The Popular National Sites & National Parks in Massachusetts (Guide 2022)

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National Parks in Massachusetts
Photo By Bill Illot/Flickr.

One of the earliest British colonies in America and the center of the Historic American War of Independence, Massachusetts houses many historical sites and Museums depicting its incredible history.

It has also led to the famous social movements in America like the transcendentalist, abolitionist, and temperance.

The article below about the National Parks in Massachusetts will introduce you to the heritage of small Massachusetts and some of the reasons behind its fame in the world’s top cities.

Photo By Drew Tarvin/Flickr. Copyright 2022

Home to renowned institutions like Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology famous MIT, Massachusetts is located in The New England region of the USA.

It is the seventh smallest state in the country and one of the top states in the USA, one of the most extensive.

The state’s capital is Boston, the largest and most populous city situated at the innermost point of Massachusetts Bay and the mouth of the Charles River.

The beautiful Cape cod peninsula, Berkshires, Connecticut River valley, and the northern Appalachian Mountains present a natural beauty of the small state.

National Sites & National Parks in Massachusetts

There are sixteen National Parks at present in the oldest American English colony. The national park is a combination of the cultural and natural heritage of the state.

Most of the historical sites are under the U.S. National Park Service. We will see all of them here one by one.

1. Adams National Historical Park

In the beginning, a National historic site, this 11-acre park preserves the heritage of the great Adams family, the first prominent political family in the US. One of the best national parks in Massachusetts.

It is situated in Quincy, a southern suburb of Boston. The 11 buildings in the park are dedicated to the five generations of the Adams family who resided there from 1720-to 1927.

1.1. The Major Attractions of The Park

1.1.1. John Adams Birthplace

It is the birthplace of the 2nd US President, the Atlas of Independence, John Adams. It is a National Historic Landmark.

1.1.2. John Quincy Adams Birthplace

This saltbox home is 75 feet away from John Adams Birthplace. The son of John Adams and the 6th US president, John Quincy Adams, was born here and lived here for a long time.

1.1.3. Peacefield

This dwelling where generations of Adams lived is the Magna Carta of Adams national historical park. It has a renowned collection of artifacts like the Dutch chairs, Federal-style mahogany banquet table, and the paintings representing artists John Trumbull and Mather Brown.

It also has orchards and gardens. The National Park Service has maintained them to show the Adams’ family interests, traveling history, and family events. It is thus a great source of knowledge for art and culture enthusiasts.

1.1.4. Stone Library

It is next to the Peace field. You will be amazed by the written work gathered here. It includes personal papers and over 14,000 books. It is this place where Henry Adams wrote his nine-volume, “The History of the United States of America 1801-1817”.

The architectural style used in the construction is Georgian and federal.

2. Appalachian National Scenic Trail (Georgia to Maine)

The Appalachian trail, maintained by 31 different clubs and managed by the National Park Service, is the longest hiking trail globally, as per Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

It starts from Springer Mountain in Georgia till Mount Katahdin in Maine in the Eastern US, traversing the pastoral, wooded lands of the Appalachian Mountains.

Massachusetts is one of the 14 states from where the 90 miles of the 2200 miles trail passes from the Berkshire Country. It passes through the state forests and crosses Mount Greylock, the state’s highest point, and then descends to the valley of North Adams and Williamstown. This is one of the most fun national parks in Massachusetts.

It is estimated that every year millions of people hike the Appalachian Trail. As the trail mostly passes through forests and national parks, you will enjoy the scenic beauty and wildlife watching.

3. Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park (RI, MA)

The park was established in 2014 as a tribute to the American Industrial revolution. In this Blackstone River valley, Samuel Slater established the first successful water-powered cotton-spinning factory in the US.

After that, many textile mills came up in this valley and aired the flame of the American Industrial Revolution.

The Blackstone canal connects Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This National Historical Park comprises seven sites in Central Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The park is spread over 400,000 acres preserving the country’s industrial heritage.

The park is open all the time for visitors. You can explore the museums and the historic textile mills like Slater Mill, a national historic landmark, Wilkinson Mill, and Ashton Mill.

To know about the lifestyle of staying people, you can go around the historic towns like Slatersville and Hopedale. Hiking freaks can go hiking and walk on the trails in the park. One of the most peaceful national parks in Massachusetts.

4. Boston African American National Historic Site

This national park symbolizes the life of 19th century African American community in Boston, connected by the Black heritage trail. One of the most historically significant national parks in Massachusetts.

It is located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston and is one of the 39 African American community Heritage Sites maintained by the National Park service.

This National Historic site comprises 15 historic structures, including the houses, churches, schools, and others of the black community before the Civil war began.

The African American community people were the leader in the abolition movement, and so this national historic site found its name in the national parks in Massachusetts.

