Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Statue of Liberty National Monument/Ellis Island
- 2. Castle Clinton National Monument
- 3. African Burial Ground National Monument
- 4. Federal Hall National Memorial
- 5. Gateway National Recreation Area
- 6. General Grant National Memorial
- 7. Governor’s Island National Monument
- 8. Hamilton Grange National Memorial
- 9. Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
- 10. Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site
- 11. Stonewall National Monument
- 12. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
- NYC National Parks with Kids
- More NYC National Parks Tips from a TravelingMom:
Most visitors to New York City know the Statue of Liberty is a National Monument, though most visitors to the Big Apple don’t know there are many more NYC National Park Service sites. The NPS offers interpretive programming, urban camping, lessons in history and much more. Best of all? Most of the National Park Service sites are free to enter in New York City. So read on to add some additional National Park sites to your itinerary.
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Explore NYC National Parks with Kids
New York City offers days of family fun with world-class museums, theater shows, shopping and desserts galore. It seems only nightfall sends families to back to their rooms. Most families will pass by the Statue of Liberty though most visitors never visit the other NYC National Park sites with kids. Here’s all the info you’ll need to put some of these NYC National Park gems into your family’s next trip.
Read More: 3 Day NYC Itinerary
1. Statue of Liberty National Monument/Ellis Island
A symbol of freedom and liberty known worldwide and a World Heritage Site, the Statue of Liberty sits on a 12-acre island in the middle of the New York Harbor. Learn about the construction of the statue in the museum or climb the stairs to the pedestal base or crown (additional ticket required).
Take the ferry, operated by Statue Cruises, that departs from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan or Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, to explore the Statue of Liberty. First ferry leaves at 9:30 a.m. and last one departs at 3:30 p.m. with extended hours during peak seasons. Reservations are a must.
From 1892 until 1954, Ellis Island welcomed 12 million immigrants to the United States. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum walks visitors through the facility that processed close to 5,000 people a day.
Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Since it’s a separate island in the New York harbor, the only way onto the island is by the Statue Cruises ferry, an additional stop on the Statue of Liberty ferry.
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2. Castle Clinton National Monument
Located next to the Statue of Liberty’s ferry dock, a sandstone fort became the first immigration station. Before Ellis Island opened, 8 million people passed through Castle Clinton. Originally built from 1808 to 1811 as a fort, the building transitioned from defense to immigration.
Located in Battery Park at the tip of lower Manhattan, the Castle Clinton National Monument is open seven days a week from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free to enter.
3. African Burial Ground National Monument
Learn about the final resting place of more than 400 African-Americans in lower Manhattan. A mass burial site from the 17th and 18th century retells the story of free and enslaved people in colonial New York.
The visitor center is located at 290 Broadway in lower Manhattan on the first floor of the Ted Weiss Federal Building. The visitor center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The outside memorial is located at the intersection of Duane and Reade Street. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Both are free to enter.
4. Federal Hall National Memorial
The Federal Hall National Memorial served as the first Capitol of the United States, the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch offices. George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States at Federal Hall as well.
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Located at 26 Wall Street. The visitor center is located at the Pine Street entrance. The Federal Hall National Monument is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and during the summer, it is open Saturdays as well. Free to enter.
5. Gateway National Recreation Area
This urban park spans two states and three burroughs and it’s one most popular NPS sites. The area includes three NPS units: Sandy Hook in New Jersey, Ft. Wadsworth in Staten Island, and Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn and Queens. Gateway NRA encompasses 27,000 acres. Here you’ll find lots of programming, including the chance to urban camp.
Each unit offers its own visitor center and seasonal programming. Each unit is open from sun up to sun down. No fee to enter each unit but there’s a parking fee if you drive a car.
6. General Grant National Memorial
Visit the largest mausoleum in North America at the General Grant National Memorial. Former President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia, reside in the 1897 granite and marble tomb.
Located on Riverside Drive and 122nd Street, the visitor center is open Wednesdays until Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free to enter.
7. Governor’s Island National Monument
Quietly protecting New York City, Governor’s Island served as a military post and command headquarters from 1794 until 1966. After this, it was a U.S. Coast Guard command unit. Governor’s Island now hosts seasonal events during the summer.
Located in the New York Harbor, take a ferry (adults $2 and kids under 13 free) from Battery Maritime Building or Pier 6 in Brooklyn. Open from May 1 to October 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and 7 p.m. on the weekends.
8. Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Tour the historic country home of Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury. Named after his ancestral home in Scotland, “The Grange” that now resides St. Nicholas Park.
Located at 414 W. 141st St. in Harlem. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, Hamilton Grange National Memorial offers tours. Free to enter.
9. Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
During our visit to NYC, my teen daughter liked this museum the best since it walked us through American history.
We toured a preserved tenement building that 7,000 working class immigrants from 20 different countries. Each apartment represents history from different time periods between 1863-1935. You’ll find specialized tours focusing on Irish immigrants, Jewish immigrants and sweatshop workers along with neighborhood tours. You will really gain understanding of an immigrant’s life over a hundred years ago.
Start at the visitor center, located at 103 Orchard St., open every day from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. on Thursdays). Reserve tours in advance. Admission varies according to tour.
10. Saint Paul’s Church National Historic Site
Learn more about the American Revolutionary War with a tour of the church or its cemetery.
Located at 897 South Columbus Ave. in Mount Vernon. Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free to enter.
11. Stonewall National Monument
Visit the first national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights in the West Village. At the site of the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969, the Stonewall National Monument received its national monument designation in 2016.
As a new monument, Stonewall National Monument doesn’t offer a visitor center yet. The monument includes Christopher Park, located across the street at the intersection of Christopher Street and W. 4th St. Free to enter.
12. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Walk through a Victorian era townhouse where Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. President, spent his childhood. With five decorated rooms, learn about how “Teddy”, a sickly child, used exercise to strengthen his body and spirit.
Located at 28 E. 20th St., the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free to enter.
Visit other New York State NPS Sites
If you have extra time to explore the state of New York, there are other NPS sites you can check out.
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
Tour the only residence dedicated to a first lady. It’s located next to the FDR National Historic Site in Hyde Park.
Located at 54 Val Kill Park Road in Hyde Park. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours only of house.
Fire Island National Seashore
Located on Long Island, Fire Island offers an ocean getway to enjoy the barrier island beaches.
Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
Learn about the 32nd president of the United States at his birthplace. It’s also the home of the United States’ first presidential library. The picturesque site is located along the Hudson River.
Located at 114 Estates Lane in Hyde Park. Grounds are free to enter and open until sunset. FDR Presidential Library and Museum and the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site offer a joint $20 admission ticket, good for two days.
NYC National Parks with Kids
The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about a National Park Service site. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the badges that the Rangers present them after completing their booklet.
Most national park sites in New York City offer Junior Ranger Programs. Ask a ranger at the visitor center for a booklet to complete, based on age.
More NYC National Parks Tips from a TravelingMom:
- Hours and opening days are subject to change without notice. Always check the website before you head to the park.
- Make reservations for the Statue of Liberty as soon as possible, especially for pedestal and crown access. During the busy summer season, tickets sell out months in advance.
- For the ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, visitors pass through airport-like security. Visitor can’t carry backpacks when touring pedal and crown. Lockers are available for rent.
- Give Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island half-a-day to tour.
- Concessions aren’t available at most NYC National Park Service sites so take water and snacks and plan visits around meal times.