Boston’s Freedom Trail is not just any ordinary path featuring sixteen important historic sites that played a role in the American Revolution. This 2.5 mile urban trail is a unique opportunity to immerse your family in the adventurous and entertaining stories behind Paul Revere’s midnight ride, The Boston Massacre, The Boston Tea Party, and more.
Sporting colonial tricorn hats, your kids can imagine what it was like to be Paul Revere on his midnight ride or to be one of his sixteen children who cooked over open fires and scrubbed dirty laundry with water lugged from a well. In Boston Harbor they’ll learn the Boston Tea Party was anything but a celebration and you can climb aboard the U.S.S. Constitution, nicknamed, “Old Ironsides” for its ability to deflect cannon balls during the War of 1812. A former pasture for sheep and cows and a campground for more than 1,000 “Redcoats” in 1775, today, Boston Common is a beautiful public park and the site of festivals and other events.
Designed as a self-led or group-led tour, the entire Freedom Trail is marked with bricks or red paint as it winds through modern, downtown Boston. Free maps, available online or in print at the Boston Common Tourist Center allow you to see the sites and explore at your own pace. For an entertaining and colorful experience, The Freedom Trail Foundation’s Walk Into History tells the tales of 18th Century Boston through costumed guides. Free, daily tours are led by National Park Service Rangers from April through November and its free smartphone app is available at http://www.nps.gov/bost/planyourvisit/app.htm.
Approximately mid-trail, grab lunch and browse the shops at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. New England Clam Chowder (“Chowdah” as the locals call it), lobster rolls, and other tasty treats can be enjoyed outdoors or on the second floor overlooking the promenade.
Although the walking distance and an overview of all sites are manageable within a single day, if you plan to see each site in detail, it’s best to plan for two or three days, especially with young kids. The Old South Meeting House, Paul Revere House and Old State House have nominal admission fees but most sites are free. It’s important to note some buildings such as the Massachusetts State House are open only Monday through Friday and some sites are closed on major holidays.
The Freedom Trail is a fun and engaging way to experience our nation’s earliest history.
Freedom Trail Historic Sites
The starting point for the Freedom Trail, this 50-acre park is the oldest in the United States.
Massachusetts State House
Built in 1798, the “new” state house is located on Beacon Hill.
Park Street Church
Dating back to 1809, this church is the location of the first Sunday School. “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” was sung for the first time by this church’s choir in 1831.
Granary Burying Ground
Founded in 1606, many dignitaries, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence; Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine are buried here.
King’s Chapel and Burying Ground
The oldest burying place in downtown Boston, this is the final resting place for John Winthrop and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower.
First Public School Site and Ben Franklin Statue
A statue of Benjamin Franklin overlooks the former site of the nation’s first public school, established by Puritan settlers in 1635.
Former Site of Old Corner Bookstore
Famous books such as The Scarlet Letter and Walden were published here.
Old South Meeting House
This is the famous meeting place where colonists convened to challenge British rule. Benjamin Franklin was baptized here.
Old State House
In 1776, citizens gathered here to listen to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence from the building’s balcony.
Boston Massacre Site
A circle of cobblestones mark the site where tensions between the colonists and British soldiers escalated into violence on March 5, 1770.
This building has served as a marketplace and meeting hall since 1742.
Paul Revere House
This was the home of Paul Revere and built around 1680, is one of the oldest buildings in downtown Boston.
Old North Church
At 191 feet tall, this Episcopal Church boasts the tallest steeple in Boston. The bells within the steeple were the first ever brought to America. Built in 1723 and Boston’s oldest church building, many of the interior features are original.
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
Boston’s second oldest burying ground, thousands of artisans, craftspeople and merchants are buried here.
USS Constitution and Charlestown Navy Yard
The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. The Charlestown Navy Yard was the landing place of the British Army prior to the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Bunker Hill Monument
This is the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution in 1775. Visitors can climb to the top of this 221 feet structure but there are no elevators.
Official City of Boston Website
The Freedom Trail Foundation
Boston Common Tourist Center
Family Friendly Hotels in Boston