New England's 23 National Parks operated by the National Park Service draw millions of travelers to the region each year. Which parks are the perennial annual favorites, drawing the largest numbers of visitors? Here's a quick look at the way the Top 10 national parks in New England sort out according to attendance figures reported by the National Park Service
Cape Cod National Seashore: Wellfleet, Massachusetts
New England travelers love the beach! The total number of visitors to the Cape Cod National Seashore is nearly double the attendance at the next most visited National Park in the region. This park features 44,600 acres of shoreline and upland landscape features, plus lighthouses and other historic structures, numerous Cape Cod-style houses, six beaches for swimming, 11 self-guiding nature trails for walking and hiking, and a variety of picnic and scenic overlook areas.
Acadia was the first National Park established east of the Mississippi River. Each year, millions of people flock to this preserved paradise that boasts ocean, mountains, forests and lakes within its confines. Popular activities include driving the 27-mile Park Loop Road to view dazzling scenery; walking, hiking and biking on 45 miles of carriage roads; hiking 125 miles of trails rated from easy to strenuous; fishing; boating; horse-drawn carriage rides; cross-country skiing; snowshoeing and Ranger-led bird walks and other programs.
Boston National Historical Park: Boston, Massachusetts
Boston National Historical Park is actually a collection of eight historic sites, seven of which are connected by the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) walking tour of a total of 16 sites and structures of historic importance in downtown Boston and Charlestown. The eight sites are the Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown Navy Yard and Dorchester Heights. A visit to these sites provides an in-depth look at the roots of the American struggle for freedom.
Minute Man National Historical Park: Concord, Massachusetts
Since 1959, visitors to Minute Man National Historical Park have been able to roam the battlefields that served as the opening arena for the American Revolution. Minute Man consists of more than 900 acres of land that wind along original segments of the Battle Road for April 19, 1775. As an added attraction, the park also preserves and interprets the 19th-century literary revolution through The Wayside, former home of three New England writers: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott and Margaret Sidney.
Lowell National Historical Park: Lowell, Massachusetts
The Industrial Revolution looms large at this park that features guided tours of textile mills, worker housing, 5.6 miles of canals and 19th-century commercial buildings. Boat tours are offered seasonally. Learning about the typical day of a "mill girl" may just make you appreciate your job! All in all, the park covers 141 acres of land.
Boston African American National Historical Site: Boston, Massachusetts
Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood is home to this National Park that is made up of 14 pre-Civil War structures associated with the city's African American history and heritage. The sites, including the African Meeting House (the oldest standing African-American church in the United States), are linked by the 1.6-mile (2.5-kilometer) Black Heritage Trail. Guided walking tours are offered Monday through Saturday seasonally, or visit the sites at your own pace on a self-guided tour.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site: Salem, Massachusetts
New England's seafaring history is celebrated at this nine-acre park that includes 12 historic structures situated along Salem's historic waterfront and the tall ship Friendship (currently away from the site for restoration). Engaging films at the Visitor Center provide an overview of Salem Harbor's role in colonial trade. Visitors to this national park will also find themselves within easy reach of all of Salem's other historic attractions.
Explore the lives of five generations of the Adams Family. No, not those creepy TV folks, the prominent early Americans who included two Presidents and First Ladies, three United States Ministers, historians and writers. The John Adams Birthplace, John Quincy Adams Birthplace and the Old House at Peacefield are the three historic structures incorporated within this National Park, which nearly tripled its annual visitation when HBO aired its "John Adams" mini-series, based on the book by David McCullough. Now, visitation has plummeted, though, and you really should go. A trolley bus is your time machine that will take you from site to site.
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park: New Bedford, Massachusetts
Where can you see a 19th-century whaling port and hear whaling tales? More than 150,000 people find themselves transported back to New England's seafaring heyday when they visit the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park each year. One of our newest National Parks — created in 1996 — this 34-acre collection of partner attractions features a Visitor Center, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Seamen's Bethel, the schooner Ernestina and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum.
Roger Williams, crusader for religious freedom in America, leaps from the pages of history at the Roger Williams National Memorial, where tens of thousands of visitors each year tour Visitor Center exhibits and explore the site of the original European settlement at Providence.