I had the fortune of walking down the Freedom Trail when our ship was docked in Boston, and it was an experience that was as enlivening as the events that warranted the trail’s creation! If the Freedom Trail does not leave you fired up about the ideals of independence embodied here, I don’t know what will! It’s a whole day’s tour well-spent.
Now, trails are always awesome — they’re like guided tours, but you have more freedom in which places you wish to explore and for how long. Boston’s take is a red brick-lined path that leads to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Winding down a 2.5-mile length, the tour has everything from battlegrounds and cemeteries to churches and a bookstore. It could take anywhere from half a day to a full day, depending on your pace. The 16 spots along the route are all marked with a plaque so you don’t get lost.
How to get to the Freedom Trail
There are two starting points at either end of the Freedom Trail, depending on which direction you wish to go. The more accepted starting point is the Boston Common, however, which you can reach by taking either the Red or Green Line. Hop off at Park Street Station, from where you can walk to Boston Commons.
There are also other modes of transport for when you wish to go directly to the Trail’s midst. There’s the State Street Station (accessible via the Blue and Orange Lines), and it takes you directly to the Old State House. There’s also the city buses, which drive through the map area.
Through the War Years
The Boston Common
The Freedom Trail starts at the country’s oldest public park, which opened in 1634. It is also directly outside the United States’s oldest subway (Park Street Subway, opened in 1897). Today, the Common is still a hub of community life, not a very far cry from its beginnings as the place where locals could graze their cattle.
Massachusetts State House
The oldest running state capitol building in the country opened its doors in 1798, and has a gilded dome covered in 23 carat gold! You can take free guided tours inside on weekdays.
Robert Gould Shaw Memorial
This is just across the street from the State House, and is a memorial to the Union Army’s 54th Regiment and its leader, Robert Gould-Shaw. This unit was formed in the Civil War, and is the first all-volunteer unit comprised of African Americans. This is also a stop on the Black Heritage Trail.
Park Street Church
Back to Boston Common, then a left, and one can make way to Park Street Church. This was the site of the country’s first Sunday School, which began in 1818. This is also where William Lloyd Garrison, a famous anti-slavery advocate, made his first abolitionist speech.
Granary Burial Ground
Just beside the church is the cemetery where three of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence lay interred. The Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere is also buried here, along with (among other personalities) Mother Goose!
This chapel offers self-guided tours, and its plain exterior underlies a very beautiful interior. The ornate pulpit alone is worth a visit.
Boston Latin School
The oldest school in the US, founded in 1635, is amazingly still active today! This is where Benjamin Franklin, Sam Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock all studied, among other prominent thinkers and revolutionaries.
Old City Hall
The original site of the Boston Latin School, this was the site where the city’s mayors had office for more than a century.
Old South Meeting House
This is where the Sons of Liberty staged the infamous Boston Tea Party event, which was one of the first notable acts of rebellion in the budding Revolution.
Old Corner Bookstore
Now the site of a fast food, this is nevertheless historical for being the meeting place of important literary figures like Harriet Beecher-Stowe and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Old State House
This is where the Declaration of Independence was first read, and was once the center of Boston’s civic life. This is now a museum.
Boston Massacre Memorial
Just in front of the State House is the memorial for the five victims of the massacre, along with the six wounded in the same attack.
This is one of the crucibles that led to the Revolution, housing various meetings and protests that eventually broke out into the country’s independence.
Paul Revere House
This is now a museum, the home of patriot Paul Revere, and the oldest structure in Boston (erected in 1680).
Paul Revere Statue
Not far off from the house is a statue of the hero himself, being one of the most photographed statues in the city.
Old North Church
The oldest church in Boston, this church is a must-visit for the vivid retellings of Paul Revere’s famous Midnight Ride.
Copp’s Hill Burial Ground
This cemetery is the resting place of some more colorful and patriotic people, including Robert Newman (who hung the lanterns on the church as a signal on the night of Revere’s ride).
This is the oldest ship of the US Navy, commissioned in 1797. It is famous for never losing a battle in the War of 1812, with a reputation of being invincible!
Bunker Hill Monument
The last stop of the Freedom Trail is this 294-step monument. There is also a museum where you can learn more about the battle it commemorates.
When it comes to securing the ideal of independence for the United States, few other places had as much role to play as Boston. This is the birthplace of the American Revolutionary War, the spark that birthed the world’s most powerful nation. Boston’s Freedom Trail allows us to revisit the glorious struggle that unfolded in this throbbing city.