Guide to exploring The Freedom Trail in Boston

One of the best ways to explore Boston’s rich history is by embarking on the 2.5 mile journey along Boston’s historic Freedom Trail. The path leads you to 16 of Boston’s most historically significant sights. No visit to Boston would be complete without taking the time to enjoy this informative, fun, & scenic trail. You will follow a brick pathway from the start in Boston Common to the finish at the USS Constitution in Charleston.

Below I have given an overview of the 16 sites you will encounter on the trail, along with a bit of information explaining the significance of each. I hope you enjoy this virtual tour, however, it is by no means a replacement for taking the journey yourself!

And now, a brief overview of the historical sights you will come across on your journey.

1. Boston Common

Boston Common

Boston Common, established in 1634, is the oldest urban park in the US. The beautiful 50 acre park has been used for numerous purposes over the years, ranging from hangings in the early 1800’s to events (such as the annual Christmas tree lighting) today. Frog Pond, one of the most popular features in the park, is transformed into a beautiful ice rink from November through March.

2. Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts State House - The Freedom Trail

The Massachusetts State House, established in 1798, is home to the Massachusetts General Court and the Governor of Massachusetts offices. The building is located on top of Beacon Hill on 6+ acres of land. Great pictures can be obtained across the Street in Boston Common.

3. Park Street Church

Park Street Church - The Freedom Trail

Park Street Church, established in 1809, still operates today. The church is location to the first Sunday School (1818) and first anti slavery speech by William Lloyd Garrison (1829).

4. Granary Burial Ground

Granary Burial Ground - The Freedom Trail

Old Granary Burial Ground, founded in 1660, is the 3rd oldest cemetery in Boston. Here you will find the gravestones of many prominent historical figures, including: Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and Peter Faneuil.

Benjamin Franklin’s parents were buried here

Benjamin Franklin's parent's grave at Granary Burying Ground in Boston - The Freedom Trail

Paul Revere gravestone

Paul Revere gravestone - Granary Burial Ground - The Freedom Trail

Samuel Adams gravestone

Samuel Adams gravestone - Granary Burial Ground - The Freedom Trail

5. King’s Chapel

King's Chapel - The Freedom Trail

King’s Chapel, built in 1688, is an active Ecumenical Church. The architecture inside is supposedly the finest example of a Georgian church in the US. Legend goes that those waiting to be hung could say their last prayers in pew 13.

King’s Chapel Burying Ground

King's Chapel Burying Ground - The Freedom Trail

King’s Chapel Burying Ground, founded in 1630, is the oldest cemetery in Boston. It is the final resting place of John Winthrop, the first Puritan Governor of Massachusetts.

The grave of John Winthrop

John Winthrop grave - King's Chapel Burying Ground - The Freedom Trail

6. Site of the 1st Public School

Site of the 1st public school - The Freedom Trail

Boston Latin School, founded in 1635, was the first public school in Boston. It still lives on today, although not in the same location (the original school was torn down in 1745). Out front, you will find a statue of Benjamin Franklin, one of several prominent figures who attended the school (he later dropped out). The building pictured above is Old City Hall, which was home to the city council from 1865 to 1969. Currently, the building operates as an office and restaurant space.

7. Old Corner Bookstore

Old Corner Bookstore - The Freedom Trail

This historic building was built in 1712 as an apothecary (similar to what a pharmacy is today), and later transformed into a bookstore in 1828. Most notably, this is the location where several famous books were published including The Scarlet Letter and Walden. It now stands as a Chipotle restaurant, so be on the lookout as there is only a small plaque designating the building.

The Old Corner Bookstore (now a Chipolte) - The Freedom Trail

8. Old South Meeting House

Old South Meeting House - The Freedom Trail

The Old South Meeting House, built in 1729, is most known for the meetings which eventually led to the Boston Tea Party.

9. Old State House

The Old State House - The Freedom Trail

The Old State House, built in 1713, is the oldest surviving public building in Boston. Up until 1798, it was the seat of the Massachusetts General Court. Today, it operates as a museum open to the public.

