Ye Olde Guide to Free Stops along the Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail connects 16 historic sites in Boston along a red brick trail. You could spend two hours walking straight through or days exploring the centuries of history along the way. Below are our favorite free stops in order, which bookend the 2.5-mile route. And if you want to learn about Boston's revolutionary and drunken history, join our tours along the Freedom Trail--they include beer!
1. Massachusetts State House Tour
Begin your tour at the Massachusetts State House atop Beacon Hill. If you can’t see it from the start of the Freedom Trail on Boston Common, look for the golden dome! This is the “new” State House, built in 1798 (the Old State House is also a stop on the Freedom Trail, now a museum with paid admission). The building’s staff provides free tours on weekdays between 10am and 3:30pm, lasting 30-45 minutes. You’ll get to know about the building’s history and see the House/Senate chambers. Advance reservations required.
2. Granary Burying Ground
Around the corner you’ll find Granary Burying Ground, established in 1660. You'll walk by hundreds of grave markers, including some belonging to Boston’s famous Revolutionary-era inhabitants. Paul Revere, Sam Adams, and John Hancock are all buried there, as well as Ben Franklin’s parents, victims of the Boston Massacre, and an infants’ tomb. The Puritans, who settled Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, didn’t believe in religious iconography, so keep an eye out for skulls, depictions of the Grim Reaper, and winged cherubs.
3. USS Constitution
On the other end of the Freedom Trail near Charlestown Navy Yard, you’ll find the USS Constitution. “Old Ironsides” is the oldest commissioned war ship still afloat, first launched in 1797 and most famous for her role in the War of 1812. You can visit the ship for free (after showing a valid ID or passport), with tours kicking off every 15 minutes Wednesday-Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Active Navy sailors will also be on deck to field any questions. No reservations required or accepted.
4. Bunker Hill Monument
Finish up at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, across the harbor from Boston proper. The 221-foot tall, granite obelisk marks the spot of the first official battle of the Revolutionary War fought on June 17, 1775. If you have a few more steps in you, head up the staircase to the top! There’s also a free museum across the street where you can learn more about the battle.