National parks in New York City? Yes, there are 10. You probably already know one of them — the Statute of Liberty National Monument and nearby Ellis Island form a park. All are fascinating. On this centennial of the national park system, I thought we’d look at national parks in the Big Apple. Wherever I go the national parks never cease to live up to their great reputation. While many national parks attract a large number of visitors, the national parks of New York City aren’t super busy.
Only one national park in the New York City is suitable for camping out. The Gateway National Recreation Area is spread over multiple New York City boroughs and New Jersey. It consists of many refuges for local wildlife, mainly native birds and small animals. Its 27,000 acres are hard to summarize, so check it out online. There is no entrance fee but there are parking fees. Campsites for people who would rather sleep outdoors during their New York City visit are available.
The national park system, originally conceived by great outdoorsman Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of the century, is now mimicked by countries around the world. One of New York City’s parks — the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Park — his townhouse birthplace at 28 East 20th St. is dedicated to this president. Exhibits show how life was in New York City when it was still largely rural. It offers a few days when it is free to enter. Otherwise, if you plan to visit other national parks during the year, it’s best to buy a yearly pass to all national parks. Prices vary depending on what category you fit in. This is the only New York City park where the annual pass works.
Another famous American, Alexander Hamilton, had a country estate in what is today Harlem. His home at the Hamilton Grange National Memorial is inside what is now Saint Nicholas Park. In Hamilton’s day it was very rural; today it provides history in beautiful environs. The site has free admission.
President Ulysses S. Grant has a national park dedicated to him, his burial spot. It’s also the largest mausoleum in North America. Located near Columbia University; stop to see that non-park landmark while you’re in the area. Called the General Grant National Memorial, this park has free admission.
On the lower east side the Tenement Museum National Park is a must see. This national park location is a bit expensive to visit. Still it’s worth it. You should schedule your visit in advance as entrances are centered around tours.
Castle Clinton National Monument at the southern tip of Manhattan was a fort against the British built in 1812. Today this old fort is a relic of past wars and weaponry. No fee to enter this park.
Nearby, the African Burial Ground National Monument, only discovered in 1991, is 6.6 acres that are the final burial places for both free and enslaved Africans. No fee to enter this park.
Also nearby: the place where George Washington took his presidential oath of office, the Federal Hall National Memorial celebrates our first president and the beginnings of our country. Again, no admission fee.
Governor’s Island National Monument was an army base until 1966. Now it is a center for art and culture, and a wonderful place to visit. Getting there is half the fun. Arriving by ferry either from Brooklyn or Manhattan, you’ll be transported back in history in a park setting away from the urban bustle. There is no fee for this park site. Let a park ranger give you all the details.
All of the national parks have their own websites with detailed information. Plan ahead, decide what to see. Whichever parks you choose you’re guaranteed to be enjoy it.