Nine Cities to Visit in Honor of Juneteenth

by | Jun 4, 2024 | Family Adventures, USA

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Juneteenth became a thing because of a problem. After the end of the Civil War and slavery with it, Confederate-controlled areas withheld the news that the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery on January 1, 1863.

It took another two and a half years for Union troops to finally arrive in Galveston Bay, Texas, to finally tell the 250,000 enslaved African Americans they were free men and women. This happened on June 19, 1865.

This day became known as Juneteenth, marking the true end of slavery in the United States.

The government recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021. Today, Juneteenth is a time to reflect on and celebrate the history of freedom in the African-American community and the people who fought so hard to achieve it. Numerous cities nationwide hold festivals, each offering unique ways to observe, celebrate, and learn. Here are our nine favorite cities that celebrate Juneteenth the right way.

 

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Galveston Island, Texas

Perhaps the most iconic place to celebrate Juneteenth is where it all began. Galveston hosts a variety of events, including banquets, comedy shows, parades, sidewalk poetry, and even a Sneaker Ball. Year-round, Galveston commemorates Juneteenth with educational programs and community events.

 

Thomas Family Pilgrimage

Join the Thomas family on a guided pilgrimage through Galveston Island, exploring 175 years of history. This immersive experience takes visitors on the paths that freed individuals once walked, providing a powerful connection to the past.

The Menard House and Event Center 1605 33rd St, Galveston, TX 77550 Phone: (409) 766-4950

 

Ashton Villa

Celebrate Juneteenth at Ashton Villa, the site believed to be where the Proclamation of Freedom was first read. This event includes a ceremonial reading of General Order No. 3, historical reenactments, and speeches commemorating the significance of this day.

Ashton Villa 2328 Broadway Avenue J, Galveston, TX 77550 Phone: (409) 762-3933

 

Where To Stay In Galveston

Grand Galvez

The Grand Galves is a gorgeous historic hotel reminiscent of Jay Gatsby’s mansion set on the Gulf of Mexico in Southern Texas. Guests will enjoy beachfront views, a heated saline pool, a spa, and easy access to local events. 

 

Sunrise at the beach in Galveston, Texas

The sun rises over Galveston, Texas. @Shutterstock

 

Montgomery, Alabama

Steeped in Civil Rights Movement history, Montgomery offers a profound Juneteenth experience.

 

Rosa Parks Museum

The Rosa Parks Museum hosts a free public event with food, music, and tours, including local artists, a 1950s Montgomery bus, and a 1960s Greyhound bus. Enjoy free admission with special educational exhibits, storytelling sessions, and interactive displays. The event will also include a reenactment of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott and guided tours of the museum’s permanent exhibits.

Rosa Parks Museum 252 Montgomery St, Montgomery, AL 36104 Phone: (334) 241-8661

 

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

Enjoy a colorful festival celebrating African American art and culture with live performances, artist talks, and special exhibitions. Visitors can engage with local artists, enjoy traditional music and dance, and participate in cultural workshops. The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts also features a Second-Line style processional, crafts, live music, and snacks.

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts One Museum Drive, Montgomery, AL 36117 Phone: (334) 625-4333

 

Where To Stay In Montgomery

Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa

Proximity to local events with an onsite hair salon, the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa has a spa, an outdoor pool, and a spa!  

 

A bronze statue of Rosa Parks stands in Montgomery. @Shutterstock

A bronze statue of Rosa Parks stands in Montgomery. @Shutterstock

 

I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom. -Rosa Parks

 

Atlanta, Georgia

Known as the “Black Mecca,” Atlanta is a beloved destination for Juneteenth celebrations. The Atlanta Juneteenth Music Festival, one of the largest in the country, features live music across six stages, hundreds of Black-owned vendors, historical reenactments, a parade, and a 5K Freedom Run.

 

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Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival

Every June, a three-day festival takes over beautiful Piedmont Park. It features a vibrant parade, live music, dance performances, and a variety of food and craft vendors. Highlights include performances by local artists, cultural displays, and family-friendly activities.

Piedmont Park 1320 Monroe Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 Phone: (404) 875-7275

 

Juneteenth Atlanta Emancipation Proclamation Celebration

This grand celebration features historical reenactments, speeches, and a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. The event also includes educational workshops and discussions on African American history and culture.

