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Q: What do hot dogs, fireworks, parades, and national parks all have in common?

A:  The best ways to celebrate Independence Day, of course!

We think Park Chasers everywhere should also celebrate our national parks for Independence Day.  After all, they were “America’s Best Idea.

The national parks protect our most beautiful places. They tell the stories of some of the best (and most challenging) parts of our history.  And the parks share our legacy with generations to come.

While each national park has a special place in the American story, many parks are dedicated to the events surrounding the Revolutionary War and our nation’s founding.  Today we compiled a list of 19 of these amazing national parks for Independence Day.

We can’t think of a better way to share the holiday with family and friends.

Share Your Visit to National Parks for Independence Day with Us!

We think everyone should add a visit to one of the parks below to your 4th of July celebrations this week.  Then make it a family tradition to always visit national parks for Independence Day.

Already on a trip? Share your memories and photos with us in the comments below or on Facebook.

Maryland's National Parks for Independence Day

Maryland

Ever wonder where our famous “Oh, say can you see?” national anthem beginning came from?

Two national park units and several affiliated sites in Maryland share the story of how our national anthem came to be.  The 290-mile Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail winds through sites in southern Maryland, Washington D.C., the Chesapeake Bay, and Baltimore, Maryland.

Also found in Baltimore, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine preserve the spot where Francis Scott Key first penned the words to the Star Spangled Banner during the War of 1812.  Visitors can join in ranger programs about the stars and stripes and learn about the flag’s changes throughout American history.

National Park Service Links:

#1 – Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail

#2 – Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Massachusetts

Step into one of the national park sites in Massachusetts and you’re bound to hear a story or two about the founding of America. Minute Man National Historical Park protects 970 acres near Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord, Massachusetts.  It was here that “the shot heard round the world” began the Revolutionary War in 1775 and paved the way for the founding of the United States.

Boston National Historical Park and the Boston Freedom Trail are home to many Revolutionary-War era sites.  See where the first major battle of the Revolution was fought and sites like the Paul Revere House which were critical to the Revolution.

Located in nearby Cambridge, Massachusetts, Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site was home to both the famous poet Henry W. Longfellow and to General George Washington during the Siege of Boston, July 1775 – April 1776.  The site offers a glimpse into how Washington led the newly formed Continental Army, decisions that permanently shaped the United States military.

National Park Service Links:
#3 – Minute Man National Historical Park
#4 – Boston National Historical Park
#5 – Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site

Related Links:  13 National Parks Honoring George Washington

National Parks for Independence Day - New Jersey

New Jersey

Some of the most famous images of the Revolutionary War came from George Washington’s winter military encampment, now Morristown National Historical Park.  The park’s Washington’s Headquarters Museum has a large library and exhibits dedicated to Washington.  The Jockey Hollow area of the park offers walking trails to help visitors understand what it was like to survive in Washington’s camp during the 1779 coldest winter on record.

National Park Service Links:
#6 – Morristown National Historical Park

New York

You can’t celebrate Independence Day without acknowledging how critical immigrants have been throughout American history.  A visit to Ellis Island can be a powerful experience, reminding of the struggles that many faced (and continue to face) in finding a new life here.

On the same visit to Ellis Island, visitors can also stop at Statue of Liberty National Monument and snap a few photos with the most iconic symbol of America.  Lady Liberty has stood watch over Americans for more than 100 years.  Many Fourth of July celebrations in the area end with fireworks overlooking the harbor and the park.

Another option of national parks for Independence Day is Federal Hall. Located near Wall Street, Federal Hall marks the spot where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States.  The site includes the original Bible used in the inauguration ceremony.  Federal Hall was also home to our first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch.

Made famous in recent years by the Broadway musical, Hamilton Grange National Memorial is another great spot to visit for Independence Day.  Founding Father Alexander Hamilton called Hamilton Grange his home, now in Harlem.  The site showcases the many ways Hamilton’s decisions changed the United States of today.
National Park Service Links:
#7 – Ellis Island 
#8 – Statue of Liberty National Monument
#9 – Federal Hall National Memorial
#10- Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Related Link:  Visit all the National Parks in New York

Pennsylvania

You can’t have a list of national parks for Independence Day without mentioning Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, PA.  Tour Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed.  Then visit the Liberty Bell, a symbol for hundreds of years of the freedoms allowed us all.

Located in  King of Prussia, Pennsylvania Valley Forge National Historical Park hosts a large multi-day community picnic for Independence Day.  Events include musket demonstrations and a traditional cook-out, with a chance to learn about Valley Forge’s role in the founding of the new nation.

National Park Service Links:

#11 – Independence National Historical Park

#12 – Valley Forge National Historical Park

South Dakota

Not all the best national parks for Independence Day are located in New England.  Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of western South Dakota is perfect for your 4th of July road trip. Not only is it an American icon, but also the monument tells the story of the birth, growth, development, and preservation of the nation.  The hiking and evening program are highlights to add to your visit.

National Park Service Links:

#13 – Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Related Link:  The Night Program at Mount Rushmore

Virginia National Parks for Independence Day

Virginia

Why not celebrate Independence Day where it all began?

In 1607 the first permanent colonists of the New World landed near Jamestown, Virginia.  The last major battle of the Revolutionary War was also fought here in 1781.  Colonial National Historical Park commemorates both events with live reenactments, exhibits, and historic walking trails.  Independence Day events include historic artillery and musical performances at the Yorktown Battlefield and glass blowing demonstrations in the Historic Jamestowne settlement

National Park Service Links:

#14 – Colonial National Historical Park

#15 – Yorktown Battlefield

#16 – Historic Jamestowne 

Washington D.C.

Each year thousands of people descend on the National Mall and Memorial Parks for Independence Day.  Commemorating our nation’s independence among famous sites like the Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial can be some of the best national park memories.

It’s also important to honor the men and women who dedicated their lives to serving in the Armed Forces. Plan visits to the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial as part of your time in the area.

National Park Service Links:

#17 – National Mall and Memorial Parks

#18 – Washington Monument & Thomas Jefferson Memorial 

#19 – Military Memorials:  World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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