One of the top things to do in Boston, Massachusetts is to walk along the Freedom Trail. When we went to visit my sister there last year, we did just that. As mentioned in my other article, the Freedom Trail is 2-1/2 miles long and is identified by a narrow path of bricks, paint, and signage. It then guides more than 1.5 million visitors per year past 16 historic sites. These sites played a significant role during the revolutionary 1700s.
16 Historic Sites on the Freedom Trail
The journey begins at the family-friendly Boston Common area. Boston Common is a central park featuring a super shallow wading pool (with a ridiculous amount of lifeguards) and wide-open grassy lawns. In case you were wondering, the “Make Way for Ducklings” sculptures can be found at the adjacent park across the street.
You’ll also notice signage indicating the start of the Freedom Trail, which then leads you to the first stop, the State House. Don’t forget to check out the memorial to Robert Gould Shaw across the way if you plan to trek the Black Heritage Trail.
The red brick path continues through downtown as you go by Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, King’s Chapel and King’s Chapel Burying Ground, and the first public school.
Major revolts such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party happened in the following section of the Freedom Trail. You will see the Old Corner Bookstore, Old South Meeting House, Old State House (where you might be able to capture a fun photo), and the Boston Massacre Site.
From there you can walk on to Faneuil Hall to eat and shop to your heart’s content. Faneuil Hall is actually only one part of the shopping and dining hub now known as Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The marketplace also includes Quincy Market, North Market, South Market, and a promenade where street performers entertain visitors. Unfortunately, the area was too crowded for us and we decided to move on. I would have loved to explore this area more if it wasn’t so crazy busy, though!
Make sure you have enough room for food and snacks as you enter North End, Boston’s Little Italy. You’ll probably want to take a quick detour to grab some gelato or a cannoli or two (Mike’s Pastry is a local favorite). This part of the trail includes Paul Revere House, Old North Church, and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.
When you really start feeling those hamstrings and bunions, it means you’ve entered the last stretch of the Freedom Trail. After crossing the bridge above the Charles River, the trail splits into two. Heading straight on leads you to the Bunker Hill Monument. Visitors can scale the 294 steps to the top but we were just not up for it at this point. Peek into the museum across the way to see exhibits about the Battle of Bunker Hill.
We made the decision to push through our exhaustion and hit the very last site on the Freedom Trail. We’re so glad we did! Going inside the USS Constitution turned out to be the best part of our experience along the trail. It was so fascinating what each level of the ship looked like. Seeing the dry dock where repairs on the ship were made was pretty interesting as well.
What You Need to Know Before Visiting
Visiting the Freedom Trail can take as little as 2-3 hours if you power-walk along the route (or drive) and only stop to photograph a few select landmarks. But, if you’d like to go into and explore any of the buildings, then plan for a full day of traversing the city. We’re not big history buffs so we sped past several of the sites. Even then, it still took a LONG time to get to the end of the trail and we were wiped out by the time we finally returned to the car. Our poor, poor feet!
Keep in mind that the Freedom Trail in Boston can get very busy and congested, especially during peak seasons. So, I highly suggest figuring out which places you want to spend the majority of your time before embarking on your excursion. To save your energy, you can also do a one-way tour on the trail and then take a rideshare or shuttle back to your car. We were tired by the end of the day but we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our experience on Boston’s Freedom Trail.
Visit the official site here for more information!
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