The cities and Sea Islands of the Lowcountry  and Georgia coast are integral to a full understanding of the experience of African Americans in the South. More than that, they are living legacies, with a thriving culture—called Gullah in South Carolina and Geechee in Georgia—whose roots can be traced directly back to West Africa.
This tour not only hits the entirely unique Gullah/Geechee highlights , but also the lesser-known historic aspects within cities such as Charleston, Beaufort, and Savannah.
Begin your trip in Charleston  with a busy day on foot. Shop in Old City Market ; it never hosted a slave auction, but during its heyday, it was home to a number of African American entrepreneurs and vendors. Don’t forget to walk by Cabbage Row , inspiration for “Catfish Row” of the African American–themed George Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess.
Visit the newly opened Old Slave Mart Museum  and learn more about the Middle Passage and how Charleston’s black population overcame the legacy of slavery. Spend the rest of the afternoon browsing through the research library at the Avery Research Center , one of the main repositories of Gullah culture and history.
Early this morning take the ferry out to Fort Sumter , where the Civil War began. From the fort you can see nearby undeveloped Morris Island, scene of the 1863 Battle of Battery Wagner, featuring the first all-black regiment in the U.S. Army, the 54th Massachusetts, whose tale was recounted in the film Glory. Visit the wrought-iron garden  of the noted black Charleston artisan Phillip Simmons.
After lunch take a guided African American history tour  of downtown Charleston or tour the Aiken-Rhett House , with its excellently and respectfully preserved aspects of the African American servants who made the historic property run.
Leave Charleston and cross the Ashley River for a trip to the National Trust–owned Drayton Hall ; take the guided tour and pay respects at the African American cemetery. Then make the hour drive down to Beaufort. While walking around the scenic historic district, visit the Smalls House , home of the African American Civil War hero Robert Smalls, as well as his burial site at the Tabernacle Baptist Church .
Drive by the Berners Barnwell Sams House  to see where Harriet Tubman worked as a nurse and helped ferry slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Visit Beaufort National Cemetery  and see the memorial to the African American troops of the 54th and 55th Regiments of the U.S. Army in the Civil War.
Make the short drive over the Beaufort River to St. Helena Island and spend the morning on the scenic campus of the Penn Center , a key clearinghouse for study and celebration of Gullah culture and the site of activism by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s. Head on into Hilton Head, stop by the Coastal Discovery Museum  and take an African American heritage tour, visiting the site of Mitchelville , the first community of freed slaves in the United States. An alternate plan for today is to make the trip inland to Walterboro to visit the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial  at the regional airport.
Drive an hour into Savannah  and check out the African American Monument  statue on River Street. Head over to the former center of black life in Savannah, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard  (once West Broad Street), and see the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum  and then tour the First African Baptist Church  in City Market, the oldest black congregation in North America. Nearby is the new Haitian Memorial, a nod to the volunteers who helped the cause of independence in the Revolutionary War.
Today you visit the Second African Baptist Church , where Sherman announced the famous “40 acres and a mule” field order. Close by is the Beach Institute , a repository of African American art, culture, and history. Then check out the restored schoolroom at Massie School , Savannah’s first African American school, and the Carnegie Library, Savannah’s first black library, where future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas once studied.
On the way out of Savannah visit Laurel Grove South , a historic African American cemetery with stirring memorials to some of Savannah’s most notable black figures. Jump on Highway 17 and head down to Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge , once the site of an African American community, displaced for a WWII airfield. Be sure to visit the vernacular Gould Cemetery near the landing within the refuge.
An alternate plan is to drive all the way down to little Meridian near Darien and take the ferry out to Sapelo Island, taking a guided day tour of the island and its rich Gullah/Geechee history, including the community of Hog Hammock.