Boston's Freedom Trail

Exploring Boston’s Historic Freedom Trail

Are you prepared to embark on an extraordinary expedition through the captivating history of Boston?

The Freedom Trail, distinguished by its vibrant red stripe, spans 2.5 miles (4 km) and winds through Boston’s most historic neighborhoods, leading you to 16 significant sites that played a crucial role in the establishment of Boston and the birth of American liberty.

While strolling along the trail, you will have the opportunity to explore and marvel at historic edifices, some of which have been transformed into museums. You will encounter renowned churches, meeting houses, a bustling marketplace with a centuries-old legacy that remains a lively hub for shopping and entertainment, ancient burial grounds, a formidable battleship, and a park once utilized by British troops and Colonial militias.

Unsurprisingly, the Freedom Trail stands as Boston’s most sought-after attraction for tourists.

Boston boasts a higher concentration of sites associated with the American Revolution and America’s quest for independence than any other city.

As you traverse the trail, you will traverse diverse neighborhoods, including the Historic Downtown Boston, the North End, and Charlestown, encompassing the journey from Boston Common to the Charlestown waterfront.

Every site along the Freedom Trail is authentic, preserving the original structures and essence of the past. Expect to encounter Colonial and Federal architecture, numerous weathered tombstones, and a medieval-style house that dates back to the 1600s.

In close proximity to the trail, you can uncover additional historic gems such as the Green Dragon Tavern, where notable figures like Paul Revere, Sam Adams, and other Sons of Liberty clandestinely observed the Redcoats and strategized for their Tea Party.

While venturing through Boston’s vibrant downtown neighborhoods and waterfront, you will also be captivated by the sight of gleaming modern buildings, popular restaurants, and perhaps even stumble upon a lively beer garden or two. In other words, you will be immersed in all the exhilarating elements that make Boston an extraordinary travel and vacation destination in the 21st century.

Embark on a Fascinating Journey through 400 Years of History on the Freedom Trail

How to Discover Boston’s Freedom Trail

Commencing from the initial site, here’s a glimpse of what awaits you along the Freedom Trail. You can obtain a complimentary Freedom Trail map, explore several captivating guided tours, and find nearby accommodations.

Sites along Boston’s Freedom Trail

  • Boston Common
  • Massachusetts State House
  • Park Street Church
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • King’s Chapel
  • King’s Chapel Burying Ground
  • Benjamin Franklin Statue
  • Old Corner Bookstore
  • Old South Meeting House
  • Old State House
  • Boston Massacre Memorial
  • Faneuil Hall
  • Old North Church
  • Paul Revere’s House
  • Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
  • Bunker Hill Monument
  • USS Constitution

1. Boston Common

Boston Common

Boston Common serves as the starting point of the captivating Freedom Trail.

As you stroll across the verdant slopes of the Common, you will be retracing the footsteps of Boston’s earliest Puritan settlers.

You will pass by areas where Colonial militias underwent training, where public hangings took place over the course of three centuries, and where British troops encamped before their march to Concord on the momentous first day of the American Revolution.

At the edge of the Common, adjacent to Beacon Street, take a few moments to appreciate the magnificent memorial crafted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, honoring Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment. This regiment stands as one of the pioneering African-American units officially engaged in combat on the side of the United States during the Civil War.

Insider Tip for Boston Explorers – Where to Obtain a Complimentary Freedom Trail Map

Before bidding farewell to the Common, take a leisurely stroll towards the Visitor Information Center situated at 147 Tremont Street. Once there, you can acquire a complimentary map of the Freedom Trail and Black Heritage Trail provided by the National Park Service.

To obtain this free map, simply approach the counter at the Visitor Center and kindly request the “free Freedom Trail map.”

2. The Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House

Although completed after the Revolutionary War, the Massachusetts State House embodies the principles of self-governance that the Patriots fought for and achieved.

The cornerstone of this remarkable building was laid by Samuel Adams, a Revolutionary hero and the Governor of Massachusetts at the time. Designed by the renowned architect Charles Bulfinch, its golden dome shines proudly above Boston Common and Beacon Hill.

