Discover the 8 Best National Parks in Massachusetts

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Updated: May 1, 2022
Image Credit Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock.com
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Massachusetts is located in the southeastern part of the United States and is the most populous state in the New England region, which means there are many fantastic national parks in Massachusetts. This state was of great importance in shaping the history of the country. Nowadays, Massachusetts is at the top in engineering, finance, higher education, maritime trade, and biotechnology.

Massachusetts is so diverse in terms of national parks that it can easily suit anyone’s preferences! 

Historical parks featuring essential sites of the American Revolution and Industrial Revolution and recreational areas that have unique historic sites – that’s what you can choose from! Moreover, literature lovers will definitely like it there, as Massachusetts hosts some notorious places in the lives of several American classic authors! 

Nature enthusiasts won’t have time to get bored, as they’ll have to explore the scenic views in forested areas or beaches and discover a wide range of animal and plant species!

1. Adams National Historical Park

National Parks in Massachusetts
Did you know that Adams National Historical Park preserves the homes of two United States presidents – John Adams and John Quincy Adams?

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Adams National Historical Park
LocationQuincy, Norfolk County
Size8.5 acres
Animals to spotRaccoons, foxes
Attractions to seeJohn Adams Birthplace

Charles Francis Adams, Henry Adams, and Brooks Adams were other notorious people who lived in Adams National Historical Park, but it primarily preserves the homes of two United States presidents – John Adams and John Quincy Adams. 

This national historical park features eleven buildings. During your visit, you’ll learn everything about the five generations of the Adams family. Besides this, you’ll see the John Adams Birthplace, the John Quincy Adams Birthplace, and the Stone Library, which consists of around 14,000 historical books. 

We advise you to check out the visitor center as well, where you can opt for a guided tour (only from April to November). We assure you that a visit to Adams National Historic Park will become one of the most beautiful and insightful trips you’ve ever been on!

2. Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park

national parks in massachusetts
Stretching from Rhode Island into Massachusetts lies the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.

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Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
Location in MassachusettsWorcester County
Size
Animals to spotVarious species of fish, beavers, river otters
Attractions to seeWhitinsville Historic District, Hopedale Village Historic District

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park preserves and protects the Blackstone River Valley, a site that had a crucial role in the American Industrial Revolution. Some of the earliest successful textile mills were located there.

This national historical park stretches from Rhode Island to Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, you can visit the following sites:

  • Whitinsville Historic District;
  • Hopedale Village Historic District;
  • The Blackstone River with its tributaries;
  • The Blackstone Canal.

Besides providing unique information that shaped the course of American history, this park features scenic water views that will make your trip much more enjoyable.

3. Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

National Parks in Massachusetts
Consisting of multiple islands, a peninsula, and a former island, the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is full of history.

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Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
LocationNorfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk Counties
Size1,482 acres
Animals to spotJellyfish, lobsters, crabs
Attractions to seeHiking trails, beaches, Boston Light, Fort Warren, Peddocks Island

The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area consists of multiple islands, a peninsula, and a former island. There’s a ferry that can take you from Long Wharf to Georges and Spectacle Islands. You can also take the ferry from Hingham Shipyard and Hull to Georges Island during the summer. 

Once you get there, you can enjoy the hiking trails and beaches. Other places to check are the Boston Light on Little Brewster Island, which is the oldest lighthouse in the US, and the historic site of Fort Warren on Georges Island.

A study shows that the 32 islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area host 521 species of plants, almost half of them being exotic plants. Plant lovers should visit World End, Peddocks, and Thompson Islands, as they’ll be able to see the biggest number of species. Moreover, many plant types located on the islands are considered endangered or threatened. 

Moreover, if you’re a movie lover, you must know that scenes of “Shutter Island” were filmed on Peddocks Island, located in Boston Harbor!

4. Lowell National Historical Park

National Parks in Massachusetts
Covering 141 acres of land, the Lowell National Historical Park has plenty of popular destinations.

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Lowell National Historical Park
LocationLowell
Size141 acres
Animals to spotVarious species of fish and mammals
Attractions to seeNational Streetcar Museum, Merrimack Canal, Jack Kerouac memorial

Lowell National Historical Park is a historical treasure, as it consists of numerous sites that will tell you everything about textile manufacturing in Lowell City during the Industrial Revolution. 

