Boston's Freedom Trail can take you on a whirlwind tour of much of the history that makes this city special. Playing a key role in America's fight for freedom, Boston is overrun with exciting opportunities to explore America's past. But history did not stop happening when the Revolution ended. Ivy League Universities, major fire safety regulations and even famous burials have continued to enhance the history that makes Boston special. Today, a visit to Boston brings history to life through guided tours, mapped routes and even self exploration where you can bump into folks dressed in Colonial garb and ready to respond to the questions you may have. It is easy to connect with the past while exploring Boston in the present. Although a modern city, Boston clings to its history through well-maintained architecture, and carefully preserved artifacts. Boston is a truly history buff's city to explore.
10 Boston Fire Museum
The Boston Fire Museum allows visitors a look into fire fighting's past in an historically significant structure, and former fully-functioning fire house. Enter the Fire Museum to see the antique fire trucks, uniforms, equipment, fire alarms and photo displays that now call this museum home. Exhibits include hand drawn pumper and ladder trucks (including what is said to be the oldest engine constructed), photo displays from fires of the past, and retired fire equipment including uniforms with everything from helmets to boots.This building is an architectural buff's dream, built in 1891, it broke the rules by suspending the second floor from above rather than supporting it by use of columns or poles from below. This National Landmark is free (donations are gladly accepted) and open only on Saturdays. Fire fighters are around to tell you about the sights and even give helmets to little tykes. (617-338-9700)
9 Harvard University
Founded in 1636 and named for its first patron, Reverend John Harvard, Harvard University is the nation's oldest institution for higher learning. Visitors can take a free, guided historical tour of the campus and its most famous landmarks. Departing from the Holyoke Center Arcade, the enlightening student-led tour provides a synopsis of the university's history and stops at sites like the Widener Library, Memorial Church, University Hall, Fogg Museum and the John Harvard Statue. (617-495-1573, 617-495-1573)
8 Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall was originally established as a market for merchants, fishermen and vendors, but has transformed throughout the years.From playing host to prominent figures like Samuel Adams and George Washington, to its transformation into one of America's premiere urban marketplaces. Currently home to more than 50 shops, 14 restaurants, and 40 food stalls, Faneuil Hall attracts locals tourists and street performers to make-up an eclectic crowd at this urban outdoor mall. (617-523-1300)
7 Granary Burial Ground
This small cemetery serves as the final resting place for a number of people whose acts or character changed American history. Situated near a pre-Revolutionary grain storehouse, the cemetery houses the graves of Paul Revere, John Hancock, citizens killed in the Boston Massacre, and the woman whose tales provided her the moniker of "Mother Goose." Other notable graves include those of Benjamin Franklin's parents and Sam Adams. (617-523-3383)
6 Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Although it was not just one night that led patriots to take matters into their own hands to begin a fight for freedom, it was the continued lack of freedoms and representation that brought about the Tea Party. Here, you can relive the catalyst to the American Revolution and see memorabilia from the time and event. The museum holds insight into America's path to becoming a free country.
The Tea Party Museum is located close to the Harborwalk and the Greenway, and makes for a quick visit. (1-855-TEA-1773)
5 USS Constitution
Constructed in the North End using bolts, spikes and other fittings from Paul Revere's foundry, "Old Ironsides" is steeped with Boston history. One of the US Navy's six original frigates, the USS Constitution did not lose any of the 40 battles in which it participated. Currently the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, this impressive craft is open for free guided tours, which are narrated by the USS Constitution's active-duty sailors themselves. (617-242-7511)
4 Old North Church
This is the spot where Robert Newman signaled Cambridge residents of the British approach by sea with two of Paul Revere's lanterns on the night of April 18, 1775. The oldest church building in Boston and still an active Episcopal church, it was designed by William Price from a study of Christopher Wren's London churches. Private benches boxed in with family names helps paint a picture of the past. An excellent museum is hidden in the back of the gift shop next door. (617-523-6676, 617-523-4848)
3 Paul Revere House
Situated along the Freedom Trail, this two-and-a-half-story wooden house in Boston's North End served as the home of Paul Revere when he set out on April 18, 1775 for that famous ride toward Lexington. Built in about 1680 and now recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the Revere House is the city's oldest building. A self-guided tour takes visitors through the home, which features colonial-era furniture as well as original silver made by Revere himself. (617-523-2338)
2 Bunker Hill Monument
This 221-foot granite obelisk remembers the Battle of Bunker Hill. Rangers provide details about the history of the crucial battle, and seasonal musket-firings add a note of authenticity. Make the 294-step climb to the top of the monument for breathtaking views of Boston. Two little-known facts: the Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed's Hill, and the Bunker Hill Monument is actually located atop Breed's Hill. The true Bunker Hill is actually a quarter-mile from the monument. (617-242-5601)
1 Boston's Freedom Trail
A wonderful way to see Boston! Put on comfortable shoes and experience the 2 and 1/2 mile route full of historical information. The trail starts at Boston Common but can easily be picked up at any point along the way just by following signs throughout the city. The path allows you to visit sites important to the city's history, including the Paul Revere House, the statue of Benjamin Franklin, and the site of the Boston Massacre. Should you have any questions, the men and women dressed in colonial attire will be glad to answer them. Guided tours are available for a fee. (617-357-8300)
About Jessica Polizzotti
Born and raised in Boston, Jessica knows her city like the back of her hand. Always looking to uncover something new, Jessica keeps up on the latest and greatest Boston offerings.
Although Jessica has been a world traveler since her teens, her favorite trip may always be her Italian honeymoon.
Living in a city that allows her to experience a change in seasons equals an opportunity to enjoy a shift in activities. As the old New England cliché says, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.”
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