The contributions to American history and the rich cultural heritage of African-Americans are celebrated every year in February during Black History Month. And when it's cold in New York, a trip down south, especially one where you might learn something, can sound very enticing. These family-friendly events and historic sites are a must.
The theme of this year's Savannah Black Heritage Festival is "Dare to Dream: Create a Legacy." Each year the festival presents cultural performances, ethnic cuisine and crafts. All festival events are free and held at Savannah State University, the oldest public historically black college or university in Georgia. (Feb. 1-23)
The Southern slave trade used Savannah as a major port and historic sites and museums honor the city's African-American experience. See the highlights on Savannah's African American Heritage Tour, which includes visits to the First African Baptist Church, which is the oldest black church in the U.S. and a stop on the Underground Railroad. (Ongoing)
HOTEL PICK: The riverfront Bohemian Hotel (102 W. Bay St., 912-721-3815) blends old world Southern charm with modern style.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Through food, music and visual arts, The Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Geechee or Gullah people -- the descendants of enslaved West Africans -- and their history on Hilton Head Island. Events range from free with donation to $12 per plate for the popular food fest, Taste of Gullah. (Feb. 1-23)
HOTEL PICK: Parklane Inn & Suites (12 Park Lane, 877-765-0921) is just steps from the island's bike and nature pathways.
As part of the "From Africa to Virginia" theme for Black History Month, gallery exhibits and guided tours of Jamestown Settlement's outdoor living-history areas highlight the culture of the first known Africans in Virginia and the experience of Africans in 17th-century Virginia. At the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, visitors can learn about the lives of African Americans during that period. Admission is $16 for adults, $7.50 for children ages 6-12. (Through Feb. 28)
HOTEL PICK: The Williamsburg Inn (136 East Francis St., 757-220-7978) is a luxury, historic hotel in the heart of colonial Williamsburg.
The "Celebrate Black History Month at The B&O Railroad Museum" exhibit focuses on how significant social issues, such as segregation, affected railroading and heralds the chefs and waiters who worked on B&O dining cars. (Feb. 1-28)
HOTEL PICK: Admiral Fell Inn (888 South Broadway, 410-522-7380) is a boutique hotel in quaint Fell's Point, a neighborhood near the Inner Harbor.