What luck! OK, so you find yourself in the Washington D.C. area, looking for how to add an additional cultural dimension to your stay. After spending some time exploring the Capital City and the surrounding areas (Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, MD) – plan to take a road trip! Happily, there are several treasures to enjoy within striking distance that are rich in African flavor. 

 

Take A Ride North I-95

1. By all means, check out the Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures, a privately owned children’s museum. Founded in 2016 in Baltimore, MD (an hour’s drive from Washington DC), it is a newcomer to the local cultural scene. The museum’s goal is to bring the diversity of African cultures to life, through active participation and cultural enrichment. At this family-friendly museum, children can engage in a variety of hands-on experiences (play, performances, classes, dances) and more.

By the way, a visit to the Baltimore area is not complete without sampling local culinary delights! Local restaurants like Dukem and Peju’s Kitchen are worthwhile stops along your trip, offering up a range of African foods from East to West of the continent.

 

2. Next, plan to visit the African Art Museum of Maryland (AAMM). Founded in 1980, AAAMM was the first museum in the planned community of Columbia, MD (a 40-minute drive from Washington DC). Lauded as “one of the State’s most respected cultural institutions”, the AAMM seeks to raise awareness of the cultures and artistic expressions of the continent.

Check out the African Experience Tour, House of Jazz, and ‘Short Talks’ (audio stories about select African artifacts) – in addition to live events and organized travel to the continent.

As long as you are in the neighborhood, be sure to taste to fare at the Foodfricana or Mansa Kunda restaurants! These authentic West African eateries offer a range of delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian options representative of the region, sure to appeal to a variety of palates.

 

Head South to Get Your Kicks – Yes, You Could Take Route 66!

3. Finally, plan to head out to the Igbo Village in Staunton, VA. Also known as the 1700s West African Farm, or the Ulo Ubi Igbo exhibit, it features reproductions of buildings and artifacts from 18th-century Igboland, a region located in modern-day Nigeria. The Igbo Farmstead represents the prevailing styles of architecture and local life ‘back in the day.’ The 3 hour drive from D.C. to Staunton offers a pleasant trip to the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you can’t make the trip this time, go ahead and take the virtual tour of the farm instead.

Need more reasons to get on the road? As long as you are in the area, there are several unique African eateries you can sample. These include Manna Bistro (Ethiopian/Mexican cuisine), Aburi Gardens (Ghanaian cuisine), and the eclectic Maaza29 (Ethiopian/Italian cuisine).

 

Now You Know, Let’s Go

To summarize, there’s lots to see and do – both within the metropolitan Washington D.C. area and outside to celebrate and immerse yourself in African culture. . . now, get those car keys and get going!