Massachusetts is no stranger to the National Park system. Cape Cod National Seashore is a haven for those looking for a little Atlantic Ocean recreation. But there is more to Massachusetts and the National Park system than Cape Cod. A lot more.
Minute Man National Historical Park
Nearly 1,000 acres situated on the epoch-changing trail from Lexington to Concord tells the story of the American Revolution in terms appropriate for containment within a National Park. The Visitor Center hosts a multimedia presentation that tells the story of Paul Revere and then expands to give you the full skinny on the vital importance of what took place in the battles of Lexington and Concord. Other highlights of a visit to this Massachusetts National Park include North Bridge, site of the “shot heard ’round the world” and Hartwell Tavern which provides a tactile sense of what life was like for these rebel colonists known as Minute Men who only changed everything forever.
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
If you’ve ever read “Moby-Dick ” then you know all about the historical significance of Massachusetts’ whaling industry. And if you haven’t read “Moby-Dick” then shame on you and get to the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park as soon as possible. The Visitor Center offers a free 22 minute film titled “The City that Lit the World” as background to the whaling industry. It’s no “Moby-Dick” but then again we have yet to get a good movie version of that novel. The New Bedford Whaling Museum fills in all the gaps in the history lesson plus offers the spectacular visual punctuation of blue whale skeleton hanging overhead that measures more than 60 feet from head to tail. New Bedford whaling and “Moby-Dick” are inextricably intertwined throughout the attractions found in this Massachusetts unit in the National Park system. The Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum provides an authentic look at the counterparts described in detail in Herman Melville’s novel and visiting the Seaman’s Bethel is like stepping right into the chapel where Father Mapple delivers his hailstorm of brimstone. And, not to be overlooked, is the schooner Ernestina.
Boston African American National Historic Shrine
The Black Heritage Trail that is part of this Massachusetts unit of the National Park system will take you through a pretty impressive history of African-American contributions to the country in just 1.6 miles. Tours start at the memorial to a white man, interestingly enough: the memorial to Robert Gould Shaw whom many may know from his portrayal by Matthew Broderick in the film “Glory.” Your visit to the Boston African American National Historic Shrine will also include the Boston’s first African-American church which is today the oldest standing one of its kind in the entire country.
Lowell National Historical Park
A trip from Concord to Boston to Lowell through the country’s National Park system is also a trip through time. Travel from the pre-Civil War era through the Industrial Revolution by stopping at Lowell National Historical Park. You won’t find amazing natural wonders carved by wind and water at this National Park. Instead, expect to step back in time and see how great changes in society were carved by textile mills and the people who worked there. A visit to Lowell National Historical Park’s 19th century structures provides graphic and eye-opening exposure to the realities of immigrant life, factory work and housing, the politics of sexuality and the transition of America from an agriculture-based economy to an industrial economy.