Tourists know the must-sees when visiting New York -Times Square, the Empire State Building, the new 9/11 memorial, etc. Most visitors do not realize though that in addition to crowded bus tours and Broadway shows, the five boroughs contain ten national parks as well! Below are brief descriptions of each- pick a few to check out during your next visit or try to conquer them all in an ambitious long weekend.
Hamilton Grange National Memorial- The 19th century home of founding father Alexander Hamilton.
What makes it great: Park rangers offer tours throughout period-furnished rooms and grounds as well as host special programs highlighting Hamilton’s important contributions to our nation.
How to get here: 414 West 141st Street, Manhattan. Take the 1 train to 137th street or the A,B,C or D train to 145th street.
Gateway National Recreation Area- This recreation area consists of three separate units, two of them within New York City.
What makes it great: Visitors can hike, bike, fish and even camp year-round throughout the Jamaica Bay unit in Brooklyn and Queens. The Staten Island unit provides a seasonal swimming beach, sports fields and a paved multi-use path.
How to get here: Jacob Riis Park, Jamaica Bay unit: 157 Rockaway Beach Blvd, Queens. The Q35 bus stops directly at the park.
Federal Hall National Monument- Federal Hall was the site of the New York’s first city hall and also the first capitol building in the United States.
What makes it great: Right in the heart of Wall Street and the city’s financial district, both ranger and self-guided tours are offered every weekday. The Washington Inaugural Gallery showcases models of the original city hall and the exact balcony stone George Washington stood on when he was sworn in as the nation’s first president in 1789.
How to get here: 26 Wall Street, Manhattan. Take the 2,3, 4 or 5 to Wall Street.
Governors Island National Monument- Located off the southern tip of Manhattan, Governors Island’s historical significance began as a seasonal fishing camp for Native Americans before it was used as a military facility for nearly 200 years.
What makes it great: Guided history programs are offered seasonally Wednesday through Sundays. The monument provides plenty of open space to picnic and bike, with concerts offered throughout the summer.
How to get here: 10 South Street, Manhattan. Take the 1 to South Ferry. The ferry to the island leaves from the Battery Maritime building adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry.
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site- Explore the boyhood townhouse of Theodore Roosevelt, who grew up to establish five national parks and eighteen national monuments as the “Conversationalist President.”
What makes it great: Informative and fascinating tours take visitors throughout restored period rooms and authentic artifacts donated by the Roosevelt family.
How to get here: 28 East 20th Street, Manhattan. Take the 4,5, Q, N or L train to 14th street.
Statue of Liberty National Monument- Explore the grounds of New York’s most famous landmark by taking a ferry from Battery Park.
What makes it great: It’s the Statue of Liberty- a national icon!
How to get here: Take either the 1 to South Ferry or the N or R to Whitehall Street.
Castle Clinton National Monument- This sandstone fort once served as America’s first immigration station, preceding Ellis Island.
What makes it great: Ranger-guided tours are offered daily and free concerts are put on throughout the summer. The surrounding area also offers over 75,000 square feet of landscaped gardens.
How to get here: 17 Battery Place, Manhattan. Take either the 4 or 5 to Bowling Green.
Saint Paul’s Church National Historical Site- This historical church dates back to the 17th century and was even used as a hospital during the revolutionary war.
What makes it great: The public can experience one of the oldest organs in the country and can also explore the 225 year church old tower.
How to get here: 897 South Columbus Avenue, Mont Vernon. Take the 5 to Dyer Ave.
African Burial Ground National Monument- Often described as one of the greatest archeological finds of the 20th century, this site held remains of both free and enslaved Africans from the 17th and 18th centuries.
What makes it great: Experience stories of the important role African Americans in the development of lower Manhattan through interpretive exhibits and artwork.
How to get here: The monument is located at 290 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. Take the 1,2 or 3 to Chambers street.
General Grant National Memorial-The body of famed civil war general and president Ulysses S. Grant rests overlooking the Hudson River in upper Manhattan.
What makes it great: This national memorial is the largest tomb in North America! Self-guided tours are offered seven days a week.
How to get here: West 122nd Street & Riverside Drive, Manhattan. Take the 1 train to 116th Street.