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Boston, Massachusetts, United States

The Freedom Trail

Explore the Roots of the American Revolution with this historic Boston walk

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    This guide contains photos
 (41 votes, 6 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.5 miles / 4.0 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly
 
Overview: Nothing tops the Boston Freedom Trail as an introduction to the history and popular sites of Boston. This 2.5-mile walk will take you past 16 significant landmarks, each of which played major roles in the years leading to the American Revolution and the early years of the United States. You will see many churches, cemeteries and meeting halls while getting to know Boston Common, the North End and a few other unique neighborhoods. Don't worry about losing the trail; there is an obvious brick "trail" leading you the entire way. So put on your walking shoes and explore Boston's past.

Tips: Allow plenty of time for this walk; while the path itself is 2.5 miles, each point of interest may take longer to see (and after 16 it adds up). You can see museums, listen to talks and walk through the cemeteries looking for names of famous people (which you will surely find).

If you like seafood, find a restaurant in North End to eat the fresh catch of the day.

Points of Interest

Information
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Boston Common

Start in Boston Common, America's first public park (established in 1634), with a walk around the ponds or perhaps a ride on a swan boat in the nearby public garden. This area was originally used as a place for livestock to graze until 1830. In the beginning years of America it served as a military space for the British soldiers before becoming a place of celebration when the Stamp Act was repealed and the Revolutionary War ended. Today it is still enjoyed by Bostonians for festivals, performances or just a relaxing walk
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Massachusetts State House

The "new" State House (not to be confused with the Old State House, which is also on the Freedom Trail) was completed in 1798 and designed by Charles Bulfinch. The gilded dome has had its fair share of renovations: starting off wood, it was covered with copper by Paul Revere, gilded in 1874, painted black to escape bombings during World War II and more recently re-gilded in 1997. Feel free to walk inside for a more in-depth tour of the building and more history on the Commonwealth.

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Address: Beacon Street at Park Street
Phone: (617) 727-3676
Admission: Free
Hours: Monday through Friday 10am – 4pm
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Park Street Church

Built in 1809, the Park Street Church was one of the first Congregational churches in this area. It was designed by Peter Banner and can be easily recognized by its 217-foot white steeple. Many important movements took place here, including prison reform, women's suffrage and protests against slavery. Today it remains one of the most significant historical buildings for its major role in the abolitionist movement.

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Address: Park and Tremont Streets
Phone: 617-523-3383
Admission: Free
Hours: June 17 – August 31 Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
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Granary Burying Ground

Although it is a small space, the Granary Burying Ground (it was named after the massive grain storage building next door) has 2,345 tombstones; some claim as many as 8,000 people were buried here. While here look for the graves of Benjamin Franklin's parents, John Hancock, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.
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King's Chapel

This chapel was built for British soldiers in America who were sent to enforce British laws. Peter Harrison was the architect and the church was completed in 1754. The interior is considered the best Georgian church architecture in North America.
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King's Chapel Burying Ground

Next to the King's Chapel, this burying ground was the only burying place for almost 30 years (it is older than the Granary Burying Ground near the beginning of the Freedom Trail). John Winthrop, Massachusetts's first governor; Mary Chilton, the first woman off the Mayflower; and William Dawes, the forgotten rider who rode to Lexington and Concord with the more-famous Paul Revere, are among those buried here.  
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Boston Latin School

The Boston Latin School is the oldest public school in America (founded on April 13, 1635). A statue of Benjamin Franklin, the famous statesman and inventor, stands in front, marking the original location of the schoolhouse. Fraklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine all attended the Boston Latin School and signed the Declaration of Independence (although Franklin dropped out and never graduated). If you look closely at the statue, you will see that one side of his face seems to be serious, while the other is smiling, showing the many sides of Benjamin Franklin.
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Old Corner Bookstore

The Old Corner Bookstore opened in 1828 and was operated by Ticknor and Fields, the nation's leading publisher between 1833 and 1864. Famous authors such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Dickens were all frequent visitors and had their words produced here.

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Address: Corner of School and Washington Streets
*No hours, admission, phone; currently occupied by a jewelry store
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Old South Meeting House

The Old South Meeting House played an important role in many of the events that led up to the American Revolution. It was built in 1729, but a more memorable date was Dec. 16, 1773. That was when many citizens—who had tired of paying taxes to the British and refused to pay a large duty for tea shipments—crowded into the Old South Meeting House for a heated discussion. That night the Sons of Liberty disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and marched to the wharf, where they threw 342 crates of tea into the Boston Harbor. This incidence of civil disobedience came to be known as the Boston Tea Party, one of the major catalysts of the American Revolution.

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Address: 310 Washington Street
Phone: 617-482-6439
Admission: Adults $5, Seniors (62+) and Students with ID $4, Children 6-18 $1, Under 6 Free
Hours: November 1 – March 31 Open Daily 10:00am – 4:00pm; April 1 – October 31 9:30am – 5:00pm, Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
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Old State House

Before the American Revolution, the Old State House was the seat of the British government and the first capitol building for the Commonwealth. It was here that Samuel Adams uttered the famous phrase, "No taxation without representation!" that would become the rallying cry for the revolution. It is also where John Adams declared, "Then and there, the child independence was born."

