National Parks in Massachusetts

There are 15 National Park Service Sites in Massachusetts. These are a mix of national parks with both cultural and natural significance to the state. Given the size of Massachusetts and the sheer number of national parks, it’s easy to fold in one of these important sites into any trip to Massachusetts.

Massachusetts National Parks Map

NPS in Massachusetts Placeholder
NPS in Massachusetts

Adams National Historical Park

This national historical park was once a national historic site that is dedicated to former US President John Quincy Adams. This unit of the national park service sites in Massachusetts was named a national historical park in 1998, although it has been previously listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the US. It encompasses the home of the former President in 135 Adams St. Quincy, Massachusetts.

The former home of President John Quincy Adams is the main feature of this site. The home was built in 1788 and features Georgian and Federal architectural styles. The entire property measures at 8.5 acres in land area. More than 250,000 tourists visit the site each year.

Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park

This unit of the National Park Service Sites in Massachusetts is also attributed to that of the state of Rhode Island. It encompasses the Black River Valley and its surrounding areas. The site was established in 2014 in order to preserve, protect and interpret the cultural heritage in the region’s urban, rural and agricultural landscape.

The Blackstone River Valley used to be the site of a successful textile mill in the country. This mill played a huge role in the American Industrial Revolution. Eventually, the Blackstone Canal was constructed that further sustained the industrial growth in the area.

Boston African American National Historic Site

Located in the heart of Boston, within the Beacon Hill neighborhood, is this national historic site. It was established in 1980 and is maintained by the National Park Service. This site interprets 15 structures that were built during the pre-Civil War era that is connected with the African-American community in Boston in the 19th century. The most notable structure within the site is the 1806 African Meeting House. This is the oldest black church to have existed in the United States until today.

The other structures preserved within this site include the Robert Gould Shaw / 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Memorial, Abiel Smith School, Charles Street Meeting House, John Coburn House, Lewis and Harriet Hayden House, George Middleton House, Phillips School, Smith Court Residences and John J. Smith House.

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

This national recreation area is another unit of the national park service sites in Massachusetts. It is located near Boston, particularly the Boston Harbor. The property consists of several islands along with a peninsula. Most of these islands are open to the public while others are very small that only wildlife would exist in them.

The establishment of this national recreation area in 1996 will help to preserve these 34 islands and their surrounding areas and wildlife that inhabit them. There are several attractions and facilities available for tourists including hiking trails. One of these islands, Peddock Islands, was used for the filming of a movie by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island.

Boston National Historical Park

This national historical park is located in Boston, Massachusetts. As one of the national park service sites in Massachusetts, it is composed of 8 sites that showcased the role that the city of Boston played during the American Revolution. These sites are connected via Freedom Trail, which is a walking tour held in the downtown area of Boston. All of these sites are considered National Historic Landmarks.

The park itself was established in 1974 and mostly operated by the US National Park Service. Some are co-managed with various cooperative agreements.

Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Massachusetts, with an estimated 4.4 million visitors per year. This site was established as a national seashore under the declaration of former President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The entire property encompasses 43,607 acres in land area and located in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

It is also one of the national park service sites in Massachusetts; hence, the US National Park Service is the governing body of this site. It includes the Atlantic-facing eastern seashore of Cape Cod. There are also several paved bike trails in the area.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

This national historic site is located in Brookline, Massachusetts and commemorates the life of Frederick Law Olmsted by preserving sites associated with his life and works. Olmsted is a founder of the American landscape architecture and the foremost park maker during the 19th century in the US. When he moved his home in Boston, he established the first full-scale professional office for the practice of landscape design in the world. It was called “Fairsted”. Over the next few centuries, his sons became his successor and continued his designs and ideas. This philosophy continued on until today, long after he introduced it to the market.

