Boston families are lucky that we have tons of gorgeous national parks in New England that are just a road trip away. They make planning a last-minute spring break getaway easy. So pack your sense of adventure and a few other vacay essentials because these National Parks near Boston are bursting with mountains, caves and waterfalls to explore. Plus many are hosting special events for National Parks Week (starting April 16) that are worth the drive. Ready, set, plan!

Acadia National Park, ME

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Located in Maine, Acadia National Park offers trails along the granite shoreline that seem to rise from the sea. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about lobsters or search for harbor seals. The cool freshwater lakes and frothy saltwater tidal invite exploring, and there's plenty of yummy lobster dinners within reach. Acadia offers families dozens of activities beyond hiking, though the hiking is both excellent and most often very family-friendly. Pack your bikes for rides along the network of carriage roads, and blow your kids' minds at Thunder Hole, a partially submerged cave that booms about an hour before high tide.

Good to Know: While there is plenty to do for visitors of all ages and abilities, much of Acadia’s landscape is very rugged. If you’ve got wee ones in tow, a child’s backpack carrier just might save the trip. Late summer and early fall offer warm days, fewer crowds and typically chilly evenings, making it the perfect time for a visit.

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Airbnb nearby: Minutes away from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, this charming modern home sits on five acres of land. Grill out, cook lobsters and let the kids enjoy the great outdoors. Be sure to bring your bikes, too!

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, VT

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Vermont's picturesque landscapes are legendary, so it's no surprise that this 500-acre park is on our list. Covered bridges and wide carriage trails, mountain pastures and peaceful ponds set the mood for family hikes around the park's 20 miles of trails. The mansion tours offered though the park help to break things up for kids looking to duck inside from spring showers. Like so many of the area's national parks, kids can earn a junior ranger badge here, too.

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Airbnb nearby: Stay in this elegant log cabin, playfully named KAB-IN, to keep your family in touch with the natural world. It sleeps six in its 5 bedrooms and offers families space and privacy in a wooded setting that's still close to town. Or add an elegantly refinished barn to your family adventure. Trust us, this place really shines. 

Cape Cod National Seashore

national parks near boston, new england national parks
Michelle_Raponi via pixabay

Lighthouses, miles and miles of beaches and seafood joints around every corner await your visit to Cape Cod. Head to the Cape Cod Children's Museum in Mashpee if you need some indoor time, or take a bike ride on the Shining Sea Bikeway when the temps allow. Check out this beach guide when you are ready for a day on the sand. Hint: there are even some areas of beach you can drive on. 

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Airbnb nearby: This classic Cape Cod cottage is totally cute and a great spot to stay on the Bay side of the cape. Or, go for this Truro home that has to-die-for views. 

Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park

national parks near boston, new england national parks
sidharthamalhotra via pixabay

Made up of 34 islands and peninsulas, Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park is an urban oasis just minutes from Boston’s city center. Hop aboard a park ferry and discover islands rich with opportunities for outdoor recreation, relaxation and learning. You can pick up the ferry to the Harbor Islands in Boston or Hingham. 

Georges Island, which encompasses 53 acres, is the largest and most popular Boston Harbor Island accessible by ferry. The main attraction at Georges Island is Fort Warren, a national historic landmark. Take a ranger-led tour of the island to hear about its history including the haunting by the Lady in Black. 

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Airbnb nearby: If you plan to take the ferry from Hingham, this beachfront home on Nantasket would be a great spot to spend some time. It sleeps 10 and you can take the ferry from there to downtown Boston in just over 20 minutes. 

White Mountain National Forest, NH

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Immerse your family in majestic beauty when you visit the White Mountain National Forest. Running from eastern New Hampshire up into Maine, it's got excellent hiking trails and camping spots for families. From easy strolls to challenging hikes that should be saved for your kid's older years, finding a trail that's the right pace for your family is pretty much a piece of cake. Although fall is an ideal time to visit this heavily treed area, the park is just starting to wake up in spring, so you're bound to see blooms, birds and rushing rivers.

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Airbnb nearby: Spend your vacation lounging along the river when you book this cabin getaway that sleeps seven, or enjoy lakeside living (think: boating, canoeing and SUPing) when you reserve this serene house.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail


Chances are you know someone who has hiked some of the Appalachian Trail (or maybe you have), as it's a super popular activity for New England college students. But it doesn't have to be the months-long hiking extravaganza when you bring along the kids. In fact, there are several areas of the trail that are well suited to day hikes so families can enjoy the beauty of the area without having to plan, pack and carry all that gear. 

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Airbnb nearby: This lakeside cabin is a great home base for exploring the trail nearby. You'll be just two hours from Boston but you'll feel so far away as you take in all the nature that surrounds the property. 

National Parks Near New York


Expand your road trip distance and check out some of the national and state parks that New York has to offer

  • Niagra Falls is one spot that the kids should definitely see. It's beyond amazing! 

  •  Bear Mountain State Park is a popular destination for New York city families looking for a quick getaway. In addition to hiking trails for all levels, there is a lake with boat rentals, a swimming pool, an ice rink in the winter, and a Trailside Zoo that's open seven days a week. 

  • For history buffs, Gettysburg, the site of a key turning point in the Civil War, is a key destination. The war's bloodiest battle, it is of course the inspiration for Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The military park has its own visitor center and museum, and it's recommended you hit the museum before heading to the battlefield. 

Check out all of our recs near NYC

National Parks Near Washington DC

a family goes hiking in the wood, led by a joyful little boy

If you're willing to make a longer trip out of it, there are plenty of national parks near Washington, DC that the kids will love. 

  • Bursting with epic waterfalls, spectacular views, fields of wildflowers, and quiet wooded areas for a family picnic, Shenandoah National Park is a great option for families. 

  • Assateague Island National Seashore has sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Oh, and you might even see some wild horses too. 

  • Great Falls Park offers many opportunities to explore history and nature, all in a beautiful 800-acre park only 15 miles from the Nation's Capital.

Read about these spots and more

—Allison Sutcliffe & Kate Loweth


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The Best National Parks to Visit with Kids (& the Airbnbs to Book When You Do)

The Best Under-the-Radar National Parks in Every State (& D.C.)

This National Parks Road Trip Is Scientifically Proven to Be the Greatest Family Vacation of All Time

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