Enrich your next New York getaway by immersing yourself in unforgettable experiences rooted in the state’s rich Black culture, heritage, and history. From New York City’s first Black-owned winery, to moving theatrical and musical performances, to important Underground Railroad sites, there’s something for everyone to explore and experience, no matter your interest. And if you’re looking for even more travel inspiration, check out these blogs on Black-Owned Businesses in New York State, 5 Places to Visit Run by Amazing Black Leaders, Places to Experience Black History, and where to Experience Black Culture in New York.
Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available. Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing.
For Music Lovers
Credit: Phoebe Baker
Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Ella Fitzgerald are among the many legends who have graced the Apollo Theater’s (pictured) historic stage. Visit this Harlem treasure for an Amateur Night or take a historical tour of the building. It’s even a stop on Hush Hip Hop Tours’ popular Birthplace of Hip Hop bus tour, exploring the genre’s rise from the Bronx to the global movement it is today. This history will also be celebrated at the Universal Hip Hop Museum, currently under construction in the Bronx. Live music can be found at theaters in all corners of the state, from Jazz at Lincoln Center to Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, which will host a performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo in March. Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, homes of the Knicks and Nets, also attract top-billing artists, including Nicki Minaj who will bring her tour to both arenas in 2024. Music fans will also love the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens and Buffalo’s Colored Musicians Club, the only remaining African American club of its kind in the US.
For Art Enthusiasts
Find what moves you at museums across the state, showcasing poignant works by influential artists of the past and present. The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute presents and preserves the diverse cultures of the global African diaspora, offering special programming within its landmarked East Harlem building. The Joysetta & Julius Pearse African American Museum of Nassau County showcases African American art, culture, music and traditions with an emphasis on local and national artists while the Southampton African American Museum (housed in a former Black-owned barber shop and beauty parlor from the 1940s) is the East End’s destination for preserving and promoting African American culture. You can also catch the Hip Hop Heroes exhibit through March at the Hudson River Museum, find works by Senga Nengudi and Melvin Edwards at Dia Beacon, explore African diasporic creativity within Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room (pictured) at The Met (plus a new Harlem Renaissance exhibit opening in February), visit a Black-owned gallery in Chelsea, and admire the works of Stanley Whitney, one of the most influential contemporary African American abstract artists, at a new exhibit at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum (pictured), which also has a wide selection of works by other Black artists in its collection.
For Nature Lovers and Outdoor Adventure Seekers
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From getting splashed on a Maid of the Mist boat tour at Niagara Falls to hot air ballooning over Letchworth State Park to braving the white-water rapids of the Thousand Islands-Seaway, to chasing waterfalls in the Finger Lakes, and reaching new summits in the Adirondacks, there are so many ways to experience New York’s natural beauty and wonders. In NYC, you can take to the waves with the Black Surfing Association-Rockaway or delve into the beauty of Shirley Chisholm State Park, named after the Brooklyn-born trailblazer who was the first African American Congresswoman. Connect with Outdoor Afro, which “celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature,” in Capital-Saratoga, NYC, and the Hudson Valley for community-driven outdoor adventures.
For Sports Fans
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Can’t get enough of the energy of the crowd and thrill of the game? Luckily, New York State is home to professional sports teams like the Knicks, Nets, Yankees, Mets, Bills and more. One of the most exciting sporting events comes to Queens every August at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where tennis star Coco Gauff won her first Grand Slam title in 2023 on the famed court at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Take your fandom even further and explore No. 42’s lasting legacy both on and off the field at the Jackie Robinson Museum (pictured) in lower Manhattan, make a date to visit “The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball” a new exhibit opening at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in May in Cooperstown, and see the world famous Madison Square Garden ring where Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali fought the "Fight of the Century" on permanent display at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota.
For History Buffs
New York State is filled with African American history, with unique experiences related to music, sports, culturally rich neighborhoods, and important sites such as John Brown Farm (pictured) in Lake Placid and the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn. The North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, and the Fenton History Center in Jamestown are among the institutions that highlight New York’s important role in the Underground Railroad, which helped tens of thousands of freedom seekers escape enslavement. The African Burial Ground in Manhattan is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. Embark on a Harlem Heritage Tour, get out with Explore Buffalo, or join Black Gotham Experience on a series of walking tours that reveal the impact of the African Diaspora on the making of New York City and the birth of the United States of America through real people whose images have been erased. There’s even more to explore at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, The Library at the A.J Williams-Myers African Roots Center in Kingston, and in Albany at the New York State Museum’s exhibit Black Capital: Harlem in the 1920s.
For Self Care & Wellness
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Schedule some “me” time at these Black-owed spas that have what you need to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Find inner peace and recharge your mind, body, and spirit through wellness workshops, Reiki sessions, group healing, yoga and more at Root3d in Albany or bask in the glow of radiant skin at Renewal Skin Studio in Cohoes. On Long Island, Sugared Beauty Bar (pictured) takes a holistic approach to your beauty routine using natural ingredients and offers sound massages utilizing Tibetan tones to help you achieve harmony. In Brooklyn, Cynergy Spa offers a stress-reducing escape with a variety of spa services, including massages and facials, while Body by Brooklyn, featured in Marie Claire and the New York Times, provides a unique spa experience with saunas, wet and dry lounges, plus a VIP suite complete with butler service, private jacuzzi, and complimentary champagne. In Rochester, the Groom Room Men’s Spa Lounge is the city’s first Black-owned day spa dedicated solely to men’s health and wellness, with services tailored to men (although women are welcome, too!) including manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages.
