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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Following Boston's Historic Freedom Trail

To say things have been a little busy over at KW would be an understatement.  Horse races, trips to Newport, some scuba diving and of course, the typical work grind has been dominating my schedule.  Thanks for your patience as we (slowly) recap the last few weeks of wanderings and more specifically, showing off New England to Amanda.  

Amanda was flying into Boston with an arrival time of 6:30am in the beautiful city of Boston.  The sun was shining, it only took me 1.5 hours to get to Logan Airport, we had just arrived at the Boston Commons, the clock read 6:50 am and there was absolutely no one in Boston.  We parked the car by Boston Commons (free parking on Sundays!) and headed to the Thinking Cup for breakfast.  I grabbed smoked salmon on a bagel and a coffee and we headed out of the shop and on our way to the days scheduled activity:  walking the Freedom Trail, Boston's most popular attraction.

The Freedom Trail is something most New Englanders do at least once on a field trip as a small child.  It is not something you look forward to (i.e. a whole day of walking looking at historical sites you do not give a hoot about at that time in your life).  For me, the only things I could remember was the 2 billion stairs to a tower and Mother Goose's grave (it's a thing).  What can I say, I was an attentive adolescent.

I was really excited to spend the day in Boston, walking along the Freedom Trail and soaking up Boston's History- this time for keeps.  About 20 years later, something I had dreaded on a day long field trip was now something I was waking up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to do.

Boston skyline 

The Freedom Trail is a great way to see Historic Boston on your own guided tour.  No need to follow a map, just follow the yellow brick road red brick trail making its way roughly 2.5 miles through the City of Boston.  You start at Boston Commons and make your way to Bunker Hill and the Navy Yard.  Along the way, you will pass the Freedom Trail's 17ish historically significant sites pertaining to the Revolutionary War, all with plaques and various educational information along the way.  Most of the Sites are open to the public and free, with the exception of a few like Paul Revere's House.  And of course, there are many awesome detours and stops along the way outside of this trail.  
Let's get walking....

View of Boston from the Navy Yard

There are so many great resources for walking/exploring the Freedom Trail.  You can use a map online, print a map and walking guide, or even download an app.  Here are some of the resources I used. 

Freedom Trail Map

  • Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km) of Freedom Trail 
  • Time: Should take you two hours to complete. 
  • The Freedom Trail starts at Boston Common and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument or Navy Yard (depending on how you chose to end your walk).
  • Getting to the start: The Green or Red Line will take you to Park Street Station (map), which is the closest station to the start of the Freedom Trail in Boston Commons. After finishing, you can walk back to the start (as we did) or grab a cab to bring you back to the Boston Commons. 
  • History of the Trail: The Freedom Trail was conceived by local journalist William Schofield, who in 1951 suggested building a pedestrian trail to link important local landmarks. Boston mayor John Hynes decided to put Schofield's idea into action. By 1953, 40,000 people were walking the trail annually.

Boston buildings

  • Bring a printout/Map/Guide with you! 
  • Know where to find bathrooms
  • Start early if you want to take pictures of some of these iconic structures without a million tourist in them.
  • Park at the paid parking lot at the Boston Commons or find a metered spot on the street (free on Sundays).
  • Bring sunscreen! 
  • Pack water/snacks (but you can always stop along the way).
  • Wear comfortable shoes - you will be doing lots of walking (duh).
  • Pay attention, although the trail is marked it can be pretty easy to get distracted and next thing you know, you are off the trail.
Breakfast at The Thinking Cup

Starting at Boston Commons

1.  Boston Commons 
Boston Commons is a must see when visiting the historic City of Boston.  Luckily for you, it is also the first stop/start of the Freedom Trail.  This is the perfect place to start and end your journey.  If you start it like we did (at 7am) you will virtually have the park to yourself.  Enjoy this because when you return here later in the day, the park will be bustling with dog walkers, kids, and kite fliers alike. 

