Boston Things to Do: Freedom Trail Historic Boston
Following Boston’s Freedom Trail
Get local expert tips on how to make the most of your tour to these 16 historic sites that trace America’s colonial roots.
The absolutely best way to tour Boston’s major historical sites is to follow the Freedom Trail. This red-painted (or sometimes brick-paved) line runs about 2.5 miles and leads you on a tour of 16 sites from the colonial and revolutionary eras. Most sites are free, but a few do charge an admission.
Tips for Touring the Freedom Trail
Start off at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center (148 Tremont St.), near the Park Street T stop, where you can pick up a copy of the trail sites and any other information you might need. Visit www.thefreedomtrail.org to take a virtual tour and learn more, or call 617-357-8300.
Some of the sites can get packed on weekends and during school vacations, but many of them have ample space you for you to explore, such as the burying grounds and Boston Common. As you walk the trail, don’t forget to look where you’re going—the trail crosses busy streets and intersections!
Choosing Sites to Visit
Although you can visit all the sites in one day, you can’t really do justice to each place, not unless all you want to do is mark them off your to-do list. And really, you’d be exhausted if you tried. Some sites are just a quick stop, such as the Old Corner Bookstore building—the home of leading American publisher Ticknor & Fields—which you can’t even enter, while others, such as the USS Constitution will take a lot more of your time.
To help plan your Freedom Trail tour, we’ve divided the 16 sites on the following pages into two categories: key historic Boston sites for half-day tours, and those to also include if you have a full day or more for sightseeing. Make a list of what is really a priority to you, then see how much time you have.
Guided Walking Tour
For a great overview and for those with limited time, the 90-minute Walk Into History tours led by costumed guides from the Freedom Trail Foundation are a bargain. The $12 tour gives you a sense of place and history in a brief amount of time. This is an outdoor walking tour, so if you want to explore any of the sites at length, you have to go back later and purchase tickets. Tel. 617-357-8300. Tour times: 11 a.m., 12 p.m. daily; and 1:30 p.m. Mon. to Fri. www.thefreedomtrail.org