- This article is an itinerary.
For any visitor to Boston, the Freedom Trail presents the opportunity for an enjoyable and highly informative insight into Boston’s rich history, dating back to the days of the Revolutionary War. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile redbrick walking trail that makes its way to 17 of Boston’s most historic sites. During this tour you will witness a unique collection of churches, museums, meetinghouses, burial grounds, historic ships as well as several other historical locations. Together these sites tell the story of the American Revolution as it unfolded in Boston during the 1700s. The guided tour is well worth the $12 price for anyone looking for a comprehensive yet extremely enjoyable look into the rich history of the city of Boston, however you also have the option to self guide for free. Trips of the Freedom Trail depart from the Boston Common (located directly across the street from the Public Garden) at 11, Noon, 3:30, and 4:30 Daily. For more in-depth details about each of the primary stops on the Freedom Trail as well as information on how to pre-order tickets at a discounted price, visit the Freedom Trail website.
You will be walking two and a half miles on clearly marked paved city streets.
Boston National Historical Park Visitor Center, 15 State St, ☎ . 9AM-5PM daily. National Park Service Rangers lead a free 90 minute walking tour along the heart of Boston's Freedom Trail. Discover Boston's role in the American Revolution. For more information call +1 617 242-5642. Tours are offered weather permitting. Each tour is limited to 30 people: first come, first served. On day of tour, rangers will distribute free stickers 30 minutes before tour time. Reservations are not accepted. Tours fill up quickly in summer months. Tour times for 2008: Jun 21 - Aug 31: Daily at 10AM, 11AM and 2PM. Apr 19 - Jun 20; Sep 1 - Nov 30: Weekdays at 2PM only, Weekends at 10AM, 11AM and 2PM. Last day for Freedom Trail tours is Sunday, November 30.
By public transit
If you are starting in the park like everyone else, your best bet is to take the Red Line or Green Line to Park Street. If you're going in reverse, try Community College on the Orange Line. The roads are so small and congested down here even busses often find themselves stuck in traffic.
In short: Do not drive a car through downtown Boston if you value your sanity. It will not be a fun proposition and you won't get there faster than by public transit anyway.
1 Boston Common (T: Park Street or Boylston). Founded in 1634, this is one of the oldest public parks in the United States. Over the years, many large gatherings have been held here, from British encampments in the revolutionary period to anti-war protests in the 1960s. A nice spot for walking around and people-watching at all times of year. The Frog Pond in the center of the Common has wading in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
2 Massachusetts State House, Beacon & Park Streets (T: Park Street), ☎ , fax: . Monday - Friday: 10:00-16:00. The Massachusetts State House was built in 1781 on top of land once owned by John Hancock. The dome of the State House was recently refurbished with glittering gold leaf, and makes for a spectacular view at sunset from the Massachusetts Avenue bridge.
3 Park Street Church, 1 Park St (T: Park Street), ☎ . Founded in 1809, and still an active house of worship, this church is known for a number of historical firsts. Among other things, William Lloyd Garrison delivered his first anti-slavery address here, and "My Country Tis of Thee" was first sung on the front steps.
4 Granary Burying Ground, Tremont St. between Park and School Streets (T: Park Street or Government Center). Many famous figures from the American Revolution are buried here, including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Crispus Attucks.
5 King's Chapel, 64 Beacon St. (T: Park Street or Government Center), ☎ . Founded as an Anglican congregation in 1686. The bell in the bell tower was originally hung in 1772, cracked in 1814, and was recast by Paul Revere in 1816: this bell is still in use today.
6 King's Chapel Burying Ground (T: Park Street or Government Center). Predating King's Chapel, this cemetery was founded in 1630, and is the oldest in Boston. Notable figures buried here include John Winthrop and William Dawes.
7 Benjamin Franklin Statue & Boston Latin School. Stands out in front of Old City Hall.
8 Old Corner Bookstore (State). 10:45AM-10PM daily. Formerly the home of Anne Hutchinson, expelled from town in 1638 for heresy. The current building was constructed in 1712 after a fire. For part of the 19th century, the Old Corner Bookstore became a meeting-place for such authors as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Charles Dickens. Today it houses a Chipotle, no joke. $.
