National Parks in the Northeastern United States
National parks of the Northeast may not be as spread out as national parks of the central United States, but they are just as exciting. And because the Northeast includes so many urban destinations, great dining and convenient lodging make these national parks great targets for family vacation fun. Plus, many of these parks are educational or historic in nature, and can help kids better understand America's rich history.
Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, New York
In the late 1800s Ellis Island was the portal of immigration to America. It operated as such until the 1950s and it's estimated that nearly half of America's population can trace their relatives through Ellis Island. Several years after it closed, Ellis Island was restored into a museum. Bringing your family to Ellis Island is a journey into history and is a great way to educate kids about America's vibrancy and diversity. Transportation to Ellis Island is available only by ferry.
On Ellis Island, visitors can take advantage of walking tours guided by knowledgeable park rangers or volunteers, or you can purchase audio tours. The park offers free educational documentary films, theatrical productions, additional tours, and workshops.
Visitors to Ellis Island have to pass through security before departing on the ferry, so get to the ferry early. As part of these security screenings, oversize bags (including large backpacks) are not allowed on the ferry or anywhere in the park.
The Statue of Liberty National Monument was given to the United States by France as a symbol of freedom and was dedicated in 1886. Visitors can climb into the crown of the Statue of Liberty for an incredible view of Manhattan. However, the hike includes nearly 400 steps, and kids have to be a minimum of four feet tall to walk into the crown. The busiest season for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is summer, so if you can plan to visit in the fall or spring, your wait can be significantly shorter.
Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Certainly the Liberty Bell will be the highlight of your visit to Independence National Historical Park and Independence Hall. But the Liberty Bell isn't the only attraction in this fun national park that spans more than fifty acres across twenty city blocks. The Independence National Historic Park is situated in Philadelphia's vibrant historic district.
This park has preserved several works of art that were used in establishing the United States of America. Just a few of the sites that played an important role in the founding of our nation are First Bank of the United States, Second Bank of the United States, Old City Hall, and Congress Hall.
The Independence National Historical Park also educates visitors about Benjamin Franklin through the preservation of Franklin Court, the location of Benjamin Franklin's former home. Kids can especially benefit from the many educational activities and programs at Independence National Historical Park. As archaeologists looking for artifacts, and by compiling their own journal from the 1700s, kids can learn about American history in a fun, hands-on way.
No visit to Independence National Historical Park would be complete without a visit to the Liberty Bell. This symbol of freedom weighs more than 2,000 pounds and displays the words “Proclaim Liberty.”
At Independence Hall, visitors can see where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed. Timed tour tickets are distributed to reduce long wait times.