Enjoy this Free Outdoor Tour of Boston’s Historical Attractions
Boston’s Freedom Trail is an excellent way to get an overview of Boston’s historical sites and to see downtown Boston on the cheap any time of the year.
The Boston Freedom Trail is a red-brick path that leads pedestrians throughout Boston’s downtown core to some of its major historical buildings and not-to-be-missed sites.
The trail can be experienced as a self-guided tour using one of the many travel guidebooks available from your local bookstore, or you can purchase a ticket for a more formal group tour. The 90-minute tours run daily year-round and are lead by energetic guides often costumed in historical garb. Tickets can be purchased at the Boston Common Visitor Information Centre or at the Bostix Booth in Faneuil Hall.
Though you can start walking the Freedom Trail at any point along the way, the official starting point is just outside the Visitor Information Centre in the Boston Common.
Sites along the Boston Freedom Trail
There are 16 historical stops along the 2.5 mile-long Freedom Trail, including everything from government buildings to chapels and cemeteries, to historically important homes, stores, and battle sites. Here is a selection of what you’ll see:
- The Boston Common: A large public park, the Boston Common is the oldest such park in America and has been witness to everything from grazing herds to public speeches, military training, and even gallows and hangings. Today it is a lush green refuge in central Boston and host to concerts and public celebrations
- Granary Burying Ground: This final resting place of some of Boston’s most famous people evokes both the historical significance of the region and the simple beauty of the seasons in the northeast US. Among the 2,300 burial markers on the grounds, you’ll want to keep a lookout for those of important historical figures like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, James Otis, Benjamin Franklin’s parents, Peter Faneuil and John Hancock.
- Faneuil Hall: The site of the first town hall meeting in America, Faneuil Hall witnessed both debates and dissent in its 250 years as a meeting hall and marketplace. Currently, the location of a variety of retail stores and the Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall is a good place to stop for lunch and a little shopping. With restaurants and outdoor patios lining the pedestrian mall, there are many spots to sit and watch the passers-by. Or, venture into the Quincy Market for a wide selection of food-court style eateries.
- Paul Revere House: It was Paul Revere’s home in 1775 when Revere set out on horseback to warn Boston’s leaders about the pending British attack. Today it is a museum commemorating one of Boston’s most famous sons.
History of the Boston Freedom Trail
The Boston Freedom Trail was established in 1951 by Bill Schofield, a writer for the Herald Traveler newspaper who had been frustrated at his inability to easily locate Boston’s famous historical sites. Using his newspaper column to propose and market the idea, Schofield quickly found success when his idea was picked up by city officials who recognized the value the trail would bring to city dwellers and tourists alike. Schofield became known as the Father of the Freedom Trail. To this day, the Freedom Trail remains one of Boston’s most popular attractions and a worthwhile trek through the city’s historical sites.