This weekend is a great time to get out and see New England without paying an admission fee, as it is both National Park Week and the Little Poland Festival.
But first — libraries!
This week the New England Historical Society brought you the story of the 1773 Old Librarians Almanack, which suggested several New England places to visit. Jared Bean was from Newburyport, Mass., where George Washington actually spent the night in The Tracy Mansion, now the city’s library. The brick Georgian mansion, built by Patrick Tracy in 1775, was once the preeminent house in Newburyport. Click here for the library hours.
You can spend an enjoyable day in Newburyport, walking along the harbor on the boardwalk, shopping and eating in the Market Square Historic District, ogling the Federal Style mansions. The small coastal city also features Friday night Waterfront Concert Series, the Custom House Maritime Museum and bird-watching and beachgoing on lovely Plum Island. Don’t miss the scene that accompanies live music at the Grog, 13 Middle St.
The Old Librarians Almanack was published in New Haven, Conn., where several of the stunning Yale libraries are open to the public before the evening hours. The elaborate Sterling Memorial Library is the centerpiece of Yale’s Gothic Revival campus. It is filled with sculpture, painting, stained glass, five large reading rooms, a Music Library, a ground-floor courtyard and a tower with 16 levels of stacks with more than 4 million volumes.
Also open to the public are the Arts Library, the Bass Library, the Divinity Library, the Math Library, the Medical Library and the Yale Center for British Art.
How about a National Historical Park this weekend during National Park Week? Admission is free for every national park through Sunday, April 24.
In Massachusetts, the Boston National Historical Park includes the USS Constitution, the Old South Meeting House, Faneuil Hall, the Old State House, the Paul Revere House, the Bunker Hill Monument and Dorchester Heights.
Visit Abigail Adams’ sweet little farm and more at the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Boston National Historical Park. Or experience where the mill girls toiled at Lowell National Historical Park. If you missed Patriots Day, the Minute Man National Historical Park is still waiting for you in Concord, Lexington and Lincoln. Farther south, the New Bedford Whaling Museum tells the history of the international whaling industry and the region once known as Old Dartmouth.
In Connecticut, visit The Weir Farm National Historic Site, home and studio of American Impressionist J. Alden Weir in Wilton. Or take a drive along the scenic Rochambeau Trail, which marks the journey taken by the Comte de Rochambeau from Newport, R.I., to Yorktown, Va.
In a northwest corner of New Hampshire you’ll find the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, where you can take in the home, studio and gardens of the Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the artist who sculpted the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial.
Vermont: The Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historic Site in Woodstock started out as the farm owned by the founder of the environmental movement, George Perkins Marsh. It was then bought by Frederick Billings, who commissioned a photographer to capture Yosemite, and finally Laurance and Mary Rockefeller, who donated it to the federal government.
Rhode Island just got its first national park with the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Corridor, which traces the Industrial Revolution along the Blackstone River in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Headquarters are at One Depot Square in Woonsocket. Click here to find one of the seven visitor centers near you. In Rhode Island you might also want to visit the Slater Mill Historic Site in Pawtucket. Click here for more information.
Maine has the first eastern national park and the tallest mountain along the Atlantic coast in Acadia National Park. This weekend might be a good time to visit before it gets too crowded!
Tomorrow the New England Historical Society will bring you the story of New Britain’s Little Poland, a thriving ethnic community along Connecticut’s coast. You may not want to miss the annual Little Poland Festival tomorrow on Broad Street. Admission is free, and the festival features crafts vendors from around New England, food and a live stage with folk dancing and live bands. The opening ceremonies start at 12:30 pm. For more information, click here.