4.1. Notable Historic Structures in This National Historical Park

The African meeting house is the oldest existing African American Church or the Black church in the US, operated by the Museum of African American History.

It was designated Black Faneuil Hall during the Abolitionist movement. It displays speeches from the community’s leaders like Fredrick Douglass.

Abiel Smith School, the Blacks faced discrimination for centuries in America. This school was for black students and is now part of the Museum of African American History.

Robert Gould Shaw / 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Memorial, Charles Street Meeting House, John Coburn House, Lewis, Harriet Hayden House, George Middleton House, Phillips School, Smith Court Residences, and John J. Smith House are the other historic sites.

5. Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

This National Recreation Area, situated on and around Boston Harbor and encapsulating 34 islands and a mainland peninsula, is one of the National parks in Massachusetts.

The area is divided into areas open to the public for recreation and purposes, and the remaining small ones are wildlife-protected areas.

5.1. Islands of Tourist Attraction

Having several islands encompassing the area, each has some unique features.

‘Little Brewster Island’ is one of the oldest lighthouses in the US, famous for the “Boston Light.” You can go on a guided tour of the island.

‘Georges Island’ – Ferry from Boston makes the island accessible to visitors. The major attraction is 19th century Fort Warren, an active military port until 1947.

‘Spectacle Island’ is a historical park with a marina, a visitor center that displays the island’s history, a cafe, a lifeguarded swimming beach, and five miles of walking trails. Ferries will take you from Boston to the island.

There are several other sites on islands with hiking trails and beaches, some with ancient artifacts of the native tribes. So, if you enjoy going hiking, swimming, and boating, then this National recreation area is a good choice.

6. Boston National Historical Park

Boston houses some of the great revolutionaries of the American Revolution and the independence movement initiated in Boston. During the war of independence, the Boston Tea Party, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and the Battle of Bunker Hill happened in Boston.

The Boston National Historical Park symbolizes the city’s contribution to the American Revolution. Situated in the inner harbor at the mouth of the Charles River, the national park has eight historic sites, seven of them connected by a 2.5-mile Freedom Trail.

The Freedom Trail passes through the 16 historical locations of the US, from Boston through the North End to the Bunker Hill monument in Charlestown.

The National Park Service operates the visitor center at Faneuil Hall and Charlestown Navy Yard, which provides maps, junior ranger programs, and guided tours.

6.1. The Eight Historic Sites

    • Bunker Hill Monument
    • Bunker Hill Museum
    • Charlestown Navy Yard
    • Dorchester Heights
    • Faneuil Hall
    • Old North Church
    • Old South Meeting House
    • Old State House
    • Paul Revere House

7. Cape Cod National Seashore

It is also one of the National Park Service sites on the Massachusetts national parks list. It is spread over 43,607 acres on Cape Cod in Barnstable, Massachusetts.

Through a declaration, US President John F Kennedy made this tourist side of Cape Cod as Cape cod national seashore. There are swimming beaches, ponds, and walking and biking trails.

Cape cod national seashore is a 40 miles long seashore of pristine sandy beaches; ponds and its uplands support diverse species along the Atlantic facing the eastern shore of Cape Cod. The Salt Pond Visitor Center in the village of Eastham will provide you with the maps for exploring the seashore.

There are two top US beaches in the Cape Cod National Seashore Race Point Beach in Provincetown and Coast Guard Beach Ina Eastham. Walking and biking trails attract millions of visitors every year.

Some of the marked bike trails include Nauset Bike Trail in Eastham, Head of the Meadow Trail in Truro, and Province Lands Trails in Provincetown.

8. John F. Kennedy National Historic Site

A National Historic Landmark located at 83 Beals Street in the Coolidge Corner neighborhood of Brookline near Boston is the birthplace of 35th US President John F. Kennedy.

The mother of the President, Rose Kennedy, after the assassination of her son, restored it the way it appeared in the year 1917 when the President was born.

National Park service got this Kennedy national historic site in donation from Rose Kennedy as a historic site dedicated to the former president. You can explore this one of the National Parks in Massachusetts through a ranger-guided tour or self-guided tour.

The basement of the house is the National Park visitor center. There’s a piano kept in the living room which belonged to Rose Kennedy.

In the house’s dining room, one can find the complete collection of Kennedy artifacts. The whole housing complex describes the life of the Kennedy family.

9. Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site

The Georgian-style house of 2 acres commemorates the 19th-century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This was also the headquarters of General George Washington from 1775-to 1776, and so is the name of this national historic site.

The site of This National Park in Massachusetts is stationed at 105 Brattle Street in Cambridge, a suburb of Boston. The Longfellow Trust donated this property to the National Park Service in 1972, and it’s open to the public.

