Exploring Boston's Freedom Trail

One Sunday in June we decided to take a family trip to Boston and hike the Freedom Trail; a 2 1/2 mile trail through Boston that passes by 16 different historical sites.  We parked just outside the city and took the T to park street.  We bought a $3 map of the Freedom Trail complete with little snippets about each stop and headed on our way. 



The trail is very easy to follow through the city-- marked by a red line and going out on our own allowed us to walk at our own pace, stop for snacks, drinks or lunch when we wanted and tour each of the museums and buildings (the guided tours do not include going inside).  

The first stop is the common itself; America's oldest park-- that I completely forgot to take pictures of even though it was quite pretty!

Stop #2 led us to the Massachusetts State House (which is closed on the weekends)-- The oldest building on Beacon hill


We stopped to read about #3; The Park Street church (which was in the middle of a mass)--gunpowder was stored inside during the war of 1812 and My Country Tis of Thee was first sung on these church steps


Each stop along the trail is marked with these signs embedded in the sidewalk.


Stop #4 is the Granary Burying Ground right behind Park Street Church and is the final resting place of Ben Franklin's parents, John Hancock, Sam Adams, the 5 victims of the Boston massacre, Paul Revere, and many more.


The tombstones are so old and warn it's nearly impossible to read any of them

Our next stop was The King's Chapel & Burying Ground-- so called the King's Chapel since King James II seized the land and ordered the first Anglican church to be built.


 Stop #6 was the sight of the first public school in Boston and this statue of Ben Franklin-- Though the school has moved it is still in operation today.  The Boston Latin school (of which Ben franklin, John Hancock, Sam Adams, and Ralph Waldo Emerson graduated from).


We barely glanced at site #7-- the Old Corner Bookstore

And quickly moved onto site #8-- Old South Meeting House.  It is the second oldest church in Boston and was used for public meetings; including the meeting in December of 1776 where many residence gathered together to protest the tax on tea. We paid admission to go inside and I had each of the boys pick up a scavenger hunt sheet and walk the room filling them in.






From there we walked to #9 The Old State House Museum; another building we paid admission for and walked through.  Known as Boston's Oldest Surviving Public building, we also sat in on a very interesting talk about the history of the building and the events that took place there-- the Boston Massacre was literally steps from the balcony and the Declaration of Independence was read aloud from the balcony in July 1776.


The lion and unicorn crest of the King 

The building is topped with the lion and the unicorn too and there is the famous balcony
I was so busy taking photos of the building, I forgot to snap a photo of stop #10-- the actual site of the massacre.  There is a large plaque in the ground where the shooting took place.

The 11th stop on the trail is Faneuil Hall but I didn't take a photo of that either since it was covered in blue tarps and scaffolding for restoration.

From here the stops on the trail are spaced a bit further apart.

We decided to stop for some lunch.  I REALLY wanted to eat in America's oldest restaurant- the Oyster House (which we walked right by on the freedom trail but since they only had seafood on the menu the boys vetoed that).  We settled on lunch at The Point.  It is an American bar/pub so we actually sat at two different high top tables but the place was pretty empty and the food was delicious!



Refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the trail we walked over to and toured Paul Revere's house.  Photos are not permitted inside but his house was built in 1620 and is the oldest remaining building in downtown Boston.  The house was quite small when you realize that he had 16 children and lived with his wife, sister, and mother.



We walked on to stop #13 the Old North Church, passing by the statue of Paul Revere.. once we hit the North End we saw just about everyone carrying Mike's Pastry boxes and really wished we had stopped just to try it out.   It has been around since 1946 and they are known for their cannoli's and lobster tails (a very flaky pastry that we've been dying to try!).


The church steeple in the distance.


We elected not to go inside this church since we felt like we were running out of time.  This 13th stop on the trail is the very church in which the two lanterns hung for Paul Revere's Midnight ride signaling that the troops were coming by sea. Old North Church is the oldest church in Boston and we could not get over how tall the steeple was!



Just past the church is stop #14 Copp's Hill burying ground.  This cemetery was used by the British to fire their cannons on Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill since it sits so high atop the rest of the harbor. 

I just loved the architecture in the North End!


We crossed the Charles river over the Charlestown bridge and stopped for some really delicious ice cream cones at Emack and Bolio's.  We loved the unusual flavors and the delicious hand dipped waffle cones topped with sprinkles, Oreo crumbs, cereal, and more.



We ate while we walked down to the USS Constitution-- stop #15.  We felt like we could have easily spent an entire day just at the USS Constitution and in their museum!  It is the oldest warship in the world that is still afloat. The ship got the name Old Ironsides during the war of 1812 when enemy fire appeared to bounce off the hull. 



In the building we watched a quick movie on the history of the naval yard we were in.  Then we looked at some of the rope and chain making displays.


From there we headed onto the actual ship; Evan and my mother in law were the only two in our party that did not need to duck below decks.   It was pretty amazing to see how tiny the cabins and bunks were.







We ended our day in the Constitution museum.  We had every intention of seeing all 16 stops on the trail but with only the Bunker Hill Monument (which we could already see the top of in the distance) no one walked to walk anymore.  It would have been pretty neat to climb inside but with almost 300 stairs we knew we'd have to save that and it's accompanying museum for a future trip.  

There was so much to see and do inside the Constitution museum; it had a lot of great hands on exhibits and I thought it was the best one we had toured all day as far as things for the kids to do that really captured their attention. 



By the time we emerged from the museum fog had begun rolling in and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to Faneuil Hall where we picked up the T back to our car (we could have hopped on at a few other places but everyone wanted to go to government center.




Comments

  1. I'd love to take my kids to Boston some day. Growing up in NJ it was close and we went and I loved it!

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  2. Boston was one of our favorite summer vacations, and I hope we'll go back someday. We walked the trail - part of it with a costumed guide and part on our own. So educational!

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    Replies
    1. We thought about getting a guide but really wanted to stop and see inside places (plus there were SO many touring groups out and the guides talk so loud that we learned a lot from them anyway!).

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  3. Wow! Very cool! I have added this to my bucket list! Annster's Domain

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    Replies
    1. It was really fun. I walked part of it once when I was in high school but I didn't remember much.

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  4. I've never been to Boston. Thank you for the tour and visit to my blog. - Margy

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    Replies
    1. It's a fun little city to visit and it is chuck full of history.

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  5. That's awesome you could go at your own pace and that the trail was easy to follow. It looks like you saw some amazing landmarks.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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