About The Byway
The Tubman Byway is a self-guided driving tour that winds for 125 miles through the beautiful landscapes and waterscapes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It is the only place in the world that preserves and interprets the places where Harriet Tubman was born, lived, labored, and where she fled from. Discover the powerful and exciting stories at the byway’s 36 designated sites in Caroline and Dorchester Counties. Spend a couple of hours or a couple of days exploring.
More than a century after her death, Harriet Tubman would still recognize many places in the Eastern Shore’s mosaic of waterways, forests, and fields. Stops along the byway make it possible to learn about the lives of enslaved and free blacks, abolitionists, and slave holders, as well as escape routes used by Tubman and her fellow freedom seekers.
At the heart of the Byway is the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, which opened in March 2017 with multimedia exhibits, a gift shop, nature trail, outdoor pavilion, and more. The lands in the area are part of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, designated by Congress in late 2014.
Along the Byway, you will also find ample opportunities to hike, bike, paddle, shop, dine and attend events related to the area’s significant and unique heritage.
The Tubman Byway continues into Delaware and goes on to Philadelphia, which was Tubman’s destination once she found freedom. Find out more about the Delaware portion of the Byway.
Maps & Guides
To Explore the Byway
Tours Along the Harriet Tubman Byway
There are a few different ways to explore the Tubman Byway:
- On your own:
If you’re traveling on your own or with a few friends or family members, you can explore on your own. Use resources on this site, download PDFs of the Tubman Byway Map & Guide, download the Audio Guide, and get in your car to take the self-guided tour.
- Join a scheduled tour:
If you’re traveling on your own or with a few friends or family members, you may be able to join a regularly scheduled tour with Harriet Tubman Tours or Chesapeake Tours & Promotions. (See below)
- Take a packaged tour:
If you have a sizable group, you may be able to take them on one of the packaged tours offered through one of the organizations listed below.
- For bus companies and tour operators:
You can organize your own custom tour for your group. Tap into the resources on this site and see our suggested itineraries. Or contact one of the organizations below.
- For school groups.
See our section for school groups and students.
Here are local organizations and businesses offering tour services related to the Harriet Tubman Byway:
Blackwater Paddle & Pedal Adventures
Offering step-on guide services. Certified by the Network to Freedom. Also offering tours by bicycle or kayak. Owners also own the Bucktown Village Store, a site along the Tubman Byway.
Chesapeake Tours & Promotions
Offering packaged tours related to Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad, and African American history for individuals and groups. Also offering custom tour packages for motorcoach companies and tour operators as well as event planning services for family reunions. Step-on guides available.
Harriet Tubman Museum & Education Center
Offering guided tours for groups of the Tubman Byway area.
Harriet Tubman Tours
Offering packaged half-day, full-day, and overnight tours for individuals and groups. Custom tours available.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
Visitors usually tour the exhibit hall on their own. Rangers are available beforehand for an introduction to the park and grounds, as well as afterward for group discussions. With advance notice, groups may request ranger-led tours or interpretive programs. Offer valid only when services are available. The parking lot at the Tubman Visitor Center can accommodate three tour buses. An outdoor pavilion is available for rental. The Visitor Center can also arrange for boxed lunches to be brought on site for groups. Find out more about the Tubman Visitor Center.
For groups of at least 15 people, Sawyer Charters offers the full-day Harriet Tubman By Land & Sea tour, with part of the tour on land and part on a boat.
410-397-3743 or 443-521-2055
FAQs About the Harriet Tubman Byway
The byway is a self-guided driving tour that winds for 125 miles through Dorchester and Caroline Counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It highlights 35 historically significant sites linked to Harriet Tubman and others seeking freedom from slavery in the mid-1800s. The byway was designated as one of the best driving tours in the nation by the Federal Highway Administration for its scenic beauty and significant history.
The Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center was started by local community members in the 1990s as part of a grassroots effort to preserve and promote Harriet Tubman’s legacy. It includes information about Harriet Tubman’s life. You can visit this small museum at 424 Race Street in downtown Cambridge, Maryland. The hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12 to 3pm and Saturday, 12 to 4pm. There is no admission, but donations are welcome.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center was developed by the National Park Service and the Maryland Park Service and opened in March 2017. Its 10,000 square feet of exhibit place include interpretive exhibits, hands-on learning, and a movie theater, as well as 17 acres with a short nature trail and an outdoor pavilion. It is located about 20 minutes from the heart of Cambridge, Maryland, near Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The Visitor Center is open daily (except major holidays) from 9am to 5pm. There is no admission, but donations are welcome.
No, admission is free to all the sites along the byway. Some sites may have a donation box.
There are limited restroom facilities along the byway. Restrooms at or near a byway site are noted on the individual site descriptions.
Yes, there are some local tour operators who offer guided tours of the Tubman Byway. See the list of tour providers.
An executive order in March 2013 established Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument and marked the landscape of Dorchester County, Maryland for its historical significance to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. At the creation of Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park a year later, the National Park Service identified land in Dorchester, Talbot, and Caroline Counties for potential future acquisition. The Conservation Fund donated the only land currently owned by the National Park Service—480 acres at the Jacob Jackson site, the home of a free African American who delivered a message for Tubman that she was returning to guide her brothers to freedom.
The National Park Service also administers a sister park in Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York, where Harriet Tubman lived in her later years.
Passport to your National Parks stamps are available at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center.