One of the most popular sites in the park is the National Streetcar Museum, which consists of a streetcar museum and a heritage railway. From there, you’ll be able to take trolleys that connect the park with the downtown region of Lowell City. Just make sure to visit it sometime between March and November, as the trolleys operate only then. 

If you walk along the Merrimack Canal, you’ll see various plaques containing details about sites located along the canal. The Boott Mills manufacturing site features a museum with living recreations of textile manufacturing during the 19th century. Moreover, music and literature lovers will be able to check out a memorial to Jack Kerouac, a local author and founder of the Beat Generation!

5. Minute Man National Historical Park

National Parks in Massachusetts
The perfect destination for history buffs, Minute Man National Historical Park commemorates the first battle of the American Revolutionary War.

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Minute Man National Historical Park
LocationMiddlesex County (nearest cities Lexington, Concord)
Size967 acres
Animals to spotEastern cottontails, gray squirrels, red foxes
Attractions to seeLexington Battle Green, The Wayside, Barrett’s Farm

Minute Man National Historical Park is the perfect destination for history buffs, as it commemorates the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. It will add great value to what you already know about American history!

The park consists of 5 sites that you can choose from:

  • The North Bridge, where you can find The Minute Man statue of 1874, as well as the Obelisk Monument;
  • Lexington Battle Green – the site where troops opened their first shots of the American Revolutionary War;
  • The Battle Road Trail – a 5-mile trail between Lexington and Concord featuring restored colonial sites and crosses scenic fields and forests;
  • The Wayside – a National Historic Landmark; a historic house where Minuteman Samuel Whitney lived; later on, it belonged to the authors Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney;
  • Barrett’s Farm – Colonel James Barrett’s house and storage site of all the weapons and militia gunpowder.

6. Cape Cod National Seashore

National Parks in Massachusetts
Spread over 43,607 acres and featuring forested areas, beaches, and bike trails, the Cape Cod National Seashore is very popular.

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Cape Cod National Seashore
LocationBarnstable County (nearest city Barnstable)
Size43,607.14 acres
Animals to spotOver 450 species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, and fish
Attractions to seeMarconi Station, the Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars Historic District, Race Point Beach

The stunning Cape Cod National Seashore spreads over 43,607 acres and features forested areas, beaches, and bike trails. Race Point Beach and Coast Guard Beach, which can be found on lists of top beaches in the country, are located on the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Besides the beautiful natural landscapes, this national seashore includes the first two-way transatlantic radio transmission site called Marconi Station. There’s also a historic district that features dune shacks. 

If you’re looking for a place to spend a relaxing weekend and visit unique sites in the United States, Cape Cod National Seashore will definitely suit your preferences!

7. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

national parks in Massachusetts
Spanning 13 city blocks, the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park has the largest whaling museum in the world.

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New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
LocationNew Bedford, Bristol County
Size34 acres
Attractions to seeThe New Bedford Whaling Museum, the New Bedford National Historic Landmark District

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park commemorates and preserves the greatest whaling port of the 19th century. During the Industrial Revolution, whaling, the process of hunting whales, played a pivotal role due to the oil produced in the process. This industry quickly spread around the world and became one of the most important trading industries. 

The park consists of 13 city blocks, among which is a visitor’s center and the New Bedford Whaling Museum (the largest museum of whaling in the world!). The Seamen’s Bethel, the New Bedford National Historic Landmark District, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House, Garden Museum, and the schooner “Ernestina” are other popular tourist destinations.

Whether you are or aren’t passionate about history, this national historical park will be an incredibly insightful visit to broaden your cultural and historical knowledge.

8. Boston National Historical Park

national parks in massachusetts
Full of history and sightseeing, the Boston National Historical Park commemorates the city of Boston.

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Boston National Historical Park
LocationBoston
Size43 acres
Animals to spotNumerous species of bird and insects
Attractions to seeVisitors center, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill Museum, Freedom Trail

Boston National Historical Park preserves and commemorates the city of Boston, which played a significant role during the American Revolution. It consists of eight sites that feature various historical places, including a monument and a museum, that will instantly transport you to 18th-century America. 

Besides these, the park has two visitors center – one at Faneuil Hall and one at the Navy Yard. It offers guided tours of the Freedom Trail. 

So rich in historical and cultural details, Boston National Historical Park can make for a memorable family or school trip! 

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