I can’t think of a better reason to visit Boston than a walk along the Freedom Trail to learn more about the Revolutionary War and the birth of the United States. Many tour companies offer organized tours of the route. You’ll see them throughout Boston as men or women dressed in historic costumes direct a group of camera-carrying tourists. I’ve been on one of those tours and found it a little too surface level and rushed. They also only cover a small fraction of the total sites along the Freedom Trail.
Here’s what most tourists don’t realize: You don’t need to participate in an organized tour to walk the Freedom Trail. It’s something you can easily spend a weekend doing completely on your own. As an added bonus, most of the stops are either free or under 5 USD. So, head to Boston Common, find the red brick line, and start following the Freedom Trail.
1. Granary Burying Ground
Some of the United States most notable early citizens are buried in this cemetery. John Hancock’s tomb is the elaborate obelisk along the far wall. Along the back of the cemetery, you’ll find Paul Revere’s grave. In the front of the cemetery under matching tombstones, James Otis and Samuel Adams were laid to rest. Other markers to note are a tombstone honoring the victims of the Boston Massacre and the Infant’s Tomb.
Download the free map to your phone and spend an hour or so looking at markers and see who else you can find buried there.
2. Faneuil Hall
You’re truly standing on sacred revolutionary grounds as you enter Faneuil Hall. The “Cradle of Liberty” was never built to birth the revolution. Instead, wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil built the building as a center for commerce in 1741. Yet, the building became the gathering ground for protests against the Sugar Act and Stamp Act. It’s also where the Sons of Liberty proclaimed their dissent from British rule.
Historians give talks every half hour to acclimate visitors to the building’s history. Admission to Faneuil Hall is free. When you’re done exploring Faneuil Hall, refuel in Faneuil Hall Marketplace located behind the historic building where Peter Faneuil’s vision finally came true. There’s something for all budgets at Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
3. Paul Revere’s House
This is one of the few stops on the freedom trail with a cost associated to it. However, at 3.50 USD for adults and 1 USD children, it’s well worth the money. The house was built in 1680 and is the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston. This is the house where Paul and his family lived when he made his famous midnight ride to Lexington. As you take in what life was like living in colonial times, be sure to also consider the Revere’s had nine children living under that roof.
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4. USS Constitution
Here’s a little known fact – the USS Constitution, launched in 1797, is the oldest commissioned warship in the US Navy. No, it’s no longer sailing out to battle, but it does make a few trips a year into Boston Harbor for special events like the city’s Fourth of July Celebration. Admission to tour “Old Ironsides” is free, and tours start every 30 minutes.
When you’re done touring the ship, stop by the museum for more on the ship’s storied history and the physics behind the strong sides that helped her defeat countless enemy and pirate ships. There are plenty of fun, interactive exhibits for the entire family to enjoy.
5. Bunker Hill
The farthest flung point on the Freedom Trail is Bunker Hill. It’s worth a visit not only so that you can tell friends you walked the entire freedom trail but also because it was the first battle fought in the Revolutionary War. Today, the park has a monument visitors can walk to the top of for spectacular views of Boston, and a small museum commemorating the site’s famed battle where it took 3,000 redcoats to dislodge a small militia army.
The cost? Free.
There’s an app for that!!!
While Paul Revere didn’t have an app to help him navigate his famed midnight ride, there’s an app to help you navigate the Freedom Trail. Added bonus? It’s free!
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