Atlanta History Center 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW Atlanta, GA 30305 Phone: 404.814.4000

 

 

Where To Stay In Atlanta

Loews Atlanta Hotel

This hotel is pet-friendly, and it is located near the city’s sprawling Piedmont Park. Guests will love the luxury accommodations and easy access to festival activities. Loews Atlanta Hotel is the perfect spot to lay your head after a day full of meaningful activity.

 

The focal point of the Cascades Garden, this 25-foot sculpture is named "Earth Goddess."

This 25-foot sculpture, named Earth Goddess, watches over Cascades Garden in Atlanta.

 

Washington, D.C.

While you might not get invited to the White House celebration, Washington, D.C., offers a rich array of Juneteenth events. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture hosts a Juneteenth Community Day with family-friendly activities, including storytime, food, and, for the adults, mixology.

 

Juneteenth Community Day Celebration

A special day filled with family-friendly activities, including interactive storytelling, craft workshops, and musical performances. The event aims to educate visitors about the history and significance of Juneteenth through engaging and entertaining activities.

National Museum of African American History and Culture 1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560 Phone: (844) 750-3012

 

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration

This event includes indoor and outdoor activities such as live music, dance performances, food vendors, and educational workshops. The celebration focuses on community engagement and the importance of Juneteenth in African American history.

Anacostia Community Museum 1901 Fort Pl SE, Washington, DC 20020  Phone: (202) 633-4820

 

Where To Stay In D.C.

The Hay-Adams

The truly luxurious The Hay-Adams is famous for its historic charm and close proximity to the National Mall.

 

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History in Washington D.C. @Shutterstock

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. @Shutterstock

 

Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa focuses on Black art, music, and history. Tulsa’s celebration is a safe space for expressions of freedom, with wellness activities, music, interactive art, a block party, and a 5K run.

 

Tulsa’s Juneteenth Festival

This event focuses on the rich history and culture of the Black community in Tulsa. It features educational exhibits, musical performances, and a family field day. Highlights include presentations on the history of Tulsa Fashion and the Juneteenth Block Party.

Greenwood Cultural Center 322 N Greenwood Ave, Tulsa, OK 74120  Phone: (918) 596-1020

 

Where To Stay In Tulsa

The Mayo Hotel

This historic boutique Mayo Hotel with luxury amenities and a rooftop bar was once famous for its champagne brunches, attracting the likes of John F. Kenedy and Elvis Presley. In 2001, the city purchased the hotel and renovated it. 

 

Bronze Statue of a man who was photographed during the 1921 Race Riots in Tulsa now stands on a rock labeled "Hope."

This bronze statue stands in Tulsa’s Hope Plaza. The statue is a tribute to a man who was photographed in the 1921 Race Riots in Tulsa. @Shutterstock

 

Indianapolis, Indiana

The Indiana State Museum hosts a family-friendly Juneteenth event with activities, Black-owned food trucks, and educational opportunities about Indiana’s Black history. The city also features the Annual Indy Juneteenth Celebration, which is located in Military Park, and the Downtown Indy Juneteenth Foodways Festiva, which is held at The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

 

Indiana State Museum

Family activities and educational exhibits, including live music performances, a discussion with the chief curator about the Emancipation Proclamation, and a make-your-own activist sticker, will leave visitors with inspired hearts and minds. All 10 Indiana State Museum sites are open to the public for this celebration for free!

Indiana State Museum 650 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204 Phone: (317) 232-1637

 

Where To Stay In Indianapolis

Conrad Indianapolis

The Conrad Indianapolia is a luxury hotel that is known for its incredible high tea and its spa package- “Wellness Getaway.” It is located in the heart of downtown, close to the Indiana State Museum. 

 

The canal runs that runs through Indianapolis's cultural center.

Indianapolis’ Central Canal flows right through White River Park, the cultural hub of the downtown area. @Shutterstock

 

New York City, New York

New York City offers a vibrant Juneteenth celebration with events happening throughout the boroughs. The Juneteenth NY Festival in Brooklyn features live performances, family activities, and a parade. Harlem hosts various events celebrating Black culture and history.

 

Juneteenth Celebration in Harlem

This annual celebration might be one of the oldest on the list- boasting its 31st year in 2024. The event kicks off with a parade and street fair. There are plenty of opportunities to eat great food while listening to good music, and the kids will have plenty of fun activities to do. 

