New York City and National Parks. Tell us, what more could you want?
This week we’re heading out on our second #parkchasing trip to The Big Apple. Our first trip in 2016 knocked out several of the national park units in the city. We’re heading back for another five-day trip (this time with Amy’s parents) to cross a few more off our national park bucket list!
Today we’re sharing our sample New York City National Parks Itinerary.
11 of New York’s 22 national park units are located within an hour or so of the heart of the city. On this trip, we’ll be making it to a few new units and some repeat adventures.
We hope it helps you sketch out your own trip plans and get a sense of how a national park vacation doesn’t have to be mountains or wilderness. There’s plenty of NPS right in the heart of one of the largest cities in the world.
Our 5 Day New York City National Parks Trip Itinerary
We arrive in New York City mid-morning and don’t wait to hit the pavement. We’ll drop our baggage at our Midtown-based hotel and then head to our first national park unit. Options for Day One include Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site or Hamilton Grange National Memorial. Both of these historic homes offer tours and a chance to step back into what life in New York City generations ago.
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site preserves the home where President Theodore Roosevelt was born and lived as a child. It’s here you can see exhibits and artifacts the tell the story of how Roosevelt came to be an ardent conservationist and early friend of the national parks.
Visitors can tour the historic home of Alexander Hamilton at Hamilton Grange National Memorial and discover the incredible story of one of our nation’s most influential founders.
After our national park travels are done for the day, we’re heading to Top of The Rock for our sunset tickets. Tall buildings are one of Greg’s favorite “touristy things,” so we’re looking forward to crossing this one off our list!
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We’re awake early on Day 2 to catch the first ferry of the day to Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. Our first visit to Lady Liberty was an impromptu trip, and we were too late to purchase tickets to see the inside or the crown. This time, we booked our trip more than six months ahead and were able to snag tickets to the crown.
After catching the views from the top of the Statue, we’ll be making our way to Ellis Island for a ranger-led tour of the building that holds so much history for both of our families. Last time we visited Ellis Island, we took a few minutes to research our ancestors in the free National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) records. We were able to identify ship manifests for family members on both sides of our family, a unique and powerful experience provided free by the National Park Service.
After lunch, we’ll be catching the ferry back to Manhattan for a walk around Castle Clinton National Monument , Wall Street, and Federal Hall National Memorial just before they close for the day. Can’t forget a photo with George Washington out front!
Since we’re traveling in December, our evening activities planned for Day Two include the famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and seeing the Rockefeller Christmas Tree!
It’s back to #parkchasing for Day Three in New York City. Today we’ll be spending our day visiting one of our newest national park units, Stonewall National Monument. Established by President Obama in 2016, the park is the first in the NPS dedicated to telling the story of LGBTQ rights movement in the United States. While there are limited services at the new park, we’ll be walking the park and stopping by the famous Stonewall Inn.
After that it’s off to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, followed by two more national park units: African Burial Ground National Monument and Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site. Located in lower Manhattan, both sites are within walking distance of the 9/11 Memorial.
For the fourth full day of our trip, we’ll be taking a break from New York City National Parks to enjoy Central Park, wandering the holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue and maybe some ice skating in the famous Bryant Park rink.
We’ll also have some time to check out one of our favorite museums in NYC – the American Museum of Natural History. Founded in 1869, in part by the support of young Theodore Roosevelt, the museum houses thousands of artifacts. Many came from or describe the history of some of our favorite National Park Service sites.
Later in the day, we’ll be visiting our final New York City National Park, General Grant National Memorial. Perched on the banks of the Hudson River, the memorial is the largest mausoleum in North America and the resting place of General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia.
On day five we’re flying back to our base camp in Minnesota. With this trip, we’ll only have these parks remaining in the NYC area:
- St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site
- Governor’s Island National Monument (closed seasonally)
- Gateway National Recreation Area
- Fire Island National Seashore
4 more reasons to plan another trip!
Do you need help planning your own national park adventure?
Let us know and we can help!