Explore Boston

Things to Do in Boston: A Guide to The Freedom Trail

Are you ready to polish up your knowledge of early American history? Boston's top tourist attraction, the Freedom Trail, beckons. For the uninitiated, this two-and-a-half-mile hike to 16 sites across four neighborhoods may seem daunting—and it can be. But we're here to break it down so you get the best experience fit for your personal needs.

Follow the Trail

Because the Freedom Trail is, actually, a trail—marked by red painted or bricked line—we've listed participating sites in order, from start (at Boston Common) to finish (at Bunker Hill Monument). If you plan to spend a whole day parading through the Colonial era, this is definitely the way to do it. Read on for tips on how to "see" each and how much time to spend where—begin the day early because your adventure will run longer than you think it will. Do note that it's also easy to mix and match sites or selectively visit ones of interest you may happen to come up on.

Catch a Ride

If and when you make it to Charlestown, you'll likely be too tired to walk allllllll the way back to your hotel downtown. And that's not a problem. Catch the MBTA's Commuter Boat or Boston Harbor Cruises' Water Taxi year-round, right from the Charlestown Navy Yard, home to Old Ironsides.

Things to pack for a day on The Freedom Trail

  • Cash for donations and minimal entrance fees
  • Sneakers or hiking boots. Yes, you're in the city, but you're walking on cobblestones and climbing a lot
  • Water
  • A hat, because that sun beats down
  • An umbrella for inclement weather. Sightseeing must go on!

The trail is open all the time, but operating hours and accessibility varies at each different site. Off-season, it's best to call ahead.

Boston Common

Freedom Trail attraction. America’s oldest public park and part of the Emerald Necklace, the 50-acre Boston Common was set aside in 1634 as a military “trayning” ground and pastureland, and it has always been a gathering place for residents who convene for rallies or recreation.

Massachusetts State House

Freedom Trail attraction. The Commonwealth’s “new” State House was designed and built in 1798 by Charles Bulfinch, and its dome, having originally been made of wood, was covered in copper by Paul Revere in 1802 and gilded with 23-karat gold leaf in 1874.

Park Street Church

Freedom Trail attraction. Built in 1809 in the former center of Boston, Park Street Church, with its 217-foot steeple, was one of the first structures travelers saw when approaching town.

Granary Burying Ground

Freedom Trail attraction. Established in 1660 and so named because the adjoining Park Street Church stored grain in the early 18th century.

King's Chapel

Freedom Trail attraction. The congregation, organized in 1686, built this chapel in 1688-1689 on a graveyard. It was rebuilt from 1749-1754 and still stands here today. Many now-famous people worshipped here, including George Washington, Royal Governor Hutchinson and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

King's Chapel Burying Ground

Freedom Trail attraction. King’s Chapel Burying Ground is Boston’s oldest cemetery, founded 1632, and is full of retiring famous Colonial folk, including Massachusetts’ first governor John Winthrop and Mayflower passenger Mary Chilton.

Old Corner Book Store

Freedom Trail attraction. One of Boston’s oldest surviving buildings, this structure was built in 1712 and was built on property that was at one time owned by religious activist Anne Hutchinson.

Old South Meeting House

Part of the Freedom Trail and built in 1729 as a Puritan meetinghouse, this site is well known as the place of mass protest gatherings that led to the Boston Tea Party. As Colonial Boston’s largest building, other significant events happened here too and can be examined through exhibits.

Old State House Boston Massacre Site

Freedom Trail attraction. Built in 1713, the Old State House is 300 years old, making it one of Boston’s oldest remaining buildings. Before the Revolution, it served as the seat of Royal government, and after, it became the Commonwealth’s first State House. In 1770, the Boston Massacre took place here.

Faneuil Hall

A Freedom Trail attraction. Successful Boston merchant Peter Faneuil had this building constructed in 1742 and gave it to the city of Boston.

Paul Revere House

Freedom Trail attraction. Built in 1680, Paul Revere’s former home is the oldest wooden house still standing in Boston, and he owned it from 1770-1800. Today, this building is on the National Historic Register and has been restored to a late 17th-century appearance.

Old North Church

Freedom Trail attraction. Built in 1723, Old North is Boston’s oldest church building. While it played a pivotal role at the onset of the American Revolution, it is interesting to note that at the time the church was highly Loyalist. Its bells, which still ring, are the oldest church bells in North America.

Copp's Hill Burying Ground

Freedom Trail attraction. Founded 1659. Former North End residents are buried at Copp’s Hill, a site that now is considered on the outskirts of the North End was, in the late 17th century, in the heart of Boston.

USS Constitution

Launched in 1797, Old Ironsides is this 52-gun frigate that played important roles during the Quasi War with France, the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, and incidentally, is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat.

Bunker Hill Monument

Freedom Trail attraction. One of Boston’s most iconic sights is, ironically, a misnomer: the Bunker Hill Monument actually sits atop Breed’s Hill, where the American Revolution’s Battle of Bunker Hill took place in 1775.