Freedom Trail

Walking the Freedom Trail is a walk through the American Revolution. Follow the red brick (or painted red line) trail through the streets of Boston to see historic buildings, the cemetery where revolutionary patriots are buried, Paul Revere's House, Italian neighborhoods in the North End, a sailing ship from 1797 and Bunker Hill. The trail is 2.5 miles, older kids will enjoy walking it from beginning to end, but it's not necessary to do it in order. With younger kids, just pick a section to do, such as go to the North End, visit the Paul Revere House, then have pizza or ice cream.

Boston Common - The Freedom Trail starts at Boston Common, at the visitor center on Tremont Street (not far from Frog Pond). Shut your eyes and imagine cows grazing on the Common, public hangings, and during the American Revolution, British troops camped here for years on end.
Granary Burying Ground - Here's where Paul Revere, John Hancock, Sam Adams, and the victims of the Boston Massacre are buried. Ben Franklin's parents have a big obelisk, and there's plenty of family headstones, many decorated with winged death's heads (a skull and angel wings). Don't miss the grave of Mary Goose, whose stories became popular as Mother Goose.
First Public School and Ben Franklin Statue - Just nip down School Street to check out site of the oldest public school in the United States and statue of Ben Franklin. A plaque on the sidewalk commemorates the founding of a public school on this site in 1635. The school was attended by Ben Franklin, Sam Adams and John Hancock, and was called the Boston Latin School.
In the courtyard next to the sidewalk is a statue of Benjamin Franklin. Below the statue are scenes from his life - working in the printshop, scientific experiments, signing the Declaration of Independence.
Old South Meeting House - On December 16, 1773, Sam Adams addressed the crowd in the Old South Meeting House. At the end of his speech, he said, "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country." This was a signal for everyone to put on disguises and head over to the wharf, where they tossed chests of tea into the harbor, the Boston Tea Party.
Old State House (Museum of Boston History) - Before you go inside, check out the lion and unicorn on the front of the building (the lion and unicorn symbolize the British, who occupied the State House during the revolution). On July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony.
Inside, there's a bottle of tea from the Boston Tea Party, cocked hat, musket and pouch from the Boston Massacre, drum, cannonball and sword from Bunker Hill, John Hancock's red velvet coat, 3-D maps of Boston over the centuries, and hands-on exhibits.
Faneuil Hall - Built in 1742, and expanded to include a market on the first floor and meeting hall on the second floor, here the Sons of Liberty held town meetings to debate revolution. And it's still an active meeting hall today.
Out front (near Congress St.), there's a large bronze statue of Sam Adams, standing with his arms folded. Also, look back to Faneuil Hall to see the gilded grasshopper weathervane on top of the building. According to local folklore, during the Revolutionary War the weathervane was so well known that if you couldn't identify the grasshopper, you might be considered a spy.
North End - The Freedom meanders through the Italian American neighborhoods of the North End. Stop off for a pizza, or the bakeries for cannolis and Italian sweets, gelaterias for ice cream.
Paul Revere House - Paul Revere is most famous for his "midnight ride," but he was also a successful silversmith and engraver, and set up a business to make cannons. His house dates back to 1680, and Revere had a large family with lots of children. Take the self-guided tour to see a typical kitchen (check out the cooking pots and baby cradle next to the fireplace), and bedrooms upstairs.
Clough House - Clough House is located in Paul Revere Mall, in front of Old North Church.
Captain Jackson's Historic Chocolate Shop - Hot chocolate was very popular in colonial times, and different from the way we make hot chocolate today. Kids will enjoy tasting hot chocolate made from scratch with seven different spices, ground chocolate, and hot water (no milk).
Printing Offices of Edes & Gill - Kids can watch demonstrations of colonial era printing. When we visited, they were printing authentic copies of the Declaration of Independence.
Old North Church - The Old North Church has a very tall spire, and in this steeple on April 18, 1775, two lanterns were lit ("One if by land, two, if by sea") as a signal that the British were rowing across the Charles River in the direction of Lexington. It's also the oldest church building in Boston, so it's fun to go inside and see what an 18th century church looked like (families had to pay for their box pews).
Copp's Hill Burying Ground - If you didn't visit the Granary Burying Ground, this is worth a stop. Nobody especially famous is buried here, but the lovely old headstones are beautifully etched with skulls and crossbones, or skulls and angel wings, many from late 18th or early 19th century. Some people lived to be quite old.
Follow the Freedom Trail over the Charlestown Bridge (it has a pedestrian walkway), checking out boats in the Charles River.
USS Constitution - The USS Constitution sailing ship, nickname "Old Ironsides," was built Boston in 1797, and was one of the first ships in the new American Navy. The ship fought (and won) in the War of 1812 with the British, and never lost a sea battle. Take the 45 min. guided tour through the ship, especially memorable is the gun deck with big cannons weighing thousands of pounds and the berth deck where the men slept in hammocks. Closed Mondays.
At the Constitution Museum, there are hands-on activities and puzzles, hang in a hammock, take the helm in a computer game to sink your opponent's ship, and there's a large, exquisite model of the USS Constitution.
USS Cassin Young Destroyer - Next door is the World War II destroyer used in the Pacific and built in the Charlestown Navy Yard. On the self-guided tour, peer into the gun turrets, see the crew's quarters, galley radio room, and captain's cabin.
Bunker Hill Monument - Climb up 294 steps to the top of Bunker Hill, with panoramic views of Boston. The battle actually took place on this hill (which was called Breed's Hill at the time). Across from the monument, visit the new Bunker Hill Museum (free), with the Battle of Bunker Hill dioramas, a great way to visualize this historic battle.
Tip: The best way to get back to Boston proper is to take the Inner Harbor Ferry. From Pier 4 (just north of the USS Constitution), ride the ferry back to Long Wharf (at the New England Aquarium). It's inexpensive, the ferry runs often, and there are great views of Boston Harbor. Here's the schedule.
Minute Man National Historical Park - The second half of the story is the Battles of Lexington & Concord (and find out what happened to Paul Revere in Lexington.) Lexington and Concord are an easy day trip from Boston.

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