It’s hard to believe our last #parkchasing trip was now over a year ago. Just before the pandemic hit we spent five days with Amy’s parents in New York City enjoying the Christmas season and crossing off a flurry of national parks. Using a combination of subway, bus, ferry, and walking we we were able to hop around to the national parks in Manhattan in just a few days. Today we’re sharing our guide to planning your own New York City National Park Trip.You’ll find a summary of the New York City National Parks and advice on :
- When to visit
- Where to stay
- The best travel guides and must-haves before you go.
- Our recommended itineraries to see the national parks of New York City in one trip.
That’s a lot, so let’s get started
What to expect on a New York City National Park Trip?
New York State is home to 22 national park units. 11 of those units are located within an hour or so of New York City proper. With that many parks in a densely populated urban area, expect your #parkchasing adventure to be a bit different than visiting the large, expansive parks of the west. When you’re planning a New York City National Park tour, expect:
- To vacation on a detailed itinerary. Navigating the different transportation and museum schedules means you’ll need to stay on schedule.
- To have a 9-5 #parkchasing day. When we visit national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, the park stays open sunrise to sunset, allowing more time for travel and visiting. When visiting New York City National Parks you’re confined to visitor’s center hours. Expect you’ll have more downtime in the evenings to enjoy non-park activities.
- To spend a bit more. While it’s possible to visit New York City on a budget (and many of the national parks are admission-free), a trip to NYC is naturally going to be more expensive than say, a Midwest National Park Road Trip.
- To buy a national parks annual pass. It will help with admission and make sure you’re able to visit all the parks for the best price.
When to Visit New York City National Parks?
We’ve visited New York City in different seasons and the experience is different each time. There’s really not a bad time to visit NYC, just times that will be busier than others. We always enjoy the shoulder seasons (April-May and September-October) to avoid the largest crowds during the summer and winter holiday travel seasons. A few of New York City’s national parks are only open during the summer months so if you’re committed to visiting all the parks in one stop, make sure to plan accordingly.
Where to Stay
For first timers or #parkchasers who are used to planning campsites instead of hotel rooms, one of the biggest challenges of planning a New York City national parks tour is figuring out where to stay. As the map below shows, many of the national parks units are located on the lower part of Manhattan. The rest are easily accessible from a central bus or subway route.
On both of our trips, we’ve chosen to stay in Midtown. It’s closer to many of the other NYC tourist attractions we wanted to see including Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, and Times Square. Midtown can be a particularly hectic area though, especially if you’re traveling to NYC with kids. The Chelsea and Soho neighborhoods are other great options to consider as well.
Our New York City Travel Must-Haves
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