10. Site of the Boston Massacre

Site of the Boston Massacre - The Freedom Trail

The Boston Massacre is the name for the street riot which took place in 1770 between the American colonists and the British. Tensions built up between the 2 groups and eventually escalated after a colonist insulted the “Redcoats.” In back of the Old State house, there is an emblem commemorating the incident.

11. Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall - The Freedom Trail

Faneuil Hall has been used as a meeting place since 1742. In 1806, the space was expanded. Today you will find several restaurants, including the most famous “Cheers” (the pub/restaurant where the TV show was filmed), along with the Quincy Market, which is the largest US food hall (here you will find over 36 international vendors) In addition, you will find numerous shops. Street performances and live events take place throughout the year. Update: Cheers is now closed. However, you can visit the location where exterior shots of Cheers were filmed on Beacon St.

12. Paul Revere House

Paul Revere house - The Freedom Trail

The Paul Revere house was built in 1680, which makes it the oldest building in Boston’s downtown. Paul Revere, whom is most famous for alerting colonists of the British arrival, resided here from 1770 to 1800.

14. Old North Church

Old North Church - The Freedom Trail

Old North Church, built in 1723, is Boston’s oldest church building. The location is famous for the for being the origination of the “One if by land, and two, if by sea” phrase. From its’ tall steeple (191 feet) Robert Newman signaled Britain’s arrival to Paul Revere – 2 lanterns lit up to announce the Britain’s arrival by sea. The interior is supposedly gorgeous, unfortunately Sunday mass was taking place during our trip. Make sure to check mass times if you plan on touring the interior.

14. Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

Copp's Hill Burying Ground - The Freedom Trail

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, founded in 1659, is the second oldest cemetery in the city. Robert Newman, who signaled The Britain’s arrival to Paul Revere from Old North Church,  is one of the notable figures buried here.

The Dupee monument, built in 1846, is the most elaborate in the cemetery.

Issac Dupee grave at Copp's Hill Burial Ground - The Freedom Trail

15. Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill monument - The Freedom Trail

Bunker Hill Monument, a 221 foot granite monument, est. 1827-1843 to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill. Visitors are able to go inside and climb the 294 steps to the top. I highly recommend planning a stop here along your journey. The views of the Boston skyline are incredible. It’s a steep climb, however, well worth it for the amazing views. Plan for an exhausting workout if you decide to add the climb to an already hilly 5-6 mile walk.

The Statue of Colonel William Prescott, put forth in 1881. Prescott was an important figure in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Colonel William Prescott statue Bunker Hill - The Freedom Trail

Great skyline views!

Boston skyline views from Bunker Hill - The Freedom Trail
Views of Boston from Bunker Hill - The Freedom Trail

16. USS Constitution

USS Constitution - The Freedom Trail

The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship. Today you can walk around the ship and take a tour to learn more about its’ history. The ship which launched in 1797 is also commonly referred to an “Old Ironsides” because cannonballs bounced off the hard sides of the ship during the War of 1812. The views of the Boston Skyline are pretty great.

Rows of canons on USS Constitution - The Freedom Trail

What a view!

Boston skyline views from the USS Constitution - The Freedom Trail

Free Attractions along The Freedom Trail

Massachusetts State House – Free tours are provided on weekdays from 10:00am-3:30pm. You will need to call (617) 727-3676 for reservations.

Park Street Church – Open from late June-August on Tuesdays – Saturdays from 8:00am-3:00pm. Make sure to plan your trip around mass times, which take place on Sundays at 8:30am, 11:00am & 4:00pm (you will not be able to tour the church during these times).

Granary Burying Ground –  Open daily from 9:00am-4:00pm.

King’s Chapel – Tours offered daily from 10:00am-5:00pm. Tuesdays & Wednesday closed from 11:30am-1:30pm, and on Sundays the church opens at 1:30pm.  During the winter months, the church closes at 4:00pm. Mass services run on Wednesdays at 12:15pm and on Sundays at 11:00am.

King’s Chapel Burying Ground – Open daily from 9:00am-4:00pm.

Faneuil Hall – Open daily from 9:00am-3:00pm, with historical talks offered every half hour.

