If you're going to Boston one of the first things you will hear you should do (besides going to Fenway Park) is walking the Freedom Trail. But, what is it?
It's a 2.5 mile red-brick trail through Boston’s historic neighborhoods. It's so important because it takes you to 16 key sites during the American Revolutionary War. Among those stops are significant historic buildings, graveyards, churches, and more. Of course, this trail wasn't always there. Who's idea was it?
It was Boston Herald's Traveler writer, William Schofield, and member of the Old North Church, Bob Winn, who in 1951 saw the need of building a pedestrian trail as a tool for tourists to visit Boston's predominant historic sites.
Most of the stops on the Freedom Trail come at no cost, and those few that require an admission fee are just about $5 to $10. There's many group walking tours, so you have to adjust to everyone else’s walking pace and an extended explanation of the history behind each stop. But since at Cova Travels we are into independent and effective exploring, we bring you the tools to explore on your own. Below you will find a brief description of each stop, hours of operation, and cost.
1. Boston Common
Established in 1634, Boston Common is America’s oldest public park. Puritan colonists purchased the land rights to the Common’s 44 acres from the first European settler of the area, Anglican minister William Blackstone.
Cost: free, it's a public park.
2. Massachusetts State House
Built in 1798, this is the state capitol building and the seat of government for the Commonwealth of
Cost: It is free to visit and open during the weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. You can also schedule a tour of the building.
3. Park Street Church
It was once the first landmark travelers would see when arriving in Boston. The Park Street was a site where slavery was protested, woman’s suffrage was supported, and asked for prison reform.
4. Granary Burying Ground
Some of the most important citizens rest in this very old cemetery. Established in 1660, you can search for the tombstones of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin’s parents.
5. King's Chapel and Burying Ground
Established in 1686, this is one of the oldest churches in Boston. It houses the oldest pulpit still in continuous use in the United States. Sitting next to the King’s Chapel is another cemetery. Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off of the Mayflower, is buried here.
6. Benjamin Franklin statue and former site of Boston Latin School
This was America’s first public school and offered education for boys no matter their economic status. Five signers of the Declaration of Independence attended this academy: Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and William Hooper. Even though we know Benjamin Franklin attended school here and was one of the brightest minds, he is also famous for dropping out.
7. Old Corner Bookstore
This was once a bookstore, selling works by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott. The building was going to be demolished in the 1960s, until a group of Bostonians concerned about losing an important architectural heritage of the city, formed a non-profit and used their resources to acquire and restore the building. Nowadays they rent it to retail shops and commercial offices, at the moment it is a Chipotle. Of course, no cost to visit this place, unless you want to stop for a burrito. Yum!
8. Old South Meeting House
It was here that people protested the tax on tea, which led to the Boston Tea Party.
Cost: $6. Pro tip: Use your dollars wisely by purchasing the Boston Go Card. This stop is included.
Did you know? Just across the street, at 1 Milk Street, is where Benjamin Franklin was born.
9. Old State House
This was the site of many debates that lead up to the Revolutionary War. Inside is a museum with exhibits explaining the events that led up to the start of the Revolutionary War.
Cost: $10. Pro tip: This stop is included in the Boston Go Card.
10. Site of the Boston Massacre
On March 5, 1770, a skirmish broke out between Redcoats and a crowd of Boston residents. Five of these Bostonians were killed, which Paul Revere called a “bloody massacre.” This event is memorialized with this plaque on the ground.
Cost: None, it's located on the floor. Right outside of the Old State House.
11. Faneuil Hall
This was another meeting venue where people protested against British oppression. The first floor is a marketplace and on the second floor is the Great Hall where debates and protests took place. You will also find street performances outside of the building most of the time. These dance, singing, and other types of art have been claiming the grounds outside of the Hall since 1976.
Over 70 retailers and 40 office tenants occupy the 200,000 sq ft of retail and 160,000 square feet of space on Boston’s iconic mixed use festival marketplace. You will find unique, local and nation wide shops while walking around the iconic Quincy Market. This will be the best time to take a break from your exploration and indulge in worldwide cuisine and delicious drinks. Cost: free admission.
12. Paul Revere House
Built in 1680, this is the oldest building in Boston. Paul Revere purchased this house when he was 33 years old and lived here in 1775 when he went on his famous midnight ride.
Cost: $5, this stop is also included in the Boston Go Card.
13. Old North Church
“One if by land, two if by sea.” These famous words, referring to signal lanterns on Paul Revere’s midnight ride, ignited a revolution. These lanterns were hung in the tower of this church on that famous night.
Cost: free, donations appreciated.
14. Copp's Hill Burying Ground
This is another very old cemetery. The British also used this spot to fire their cannons during the battle of Bunker Hill.
15. USS Constitution
The USS Constitution, also called “Old Ironsides,” was constructed in 1797 and used during the Battle of 1812. You can also visit the USS Constitution Museum to learn more about the warship.
Cost: when the ship is open, you may go in on a first-come, first-served basis. If you wish to go into the museum it's an average of $5-10 per child and $10-15 per adult.
16. Bunker Hill Monument
This is the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. You can climb the gigantic granite obelisk for decent views over the city. During the summer months, it can be hot and crowded inside.
Cost: free, open 9 am to 4:30 pm, 294 steps to the top.
We know, there's many stops. And yes, it can get very tiring. The history behind each stop is honestly very fascinating, well... some more than others. But at the same time, there's only so many graveyards and churches you can visit in a day.
That's why we tell you the top 3 stops you definitely can't miss!
- Faneuil Hall aka Quincy Market: Because of the street performers and the variety of food.
- Boston Common: It's a gorgeous park. There's food trucks at the entrance in case you're hungry, and there's always some kind of event or activity going on at the park.
- Bunker Hill Monument: Because of its views! It's also very rewarding to get to this peaceful monument at the top of a mountain after a whole day walking (that is if you do the entire trail).
Bonus fav stop: Old South Meeting House. There's so much history, so many things happened in this meeting house. We won't spoil it, so you'll have to visit and see it in person.
Are you going to Boston soon? We'd love to plan your custom explorer guide!