Insider tips and recommendations from fellow history lovers as well as current and former employees and volunteers.
Planning your visit
- "Something to keep in mind with Boston is that most of these sites are owned by private institutions, and it is indeed because earlier residents cared about these places that they were saved and thanks to current owners, donors, and congregations that they remain open."
- "For walking The Freedom Trail, I'd say learn about the stops before you go, and take time to stop and reflect at the stops." "Don't rush it. Let it sink in." "Plan Multiple days. If you try and do it all, you won't really see anything"
- Check out the listing of events beforehand and maybe join a Ranger on a tour or talk. (Boston National Historical Park)
- There are several groups offering free or paid tours of The Freedom Trail. Go online and research the best fit for you.
- There are also a few Freedom trail apps you can download which provide more information about each stop. (Ashley Sullivan)
- Wear comfortable shoes. (Jim Quinn). It's no joke. You have to be in decent shape to walk the whole thing. (Arthur Wohl)
- Bring along a bottle of water, especially if it's a hot day.
When to visit
- During the summer and fall, aim for a weekday if possible.
- From the end of June up to the end of August several sites in The Freedom Trail participate in Free Fun Fridays. This allows visitors to enter multiple sites for free.
- Visit on the 4th of July to see the laying of a wreath on Paul Revere's grave, the USS Constitution making its turn around voyage and especially -- the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the Balcony of the Old State House. That was an incredible experience to stand in the crowd and hear that. (Michele Kinsey Gross )
- Try not to set out later than mid-afternoon because the sites will be closing and you'll run into the evening rush hour.
Selecting the tour or tours to take
- It is free to walk The Freedom Trail Trail. However, some sites in the Trail, such as The Old State House, Old South Meeting House, and Paul Revere House each charge an entrance fee. King’s Chapel and the Old North Church suggest a donation, but it is not required for entrance.
- You may opt to do a self-guided tour. Download the Freedom Trail Map or ask for a copy at the Visitor Information Center at the Boston Common.
- Or by reserving a spot to the free tours offered by the National Park Service or the Free Tours by Foot. Reservation is required.
- You may also opt to take a tour by downloading the mp3 version of the audio guide produced by The Freedom Trail Foundation which can be purchased for a fee.
When you visit
- The Freedom Trail is handicapped accessible. However, many of the Freedom Trail sites are not.
- You may visit the Bunker Hill Monument first, and walk the Freedom Trail "backward". The sites aren't really in chronological order, and if you walk the full 2.5 miles of the Freedom Trail and THEN are looking at the Bunker Hill Monument it seems a little daunting. This way you get the hard part out of the way first, and then walk against the traffic. (Jessica Pilkington)
- Take the Orange Line out to Community College station and do The Freedom Trail in reverse. People often get tuckered out by the time they get to Copp's Hill Burying Ground and they don't make it over to Charlestown to see the USS Constitution or the Bunker Hill Monument. And if they do get out there, those two attractions might be closed by then. By doing it in reverse, you not only make certain you visit both of those attractions, but you can better manage your time and choose between the remaining attractions because they're packed so close together. (Donovan K. Loucks)
- Go upstairs to Faneuil Hall. Lots of great oration took place there. (Jim Quinn)
- The fruit and vegetable market can get a little chaotic, but it also reminds you of earlier days when markets like this were more common. You can avoid the market by cutting across one block away, though realize that most folks visiting with just stay on the red path. (Joyce Brinton Anderson )
- Make the trip out to Quincy, which is accessible by Boston public transit. Go walk inside the original "Peacefield" home of John Adams. Worth a visit. One of the few original homes remaining. (Corey Browning)
- Visit Concord and Lexington. See the sites. Listen to the stories. (Danyel Healey Moulden)
- Make sure you take in the Holocaust Memorial and the Irish Famine Memorial. I enjoyed going to Plymouth as well. (Blake Frink)
Do you have tips and recommendations to add? What else should a history lover visit when they are in the area? Please add them in the comments below.
Introduction to The Freedom Trail
Experience more than 250 years of history along the Freedom Trail – Boston’s iconic 2.5 mile red line leading to 16 nationally significant historic sites, each one an authentic treasure. The Freedom Trail is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond. Learn about the people who lived here, their courage, and what they risked striving for victory and freedom.
Source: The Freedom Trail Foundation, Free Tours by Foot