Follow Her Footsteps: Historic Sites That Shaped Harriet Tubman’s Search For Freedom

Marriott Bonvoy Traveler. Feb 2023.

Harriet Tubman Davis not only escaped slavery herself, but she also became one of the most important abolitionists in U.S. history and helped approximately 70 enslaved people reach freedom.

Tubman also served as a cook, spy and armed scout for the Union forces during the Civil War — making her the first African American woman to serve in the military.

From Maryland to Philadelphia and the Finger Lakes region of New York, venture on a road trip into Tubman’s life to discover the nuances of her experience — beyond what Hollywood movies or history books may portray — and witness firsthand some of the sites where she lived, worked and led others to their own freedom.

Travel along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, which offers a self-guided tour of 45 designated sites beginning on Maryland’s eastern shore near the town of Church Creek, and continue for 223 miles through Maryland and Delaware, ending in Philadelphia with stops at Independence Hall and William Still’s Last Residence.

Conclude your Philadelphia visit with a visit to Belmont Mansion Underground Railroad Museum, which is dedicated to Colonial history.

Harriet Tubman Historial Pack Avenue
Harriet Ross Tubman Avenue is located in New York. (Photo: Getty Images)

Then travel to the Finger Lakes region of New York to see where Tubman spent 50 years of her life helping others. This powerful and inspiring educational journey will help you discover Black history in an extraordinary way.

Here are some of the places where you can learn more about Tubman’s struggles and indomitable spirit.

As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.

Start in Church Creek, Maryland

The best place to start your road trip is at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, located in the town of Church Creek, featuring multimedia exhibits about Tubman’s life. From here, traverse some of the 125 miles of the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Byway along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and then continue for 98 miles up through Delaware and into Philadelphia.

Tubman was born in 1822 on Anthony Thompson’s plantation at Peter’s Neck in Dorchester County, Maryland. She spent her early years as an enslaved person at Brodess Farm and later was hired out by Brodess to work on neighboring farms before escaping slavery in 1849.

She performed her first act of resistance at age 12 at Bucktown General Store, which left her with a severe lifelong head injury. After her own escape, she later returned to Underground Railroad sites in Caroline County several times to lead other escapees to freedom.

As you make your way across the first portion of the byway, visit exhibits, murals and replica homes located on the sites that honor Tubman.

Continue Through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In 1849, Tubman escaped to Pennsylvania with her two brothers and found her freedom. Though Tubman’s brothers turned back, she was able to lead them to freedom about 5 years later.

She became an operator of the Underground Railroad, a vast network of people and places that aided enslaved people in their escape from bondage.

The Johnson house in Philadelphia
Explore the city’s only Underground Railroad stop that was used as meeting spot for abolitionists. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tubman is said to have met other abolitionists at the Johnson House, the only intact Germantown stop on the Underground Railroad, owned by a Quaker family. She delivered remarks at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the “mother” church of the nation’s first Black denomination.

Learn about the African American struggles through history at various historic homes and museums in the city, including the prominent William Still House in Philadelphia. Still was known as the father of the Underground Railroad and assisted nearly 1,000 people in escaping slavery.

On the outskirts of Philadelphia, visit the waterfront memorial dedicated to Tubman’s life and legacy in Bucks County in Bristol.

End the Philadelphia leg of your journey at the Belmont Mansion Underground Railroad Museum, and then head northwest into New York to see where Tubman spent her last 50 years.

End in Auburn, New York

Harriet Tubman National HIstoric Park
Step back in time and tour Tubman’s house. (Photo: Getty Images)

After the Civil War, Tubman moved to Auburn, New York, where she remarried and turned to philanthropy and women’s suffrage. Take a guided tour of her home and barn at the Harriet Tubman National Historic Park. This is where Tubman created the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged and Indigent Negroes, a sanctuary for the elderly, sick and those with disabilities.

You can feel Tubman’s presence and see her imprints at her home. Tubman and her second husband, Nelson Davis, along with the local African American community, built the currently standing house after a fire in 1880 destroyed the original. The family’s handcrafted bricks were used in the construction of the new home.

