Castle Clinton National Monument

Castle Clinton National Monument

A Dash Through Manhattans's National Parks

August 19, 2010, 7:14 am

Thank you, Eric Lurio at the Huffington Post, for this great feature on Manhattan's National Parks! The team loves getting out to explore, and we hope this article will inspire other New Yorkers (and tourists!) to do the same:

Well, fellow Manhattanites, August about halfway over, and being broke due to that pesky recession, your "staycation" is getting kind of stale, so now would be a good time to get to some of that tourist stuff you've been meaning to do but never actually have. The stuff all those tourists do in a day, you've been putting off for years and years, and now's a good time to get it all over with.

Being a tourist in your own home town sounds kind of cheesy, but it's actually rather fun, and one thing millions do is drag their families or friends to see National Parks, driving for flying for hours and hours to see a bunch of national wonders, such as Yellowstone in Wyoming, or for famous tourist traps such as Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. But you can't go to those places because you're stuck in Manhattan or Brooklyn, and you don't have a car or the money to pay for such a trip.

But you can visit a bunch of National Parks without ever leaving Manhattan, seven of them, in fact, and there are a few more that you can get to on the subway.

So what we're going to do is a mad dash through all of them in a day.

I first thought of this project when I got slammed in the comments section of another article because there are a bunch of people out there who refused to believe that there are ANY National Parks east of the Mississippi river, much less New York City. Fortunately, a Ranger confirmed that there are. None of these are actually called National Parks, but under federal law, all National sites are the same, whether they're larger than the state of Rhode Island (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Alaska -- 13,175,901 acres) or the statue of Ben Franklin in Philadelphia's Franklin Institute, which is less than twenty feet square. If rangers wearing funny wide brimmed hats man it, it counts.

Since, we're mostly broke, this jaunt has to be a cheap as possible, so our investment is a one-day unlimited MetroCard, ($8.25), and an official National Park Passport ($9) to get stamps in (we have to prove we've been there, and not all these places are worth photographing). Plus one of the sites charges to get in, but we'll get to that later.

The place to start is Battery Park, at the bottom of the island. The Battery is not a national park, it's a city park, but it's here people buy tickets for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, the cost of getting TO these places is a bit high, $12, and the lines around the ticket office are usually humongous. But don't fret -- we're not going there this time. The ticket office itself is actually our first stop!

Read Eric's stop-by-stop tour at

Photo: Springtime at Castle Clinton (Laura Brennan / NPS)