The Juneteenth Committee of Malcolm Shabazz 116th Street between 116th Street & Malcolm X Blvd. (Lenox) Phone: (212) 662-2200/01

 

Visit Juneteenth Grove

NYC’s Parks Department dedicated Juneteenth Grove in Cadman Plaza Park in 2020 after the brutal murder of George Flloyd. Park benches are painted in the Pan-African colors of red, black, and green. Along with the upgraded benches, the parks department also planter 19 new flowering trees along the walkway. It’s a bustling park because of the lush garden and shady trees. It is the perfect spot for an afternoon walk. 

Cadman Plaza Park  Cadman Plaza W &, Tillary St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (212) 639-9675

 

Where To Stay In New York

The Standard, High Line

A trendy hotel in Manhattan that is anything but standard. Besides great city views, guests will enjoy the bustling beer garden, a rooftop discotheque, and an outdoor public plaza that features a rotating art installation. 

 

July 19th, 2020 brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets in protest in NYC. This is a picture of many of them- flying a US flag that is died black, red and green. @Shutterstock

July 19th, 2020 brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets in protest in NYC. @Shutterstock

 

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s Juneteenth celebrations, including the historic Bronzeville neighborhood festivities, are held city-wide. The DuSable Museum of African American History hosts special programs, while Millennium Park offers music and cultural events.

 

Juneteenth Village Fest

This family-friendly Juneteenth event features carnival rides, live performances, community-based organizations, and resources, and it’s free!

Douglass Park 1401 S. Sacramento Drive Chicago, IL 60608

 

Visit Bronzeville Children’s Museum

Founded in 1993, this is the first and only African-American children’s museum in the country. Some exhibits to see are African American Inventors Changing Lives and the Tour of Bronzeville Landmarks. The museum hosts an annual family celebration of Juneteenth.

Bronzeville Children’s Museum 9301 S Stony Is Ave, Chicago, IL 60617 Phone: (773) 721-9301

 

Where To Stay In Chicago

The Blackstone Autograph Collection

The Blackstone Hotel, built in 1910, has all the charm of a historic hotel but with the best modern amenities. Positioned in the midst of Chicago’s Cultural Mile and overlooking Lake Michigan and Grant Park, guests will have difficulty not falling in love with how the natural beauty of this setting marries with Chicago’s renowned architecture. 

 

The Crown Fountain in Millennial Park is full of families enjoy the cool water.

The Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennial Park is full of families enjoying the cool water during the warm summer months. @Shutterstock

 

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles celebrates Juneteenth with events throughout the city.  The California African American Museum offers educational programs and family activities.

 

Check Out One of the Many Programs at LA County Public Libraries

Of course, there will be a read-aloud or two, but there will also be opportunities to create beaded jewelry, learn how to play African drums, or create a square to add to a community quilt. There is something for everyone and every age at these family-friendly events!

Addresses are unique per event; be sure to read the list for more information.

 

California African American Museum

This is the most California-style Juneteenth event on the list. Visitors can participate in yoga, a sound bath and meditation, a zine workshop, or a “flashlight” story-telling session. 

California African American Museum 600 State Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037 Phone: (213) 744-7432

 

Where To Stay In L.A.

The Westin Los Angeles Airport

The Westin LAX is just far enough from the airport to not really feel like an airport hotel but close enough to enjoy the benefits of being close to the airport. (The benefit—not having to fight traffic at the airport! There is a shuttle driver who will battle for you.) The beds and pillows are dreamy, the workout facility includes Peloton bikes, and there is a running guide who will match your pace through the bustling surrounding area. 

 

a colorful image of the Californian African American Museum

An inside view of what you can see at the California African American Museum. @Shutterstock

 

Planning Your Juneteenth Experience

No matter where you choose to celebrate, here are some of our best tips to get the most out of your Juneteenth experience:

 

Support Black-Owned Businesses

Juneteenth is a great opportunity to patronize Black-owned restaurants, vendors, and artists. Look for marketplaces or events featuring Black businesses.

 

Learn about the History of Juneteenth

Take some time to understand the significance of the holiday. Many museums and cultural centers offer educational programs and exhibits. Some museums and towns also provide digital experiences you can explore before visiting.

 

Embrace the Spirit of Community

Juneteenth is a celebration of resilience and joy. Join the festivities, connect with your community, and celebrate.

Edited by Steffy McCourt

 

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Creed Anthony is a freelance writer, educator, and speaker based in Indianapolis, Indiana. He enjoys traveling with his wife and kids – usually to a kid’s event. Local comic book shops, libraries, and restaurants are his favorite stops on the road.