For Craft Beverage Lovers
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Looking to sip back and relax? NYC-based Gotham Winery, New York’s first Black-owned winery, hosts dinners, boozy brunches, yoga and cycling events all paired with their fine wines as they work on setting up their tasting room while Brooklyn-based B. Stuyvesant Champagne pours out its bubbly at its tasting room at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In the Finger Lakes, wind down at Apogee Wine Bar, featuring an impressive wine list hand-selected by sommelier Simone Boone, or imbibe at The Communion Wine + Spirits Shop in Syracuse with owner and certified sommelier Cha McCoy, recognized by Wine Enthusiast Magazine as Top 40 under 40 Tastemakers and Wine & Spirits Magazine Rising Black Voices in Wine. Looking for something stronger? Try Mushroom Spirits Distillery in Seneca Lakes. Prefer beer? No problem. Hit up Harlem Hops, Manhattan’s first 100% African American owned local craft beer bar or grab a brew from Brooklyn Brewery, where the brewmaster has been crafting since 1994. Also be sure to check out The Lit. Bar., the only brick-and-mortar bookstore (and wine bar!) serving the Boogie Down Bronx, Long Island’s Down the Rabbit Hole Wine Boutique, which bills itself as a “wonderland of natural, organic and obscure wines,” and The Rogers Garden, a Brooklyn cocktail bar boasting an impressive collection of Caribbean rums.
For Party People
Ready for a good time? New York is home to some of the biggest and best celebrations of Black heritage and culture. Buffalo’s Juneteenth Festival (pictured) is one of the largest of its kind featuring a parade, live entertainment, vendors, and more at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Albany hosts the Black Arts and Cultural Festival, a dynamic showcase of art, community, history, music, and dance. In New York City, Harlem Week pays homage to the iconic neighborhood's history with music, art, and community events; Curlfest is a joyous celebration of natural beauty, promoting self-expression and inclusivity; and the African Film Festival highlights African culture through the moving image. You also don’t want to miss Brooklyn’s famous West Indian Day Parade, a vibrant and festive celebration of Caribbean heritage and culture held every Labor Day, and Long Island’s Black Authors Festival, voted one of the 10 best new festivals by USA Today readers in 2023.
For Lovers of the Performing Arts
From dance to theater, immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of New York’s performing arts, embodying the spirit of creativity and diversity. In New York City, the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (pictured) showcases the power of movement and expression, with upcoming performances at The Joyce Theater and BAM. Of course, there’s Broadway where Alicia Keys' musical, "Hell's Kitchen," will make its debut after a sold-out buzzy run at The Public Theater, which is also getting ready to present Ife Olujobi’s “Jordans” and Suzan-Lori Parks' "Sally & Tom." Albany's Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY will present "The Mountaintop" at the Capital Repertory Theatre, “a surrealistic fantasy about a chance encounter between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a mysterious hotel maid.” Buffalo’s Ujima Company Inc, dedicated to the preservation and performance of African American theater, captivates with compelling theatrical presentations while Shea’s Buffalo offers an exciting lineup, including "The Sounds of Motown," a showing of "Remember the Titans" in the Free Family Film Series, "The Price Project," Tamia & Joe, and the Tony Award-winning "MJ The Musical,” also on Broadway.
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Who’s ready to eat? Delight your taste buds on a culinary journey through New York’s diverse flavors from New York City’s Little Caribbean, featuring everything from mouthwatering jerk chicken at Peppa's to Trinidadian treats from A&A Bake & Doubles, to Harlem, a haven for soul food with iconic spots like Sylvia's, Melba's, and Red Rooster, along with the delightful West African cuisine at Ponty Bistro, Pikine, and others. There’s also James Beard Award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi’s Tatiana, crowned NYC’s best restaurant in 2023 by the New York Times, Brooklyn’s Clover Hill, helmed by NYC’s first Black Michelin-starred chef, and sweet vegan treats at Cloudy Donuts Co. in Brooklyn Heights. In the Finger Lakes, discover a melting pot of Jamaican, Ethiopian, Soul Food, and Southern BBQ at Syracuse's Salt City Market and indulge in traditional Ethiopian plates at Hawi in Ithaca. In Greater Niagara, Sunshine Vegan Eats delivers American classics with a vegan twist and The Planting Society hosts cooking sessions with celebrity Chef Darian Bryan. Central New York satisfies all cravings, from sweets at The Sugar Beat and Freestyle Confections to savory bites at Caribbean Patty World while Hudson Valley is home to TopTaste in Kingston, a quaint Jamaican eatery twice nominated for a James Beard award. For even more foodie experiences, check out Black Restaurant Week in NYC and Capital-Saratoga’s Soul Fire Farm, an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm that offers tours throughout the year.
Places to Stay
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Finding your home base is at the foundation of every great vacation. In Brooklyn, you’ll find Akwaaba Mansion, a luxurious B&B housed in an 1860s Italianate villa where you’ll be treated to a Southern breakfast and personal concierge, and the Yellow Block Bed + Breakfast, a chic brownstone ideal for large groups located steps from Bed-Stuy’s iconic Notorious B.I.G. mural. Revel in warm hospitality and elegant accommodations at the Arbor View House Bed and Breakfast, a Victorian-style mansion perfectly placed for exploring Long Island’s North Fork wine country and the charming towns of Greenport and Shelter Island. In the Catskills, enjoy camping with a retro vibe in vintage campers at Boheme Retreats (pictured) or settle in at Urban Cowboy, a boutique mountain lodge with forest views, relaxing soaking tubs, and award-winning restaurant. A beautiful wilderness retreat awaits at The Lorca’s cozy Catskill mountain houses and Adirondacks nature lodge. In Capital-Saratoga, the intimate three-room Angel’s Bed & Breakfast puts you in the heart of Downtown Albany within walking distance of the area’s best attractions. The best part? All of these businesses are Black-owned!