Following the brick Freedom Trail throughout Boston is an easy way to see museums, churches, burying grounds, historical landmarks, parks, and some of America’s oldest taverns. 90 minute guided tours are available ranging from .25 miles to 1.25 miles. Here are some of our favorite stops along 1.6 miles of the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail. Check out more history and some of our favorites places to explore in other districts in Exploring Seaport to Fenway-Kenmore.
- The Freedom trail begins at the oldest park in the United States, Boston Common. Founded in 1634, the downtown park was the site where red coats set up camp for 8 years, and George Washington and John Adams celebrated the independence of the United States of America. Civil war recruitment, anti-slavery meetings, rallies against the Vietnam War and for Civil Rights have been held here.
Granary Burying Ground
- The Granary Burying Ground was established in 1660. Complimentary booklets are are available at the entrance of the cemetery for a self guided tour and collected upon exiting.
- An idea was presented to transform Granary Burying Ground into a public park. To increase the ease of maintaining the park, headstones were removed from their original location and placed closer together in straight lines, but the bodies were left in their original plots.
- Many headstones are decorated with skulls and wings. The skulls are a reminder to the living our bodies mortal while the wings represent our immortal souls.
- Many of the more famous graves, Paul Revere’s pictured above, have coins on them. It once was a Jewish tradition to place a stone on the top of a grave as a memorial and to protect the body from scavenging animals. The tradition has been passed on throughout the years.
Boston’s Old City Hall
- Boston’s Old City Hall once held Boston’s first public school, then served as the City Hall for more than 100 years, and today has transformed into an office building. More than 50,000 people visit the building each year.
- Little Free Library is a nonprofit world wide book sharing movement. There are over 80,000 libraries in more than 90 countries. The libraries range from a small, bird house size to larger libraries like the one located near Cross Street. Take a book, share a book.
Boston Massacre Site
- The site of the Boston Massacre that took place on March 5, 1770 is marked on the sidewalk outside The Old State House Museum.
The Steaming Kettle
- A giant tea kettle is located outside of Starbucks on Court Street. Originally the kettle was above the door of the Oriental Tea Company as an international advertisement since many languages were spoken among the merchants. In 1987, a competition was held to guess the capacity of the kettle. Upon the close of the competition the capacity was inscribed on the side: 227 gallons, 2 quarts, 1 pint, 3 gills (3 gills = 1.5 cups).
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
- Faneuil Hall consists of 4 buildings: Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market surrounding a cobblestone esplanade. Built in 1740’s, the market served fisherman, merchants, and butchers. In the 1820’s, the hall expanded to include Quincy Market.
- Located inside Faneuil Hall is a replica of the original Cheers located in Beacon Hill. Items from the show are on display in the restaurant. The location offers a wrap around bar, outdoor patio, downstairs bar, retail store, and live entertainment Thursday – Saturday evenings. Any diner able to finish the Norm Burger earns a spot in the Cheers Hall of Fame.
The Great Hall
- The Great Hall, in Faneuil Hall, is open to visitors when ceremonies and programs are not in session.
- Located inside Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Quincy Market has been operating since the 1820’s. Originally a market to purchase only fresh produce, now there are over 100 shops and pedal carts selling clothing, souvenirs, food, and more. Street performers and other varieties of entertainment can be found in front of the Market.
- During construction in the 1970’s it was discovered Quincy Marketplace had a false ceiling hiding a dome. The dome was renovated and now serves as an upstairs dining area.
Union Oyster House
- America’s oldest restaurant (and possibly 4th oldest tavern) opened in 1826. Union Oyster House is a National Historic Landmark. This was the first location a toothpick was used and a plaque was placed by booth 18 where President John F. Kennedy enjoyed lobster stew almost every Sunday.
Bell in Hand Tavern
- America’s oldest tavern, Bell in Hand Tavern, served their first drink in 1795. The tavern originally only served ale. An ale so thick it was served with 2 mugs: the foam in one mug, and the ale in the other. We recommend ordering a mug of Sam Adam’s Bell in Hand Ale.
Green Dragon Tavern
- Once frequented by Paul Revere and John Hancock, Green Dragon Tavern has been open since 1773. Here, the headquarters of the revolution, the conversation took place that sparked the ride by Paul Revere. Stop in for a pint of Guinness or the special: one shot of Tullamore Dew and the featured beer for $10.50.
Paul Revere House
- Built in 1680, the Paul Revere House is the oldest building in Boston. Paul Revere moved into the home in 1770. Tours through the 3 story home are self guided.
- Across from Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the narrowest house in Boston, known as the Skinny House, was built in 1884. Supposedly, the house was built when a brother returned from war to find his brother had built a large house on their shared property. Irritated, he constructed the 10′ x 30′ house to block sunlight and views from his brother’s large home. Living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where narrow row houses are extremely common, we were unimpressed by the Skinny House.