Northeastern Gems: Discovering the Best Northeast National Parks

The National Park Service protects the country’s greatest treasures and picturesque landscapes. Almost everyone has heard of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or the Mighty Five in Utah. However, there are many other important NPS locations that you should add to your list. The northeast region protects some of America’s early history and includes some of the NPS’s most unique places. Here, we share the best northeast national parks.

Adding the National Parks to your travel itinerary can help create the perfect family getaway. Not only are they affordable vacation destinations, but they also provide educational activities at each location. This way, you can not only travel but continue learning new things. 

If you are new to the National Park System, check out our NPS for beginners page. 

National Park Designations in the Northeast

The northeast United States includes nine states, from Maine to New Jersey. Within these states, Maine has five NPS locations, Connecticut has three, Rhode Island has three, Massachusetts has 16, Vermont has two, New Hampshire has one, Pennsylvania has 19, New Jersey has nine, and New York has 29 National Park sites.

The National Park Service Interior Region manages these locations 1–also known as the North Atlantic-Appalachian Region. The region supports national parks, programs, and National Heritage Areas in the northeastern United States from Maine to Virginia.

The Best Northeast National Parks

Acadia National Park, Maine 

Northeast National Parks
Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park is the only Northeast location designated as a National Park. In addition, it is the oldest National Park east of the Mississippi River.  You can easily spend more than a few days exploring the National Park and Bar Harbor. Acadia National Park is best known for hiking and its majestic views.

Best Northeast National Parks
Sand Beach | Acadia N.P.

This beautiful park encompasses nearly 50,000 acres, including Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula, 60 miles of coastline, 33 miles of scenic motor roads, 45 miles of carriage roads, and more than 150 miles of hiking trails. We rank Acadia at the top of the best northeast National Parks.

Boston National Historic Park, Massachusetts 

Bryce at Boston National Historical Park

From the American Revolution to the fight against slavery, the City of Boston led years of change. The 43 acres of Boston National Historical Park include parts of downtown Boston, Charlestown, and South Boston. There are two visitor centers at Faneuil Hall and the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Our family has lived in Massachusetts for generations, and we have visited Boston numerous times. However, we never knew that the NPS protected so much of this city. If you are a US history student or want to see where it all started, this park is for you. The house where Paul Revere lived is in downtown Boston. The historic Old North Church is available for self-guided tours. The Freedom Trail connects landmark sites and museums, retelling the history of the city and the nation.

In addition, the Charlestown Navy Yard offers visitors opportunities to walk aboard the USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young.

To learn more about this park and all that Boston offers, check out our Boston National Parks page. 

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts 

The Cape Cod National Seashore is close to our hearts because it is close to home. As our name, CapeRvTravelers, suggests, we live on Cape Cod. Therefore, this is undoubtedly our most visited National Park Designation. 

Six national seashore beaches typically have lifeguards on duty from late June through Labor Day. The six beaches are Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, Nauset Light Beach next to the famous Nauset Lighthouse in Eastham, Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, Head of Meadow Beach in Truro, Race Point Beach at the tip of the Cape near Provincetown, and Herring Cove Beach near Provincetown.

There are two visitor centers: the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham and the Province Lands Visitor Center.

The park protects the shoreline, dunes, woodlands, freshwater kettle ponds, marshes, and historic sites like the Old Harbor Life-Saving Station and the Highland Light.

Families can make memories by building sandcastles, and couples can enjoy a romantic sunset stroll. There’s a reason the great Henry David Thoreau wrote, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia 

When you arrive at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, you will feel like you’ve entered the past. Harper’s Ferry NHP is where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet at the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers confluence.  There is a fee to enter Harpers Ferry NHP. Of course, the fee is waived if you have a National Park pass. 

The town’s history is tied to the Civil War, industry, and integration, and the region includes Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, the Appalachian Trail, and the C&O Canal.

As always, we recommend starting at the NPS Visitor Center. Here, you can obtain your Junior Ranger book and everything you need to enjoy your visit. In addition, a free shuttle bus runs between the Visitor Center and Lower Town. Once in Lower Town, you can access museums, exhibits, and trails, including Maryland Heights, Loudoun Heights, the Appalachian Trail, and the C&O Canal towpath. 

Minute Man National Historical Park, Massachusetts 

Boston Minuteman
Minuteman Statue, Minute Man NHP

At the Boston Minuteman National Historical Park, you can visit the location of the “shot heard around the world.” It is here that the first shot of the American Revolution occurred at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. You can stand on a replica of the Old North Bridge and take it to the sights surrounding the location of the start of the Revolutionary War. 

This location protects 1,000 acres to commemorate the opening battles of the American Revolution by preserving significant historic sites, structures, and landscapes. 

The Battle Road trail runs through the Historical Park. The five-mile Battle Road Trail connects historic sites where thousands of Colonial Militia and British Regulars fought. These hallowed grounds are where the fight for independence began.

Gettysburg National Military Park. Pennsylvania 

Best North East Parks

The Gettysburg National Military Park protects the landscape of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. 

We always recommend starting at the NPS Visitor Center. However, of all the visitor centers we have visited, the Gettysburg Visitor Center is among the best. You could easily spend an entire day, possibly two, exploring the fantastic Civil War museum alone. This museum contains over 40,000 Civil War artifacts from the area. In addition, it offers a fantastic theatre, the world-famous Gettysburg Cyclorama, and an excellent museum bookstore.

Of course, you should also stop by the Gettysburg National Cemetery. This is home to over 3,000 fallen Civil War soldiers and the location of President Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg Address.

Ensure to get a picture with President Lincoln while at the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Lincoln Historic Sites

Our North East National Parks Experience

The first National Park location we ever visited, and not even realizing what the future would bring, was the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, MA. Our very first RV trip included the Gettysburg National Military Park.

The North East has many great NPS locations, from National Parks to Historical sites and National Monuments.

Which one of the six best northeast National Parks will be your first?

We love to hear from our followers. Please leave a comment below. 

Have you visited any Northeast National Park locations? Which was your favorite? 

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About Us

We are a  family of four who travels all around the country in a small RV.

So far we have RV camped in 33 different States, visited 14 National Parks, and 17 National Park Sites. 

Being self-proclaimed National Park Geeks we are on a mission to see as many as possible!  

We hope our blog will inspire other families to spend time together, and create lifelong memories. 

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