Old North Church – Free for visitors to take a look around, during the following hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12:30pm-5:00pm (this excludes worship times of 9:00 & 11:00am). Free history presentations offered, in addition to a $5 behind the scenes tour.

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground – Open daily from 9:00am-4:00pm.

Bunker Hill Monument –  The museum is open everyday from 11:00pm until 5:00pm (closed Monday and Tuesday). The monument is open until 6pm during the summer months.

USS Constitution – It is free to walk around this 200+ year old ship. Even if you aren’t interested in history, take advantage of the beautiful harbor views. The hours are as follows: 10:00am-4:00pm (closed Monday and Tuesdays).

Trail Attractions with an admission fee

Old South Meeting House & Old State House – Visit 2 attractions for one low price. Open for tours daily from 10:00am – 5:00pm. Adult admission costs $15, while children 6-18 are $8. Students and senior citizens get a discount. To purchase tickets, visit the following website.

Paul Revere house – Take the opportunity to tour Boston’s oldest downtown building. Admission to the Paul Revere house is $6 per adult and $1 per child. Hours are 10:00am-5:15 (closes at 4:15 from Nov 1-April 14th, closes Mondays from Jan-March)

Other notable attractions along the way

Boston Public Garden – This beautiful 24 acre park built in 1837 is amazing any season, even during the winter months. The park is adjacent to Boston Common, the starting point of the trail.

Boston Public Garden

Bell in Hand TavernThe oldest tavern in America (located in Boston’s North End neighborhood). Treat yourself to the Fisherman’s Platter!

Bell in Hand tavern - the oldest in the US - Boston Freedom Trail
The Oldest Tavern in America - Boston - The Freedom Trail

The Dog Tag Memorial (next to Old North Church) honors those who lost their lives in the Iran and Afghanistan wars

Dog tag garden memorial by Old North Church - The Freedom Trail

Boston’s North End neighborhood – More than 80 authentic restaurants are packed together in Boston’s Little Italy. Look no further than Giacomo’s and order the Pumpkin Tortellini!

Boston's North End neighborhood

A view of TD Garden from the Charlestown Bridge (home to the Boston Celtics)

TD Garden Boston

St. Stephen’s Church – The only Boston church, designed by Charles Bulfinch, still in existence (located in Boston’s North End).

St. Stephen's Church - Boston, MA

Best time to plan your walk

We arrived in downtown Boston at 7:00 on Sunday morning. This was a wise choice as parking was easy to find and our pictures were not obstructed by large crowds. Although the day was chilly and windy, we enjoyed the peacefulness of walking around Boston without the normal crowds and congestion. Winter is the best time to avoid tourist crowds.

Tips for a Smooth Experience

*Plan at least half a day to give yourself time to explore all the wonderful attractions along the way.

*Check operating hours of each attraction. Hours vary depending on day, time, and season. I have included hours for each of these attractions for you in the section above. Note that hours and fees may change at any given time.

*Bring with plenty of water. The trail is not a loop, so you will end up walking roughly 5 miles.

*Plan for lunch or dinner in the North End. This is a great opportunity to test out one of Boston’s fabulous Italian restaurants. I highly recommend Giacomo’s; the pumpkin ravioli is delicious!

*Plan on a Sunday morning walk for the fewest crowds and least traffic.

*Free parking is available on side streets and by parking meters on Sundays. Parking in the city can be pretty pricey, so head out early in the morning on a Sunday for your best shot at free parking. The best place to find free parking is around the Boston Common area, which is the starting point for the trail.

*Follow the red brick road and you won’t get lost. The path is visible throughout the entire trail.

Freedom Trail brick marker - Boston, MA

Directions, Tours, and a Handy Map

Tours are available for a small fee ($17 per adult, $15 per student/senior, & $8 per child). Visit the Freedom Trail Foundation Tours for more information.

Directions: The Freedom Trail starts in downtown Boston in Boston Common at the Visitor’s Center (139 Tremont Street).

Trail map: As with most tourist activities, there is a fee for the map. I have created a printout map of the trail that includes photos of each of the sites. Click the link below to download the PDF map to your computer then print it out so you don’t have to pay for one of less quality.

Our Map to guide you along the way Boston’s Freedom Trail Map