Check out the impressive bronze statue of Tubman at the Equal Rights Heritage Center. A replica of the statue was erected at the CIA headquarters to honor Tubman as a model spy.

Learn about the controversial laws of the times at Seward House Museum, the former home of William Henry and Frances Seward, which was also used as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It was Frances Seward, in 1859, who sold Harriet Tubman the property that became Tubman’s home, which was risky at the time, as it was illegal for a self-emancipated person to own property.

Harriet Tubman died in 1913 and is buried at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn. Her funeral was held with military honors at AME Zion Church. Pay respects at her three-foot-tall granite gravestone under an evergreen tree planted by her great niece and nephew.

~ Written for and published by Marriott Bonvoy Traveler. All rights reserved.

How a Kashmiri Tea Warmed My Cup and Soul

Marriott Bonvoy Traveler. Oct 2022

I wake up at 4 a.m. to the sound of an imam chanting the Muslim call to prayer from the loudspeaker of a nearby mosque in Srinagar, India. At this early hour, darkness still envelops the city, the largest in India’s northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Normally, I am not an early riser, but today I hurry to dress in my salwar kameez and meet my driver, Mohd Shafi, who brings me to the shore of Dal Lake. With its traditional houseboats and floating gardens, Dal plays an integral role in the city’s commerce and culture.

At this early hour, my plan is to visit the town’s floating market, held each day before dawn breaks. A lone boatsman meets us at the lake’s docks and rows his red-carpet-draped shikara, a traditional wooden boat, onto the cool and misty lake. There is no one nearby as far as I can see, but then, with not a single light around us, I can’t really see anything.

Suddenly, from the foggy gray mist, another boatsman emerges with vegetables stacked on his long narrow boat, then another with fresh flowers, and yet another selling tea. It’s as if an entire city has awakened from the peripheries of the calm waters. Slowly, the fog lifts. Beyond the lake, the towering Himalaya mountains appear, and around me, lotus flowers bloom in the wetlands. It is a magical sight.

It’s here that I meet the kahwa shikara, or the floating tea vendor. He enthusiastically rattles in his broken English, “I am selling Kashmiri saffron kahwa — 16 varieties mix!” trying to attract the attention of those who may need a pick-me-up.

While balancing barefoot on his delicate, low-slung boat, he inserts hot coals into a brass kettle, or samovar, and serves small cups of tea to other vendors, mainly fruit, flower and vegetable sellers.

Wholesalers come to this part of the lake long before sunrise mainly to sell the produce they’ve grown along the banks of the lake. Retailers buy their goods, taking them back to be sold at shops and markets once the rest of the world awakens.

Without much delay, Shafi orders two cups of kahwa for us. The tea vendor flawlessly transacts the piping-hot paper cups and rupees across boats without anyone needing to move from their seats.

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Where to Stay and Play on a Family Vacation to Qatar

Marriott Bonvoy Traveler. July 2022.

With a bevy of outdoor adventures, thrilling theme parks and enriching museums and activity centers, Qatar’s making its mark as one of the Middle East’s most family-friendly destinations.

In a nation famed for luxurious accommodations, bespoke services, myriad activities and consideration of safety, there are ample unique experiences sure to dazzle kids of all ages.

Doha offers a wealth of cultural sites for curious parents and kids. At the Museum of Islamic Art, take an educational and creative tour to see Islamic art and exhibitions showcasing more than 1,400 years of history.

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How to Plan the Ultimate Qatar Beach Getaway

Marriott Bonvoy Traveler. July 2022.

With 350 miles of Persian Gulf coastline, year-round sunshine and mild temperatures, Qatar is an ideal playground for beach lovers. As you explore its shores, expect to find a wide selection of beaches ranging from private stretches of sand to wild and remote access points. Discover a diversity of landscapes along the beach, including rock formations, mangroves, palm trees and white sand.

Bring your dream Qatar beach getaway to life with these planning tips.

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