in the civil rights movement; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. staged high-profile demonstrations here in the summer of '64. Sample St. Augustine's shopping, dining and attractions, or catch some rays at the beach.