There are few places to visit in America where you can experience culture and heritage quite like the Carolinas. Both North and South Carolina are some of the most vibrant and diverse destinations in the United States. They’re home to powerful stories and beautiful scenery. But it can be hard for visitors and tourists to discover and explore such unique experiences on their own. Thankfully, there are several Black-owned tour companies in both states that are dedicated to helping people experience the local cultural heritage.

So if you’re looking to see first-hand the unmistakable and unforgettable vibrance that North Carolina and South Carolina add to the American fabric,  these Black-owned tour companies will have you covered.

C & S Tours, Irmo, South Carolina

Established in 2013 and based in Irmo, South Carolina, C & S Tours is an IATAN-certified travel agency and motorcoach company that strives to create memories for clients and organizations through their customized experiences and services. The company organizes national, regional, and local cultural heritage trips. Its humanitarian values of compassion and inclusiveness are upheld through its Volunteerism and Traveling with Autism programs, and it holds certifications from the Accessible Travel Advocate (SNG), Autism Travel Professional (IBCEES), and Good Travels Advisor (Tourism Cares). C&S Tours is a member of the American Bus Association, IATAN, and Motor Coach Association of South Carolina. They specialize in several travel interests including but not limited to cruises, theme parks, and resorts.

Charlotte NC Tours, Charlotte, North Carolina

Dianna Ward’s locally owned and operated Charlotte NC Tours is Charlotte’s only full-service tour company. Established in 2009, Charlotte NC Tours is passionate about sharing the rich history of Charlotte with a party spirit. Their tours, which are widely considered the best to experience the city, strive to make you feel like a local by the end of the tour. Travelers on cheap flights to Charlotte can choose from over 20 tours and can experience them by Segway, bike, van, and bus. They also facilitate bike rentals and organize team-building tours and activities. Highlights of their hour and a half Historic Uptown Neighborhood tour – the company’s most popular offering – include the Levine Center of the Arts, the Mint Museum, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, and the Fourth Ward Historic District. Those with a penchant for the supernatural should check out Charlotte NC Tours’ selection of ghost tours!

Gullah ‘n’ Geechie Mahn Tours, St. Helena, South Carolina


Gullah ‘n’ Geechie Mahn Tours is the oldest Gullah tour operator in South Carolina. The company was founded in May 1992 by Kitty and Clarence Green after they sponsored their daughter in a restaurant named The Gullah House. Located on St. Helena Island, which was isolated long enough for unique expressions of Africanism to take root (a bridge to the mainland was built in 1927), Gullah ‘n’ Geechie Mahn Tours is a growing company that has proudly employed St. Helena natives to conduct its tours. While the island is currently witnessing economic investment and modernization, its African traditions are still being held onto dearly. Historic sites along the company’s tours routes include the Penn School, the Brick Baptist Church, the Chapel of Ease, the Mather School, the Coffin Point Plantation, the historic praise houses, and much more.

Related: The Hottest Travel Trend for Americans? Cultural Heritage Tourism…in the United States

Sights and Insights Tours, Charleston, South Carolina

Sights and Insights Tours is the number one tour operator for telling the stories of the people, events, and sites that have shaped Charleston, South Carolina. Infused with a blend of music, history, and storytelling, the company’s five tours are conducted by its owner Al Miller, who is a veteran certified tour guide, author, community historian, realtor, and lecturer. Travelers can choose from the 2.5-hour Charleston Black History, Gullah Geechee and Porgy & Bess, and Sea Island Tour, a two-hour Sea Island Tour of James & Johns Island, and a two-hour Charleston Amen Church Tour. All tours take place aboard a 25-passenger air-conditioned tour bus. Private tours, group tours, and lectures are also available, as well as Al’s book titled Tourists Can Say the Darndest Things!: Exploring Historic Charleston, South Carolina.

Related: How Stephanie Jones Became an Authoritative Voice on Cultural Heritage in Travel & Tourism

Triad Cultural Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

 

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Founded by Cheryl Harry in 2007 as a nonprofit, community-based, multi-disciplinary cultural arts organization, Triad Cultural Arts is leading the way to bring recognition to Winston-Salem’s Black American history and culture. Its virtual or in-person African American cultural tours, which take travelers off the beaten path into touchstones of the Black experience, features Winston-Salem’s historic gems that include art galleries, historic homes and neighborhoods, Winston-Salem State University, sculpture gardens, North Carolina’s first urban Rosenwald School, and Freedmen’s Graveyard. Triad Cultural Arts also hosts annual Juneteenth and Kwanzaa celebrations. They are working to preserve Happy Hill, the city’s oldest Black neighborhood which dates back to 1872. Preservation of the grounds would allow them to serve as an outdoor exhibit space with interpretive panels and kiosks. Triad’s logo features the mythical Sankofa bird, which symbolizes the need to reflect on the past to build a successful future.

Whistle Stop Tours, Durham, North Carolina

Aya Shabu founded Whistle Stop Tours in 2012. Stories of Durham, North Carolina’s vibrant Black history are told through the tour operator’s walking tours and performances. Neighborhoods featured by Whistle Stop Tours include Hayti (pronounced HAY-tie), West End, and Black Walk Street. Noteworthy sites that visitors can learn about include St. Joseph’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1869 by the Reverend Edian Markum, a formerly enslaved person; Fitzgerald Cemetery, the final resting place of 111 African Americans who lived in Durham’s West End neighborhood; the Mechanics and Farmer’s Bank, North Carolina’s oldest African American-owned bank; and Chicken Bone Park – one of the few remaining green spaces in Durham’s developed downtown area. The park houses two public art sculptures and poetry written by Aya that tell the stories of the great foremothers and foremothers who built this young and innovative city.

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Rafael is a New Jersey-based writer, DJ, and producer. Check out his work at www.rafahq.com.