9 Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington St. (T: Downtown Crossing or State), ☎ . 9:30AM-5PM (Apr-Oct), 10AM-4PM (Nov-Mar). An important meeting place for centuries: currently a museum. In 1773, a group of colonists attacked a tea ship after a meeting here, in what became known as the Boston Tea Party. $6 for adults, $5 age 62+, $5 students with ID, $1 age 5-17.
10 Old State House, 206 Washington St. (T: State or Government Center), ☎ . 9AM-5PM (4PM in Jan, 6PM in July and Aug). The former seat of government in Boston, and the oldest surviving building. In 1776 the Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians from the balcony. It is still read every 4th of July to a crowd of thousands by the current commissioner of police. $7.
11 Site of the Boston Massacre (State). 24 hours daily. Marked by an array of stones set in the ground directly in front of the Old State House. But the actual site of the Massacre is maybe 800 feet east of here down State Street towards Long Wharf. What the city doesn't want, is hundreds of tourists running out into the middle of the street at all hours, so this location became a nice compromise. Free.
12 Faneuil Hall (The Cradle of Liberty) (T: Government Center, State, or Aquarium). 9AM-5PM. First built in 1742 as an old market building at the town dock. Town meetings, held here between 1764 and 1774, heard Samuel Adams and others lead cries of protest against the imposition of taxes on the colonies. The building was enlarged in 1806. Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Lucy Stone brought their struggles for freedom here in the 19th century. Market stalls on the first floor service shoppers much as they did in Paul Revere's day. Free.
13 Paul Revere House, 19 North Sq, ☎ . Apr 15-Oct 31: 9:30AM-5:15PM daily; Nov-Dec and Apr 1-Apr 14: 9:30AM-4:15PM daily; Jan-Mar: Tu-Su 9:30AM-4:15PM. Paul Revere is known for his midnight ride from Boston to Lexington, warning all the people along the way that the British were coming. He owned this home for over three decades and it is Downtown Boston’s oldest building, dating back to the late 1600s. $3.50 adults, $3 seniors/students, $1 children 5-17.
14 Old North Church (Christ Church in the City of Boston), 193 Salem St, ☎ . Jan-Feb: 10AM-4PM daily; Mar-May and Nov-Dec: 9AM-5PM daily; Jun-Oct: 9AM-6PM daily. Old North Church was Boston’s second Anglican church. It is most famous for sending the message from Paul Revere that the British were coming by lighting the steeple with lanterns. Paul Revere had convinced congregant Robert Newman to alert the American militia in Concord, Massachusetts to British troop movements. Newman placed two lanterns in the church steeple and alerted the militia to the approaching British army as Paul Revere began his ride to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams. By taking a more in-depth behind-the-scenes tour of the church, its history is revealed while exploring the bell tower, and its crypt. $3 suggested donation; behind-the-scenes tours are $6 adults, $5 students/seniors/military, $4 children under 12.
15 Copp's Hill Burying Ground. Historic cemetery in the North End.
16 Bunker Hill Monument, Monument Square. Mid-Mar to Nov: 9AM-5PM daily; Dec to mid-Mar: M-F 1PM-5PM, Sa-Su 9AM-5PM. For the history buffs in the family there is the Bunker Hill Monument. Even for those who are unfamiliar with history that dates back to 1775 will enjoy the history lesson given on the site of this revolutionary war landmark. Climbing to the top of the monument is free, but during the months of April, May, and June, a pass must first be obtained from the nearby Bunker Hill Museum, which are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Free.
17 USS Constitution. In this historic park is the warship U.S.S. Constitution which is vital to Boston's history. The U.S.S. Constitution now serves as a training ship and is still commissioned for battle, making it the oldest warship in the world.
This is a heavily trafficked and touristed area, so take normal big city precautions securing your valuables. Some historic sections of side walk are over 200 years old and may be uneven, or more slippery than you are used to if it has rained recently. Keep an eye out for crazy drivers swerving around the construction that is no doubt occurring. Remember to stay hydrated!