National Historical Parks for Kids on Wheels


George Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge

George Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge


I’d been in 34 countries before I ever noticed the accessibility, or lack thereof, within each different nation. That 35th country was a real eye-opener for me – not because it was less accessible than anywhere else I’d been, but because now I had a child with a physical disability, so now I was hyper aware.

Compared to most of the world, the U.S. is really on top of meeting the needs of its diverse population. Code for new buildings requires handicap accessible entrances and restrooms. There is a strong presence in the States that makes itself heard, and there is a support system that values equity. That being said, we’re by no means all-accessible. I love my quaint little town; but, if you can’t do steps, don’t visit me. Our buildings are old and pretty, but shop doors are all atop a small flight of steps, and there are only a handful of ramps in the whole town. There simply isn’t space to add them.

We do still visit the quaint towns, but our current favorite trips are to national historical parks. With accessibility listed first, here’s why these parks are perfect:

1. Accessibility

National historical parks have walking paths, often paved, to guide you through the main historic landmarks. While we have encountered a few towers and monuments that are only accessible by steps, most of each park has been easily accessible. If the walk is too long, there are also driving paths, which usually lead right up to each landmark for those with a handicap parking placard.

2. There’s something for everyone.

Wesley and I love history. He’ll stop and read each sign and monument and revel in the nuggets of wisdom he’s taking with him. Jaden, on the other hand, when he sees we’re approaching a sign, says, “Mommy! No read sign!” He just wants to be on the move at all times and these parks provide plenty of space to move and play. Nella is oblivious to whether we read or not. She likes to take in every detail visually and meanders… or runs… through every corner and display. A national historical park accommodates all of these things simultaneously. We can each move at our own pace, and still all be together.

3. They’re educational.

While Wesley is the only one actually paying attention to all of the information, the other two are still enjoying an educational excursion, maybe picking up a tidbit or two, and learning to enjoy the types of places where interactive learning takes place.

4. They’re within reach!

There are national historical parks all over the place. In fact, I’ve recently discovered a couple within an easy drive from me that I never knew existed. Here’s a link to search by state: https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm. Wherever you live, there will be a park somewhere near you.

5. They’re FREE!

Many of the parks offer free admission. If you have a permanent disability, you can also get a pass for free lifetime admission to all national parks. This includes the person with the disability and anyone else traveling in the same vehicle. There are a lot of discounts on park services, as well. You can check out what’s required to apply here: https://store.usgs.gov/access-pass.

I hope this helps you to find a fun new excursion for your family!

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Written by Wonders Within Reach
Showing my trio the joys of the world, both near and far 🌎 Lover of Jesus, adoption, and strong coffee ☕️ Spina bifida Mom 💛 PA rooted📍

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