John F. Kennedy National Historic Site

This unit of the national park service sites in Massachusetts commemorates the birthplace and childhood home of the 35th US President – John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The Kennedy home is located at 83 Beals Street, Coolidge Corner in Brookline, Massachusetts. Currently, the house is under the ownership of the US National Park Service. The site was established a national historic site in 1967; however, 3 years prior to that it was named a national historic landmark.

Approximately 19,000 tourists visit this site each year. There are tours currently offered for the home and there is also a film presentation for tourists who visit the home.

Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site

This national historic site in Cambridge, Massachusetts was established in 1972. As managed by the US National Park Service, it preserves the former home of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow where he lived for 50 years. The home was also the former headquarters of General George Washington from 1775 to 1776.

The entire property measures at 2 acres in land area. The Longfellow family was the last one to occupy the home. As of 2015, it has an average of more than 50,000 tourist visits per year.

Lowell National Historical Park

This national historical park is located in Lowell, Massachusetts and established in 1978. This is a unit of the national park service sites in Massachusetts; thus, it is managed by the US National Park Service. The park itself consists of several different sites that relate to the textile manufacturing industry in the city of Lowell during the time of the Industrial Revolution. Some of the notable features within the 141-acre park include The Francis Gate, Boott Cotton Mill, and Museum, Suffolk Mill Turbine and Powerhouse, The Lowell Canal System, to name a few. Most of these sites had been restored by the turn of the 19th century. There is a visitor center within the park and free self-guided tours are available.

Minute Man National Historical Park

This unit of the national park service sites in Massachusetts commemorates the site of the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War. This 967-acre property was established in 1959 and is composed of three major sites. The first site is Concord’s North Bridge wherein the militia was ordered to fire back at the British troops for the first time. There is also an Obelisk monument on the site right across the Minute Man statue, which was the first monument built to honor the war casualties.

The second site is the Battle Road Trail, which stretches for 5 miles from Lexington to Concord. Finally, the park also includes the Wayside, which was the home of three notable American authors.

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

This national historic park is located in New Bedford in Massachusetts and under the management of the US National Park Service. This site commemorates the world’s preeminent whaling port in the 19th century, as well as its heritage. The park was established in 1996 and covers 34 acres in total land area. The site is dispersed in 13 city blocks and it also has its own visitor center. The sites included within this park are the New Bedford National Historic Landmark, Seamen’s Bethel, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum and the schooner Ernestina.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

This national historic site in Essex County, Massachusetts consists of 12 historic properties. These structures encompass 9 acres in total land area. Each of these sites and structures was specifically chosen for their importance as maritime resources through the structure itself, collections or artifacts. The sites and structures included within the property are Derby House, Derby Wharf, Friendship of Salem, Hawkes House, Narbonne House, Pedrick Store House, Salem Custom House, St. Joseph Hall and West India Goods Store.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

As one of the units of the national park service sites in Massachusetts, the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site is the first integrated ironworks in North America. It was founded by John Winthrop the Younger and was operational from 1646 to 1670. The site has been reconstructed to showcase the structures that were present on the site during the 17th century. Among the reconstructed structures on the site were the blast furnace, rolling mill, shear, forge, slitter and quarter-ton drop hammer. The ironworks was used to manufacture horseshoes, cookware, tools, nails, and weapons.

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Springfield Armory National Historic Site
Springfield Armory National Historic Site

This national historic site in Springfield, Massachusetts was the main center for the manufacture of firearms used by the US military. The armory manufactured firearms from 1777 until it closed in 1968. This is the only unit of the National Park Service in the western part of Massachusetts. It is also home to the largest collection of historic American firearms in the world.

The Springfield Armory was built in 1778 and features Greek Revival style. It first became famous for producing the primary arsenal of the US Army during the American Revolutionary War. Several of the firearms models that were manufactured on the site from the 18th century to the 20th century were referred to as ‘Springfield rifles’.

View all the National Park Service Sites in neighboring states: National Parks in Connecticut, National Parks in New Hampshire, National Parks in New York State, National Parks in Rhode Island, National Parks in Vermont

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