The Boston Commons is the oldest public park in the United States (1634).  It is also located just outside the Park St. Subway Station, which just so happens to be the first subway in the United States (1897).   How did this area get it's name?  Well, the area was used as a common space for the grazing of cattle from 1634 to 1830.  While we all still gather at the Commons, it's more along the lines to picnic and walk our dogs.  

2.  Massachusetts State House
The Massachusetts State House (1798) is the oldest continually running state capital building in the America.  The dome was gilded in 23k gold on our nation’s 100 birthday in 1876.  

3. Park Street Church (1809)
This church was the site of  the first Sunday school in the United States.

Granary Burial Ground

4.  Granary Burial Ground (1660)
A famous (and ancient!) burial ground where three signers of the Declaration Independence rest as well as Paul Revere,  Mary Goose (supposedly Mother Goose) and the parents and siblings of Benjamin Franklin. 

Granary Burial Ground 

5.  Kings Chapel (1668)
King’s chapel is free and open to the public for self-guided tours (there is a donation box at the entrance) and is worth going inside. 

6.  Ben Franklin and Old City Hall
In the courtyard of Old City Hall there is a statue of Benjamin Franklin, who was born and attended school in Boston before moving to Philadelphia. 

7.  Old Corner Book Store
Built originally as a private home in the early 1700s and is one of Boston’s oldest brick structures (1712).  The bookstore was made famous for meetings on the second floor by the likes of Nathanael Hawthorn, Harriet Beecher-Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Dickerson (who lived in Boston for two years) would meet and discuss poetry, politics and literature.  

Old South Meeting House

8.  Old South Meeting House
This church is where the Sons of Liberty departed from a meeting on Dec. 16, 1773 and dumped 242 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor.  The famous Boston Tea Party.

Old South State House

9.  Old South State House (1713)
Oldest public building in Boston, the Old State House was used for politics and commerce for much of the 18th and 19th centuries. On July 18, 1776, the Old State House was the site of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Boston.

Old South Meeting House

10.  Old South Meeting House (1729)                           
This church is where the Sons of Liberty departed from a meeting on Dec. 16, 1773 and dumped 242 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor (the Boston Tea Party).  Open to daily 9:30am to 5:00pm April 1st to October 31st and 10:00am to 4:00pm from Nov. 1st to March 31st.  Admission:  $6 for adults, $5 for seniors students,  and $1 for children 5-17-years-old and free for children under 5-years-old.

11.  Boston Massacre Site (1770)
A monument for the five victims killed on March 5, 1770 during the Boston Massacre which took place in the middle of what is now called State Street (formerly known as King Street).  

Quincy Market

12.  Faneuil Hall (1742)
Faneuil Hall is often referred to as "The Cradle of Liberty”. This building which was given to the city of Boston by rich merchant Peter Faneuil,  is famous for the meetings and protests that led to the American Revolution. 

Boston's North End

DETOUR:  Boston's North End-- known for it's Italian food, this area is also home to gorgeous water views, the famous New England Aquarium, and the New England Holocaust Memorial. 

Carousel in the North End

While making our way towards the North End for a quick FT detour, we passed by this insanely adorable (and unique) carousel.  From whales to squirrels, there were a ton of fun critters to choose from.  Sadly, the carousel was not open and I couldn't miss an opportunity to pose with the best critter on the carousel, the lobster. 

Carousel in the North End

Boston Waterfront

New England Aquarium

One of my favorite things to do while in the North End is to swing by the New England aquarium for the gorgeous ocean views and the outdoor seal exhibit.  You can hang outside the aquarium and see the seals without having to pay admission or walk through the front doors. 

New England Holocaust Memorial

The New England Holocaust Memorial was another detour along our journey through Boston's North End.  "Inspired by a group of Holocaust survivors who found new lives in the Boston area, the New England Holocaust Memorial was built to foster reflection on the impact of bigotry and the outcomes of evil during World War II and to this day".  The Memorial is designed around six luminous glass towers, each reaching 54 feet high, and each lit internally from top to bottom. The number six has many meanings here: the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust; the names of the six main death camps; a row of memorial candles; and the six years, 1939-1945, during which the infamous “Final Solution,” the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, took place. In addition, millions of numbers are etched in the glass, representing the infamous tattoos inflected on many of the victims’ arms.