Famous poems like “Paul Rever’s Ride” and “The Village Blacksmith” were composed during his stay in this house by Longfellow. This is why the house was known to the people before its declaration as a National historic site.

You can see over 10,000 books of Longfellow and the 19th-century furnishings on this site. The garden on the northeast end is trendy and was made as per Longfellow’s instructions.

For an extended period, the site enjoyed the status of one of the most photographed homes in the US.

10. Lowell National Historical Park

This 141-acre National Historical Park is another one after Blackstone River valley national historical park in the role of National Parks in Massachusetts commemorating the American Industrial revolution. Located in Lowell, it is under the National Park Service.

Lowell National Historical Park displays Lowell as the textile manufacturing hub in the nineties. Lowell was the most planned Industrial City in the US at those times.

10.1. Structures Describing Lowell’s Heritage

    • Boot Cotton Mills Museum – Kirk Bott founded it on the Merrimack River. You can see the weave room exhibit, apartments, and offices. It features exhibits from the Mill Girl housing.
    • The Worthen House – It is the oldest bar in Lowell.
    • Pawtucket Gatehouse and Dam
    • National Streetcar Museum

11. Minute Man National Historical Park

Now comes a historical battlefield of 970 acres in the National Parks In Massachusetts, depicting the opening battle of the American revolution spread across the towns of Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord of the Middlesex Country, Massachusetts.

11.1. The Sites of the National Historical Park

    • Concord’s North Bridge or the Old North Bridge – It has the Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French.
    • Battle road trail between Lexington and Concord
    • The Wayside, a National Historic landmark part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
    • Barrett’s farm
    • Lexington Battle Green – has the Captain Parker Statue by Henry Hudson Kitson.

12. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

This is a National Historical Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts. New Bedford was the world’s most excellent Whaling capital as whaling was one of the most profitable businesses in the 19th century.

Whale oil was used to lighten the lamps. The site that’s why finds its mention in the prominent National parks in Massachusetts.

These 34 acres of the national park are spread over 13 cities and include some historic buildings, a visitor center in an 1853 Greek Revival building, the New Bedford National Historic Landmark District, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Seamen’s Bethel, Rotch–Jones–Duff House and Garden Museum.

The Whaleman Memorial is two blocks away from the national park facing the New Bedford Public Library. If you are keen to know about the Whaling history, you must come here.

13. Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

The founder of American landscape architecture and the country’s leading park maker, Frederick Law Olmsted, established the world’s first professional office called “Fairsted” to practice landscape design.

The office and home of the architect are situated at 99 Warren Street in the Brookline suburb of Boston. The entire property is now a National Historic Site.

The Park preserves include the landscaped Fairsted, design office, and the restored landscaped grounds.

The design documents of several notable landscape design projects like the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and White House, Central Park (NYC), and park systems in the cities of Boston and Montreal are available in the office building.

This National historic site is maintained by the National Park Service, of which Frederick Olmsted himself has been one of its founding members.

14. Salem Maritime National Historic Site

The next in the National Parks in Massachusetts is the Salem Maritime national historic site, the first national historic site in the US.

The national park preserves New England’s maritime history in its twelve historic structures, one tall ship, and approximately nine acres of land across the Salem waterfront.

The National Park Service manages the site along with the downtown visitor center. After the American Revolution, Salem became one of the essential parts of the nation.

The Salem Maritime National historic site is home to numerous maritime resources of the past like the Friendship of Salem, Hawkes House, Narbonne House, Pedrick Store House, Salem Custom House, etc.

15. Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

The birthplace of the iron & steel industry is in the National Parks in Massachusetts. Situated in downtown Boston in Saugus, this National historic site presents the forge of the 17th century in North America. John Winthrop the Younger founded it, and it was in operation for some years.

The European iron makers brought their skill of making iron tools and other iron goods from England, and the site became the most technologically advanced ironworks in the world.

You can find the blast furnace, forge, and slitting mill on this site. It has seven large waterwheels. It was reconstructed to showcase the first integrated ironworks in North America. The National Park Service has managed it since 1968.

16. Springfield Armory National Historic Site

The Springfield armory national historic site is the site of the world’s most significant historic US military small arms collection. Springfield Armory was the nation’s first armory to manufacture military weapons.

The weapons, mainly Springfield rifles used by the Union in the American Civil war, were produced in large numbers.

Located in Springfield, the Springfield Armory was made in the Greek revival style as per the orders of George Washington. It was closed in 1968, and now it is one of the National Parks in Massachusetts operated by the National Park Service.

This was all about the National Parks in Massachusetts, where you will have a chance to gaze at the incredible historic sites like the historic village centers, beautiful cultural landscapes, pre as well post-civil war structures, and many such historical buildings.

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