Our love of the USA National Parks Junior Ranger program is well documented on this blog. One of the great things about the Junior Ranger program is that opportunities exist in unexpected places. New York City is as urban as it gets in America. Yet you can still earn 10 Junior Ranger badges right in the middle of the metropolis! Combine sightseeing with learning on your next trip to New York City.
If you need an introduction to the Junior Ranger program, check out our complete guide.
The Complete List of Junior Ranger Programs in New York City
Statue of Liberty (Battery Park)
The Statue of Liberty has been raising her torch in New York Harbor since 1886. A gift of friendship from France, the colossal copper statue is a symbol of freedom and democracy.
After you disembark the ferry, pick up your Junior Ranger booklet in the Information Center (first building on the left). Complete the activities in the Information Center before going on to the museum. The Statue of Liberty Museum is excellent and the booklet gives kids particular topics to research in the museum. You will also need to walk around the statue and visit the Sculpture Garden.
This booklet took us much longer than we expected, close to 90 minutes for all activities. Perhaps too long, given the size of the park. If you’re short on time, this may be a Junior Ranger badge to skip, especially since you cannot print the booklet ahead of time.
Ellis Island National Monument (Battery Park)
Ellis Island National Monument is our favorite Junior Ranger program in New York City! Don’t miss this one, especially since the Statue of Liberty ferry includes Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis in search of the American Dream. We learned so much about the experience of immigrants on board ships, at Ellis Island, and on their onward journeys. We also found the volunteers top-notch and eager to help with Junior Ranger activities.
Once you arrive at Ellis Island, follow the Museum Entrance into the Baggage Room. On the left, you will see the Information Desk where you can pick-up the Junior Ranger booklet. We took one hour to complete the Junior Ranger booklet, but we spent a long time reenacting experiences and choosing homes for historical immigrant families at the Junior Ranger table.
Castle Clinton National Monument (Battery Park)
Castle Clinton National Monument has a long and varied history: fort, immigration station, aquarium, theater, and more. For Fans of “The Greatest Showman”, this was where Jenny Lind first performed in America. Sadly, this site has become little more than a glorified ticket booth for Statue of Liberty cruises.
They have kept a single “museum” room where you complete all of the Junior Ranger activities, except one. The booklet requires reading text-heavy displays, many of which are overhead. Be prepared to help budding readers…a lot.
The Junior Ranger booklet took 30 minutes to complete, but we did some of the activities on the Statue of Liberty ferry. We had a hard time tracking down a Ranger to submit our booklets. Hopefully, you’ll have an easier time.
Federal Hall National Memorial (Financial District)
The US Capitol you probably never heard of! Federal Hall National Memorial is on Wall Street next door to the New York Stock Exchange. Back when it was the first US Capitol Building, George Washington was inaugurated first President of the United States here. You can even see the Bible used for his oath of office. The current building is actually the second Federal Hall at that location and served as a Customs House and US Sub-Treasury.
The Junior Ranger badge is straightforward and takes 30 minutes to complete. Although the booklet is divided into age groups, the instructions also kindly say “or as many as you can.”
The site is closed Saturdays and Sundays.
African Burial Ground National Monument (Financial District)
African Burial Ground National Monument is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. More broadly, the visitor center teaches about the role slavery played in building New York City.
The African Burial Ground exceeded our expectations! The Junior Ranger booklet took one hour and the activities were engaging and informative. The staff and volunteers were amazing! All the activities took place in the Visitor Center, which would make this a good option for a rainy or bitterly cold day.
You can pick up the Junior Ranger booklet in the Visitor Center at 290 Broadway on the first floor of the Ted Weiss Federal Building. Watch out for Google maps, which will direct you to the outside memorial around the corner.
The Junior Ranger badge here is metal. Extremely rare! Also, the badge is available with several different designs. You could come back more than once to earn all the designs. 🙂
Walking across Brooklyn Bridge? The African Burial Ground is located close by Manhattan access to the Brooklyn Bridge. If you’re planning to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, it would be easy to combine the two activities.
The Visitor Center is closed Sundays and Mondays.
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site (Flatiron District)
Visit the boyhood home of President Theodore Roosevelt at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site. You must join a Ranger-led tour to see the five restored period rooms. There are also gallery rooms and a political cartoon collection for public viewing.
Not-so-Junior-Ranger? The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NHS has a special booklet for those who love Junior Ranger programs but might be a tad older than 5-13 years old.
The site is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Governors Island National Monument (Governors Island)
We have yet to visit Governors Island as you can only visit late spring to early fall, but it looks like our kind of place to explore! You can start your day with a Junior Ranger badge and finish up with other outdoor activities Governors Island has to offer.
Governors Island is the only Junior Ranger badge in New York City that can be earned online, without visiting the park.
General Grant National Memorial (Harlem)
Yes, this is the Grant’s Tomb in the old standard “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?” If you finally want the correct answer, then I guess you’ll need to visit!
The Visitor Center and Mausoleum are open Wednesday through Sunday. You need to access both to complete your Junior Ranger booklet. After you’ve taken the Junior Ranger oath, check out the Gaudi-esque tile-mosaic benches that commemorate the centennial of Yellowstone National Park.
Hamilton Grange National Memorial (Harlem)
If you’re Hamilton fans or into Revolutionary War history, visit Hamilton Grange National Memorial to learn more about George Washington’s right-hand man…and the man on the $10 bill. Conquer a scavenger hunt, watch a movie, and complete Junior Ranger activities to earn your badge. Feel free to hum “It’s Quiet Uptown” while you stroll through the house and surrounding park.
Awkward timing. Make sure to plan your visit carefully. Hamilton Grange is only open Wednesday through Sunday and has specific guided and self-guided tour times.
Multi-Site Program: National Parks of Manahatta
If you plan to visit Castle Clinton, Federal Hall, and African Burial Ground, be sure to ask for the special “National Parks of Manahatta” Junior Ranger booklet at your first stop. This short booklet has three extra questions for each site. The extra questions take about 5 minutes on top of the Junior Ranger booklet. Complete the questions and have a Ranger stamp it at each park. At your final stop, submit the booklet for a patch and possibly some other goodies!
Express version. If you don’t have time for the individual Junior Ranger booklets at these three sites, the “National Parks of Manahatta” is a quick way to earn a badge. You do not need to earn the individual Junior Ranger badges to earn the National Parks of Manahatta badge.
Junior Ranger Badges Further Afield of New York City
If you have more time to spend in New York City, St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site, Gateway National Recreation Area, and Fire Island National Seashore all have Junior Ranger programs.