New England Holocaust Memorial

We followed the historic and oh-so-quaint cobble stone streets back to where we came from to resume the Freedom Trail, with the end destination being the Tower and Naval Yard across the way. 

Cobble streets of Boston 

Back on the trail, we decided to actually go INSIDE one of the historic stops along the trail.  

13.  The Paul Revere House (1680). 
Noted as being the oldest structure in Boston, Paul Revere (patriot and silversmith) lived here for 30 years from 1770 to 1800.  The Paul Revere House is now a Museum which you can visit  open daily with varying hours depending on the season  The admission was Adults $5.

City skyline 

Paul Revere Statue 

Old North Church

14.  Old North Church (1723)
 The oldest church building in Boston.  The church is free to enter and there are guides inside the church who will give you a quick overview of Paul’s Midnight Ride the night of April 18, 1775 and resulted in the battle that started American Revolution.  This is where the two famous lanterns were hung (one by land, two if by sea) which signaled that British troops were on the move toward Lexington and Concord; Paul Revere was one of the riders who spread the news that night.

Copp's Hill Burying Ground

15.  Copp's Hill Burying Ground (1660)
Second oldest burial ground.  It seemed pretty run down and non maintained compared to the other burial ground at the start of the Freedom Trail. 

Bridge heading over to Bunker Hill

When you get towards the end of the freedom trail, the brick path you are following turns into a painted red stripe crossing over the bridge. 

Amanda on the bridge

Bunker Hill Monument

16.  Bunker Hill Monument (opened 1843)
Dedicated 68 years after the famous battle took place.  The 221 foot monument took 16 years to construct and commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill and has 294 steps.  Although climbing the 294 steps of the monument is free from April 1st though June 27th all visitors who wish to climb the monument must obtain a climbing pass from the Bunker Hill Museum at 43 Monument Sq- there is also a small museum.

Views from the Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

Looking back at Boston from the Navy Yard

Charlestown Navy Yard

17.  USS Constitution (1797)
The USS Constitution is the oldest ship in the US Navy and was built to protect American Merchant Ships from pirates off the coast of North Africa.  It was made famous during the War of 1812 where it never lost a battle and was nicknamed “Old Ironsides” even though it was made out of wood because the ship was so strong. The USS Constitution is currently in dry dock but can still be view at the location.  It is open to the public for free guided tours, but tours are now limited do to the construction. There is also a large museum (donation basis) and other ships on display that you may be able to board. We were also able to board the USS Cassin Young.

U.S.S. Constitution

USS Cassin Young

U.S.S. Constitution

Lunch at Cheers - Beacon Hill

We decided to wrap up our day in historic Boston with a visit to none other than another Boston Classic, the originally "Cheers" Restaurant.  While there are technically two, this is the one that has been around since 1895 and has a replica of the Cheers set upstairs. 

Lunch at Cheers 

Cheersing at Cheers 

Public Garden

After lunch, we ended the day with a quick walk around the Public Garden to see the swan boats and soak up a little bit of sunshine before heading back to Connecticut.  It was a perfect 70 something degrees with the sun shining and everyone was out enjoying the gorgeous Boston day after a wet and rainy spring.

Public Garden

If you visit Boston, a walk on the Freedom Trail is a must.  No navigation, fancy maps or guided tours needed.  Grab a brochure at the visitors center and follow the red brick trial as you make your way through historic Boston.  

Day in Boston Trip Costs'

Train  $2.75
Coffee/Breakfast $10
Lunch/Beer for 2:  $49
Paul Reveres House:  $5
Tolls:  $8.25
Gas $25
TOTAL:  $100

1 comment :

  1. So true, I remembering dreading that day in school! It does appear much more interesting now! -Heather @


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