A visit to the Massachusetts State House offers not only an opportunity to witness impressive art collections and historic artifacts (with no admission fee), but also a chance to observe the government and legislative chambers.

3. Park Street Church

Park Street Church

The soaring steeple of Park Street Church, although now somewhat overshadowed by taller structures, used to be the foremost landmark that greeted visitors upon arriving in Boston.

This historic Downtown Boston landmark witnessed several notable events in support of American freedom, human rights, and social justice. Notably, it hosted William Lloyd Garrison’s inaugural influential speech against slavery in Boston back in 1829.

4. Old Granary Burying Ground

Old Granary Burying Ground

Dating back to 1660, the Old Granary Burying Ground stands as one of Boston’s earliest and most significant historical sites.

This hallowed ground, often referred to as the “Westminster Abbey” of Boston, is the final resting place of numerous renowned patriots and heroes of the Revolutionary War. As you wander through the shaded slopes, you’ll encounter the gravesites of Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and the victims of the Boston Massacre.

5. King’s Chapel

King's Chapel

In their quest to escape religious persecution, the Puritans of Boston departed from England, leaving behind the Church of England and its religious ceremonies. Consequently, it came as a shock when the English king mandated the construction of King’s Chapel—a place of Anglican worship—right on a portion of a Puritan burial ground, now known as King’s Chapel Burying Ground. This audacious act left the Puritans indignant.
Similar to Park Street Church, King’s Chapel remains an active religious institution and serves as the venue for weekly musical performances.

6. King’s Chapel Burying Ground

King's Chapel Burying Ground

Nestled in serenity, King’s Chapel Burying Ground stands as the oldest cemetery in Boston. Here, one can find exquisitely adorned tombstones memorializing the initial English settlers.
Among them, there is a particularly captivating tombstone depicting Father Time engaged in a wrestling match with Death. Moreover, if you have an inclination for ghostly tales, this burial ground holds its fair share of spine-chilling stories.

7. Benjamin Franklin Statue

Benjamin Franklin Statue

Born into poverty in Boston in 1706, Benjamin Franklin embarked on a journey that led him to become a printer, publisher, political philosopher, scientist, writer, inventor, and statesman.
His path began when he started writing for his brother’s newspaper, adopting the pseudonym Mrs. Silence Dogood. However, his satirical remarks directed towards Reverend Cotton Mather, a prominent figure in the witch-hunting era, and other Puritan political authorities in Boston brought him considerable trouble, prompting him to flee to Philadelphia.

8. Old Corner Bookstore

Old Corner Bookstore

Dating back to 1718, the Old Corner Bookstore stands as one of Boston’s oldest brick structures and has consistently served as a commercial establishment.
Once housing the publishing company responsible for renowned 19th-century authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and many others, this charming red brick building now accommodates a fast-food chain.

9. Historic Venue: Old South Meeting House

Old South Meeting House

On the eventful day of December 16, 1773, an assembly of 5,000 Colonists anxiously gathered at the renowned Old South Meeting House in Boston. This iconic location had witnessed numerous powerful speeches advocating for freedom and liberty. The purpose of this particular gathering was to await a crucial decision regarding the departure of British tea-laden ships from Boston Harbor, destined for England.
As the verdict reverberated, delivering the unfavorable response of “No!”—implying an imposition of taxes—the Colonists, driven by their discontent, resolved to orchestrate a significant act of defiance: the historic Boston Tea Party held in Boston Harbor.

10. Historical Landmark: Old State House

Old State House

For the duration leading up to the Revolutionary War, the Old State House served as a pivotal meeting place where the Massachusetts Assembly and British Royal Governors convened, often encountering heated conflicts and disagreements.
Within the walls of this esteemed establishment, passionate Patriots articulated some of their most compelling arguments against the oppressive rule of the British. A notable milestone occurred on July 18, 1776, when a gathering of Colonists congregated upon an exterior balcony to witness the inaugural recitation of the Declaration of Independence in the state of Massachusetts.

