Parading Through Patriotic Parks

Shaw memorial at the Boston African American National Historic Site
Boston African American National Historic Site – NPS

The United State of America was built on the foundation of many powerful ideals. This Independence Day, explore the profound stories that weave together the very fabric of our nation by planning a visit to one of our beautiful national parks. These remarkable places offer memorable ways to immerse yourself in the remarkable accounts of hope, determination, sacrifice, and beauty – all which continue to nourish and inform our sense of patriotism.

The Flag is Still There

National Park Service

Safe on a boat 8 miles from the fort, Francis Scott Key witnessed American soldiers bravely defending Fort McHenry against a bombardment of British artillery during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, inspiring him to write our future national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine offers a wide variety of fun family activities, including ranger-guided tours and a chance to participate in the daily raising and lowering of the flag.

A President’s Daily Life

2-story building at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site
National Park Service

Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois, is a surprisingly modest 12-room Greek Revival house that has been restored to its 1860 appearance.  Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln lived here for 17 years, during which time he developed his reputation as a lawyer and politician and successfully ran in the 1860 presidential campaign. Remembering this home’s history as you walk through its rooms over 150 years later is a truly moving experience. 

Daily ranger-led tours of the house provide unparalleled insight into President Lincoln's day-to-day life. Living history demonstrations also take place at the site throughout the summer. 

Boston’s Abolitionist History 

National Park Service

Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood was at the center of the fight against slavery and inequality in the 19th century. Once home to leaders in the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad, the area is now preserved as Boston African American National Historic Site.

Visit the Museum of African American History and explore any of the 14 sites along the Black Heritage Trail. On July 3, stop by the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial for an annual reading of Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

Working for Workers’ Rights

Stairs leading up to the Memorial Garden at Cesar E Chavez National Monument
National Park Service

A crucial leader in the farm worker movement, César E. Chávez strove to secure higher wages and safer conditions for America's workers and was instrumental in the formation of the first permanent agricultural union. He is remembered as one of the most important Latino leaders in America during the 20th century. 

César E. Chávez National Monument is a tribute to his accomplishments and includes the Memorial Garden where he is buried, a visitor center, and a bookshop. Visitors can also see his office, which has been preserved in its unchanged state in the exhibit hall.

Spanish America in the Early Years

Historical actor and a National Park Service ranger showing students how canons were loaded at Fort Matanzas National Monument
National Park Serice

Built by the Spanish between 1740 and 1742, Fort Matanzas stands on an inlet on the Florida coast, where the Spanish once guarded St. Augustine — the oldest city in America — from the British. Visiting the restored structure today offers a glimpse into America's formative years.

Park Rangers or the boat captain are available for talks about Fort Matanzas National Monument, and guests are free to pick up a brochure and explore for themselves. Stop in the visitor’s center for a short film on the fort’s history, then see more of the island via a short nature trail. 

American History Islands Away

night sky over the alien landscape of Haleakala National Park
David Schoonover, Share the Experience

Hawai'i may be the 50th and most recent state to join the United States of America, but its culture is ancient and vibrant. Visiting Haleakalā National Park provides an opportunity to enter an untouched wilderness, immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture, and camp out under some of the clearest, darkest skies in America.

The park also holds quite a bit of significance for American history. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps helped the unemployed generate income as they removed invasive plants and feral animals, constructed trails, and built many of the structures seen in Haleakalā today. Later, the military used the park’s summit, Red Hill, for various installations during World War II.

No matter which corner of America you call home, there's a national park near you that offers a chance to explore and understand our nation's fascinating history and experience the wonder of our varied landscapes. This Independence Day, spend your holiday at one of the many historic national parks across America.


Cape Lookout National Seashore is a great place to spend forth of July at the beach.
I grew up near Philadelphia. So much history there. School trips to Valley Forge, Betsy Ross House, Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell. When my family moved to Maryland we visited Fort McHenry. Then, of course, there's our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. Now I'm a senior citizen, traveling this great country with my husband, touring the north midwest and seeing ancient ruins of Pueblo people, Zunis, Acoma, and other native tribes. We want to thank the National Park Service for keeping these historical places inexpensive to visit, and keeping them beautiful, preserving our wilderness areas.
While all of these are great places, I think the location where independence was won should have been included... Yorktown, VA.
Thanks for the reminder. Especially calling attention to some lesser known Sites. National Park Service forever!!!!
What about Nicodemus....where slaves escaped to in Kansas?
What about the Trail of Tears?

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