There are plenty of historic sites in Boston, each with their own unique story. The Freedom Trail, a mapped route through some of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, takes each of those and spins the epic tale of the American Revolution. You’ll visit 16 locations that were instrumental in change of both Boston and the nation’s history, all the while exploring the modern day streets of the city.
Why You’ll Love The Freedom Trail
There are a few different ways to take in The Freedom Trail. Grab yourself a map and explore on your own, purchase and download an audio tour that sets the ambiance for your journey into history, or book a walking tour with some of Boston’s most notable ancestors.
You’ll start at the first public park ever created on American soil, Boston Common. These 44 acres have seen their share of history being made. Originally, it was a place for the townspeople’s livestock to graze. Since 1775, the land has been a home base to the invading British Redcoats, and then a place for the Revolutionists to celebrate after their victory. Over the years, the land has seen countless rallies, and continues to be a focal point in Boston culture.
The nearby Massachusetts State House is most recognized for the gilded dome that sits atop the building where important governmental business has been handled since 1798.
The Park Street Church, a backdrop for the Civil Rights movement, has been acclaimed for its interesting and unique style of architecture.
Boston was home to many inspiring individuals, people who fought long and hard to make the United States of America what it is today. Many of those same colonists, like the legendary Paul Revere, are buried in the Granary Burying Ground. You can pay your respects while walking the trail.
You’ll be awestruck by the magnificent Georgian architecture of the King’s Chapel, where colonists first worshipped as non-Puritans. The church was constructed over the land where an original, wood chapel laid. The old building was removed after construction of the new, granite masterpiece in 1749. Just as interesting as the chapel itself, the King’s Chapel Burying Ground holds some of the key players in Boston’s history.
The Boston Latin School was the first public school in America! You’ll recognize the names of many of the alumni, which include Samuel Adams, John Hancock and other change makers of the time. One of the schools most notable students was Benjamin Franklin, who has been commemorated with a regal statue that marks the spot of this schoolhouse, even though he dropped out.
Bibliophiles, rejoice! The Old Corner Bookstore, a favorite place of many (including Make Way for Ducklings), once published the works of the early greats, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and many more.
The Old South Meeting House was already over 40 years old when it was used by the Sons of Liberty as a meeting ground to plan the Boston Tea Party. Here, you can stand in the very spot where Samuel Adams spoke to the crowd of Americans, fed up with the British taxes.
The Old State House is a sight to behold. The building, which was built in 1713, sits below modern skyscrapers, mixing architecture styles in a visually intriguing way. History buffs will enjoy viewing the place where the Declaration of Independence was first announced to Bostonians.
While many of the historic sites in Boston tell a tale of victory, the site of the Boston Massacre site is a somber remembrance to the loss of life during the American Revolution.
Faneuil Hall, another point of inspiration during the Revolutionary period, was once a place where meetings were held to discuss the hope of liberty, and was actually the first place where Bostonians planned several acts that led to eventual freedom from the British. The site has been lovingly preserved, and is still used today. It also hosts a range of restaurants and stores, so get ready to shop!
It may seem humble now, but Paul Revere’s home housed one of the most influential people of the Revolution. Paul Revere lived there, with his many children, on the day he took his famous ride to warn the Sons of Liberty that the British were coming. The home gives a unique perspective into the lives of the 18th century colonists.
If you’ve ever read the famous poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, you’ve probably heard of the Old North Church. The tall steeple was an imperative tool to Paul Revere, as he warned everyone in sight of the impending attack of the British back in 1775. Step inside, and get a glimpse at the elegant setting that is still used as a place of worship.
As you walk along the Freedom Trail, you’ll come across many names you recognize from your history books. At Copp’s Hill Burying Ground you can pay respects to those who played a large role in the development of America, yet are often overlooked, like merchants and artisans who lived in the North End neighborhood at the time.
Another stop along your tour includes Bunker Hill, where the British Redcoats and American Colonial Militia first butted heads. Remember the loss of life under the stunning Bunker Hill Monument that dominates the park’s esthetic. You can also check out the museum that will give you a glimpse into the epic battle which eventually led to the success of the colonists.
End your tour of the historic city at the USS Constitution, where the Boston Tea Party took place. The ship and museum offer a fun atmosphere that allows you to step into the shoes of a colonial rebel, as you stand beside actors dressed in 18th century garb, bringing the scene to life.
What Makes the Freedom Trail Special?
It can be hard to imagine Boston as it was in the 18th century as you walk through the city amongst the towering skyscrapers, traffic jams and modern shops, but the Freedom Trail tours provide a little something special that inspires the imagination. The audio tour is filled with ambient sounds that you would have heard walking the same neighborhoods back in colonial times, and live tours are hosted by actors dressed in colonial gear. You can’t get much more realistic than that!
What Else Is in the Neighborhood?
The two-and-a-half mile walk takes you through an extensive portion of Boston’s most notable neighborhoods. You’ll cross the path of plenty of restaurants, shops and hotels. If you start your tour at Boston Common, you may want to take a ride on the famous Swan Boats before you begin. You could also grab a bite to eat at nearby Cheers.
After a long day of sightseeing, you will probably be hungry. Just a couple blocks from the USS Constitution you can enjoy a stunning view of the water while you dine on fine faire and enjoy a cocktail at Pier 6. Then, stroll to your room with an harbor view at the Residence Inn Boston Harbor on Tudor Wharf.
Who’ll Have the Most Fun on The Freedom Trail
Everyone can appreciate the impressive tour of Boston’s finest historical venues. Just remember, no matter how much of a history buff you are, you must wear comfortable shoes to be able to appreciate each site. You’ll be doing a lot of walking. If you think the walk may be too much, hop on a tour bus for a more comfortable experience.