11. Site of the Boston Massacre.

Boston Massacre Site

In 1768, the British forces took control of Boston, causing tension to permeate the streets adorned with bustling taverns. This volatile combination ultimately led to a catastrophic incident on March 5, 1770, now known as the Boston Massacre, where a street brawl ensued, resulting in the tragic loss of five colonial lives at the hands of Redcoats. The local Sons of Liberty swiftly branded this calamity as a symbol of British brutality.
While it is likely that the Colonists played a role in provoking the soldiers, the specifics of the incident remain a subject of debate.

12. Cultural Icon: Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

In 1742, a prosperous merchant named Peter Faneuil recognized the need for a marketplace in Boston and, as a result, constructed the magnificent Faneuil Hall, generously donating it to the city.
Over time, this distinguished venue gained prominence as “The Cradle of Liberty,” owing to the impassioned speeches delivered by influential figures like Sam Adams and other members of the Sons of Liberty.

In the present day, Faneuil Hall Marketplace continues to flourish as one of Boston’s premier shopping destinations, preserving its rich historical legacy while captivating the hearts of visitors.

13. Paul Revere’s Residence

Paul Revere's House

Constructed using intricately carved timbers and secured with wooden pegs, the residence of Paul Revere, an architectural masterpiece in the historically significant North End neighborhood of Boston, stands as the sole surviving wooden dwelling from the 17th century at its original location in Boston.
Now functioning as a museum, this remarkable house showcases a collection of Revere’s remarkable metal craftsmanship, including spoons, bowls, dental wiring, bells, and engraving plates. Additionally, it exhibits furniture, furnishings, and maps from the late 17th century.

14. The Historic Old North Church

Old North Church

In close proximity to Paul Revere’s residence proudly stands the Old North Church. Erected in 1723, it remains the oldest standing place of worship in Boston, presently serving as an active Episcopal congregation.
In 1775, Robert Newman, the sexton and a close associate of Paul Revere, hoisted two lanterns from the steeple to warn the Patriots of Charleston about the British troops’ intended waterborne journey to Concord.

To access the Old North Church conveniently, stroll along Hanover Street until you reach the Prado, where a statue of Paul Revere astride a horse provides a picturesque view of the church’s renowned steeple.

15. Copp’s Hill Burial Ground

Copp's Hill Burial Ground

Visitors to the Copp’s Hill Burial Ground can observe tombstones bearing the marks of musket ball impacts, remnants of the time when British soldiers utilized the cemetery, established in 1660 and the second oldest in Boston, for target practice.
Examine the oldest gravestones closely, and you will encounter striking depictions of Death that leave a lasting impression.

In 1775, generals watched from this hill as their forces razed Charlestown to the ground. They also witnessed the devastating loss of half their men during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Adjacent to this site lies the location of another tragic event—the Great Molasses Flood, which occurred at a later time.

16. USS Constitution

USS Constitution

Commissioned in 1793 to safeguard American merchant vessels from Barbary pirates’ attacks, the USS Constitution, a majestic wooden vessel, proudly holds the distinction of being the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat.
Following its illustrious performance in the War of 1812, it acquired the moniker “Old Ironsides.” The Constitution provides complimentary tours conducted by the ship’s Navy crew.

For families exploring the Freedom Trail with children, this particular destination is likely to become their favorite.

17. Bunker Hill

The majestic Bunker Hill Monument, towering 221 feet high, stands as a solemn tribute to the initial significant clash of the Revolutionary War, marked by its tragic toll.

This fierce battle took place on Breed’s Hill, situated half a mile away from the actual Bunker Hill, and endured for a mere two hours. Although the British emerged victorious, the encounter ignited a newfound determination among the Patriots to secure triumph in the overall war.

Adjacent to the site, on Monument Street, there is a small but captivating history museum, offering free admission. It showcases a remarkable collection of historical weaponry, battle details, and various artifacts, making it an enriching experience well worth your visit.

