In all, Massachusetts boasts 15 National Parks, each displaying unique facets of America’s history and beauty. From the sand-filled scenery of the Cape Cod National Seashore to the Springfield Armory, the Bay State possesses some interesting places to visit, relax, and learn about moments that helped build this country. Here are eight that you’ll find in the Boston area.
Delve into the history of the American Revolution at this downtown site, where visitors will learn about important moments such as the Boston Massacre. The newly-remodeled Faneuil Hall Visitor Center is the new place to begin your visit, replacing the State Street site in May, 2012. The center is open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., closed during various city events. Fees are applicable at individual sites including Paul Revere’s House and the Old South Meeting House.
Experience the tranquil beauty of these classic islands, just off the coast in Boston Harbor. It’s the perfect way to escape city life without heading to the Cape or the North Shore. In all, there are 34 islands and peninsulas, many perfect for an afternoon picnic. Ferry and schedule information for each destination can be found at bostonharborislands.org/passenger-ferry
This Quincy park is a tribute to the Adams family, with a pair of areas dedicated to former presidents John Adams (the second president in U.S. history) and John Quincy Adams (sixth). The 731 Old House became the residence for the Adams family from 1788-1927). The park is open April 19-Nov. 10, seven days a week from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $5, children under 16 are free. There is also the option of purchasing an annual pass for only $10. The site requires reservations for groups of eight or more.
There are almost two dozen sites to visit along this park dedicated to local African-American history, including the largest area of black-owned pre-Civil War property in the U.S. There is no fee for Ranger-guided tours, but there is an admission for entry into the Museum of African-American History - $5 adults, $3 children ages 12-18. Normal hours for the museum are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
This Brookline location is dedicated to whom the National Park Service calls “the founder of American landscape architecture.” Olmstead moved to the area in 1833, and the site features walking tours, including a six-hour trek of the Emerald Necklace. Tours are offered Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Reservations must be made and groups are limited to 12 people. All tours are free.
This nine-acre park is the site where European iron workers brought their skills to America. You can take a guided tour, explore the walking trails, or view the working waterwheels and mills. The park is open April 1-Oct. 31, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Visiting the site is free, however reservations must be made for groups of more than six people.
The birthplace of the 35th president site just steps from Coolidge Corner in Brookline. Here, visitors will get a glimpse into the early life of Kennedy through tours held from late May until the end of October. The grounds of the home are open year-round. Admission to the house is free, and ranger-led tours of the neighborhood are also available Thursday-Sunday at 1 p.m. Due to the size of the home, tours for that are limited to nine people. Groups larger than nine will be split up.
Henry Longfellow was one of the nation’s most renowned poets, and his home served as the headquarters for General George Washington during the Siege of Boston (1775-1776). The home offers an enlightening look into 19th century arts. Tours are offered periodically throughout Wednesday through Sunday beginning on June 1. Entrance is free, but visitors must enter by guided tour only (10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m.).