Philadelphia might call itself the Cradle of Liberty, but Bostonians know the freedom party was started here (literally, that little thing called the Tea Party). Thankfully, Boston is a walkable city and you can see most of the important historic sites in one day. Here are five of the most important stops on the Freedom Trail, a brick-lined path connecting Boston’s Revolutionary sites.
Paul Revere House
This self-touring two-floor home (there are helpful docents on each level) was where Paul Revere entertained Revolutionary guests and left from on the night of his famous midnight ride in April 1775 to warn troops of the invading British. The Paul Revere House, built in 1680, offers a comprehensive look into the daily life of an 18th century family. The $5 entry fee is cash-only so have a few dollars ready.
Old North Church
The Old North Church, sitting in today’s North End, was relatively new during the American Revolution, having been founded in 1723. It played a defining role in the fight against the British when its steeple was used to warn Colonial troops that the enemy was invading by sea. Today, the oldest church in Boston offers 5-7 minute presentations on the building’s architecture and history throughout the day and on July 4 you can expect interactive readings of the Declaration of Independence by costumed guides.
Massachusetts State House
Massachusetts’ most important political building, the State House stands as a beacon of another kind thanks to its gold domed roof (it was originally wood then overlaid with copper by Paul Revere). Head to the State House on your Freedom Trail tour for a free guided 45-minute tour, covering the history and architecture of the building as well as giving you a peek into the House and Senate Chambers. Be sure to ask your guide about the infamous cod in the House of Representatives. Tours run on weekdays from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
It’s impossible to miss Boston’s 50-acre public park, the oldest in America, and the cog from which the city’s main streets originate. Boston Common, which sits at the southern end of the Freedom Trail, has served as a cow pasture, once hosted Pope John Paul II, and continues to draw crowds for plays and concerts every summer. Grab lunch from the sandwich kiosk in the Common and have an impromptu picnic.
Nicknamed “Old Ironsides” because British cannonballs seemed to bounce off the ship during the War of 1812, America’s oldest commissioned warship afloat sits in the Charlestown Navy Yard, and is a must-see on the Freedom Trail. Tour the warship, learn more about Boston’s history with pirates, and find out where the USS Constitution has sailed and fought since it was launched in 1797.