Freedom Trail Tours

Embarking on Freedom Trail Tours presents a delightful and enlightening way to explore the most prominent historical landmarks of the city. Numerous options are available to cater to different preferences, including guided walking tours, informative “drive by” excursions aboard hop-on hop-off trolleys and duck tours, cruises along Boston Harbor passing by the USS Constitution (affectionately known as “Old Ironsides”) and Bunker Hill Monument, as well as self-guided adventures.

Freedom Trail Essentials

Hours: The outdoor Freedom Trail sites, such as Boston Common and the various monuments, are accessible throughout the day, every day.

Visitor hours for indoor sites may vary, so it is advisable to call or check the respective website of each site you intend to visit.

Churches that remain active for worship conduct services on Sundays and occasionally at other times, welcoming visitors to attend. However, during these worship times, these sites are not open to visitors following the Trail.

Accessibility: While many of the sites are wheelchair accessible, some may not be due to their age and preservation constraints. Therefore, it is recommended to check in advance regarding the accessibility of each site, if applicable.

Cost: The majority of the sites offer free admission. However, the churches greatly appreciate contributions to support their maintenance efforts. King’s Chapel charges a nominal fee for concerts (donated to musicians), and Old North Church charges a small fee to cover the additional maintenance and repairs resulting from the high number of tourist visits. Three sites, namely Old South Meeting House, Old State House, and Paul Revere’s House, require modest fees for adult visitors, with discounted rates available for children, seniors, and students.

Parking: Options near the Freedom Trail

When it comes to parking near the various points of the Freedom Trail, you have a few choices at different locations:

  • Boston Common Parking Garage: Situated beneath Boston Common, you can enter this parking garage from Charles Street.
  • Parking Garages near the North End: These garages are conveniently located and work well if you plan to visit the Faneuil Hall area.
  • Charlestown Navy Yard: While limited, there are a few curbside parking spaces available near the USS Constitution site, along with commercial parking garages.

Boston Freedom Trail Sites

The Freedom Trail covers several significant sites in Boston. Here are the notable ones:

  • Boston Common
  • Massachusetts State House
  • Park Street Church
  • Granary Burying Ground
  • King’s Chapel
  • King’s Chapel Burying Ground
  • Benjamin Franklin Statue
  • Old Corner Bookstore
  • Old South Meeting House
  • Old State House
  • Boston Massacre Memorial
  • Faneuil Hall
  • Old North Church
  • Paul Revere’s House
  • Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
  • Bunker Hill Monument
  • USS Constitution

Accommodation near the Freedom Trail

If you’re planning to stay close to the Freedom Trail but are unsure where to book your stay, here are three distinct areas and their appealing hotels:

Beacon Hill/Historic Downtown:

  • Omni Parker House: This historic hotel is where Boston Cream Pie originated in 1856, and you can still savor it today. (Check rates and make reservations)
  • Bostonian Boston: Located next to Faneuil Marketplace, this hotel offers a convenient location. (Compare rates and read reviews)
  • More hotels in Historic DowntownNorth End:
  • Battery Wharf: A stunning luxury waterfront hotel. (Check rates and read reviews)
  • Marriott Long Wharf: Situated next to the Aquarium on the Downtown Waterfront. (Check rates and read reviews)
  • More hotels in the North EndCharlestown:
  • Marriott Residence Inn: Ideal for families, this hotel offers suites with kitchenettes. (Check rates and make reservations)
  • Constitution Inn: A lesser-known budget-friendly hotel in Boston. (Check rates and read reviews)

    More historic sites near the Freedom Trail

    While exploring the Freedom Trail, there are additional historic sites in close proximity that you shouldn’t miss:

  • Historic Taverns: Visit the establishments where the Sons of Liberty planned their Revolution, located near the Freedom Trail.
  • Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum: Experience the events of that fateful night firsthand.
  • Holocaust Memorial: Situated across from Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Haymarket: Boston’s oldest marketplace, close to Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

More articles about top Boston attractions

  • Top 10 Boston Attractions: Discover other popular attractions in Boston.
  • Boston Sightseeing Map: Find neighborhoods where shops are located.
  • Boston Tours: Explore more ways to tour Boston.
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