Parks protect so much more than natural landscapes. If you’re a history buff, searching parks by “historical” activity will open your eyes to fascinating sites where the past comes to life – like Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, PA, where you can stroll an 18th century garden and take a photo with the Liberty Bell; or Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, MO, where you can tour the Old Courthouse and join an old-fashioned Riverboat Cruise.
Brenna Cruz NPS
Arts & Culture
Exploring parks by the “arts & culture” activity will show you special places where you can immerse yourself in written, artistic and architectural works that have lived on for years, decades or even centuries. You might find the fully-restored Mission San Jose at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in San Antonio, TX; or, the public art installations on display through the Arts in the Parks program at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, CA.
Getting children active and involved in your visit can foster a love of the parks and a love of learning – plus, the National Park Service’s children’s programs are a whole lot of fun. Searching parks by “children’s programs” can help you find activities kids will love, like the 40 kid-friendly “Canalway Questing” adventures along the Ohio & Erie Canalway in Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park; the planetarium and playgrounds at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.; or dozens of parks where kids can earn badges and become Junior Rangers.
© Mike Elfassy
The U.S. is home to more than 1,000 different bird species, and the national parks are ideal places to spot our avian neighbors, whether they’re remote locales or right in the middle of cities.” Search parks by “birdwatching” activities and you’ll find which parks are best for checking off the birds on your “life list,” from cedar waxwings in Hot Springs National Park to piping plovers in New York City’s Gateway National Recreation Area.