In 1770 the Boston Massacre occurred just outside. Five men were killed, including Crispus Attucks, the escaped (and free) slave. All five victims of the massacre were buried in the Granary Burying Ground. If you have the time, check out the museum inside.

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Address: Corner of State and Washington Streets
Phone: 617-720-1713
Admission: Adults $5, Seniors (62+) and Students with ID $4, Children 6-18 $1, Admission is free for children under 6, visitors with disabilities, Boston seniors and Boston children
Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
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Site of the Boston Massacre

On March 5, 1770, with tensions high due to recent riots caused by excessive taxation by the British, a British soldier hit a young man in the face with his musket. An angry mob soon gathered and began throwing snowballs at the British soldiers. Among the snowballs, a club hit Private Montgomery, who then fired the first shot. After the smoke cleared and the riot died down, five men had been killed, including Crispus Attucks, the slave who had escaped and become a sailor.

Samuel Adams conducted funerals for all five victims, who are now buried at the Granary Burying Ground. Meanwhile, his second cousin, future President John Adams, defended the soldiers in court. They were acquitted.
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Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall also played a major role in the revolution, housing protests against the Sugar Act, Stamp Act and Townshend Act, as well as many meetings that led up to the Boston Tea Party. A statue of Samuel Adams stands outside and the market stalls on the first floor are still in use today.

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Address: Government Center, Haymarket, State
Phone: 617-523-1300
Admission: Free
Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm daily
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The Paul Revere House

Before Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride to Lexington and Concord on April 18, 1775, he lived in this wooden house, which is now downtown Boston's oldest building. You can take a tour inside, where Revere lived with his mother, children (he had 16) and wife.

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Address: 19 North Square, North End
Phone: 617-523-2338
Admission: Adults $3.50, Seniors and College Students $3, Children 5-17 $1
Hours: April 15 – October 31 9am – 5:15pm; November 1 – April 14 9:30am – 4:15pm; closed on Mondays in January, February and March
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Old North Church

The Old North Church opened on Dec. 29, 1723, and is the oldest church in Boston. You can recognize it by its 191-foot steeple, which was used to signal the arrival of the British during the American Revolution. On April 18, 1775, Thomas Bernard hung two lanterns, which was a signal that the British had arrived ("One if by land, two if by sea"). Paul Revere then rode to Lexington and Concord to warn the other Sons of Liberty. Soon after, a battle erupted, signaling the beginning of the American Revolution.

If you have time, you can take a behind the scenes tour of the church that includes a trip up to the bell tower, the balcony and down to the basement crypt. You can purchase tickets in the gift shop or online.

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Address: 193 Salem Street
Phone: 617-523-6676
Admission: Free
Hours: January & February: 10am-4pm, Tuesday-Sunday; March – May 9am-5pm daily; June – October 9 am-6pm daily
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Copp's Hill Burying Ground

Built in 1659, Copp's Hill Burying Ground was the largest colonial burying ground, where merchants, artisans and craftspeople were buried. Up to 1,000 free African-Americans may also be buried here.
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USS Constitution

The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship, used in the War of 1812. The cannonballs fired simply bounced off the side of the ship, which is where it gets its appropriate nickname, "Old Ironsides." In its glory days, the ship traveled to the West Indies, Brazil and Western Africa, and required a crew of 500 men. Today a crew of 70 men sails her into Boston Harbor a few times a year. If you have time, walk around the naval yard for nice waterfront views of downtown Boston or check out the USS Constitution Museum (complete with a historical documentary).
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Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill was one of the major battles in the Revolutionary War (June 17, 1775). Technically, it was a British victory, but it proved that the colonial soldiers were willing and able to put up an effective fight.  

The colonists on the hill eventually ran out of ammunition, which led to the order, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" so as not to waste any shots. Today you can climb the stairs to the top of the monument for a spectacular 360-degree view of the city.
Pictures in this guide taken by: chris
Reviews
inqueba
just love it... had a wonderful time

by inqueba on Jul 17, 2014
hairtransplant
Must Visit... haven.. a wonderful place

by hairtransplant on Jul 17, 2014
bielerbieler

Ich habe auf dieser Tour gewesen, es war toll

Visited on Apr 02, 2013

by bielerbieler on Jul 14, 2014
chris
This was my highlight of Boston. The trail passes by at least 15 different historic landmarks which were each vital in the path to the Revolution. The buildings are just beautiful and you even walk through a few different neighborhoods to get a good idea of downtown Boston.

The whole trip can be pretty draining (especially if you spend time at each of the landmarks), so make sure you set aside enough time to a lunch break and some rest in between stops.

Visited on Sep 26, 2009

by chris on Mar 11, 2011
mssarabrooks
Chris, something that you may want to add to the guide is that a Behind the Scenes tour of the Old North Church is available seasonally. On the tour you go up to the Bell Tower, the balcony (Where I took one of the pictures in the guide) and down to the basement crypt. Tickets may be purchased in the Old North Gift shop or online. It is well worth taking. The stairway up to the bell tower is narrow and a bit steep. It is a bit circular, as well. Check ahead of time to determine when tours are offered as they are seasonal.

by mssarabrooks on Jul 12, 2010
AndrewScholtz
Next time I am in Boston :-)

by AndrewScholtz on May 11, 2010

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About the Author

chris
chris
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When I'm not spending all of my work time and free time working on cool new products for EveryTrail,...

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