Uncover Boston’s Revolutionary Past With A Self-Guided Freedom Trail Adventure

Our guide to the Boston Freedom Trail includes all 16-historic stops along its 2.5-mile route through Boston. We’ll give you the tools and tips to take a free walking tour including all of the Freedom Trail stops in order with site descriptions.

In one afternoon, you’ll see the cradle of the American Revolution and understand why Boston is the home to the Patriots. This Freedom Trail guide is a must-have if you’re planning on walking the Trail.

Freedom Trail Stop 1: Boston Common

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The Freedom Trail starts at Boston Common. Word to the wise, it’s not the Boston Commons. This 44-acre park was the first city park in America dating back to 1634. A large parking garage and a stop on the metro line make it a logistically convenient start to the Freedom Trail.

Boston Common has been a focal point of the city’s life from protests, to hangings, to celebrations. Fun fact – the first organized football game was played here in 1862, and it’s the first stop on the Boston Freedom Trail.

Freedom Trail Stop 2: Massachusetts State House

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From the Boston Commons, you can see the iconic golden dome of the State House. Charles Bulfinch, America’s first professional architect, designed it after another one of his famous structures – The Capital Building. You can extend your Freedom Trail tour with a free tour of the State House.

Passing through the massive front doors of the Massachusetts State House, you look overhead to see stained-glass ceilings sparkling with an inner luminescence. Marble statues, floors, staircases, and archways surround you. On every wall, you find historical paintings and murals. A must stop site along the Freedom Trail.

Freedom Trail Stop 3: Park Street Church

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Puritan Religion, Boston, and the quest for freedom go hand in hand since the colony began. Park Street Church was an epicenter for religious faith and activism since the first sermon in 1810 and continues to remain active today.

How significant was Park Street Church? For starters, it was the tallest building in America for 18 years. Edward Beecher, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, was a pastor at Park Street Church from 1826 to 1830. On July 4th, 1831 “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” premiered at the Park Street Church.

If you know the words to that song, you ought to visit Park Street Church. If you’re singing God Save The Queen instead, perhaps the Freedom Trail isn’t for you.

Freedom Trail Stop 4: The Granary Burying Ground

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The Granary Burying Ground is Boston’s third-oldest cemetery and the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots.

You’ll see many peoples’ lives commemorated on the Freedom Trail, so it’s only fitting that you see their final resting place at the Burying Ground. The cemetery has 2,345 gravestones, but 5,000 people are believed to have been buried there including:

Paul Revere

Samuel Adams

John Hancock

Robert Treat Paine

The Five victims of the Boston Massacre (yes…unbelievably there are only 5!)

Freedom Trail Stop 5: King’s Chapel

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The original King’s Chapel, founded in 1686, was Boston’s first Anglican church. The new building constructed in 1754 still stands today as and operates as an independent Christian Unitarian congregation.

The King’s Chapel earned the designation of National Historic Landmark in 1960. Adjacent to the church is the King’s Chapel burial ground, Boston’s first European cemetery.

Freedom Trail Stop 6: Boston Latin School / Ben Franklin Statue

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Boston Latin School was America’s first free public school, founded in 1635. To understand the significance of public education, you need to look no farther than its most famous pupil, Ben Franklin. Franklin- aka Poor Richard-was the 10th child of his father’s second marriage. There was no way his father, a candle maker, could have afforded to educate all his children.

It’s not a far stretch to say Ben Franklin’s contribution to America comes directly from the lessons he learned at the Boston Latin School.

Freedom Trail Stop 7: Old Corner Bookstore

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The Old Corner Bookstore is over three centuries old and home to publishing giant Ticknor and Fields. While that name might not be familiar to you, you are bound (pun intended) to have heard of some of their titles.

The presses here published many landmark books including Thoreau’s Walden, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Longfellow’s Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, and the Atlantic Monthly including Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic. As crazy cat people, we are very familiar with the work of the Atlantic, lol!

Freedom Trail Stop 8: Old South Meeting House

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What did old Bostonian’s meet about? Tax debates and Puritan sermons mostly. But when these sermons and debates peaked, they ignited the Boston Tea Party which in turn sparked the American Revolution.

Taxation without representation was no longer an abstract construct. At the Old South Meeting House, you can remember the 350 brave men who boarded a British vessel and turned an ideal into action.

Freedom Trail Stop 9: Old State House

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The Old State House is Boston’s oldest standing public building. Perhaps its most memorable moment didn’t happen inside the walls but on the east side balcony. It was there in July of 1776 that Col. Thomas Crafts read the Declaration of Independence to a jubilant crowd of Bostonians, and now Americans. Two hundred years later, Queen Elizabeth II gave another speech from the Old State House balcony –

If Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and other patriots could have known that one day a British monarch would stand on the balcony of the Old State House, from which the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston, and be greeted in such kind and generous words ….. well, I think they would have been extremely surprised!

Perhaps they would also have been pleased to know that eventually, we came together again as free peoples and friends to defend together, side by side, the very ideals for which the American Revolution was fought.

Freedom Trail Stop 10: Boston Massacre Site

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Nearly years before the Boston Tea Party, Bostonians forced the evacuation of British troops from the city. On March 5th, 1770, the infamous Boston Massacre occurred. Redcoats opened fire on a crowd later described as a motley rabble of saucy boys. The subsequent trial found the majority of the soldiers innocent and the others received a reduced sentence.

