Ronald Reagan in 1984 signed into law a new type of national park called National Heritage Areas. There are now 49 of these areas across the country with quite a few in my home New England. These areas are quite different than other national park units that have come before. These are not your typical historic site, national monument or national park. They are mostly lived-in areas spread out over a particular region with a central theme. Community local museums, landscapes or historic sites might be a part of the NHA. A dozen or more attractions can be highlighted in each NHA. One such area in Massachusetts and Rhode Island is the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
The Essex National Heritage Area in Massachusetts is another good example of what can be offered.
I like the NHAs because they encompass sites and attractions you could easily overlook but provide wonderful educational of recreational opportunities.