Like every tourist, I was most excited to walk the Freedom Trail when I was in Boston. I’m a history nerd at heart, and I couldn’t wait to be transported back to the war that created this beautiful country we now call the USA. For those of you who’ve never been, the Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile walk through Boston that is dotted with important landmarks from the Revolutionary War. You’ll see everything from Paul Revere’s house to a historic marketplace that’s been a Boston icon since the 1740s.
Me being me, I couldn’t walk just parts of the Freedom Trail. Oh no, I walked the entire thing and stopped at every single landmark the city of Boston deems “Freedom Trail-worthy.” Like most tourist attractions, there were some definite hits and misses among the Freedom Trail sites. Here are all the landmarks along the Freedom Trail and my two cents on whether or not they’re worth stopping for.
You can’t not visit the Boston Common when you’re in Boston. A huge green space with lots of room to run, it’s the perfect spot to put your feet up after a long day of exploring the city. The Boston Public Garden is right next to the Common and is also worth visiting. In the public garden, you’ll see the iconic swan boats and the cute “Make Way for Ducklings” statue. Also, it’s an unspoken rule that any and all dogs in the Common are up for being petted, so that’s also a plus.
Park Street Church
Fun fact: you can’t actually go into Park Street Church. That definitely decreases its coolness factor in my eyes, but it is quite beautiful to look at. Do yourself a favor and don’t get hit by any cars when you’re in the street trying to take a good photo of the steeple.
Granary Burying Ground
I’m not sure what it is about me, but I actually love walking through old cemeteries. The Granary is dotted with helpful signs that explain the meaning of the carvings on the headstones and the history of the cemetery’s most well-known residents. Revolutionaries like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere are buried here, which makes this cemetery extra special.
King’s Chapel is worth peeking into. It’s free to enter, and the simple interior gives you a glimpse of what religious life would have looked like back in the day. The biggest difference from the churches you see today is that King’s Chapel is divided into pews that. Families would rent pews and pass them down through generations. The pew you sat in reflected your societal status and the rental fees helped maintain the church.
Benjamin Franklin Statue
To be perfectly honest, this is just one more statue to look at. If you’re in a rush, you can skip past this in .5 seconds.
Old Corner Book Store
You’d think there’d be a bookstore here, wouldn’t you? Nope, it’s currently home to Chipotle. Having eaten inside said Chipotle, I can assure you that the interior isn’t remotely old timey or cool to look at. Skip this stop, it adds nothing of historical value. If you’re really curious, you can read about the bookstore’s history online.
Old South Meeting House
The Old South Meeting House is definitely worth a visit. You have to pay to enter, but the meeting house is as it would have been during the war. It was the largest building in colonial Boston and the site of the infamous meeting that decided the fate of the 30 tons of tea that sat in Boston Harbor. The inside of the meeting house also has quite a few displays that explain its significance after the Revolutionary War as well.
Old State House
I was extremely disappointed with the Old State House. There are very few displays inside and they give almost the exact same generic information about the Revolutionary War that you can read for free at other spots along the Freedom Trail. Even worse, they charge you $10 to enter when it’ll take you less than 20 minutes to see everything on display. Major pass (the exterior is beautiful though!).
If large crowds and chain stores are your thing, you’ll love Faneuil Hall. Faneuil Hall is flocked by Quincy Market and the North and South Markets, all of which are filled to the brim with tourists and the stores are almost exclusively ones you can find in any state in the US. Personally, this is a huge pass for me. If you come here hoping to find some good lunch, I’d walk another 5 minutes to the Public Market. Practically no one is in there and the food is local and delicious!
Paul Revere’s House
Though quite small, Paul Revere’s house is worth a visit. You have to pay to enter, but the rush of being in his house is too good to pass up! The house only has four rooms, which is insane because Paul Revere had 16 kids (though I think there used to be a third floor back in the day). Each room is decorated as it would have been during Revere’s life, and there are guides in each room who can answer any and all questions you might have about his family life.
Old North Church
“One if by land, two if by sea.” Stepping into one of the most well-known revolutionary sites is amazing. To be honest, the interior of the church is a touch underwhelming after the refinery of King’s Chapel, but its history more than makes up for its plain appearance. The exterior of the church is also quite beautiful, though you’ll have a tough time fitting the whole thing into one photo.
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
Yet another lovely cemetery, Copp’s Hill was Boston’s largest colonial burial ground. Though no super well known revolutionary figures are buried here, it’s interesting to read about some of the “regular people” buried here and learn about what the lives of Bostonians looked like during the 1700s.
Bunker Hill Monument
Remember when I said I walked the entire Freedom Trail? Well…I didn’t. All of my friends from Boston said that the Bunker Hill monument wasn’t worth the hike, so I skipped it. Honestly, I have no regrets.
Known as “Old Ironsides” because of a famous battle during the War of 1812, the USS Constitution is a piece of history that can’t be missed. It’s free to board the ship and it’s incredibly well maintained. It’s still a commissioned war ship and has a crew of enlisted naval officers and personnel that takes care of her. She even sails in the harbor for the 4th of July!
Overall, I highly recommend walking the Freedom Trail when you’re in Boston. It highlights so many important parts of America’s history and many of the sites are free to visit. Though a few Freedom Trail sites are a bit of a letdown, the entire experience is a fun, informative way to spend an afternoon. Best of all, you can grab a cannoli in the North End once you’ve finished exploring! Win-win.
Which Freedom Trail site are you most interested in visiting? Let me know in the comments below!