National Parks in Massachusetts

March 10, 2023

national parks in Massachusetts

National parks in Massachusetts are a great way to experience a slice of American history and nature. These sites range from national historic sites to national recreation areas and even a national seashore.

You don't have to be a history buff to enjoy visiting these sites. The parks also offer activities like swimming, biking, and fishing.

Adams National Historic Site

Adams National Historic Site is home to eleven historic buildings that tell the story of America’s founding family. This includes the homes of the patriarch, John Adams, and his son, John Quincy Adams.

These two 17th-century saltbox birthplaces are furnished in the style of their era, so guests can experience what it was like for the first president to start his career, raise a family, and write the Massachusetts Constitution. The park also offers tours of Peacefield, the home that served as the summer White House to both Adams presidents.

The historic houses are accessed from the park’s Visitor Center, which includes exhibits and a half-hour video presentation. Tours leave every quarter-hour, except for weekends.

Regularly scheduled tours of the historic houses are offered in season (April 19 to November 10), by guided tour only, using a tourist trolley provided by the Park Service between sites. Access to the United First Parish Church, where the Adamses worshipped and are buried, is also available, but requires a small donation.

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

The 34 islands and peninsulas of Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area offer a diverse range of outdoor adventures within an easy ferry ride from downtown Boston. Explore a Civil War-era fort, hike historic trails and lighthouses, hike through tide pools, camp under the stars, fish, picnic or swim-all within reach of the city.

These islands are rich in history, and they offer a unique perspective on the evolution of the region’s ecosystem. Their 35 miles of undeveloped shoreline, resources associated with thousands of years of American Indian occupation, and complex biotic communities all demonstrate the intrinsic value of this park unit.

The islands also serve as a bridge between the open ocean and the settled coast, providing an exceptional perspective on metropolitan growth and change. Their remarkable conservation success demonstrates the power of a stewardship approach that links urban uses with natural regenerative processes.

Blackstone Valley National Historical Park

A 46-mile waterway originating in Worcester, Massachusetts and flowing south to Narragansett Bay in Providence, Rhode Island, the Blackstone River powered cataclysmic societal change throughout America during its role in the early Industrial Revolution. The success of Samuel Slater’s cotton spinning mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, triggered a chain reaction that changed the way people lived and worked and continues to reverberate across the nation to this day.

Today, visitors can take advantage of a variety of features that reflect the Valley’s past as they explore its living landscapes. Bike, paddle, and walk along the river, visit a ranger-led park program or delve into local history at a museum.

While the park itself is relatively new, it functions differently than many better known national parks. Instead of a central visitor center, the park is spread across multiple sites and functions as a collection of heritage corridors. This means visitors should keep their itinerary loose and use maps to guide their adventures, as many small towns and rural areas in the Valley have poor cell phone service.

Minute Man National Historical Park

Located between Lexington and Concord, Minute Man National Historical Park preserves structures, landscapes and the rich history of the first battles of the American Revolution. It tells the story of what happened here on April 19, 1775 and how it shaped the country.

One of the first national parks established in 1959, Minute Man contains over 967 acres. Visitors can enjoy the many historic sites, house and gardens here year-round.

If you’re looking for something more active, a hike along the Battle Road Trail is a great way to explore the park. This 4.6-mile route features a guided walk every day at 12:30pm from the park’s Minute Man Visitor Centre.

In addition to historical buildings and landscapes, the park features over 250 species of plants. There’s also a number of wildlife that calls the area home, including white-tailed deer and beavers.


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