The media war surrounding the incident further degraded the relationship with the Crown and increased tension within the Colonies, and we all know how that ended.

Freedom Trail Stop 11: Faneuil Hall

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Faneuil Hall hosted so many pivotal speeches about the American Revolution and constitutional rights that it’s called the “Cradle of Liberty” and “the home of free speech.” It’s often rated as one of America’s most visited tourist sites.

History buffs and freedom buffs alike love Faneuil Hall. Nowadays, if you are into shopping or food, it is the place to be!

Freedom Trail Stop 12: Paul Revere House

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Dating back to 1680, the Paul Revere House is the oldest remaining structure in Boston. Just who is Paul Revere? Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized him with the poem Paul Revere’s Ride. In the poem, Revere sees two lanterns in the steeple of the Old North Church and rides out into the night to muster patriots for the battles of Lexington and Concord.

In Wadsworth’s poem, the fate of the revolution rests with Revere. However, in real life, three riders set out. Of those three, only Prescott arrived at Concord in time to warn the troops. Paul Revere was captured by the British. Some say Wadsworth manipulated the truth for poetic effect:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere

Even without the poem, Paul Revere earned his place in American history.

Freedom Trail Stop 13: Old North Church

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The Old North Church is the oldest standing church in Boston dating back to 1775. Just old enough for house lanterns in the steeple if you’ve just read the Paul Revere House entry. Of course, Longfellow wasn’t entirely accurate in his poetry.

The “One if by land, two if by sea” signals weren’t to Paul Revere. They were from Paul Revere. Upon Paul Revere’s instructions, Robert Newman, Captain John Pulling, and Thomas Bernard began the task of hoisting the lanterns while Revere set out on his midnight ride.

Freedom Trail Stop 14: Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

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Copp’s Hill Burying Ground is the second oldest cemetery in Boston. It’s fallen into disrepair several times during its history, and the historical boundaries are not entirely documented. That makes for fantastic ghost stories and gravesites of primarily Colonial-era figures.

Pro-tip: If you’re running short on time or energy, try to make it to the Old North Church and Copp’s Hill before you turn around. It’s still a mile farther till you get to stop 16: Bunker Hill monument.

The first fourteen stops on the Freedom Trail are on the first mile and a half. The final two are spread out over a mile. There’s a lot more bang to the buck on the front end of the Freedom Trail.

Freedom Trail Stop 15: USS Constitution

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Christened in Boston in 1797, USS Constitution is the United States Navy’s oldest commissioned warship. The Constitution earned her the moniker “Old Ironsides” following a battle in the War of 1812 with the British frigate HMS Guerriere.

Although of limited military significance, this battle was the first time a US ship won a single ship battle against a similar British foe. The news of the victory was an immeasurable boost to morale.

Freedom Trail Stop 16: Bunker Hill Monument

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The Freedom Trail stops at Bunker Hill Monument. How poetic is it that the Freedom Trail ends where the Revolutionary War began. The Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17th, 1775 was the first major battle of the Revolutionary War.

Although the British ultimately won the battle, it came at a hefty price. Bunker Hill proved that the American militia could hold their own against the Redcoats and the British were notably cautious in all future engagements.

Tours Along the Freedom Trail

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Our guide makes it easy to plan your own Freedom Trail walking tour, but you have so many more options! Guided Boston Freedom Trail tours are quite popular, and since I wanted a little something extra, I booked the From Food to Freedom Trail Tour with Urban Adventures. The food was absolutely amazing!

My favorite food stop was Salumeria Italiana, noted to be one of Boston’s best Italian groceries. We tried an original Italian sub on their home-baked bread, and I can’t say as I tasted anything better during my entire Boston trip. It was divine! Another notable tour stop was Bricco Panetteria for their fresh-made Italian pastries. They also supply much of the homemade bread to area restaurants.

Not to be missed is Vittoria Coffee, Boston’s oldest surviving coffee shop since 1929. It is reported that they serve the best cappuccinos in the country! That’s only fitting since the Boston Tea Party is known as the start of the American coffee movement.

Though it was not a stop on the food tour, an obligatory local treat is a slice of Boston Cream Pie, which originated at the historic luxury hotel Omni Parker House, located just off the Freedom Trail.

Boston Freedom Trail FAQs

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Is the Boston Freedom Trail worth it? Walking the Boston Freedom Trail brings history to life and is the most popular experience in Boston.

Is the Freedom Trail in Boston free? Walking the Freedom Trail is free but some of the stops do charge admission.

Where does the Boston Freedom Trail start and end? The Boston Freedom Trail starts at Boston Common and ends at the USS Constitution Museum.

How long does it take to walk the entire Freedom Trail in Boston? It takes about 90 minutes to walk the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail not including stops.

How do I follow the Freedom Trail? The Freedom Trail is marked with a red brick path and you can load our interactive Boston Freedom Trail Map on your phone and follow along with live GPS tracking.

Parting Thoughts on the Boston Freedom Trail

Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

We made several stops along the Boston Freedom Trail which I have to say, were made better by having a local guide. I quite enjoyed the food and the Freedom Trail and would do both again on my next visit to Boston!

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Photo Credit: Ed Coleman.

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