Spring is finally settling in around the country, and it’s the perfect time to plan a visit to a national park. Did you know that every year in April, the National Park Service designates a week as National Park Week? This year it runs April 21 through April 29, with a theme of Park Stars, inviting the public spend some time exploring the stories and sites that make the National Park System shine bright. Some of my favorite stars are the parks that preserve the history and cultural heritage of the United States, in a way that also offers an opportunity for family fun through interactive activities. With insight from fellow travel bloggers, read on to find out why these 5 historic east coast national parks are worth a visit. And be sure to mark your calendar for April 21, the next fee free day and also National Junior Ranger Day in the National Park system.
Boston National Historical Park
The Boston National Historical Park is 43 acres of buildings, monuments, landmarks and museums that played major roles leading to the American Revolution plus sites related to Boston’s naval history. Many of the park’s historic sites are found along the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail where various tours are available including a free one with the park rangers. History comes alive and kids will have a wonderful educational experience visiting the sites and historic ships and earning their Junior Ranger badges.
Contributed by Mary at The World is a Book
Read more: Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston
Independence National Historic Park
There's so much to love about a visit to Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia. It's the birthplace of American democracy and home of the Liberty Bell. High treason was committed and historic documents were signed there, but if you really want to take the nostalgia up a notch, plan a visit over the 4th of July.
If you can cope with the crowds, it's a great day to visit because most of the attractions are free including those that aren't part of the park like the National Museum of American Jewish History across the street. View copies of the Bill of Rights at the National Constitution Center, or just enjoy the parade and free concerts out on the lawn. Be sure to get a free cupcake at the visitor center for Betsy Ross' birthday party. It's a red, white, and blue overload that your family will love!
Contributed by Carrick at Along for the Trip
Read more: AftT’s Guide to the 4th of July in Philadelphia With Kids
Gettysburg National Military Park
When we planned on spending two days in Gettysburg, I was fairly certain we would be bored spending a full day touring Gettysburg National Military Park. After all, what was there to see but a Battlefield dotted with monuments? I could not have been more wrong. First of all, there are so many ways to explore the park from horseback, car, bicycle, and even using an iPad loaded up with an augmented reality app. So you really can pick your pleasure. I would highly recommend scheduling a tour with a Licensed Battlefield Guide because they are so good at bringing things to life that you can almost smell and hear the sounds of fighting. In addition to the Battlefield and programs at the National Military Park, there are also ghost tours and walking tours in downtown Gettysburg, and other historic homes and attractions.
Contributed by Tamara at We3Travel
Read more: Getting the Most Out of a Visit to Gettysburg Military Park
National Mall and Memorial Parks
Strolling around the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington DC, framed on one end by the US Capitol building and the other the Lincoln Memorial, is an experience not to be missed. Take a walking tour of the memorials, where both kids and adults will enjoy standing at the feet of larger than life historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr. Cool things that I recommend are enjoying the view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, visiting the memorials at dusk or dawn, and getting up close to explore the 24 bronze panels that line the entrance to the World War II Memorial. When you are done exploring outside, round out the family fun and head into one of the free Smithsonian museums, including favorites like the Air and Space and Natural History museums.
Contributed by Kath at familyTravelsUSA
Read more: Guide to Visiting Washington, DC
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
If you’re visiting Atlanta with your family, be sure to make time for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Older kids can learn about youth involvement during the Civil Rights Movement through the “Children of Courage” exhibit in the Visitor Center while little ones will enjoy running around the playground and exploring the fire station. Your family can also take a ranger-led tour through Dr. King’s Birth Home, and learn about his childhood. A trip to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is sure to inspire both kids and parents alike.
Contributed by Ranjana at Nugget
Read more: Atlanta With Kids: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy
Find more national park ideas and resources here. And be sure to check out the National Park Service list of Heritage Travel sites throughout the country, where visitors can find over 60 specific Shared Heritage Travel Itineraries.
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