No trip to Boston would be complete without a stroll down its famous Freedom Trail. The 2.5-mile route follows a bold, red line painted down city streets and cobblestone lanes to lead you on a journey through American history.
The Freedom Trail connects 16 historical landmarks, several of which are also part of the Boston National Historical Park and attended by park rangers, who will answer all your questions. Other locations are staffed by knowledgeable docents and volunteers.
We suggest you catch the sights of the Freedom Trail with a guided tour, which showcases 11 of the 16 sites.
Check out our helpful guide for walking The Freedom Trail sites, including a walking tour of Boston’s historic trail, packed full of ways to save on admission, tips for visiting, other nearby attractions, and much more.
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Tips for Visiting The Freedom Trail
Get the app
The Freedom Trail Boston app will allow you to carry a digital map of the trail in your pocket, which is useful for the few spots along the way where sidewalk construction projects have left visitors without their trusty red line to follow.
The app also provides helpful information about hours and locations of all the major stops, plus background information that eliminates the need to lug a guidebook around with you. It’s available in the Apple Store or via Google Play.
Get a guide
With so much history on display, it can be hard to keep your dates straight as you hop from building to building.
A 90-minute guided tour of the Freedom Trail Boston between Boston Common and Faneuil Hall is the best way to understand the story of the city’s journey from loyal colony to capital of the rebellion.
Guides in 17th-century garb are easy to spot either at the Boston Common Visitor’s Center or at the ArtsBoston Bostix booth at Faneuil Hall.
Though you can walk the Freedom Trail by yourself from end to end in about 45 minutes, that doesn’t account for time to tour all the buildings, snap a few selfies, grab a meal, or rest for a bit.
If you plan to do the whole shebang, the Freedom Trail is an all-day event. Eat a big, protein-packed breakfast so you can get a good portion of the trail under your belt before stopping to eat lunch.
You can avoid getting stuck in the pack by starting your Freedom Trail adventure in Charlestown at the U.S.S. Constitution. Long lines form here in the summer to get on the ship, so getting there first can save you a lot of time.
From there, loop up to the Bunker Hill Monument and climb it on fresh legs — you’ll never make it to the top if you save it for the end of the day the way most people do.
It’s literally all down hill from there as you work your way to Boston Common.
Don’t walk directly on the red line
It can be mesmerizing, but stay to the side of the line so you don’t crash into other sightseers along the way.
The sidewalks along the Freedom Trail are wide but often crowded, so stay alert and be aware that lots of other people are trying to follow the line to stay on course, too!
It’s also important to note that the red line winds through a fairly busy section of downtown Boston, so you’ll be walking in crowds basically everywhere you go during certain times of day (like, say, post 5 pm).
Best Times to Visit
To avoid crowds, early spring and the weeks after Columbus Day but before Christmas are good choices, though it can certainly be cold on the Freedom Trail at these times if the wind is blowing in off the water.
If you come during these off-season dates, be sure to check the National Park Service calendar for special operating hours. In particular, the Bunker Hill Monument and the U.S.S. Constitution are subject to closures on certain dates and in bad weather.
For warm weather, summer is the season to tour Boston — just expect the Freedom Trail sites to be teeming with tourists and residents alike on warm, sunny days.
The best times to go for more elbow room are weekday mornings, with Friday morning being especially light as people head out to the beaches of Cape Cod for the weekend.
What You Should Bring
- Sneakers: Comfortable shoes are absolutely crucial for walking the Freedom Trail — flip flops aren’t going to cut it. Make sure you have athletic shoes that provide great support, and wear moisture-wicking socks to beat the heat in the summer.
- Layers: Boston weather can be unpredictable at any time of year. It’s best to be prepared with a light rain jacket and an extra long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt that your can tie around your waist or stash in a backpack for when the wind shifts.
- Snacks: There are portions of the Freedom Trail that wind through neighborhoods without a lot of dining options. Carry some granola bars or other portable goodies — especially if you have kids — to avoid falling victim to a snack attack where there’s no place to stop for a bite.
- Water: On a hot summer day, the Freedom Trail can feel like as much of an endurance test as the Boston Marathon. Carry a water bottle to sip on to stay hydrated on your journey.
- Sun Protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat are all good ways to keep from getting a sunburn. Just because the air is cool doesn’t mean you can’t get a nasty burn.
- A Camera: You’ll definitely want to capture the memories of all these great places. Whether you’re bringing a selfie stick, a professional-caliber 35mm camera or just your everyday phone, make sure you’re fully charged and ready to snap a picture or two.
The 16 Historic Freedom Trail Sites
There are 16 official stops along the Freedom Trail.
You’ll pass burial grounds and meetinghouses, statues and symbols of the revolutionary journey taken by the men and women of early Boston as they decided to go all-in for freedom and fight against the tyrannical British crown.
The route winds through the best of old Boston and modern skyscrapers alike, and there’s no better way to get your finger on the pulse of this vibrant city than by walking the Freedom Trail sites on a sunny day.
The sites are as follows, listed in order from the Boston Common Visitor Center:
Boston CommonIt would be a mistake to think of the Boston Common as a miniature version of New York’s Central Park. The Common is the oldest city park in the United States and was established in 1634 as pasture land for city-dwellers’ milk cows.
Today it’s a popular meeting place for residents and visitors of all stripes, and you’re just as likely to see political protestors as you are college kids playing Frisbee or sunbathing. In the winter, it’s also a popular sledding destination!
Catch a guided tour at the Visitor’s Center, or make your way along the red line up Beacon Hill through the grand open space of the Common on your own.
Massachusetts State HouseThe gleaming gold dome of the State House on Beacon Hill is the center of state government in Massachusetts.
Its iconic dome is recognizable from pretty far away (and well across the river into Cambridge), so be sure to snap an Insta there.
Tours are available by appointment only, but be sure to take in the monument to the Massachusetts 54th Regiment across the street.
The bas-relief sculpture honors the first African-American regiment to fight in the Civil War.
Park Street ChurchOn the corner of the Common at Park and Tremont Streets is the Park Street Church, a visual and philosophical landmark of 19th-Century Boston.
It was here that many famous abolitionists began to make the case against slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War.
It’s a great reminder that Boston’s leadership didn’t end with the Revolutionary War, and the city’s elder statesmen and women remained active participants in many important events in the history of the nation.
Granary Burying GroundThis old cemetery next to the Park Street Church is named for the nearby grain storage facilities that were important to the early settlers (the granary is long gone now).
The oldest grave markers in the Granary Burying Ground date all the way back to the 1660s, and many are decorated with traditional Puritan skulls and wings.
Famous graves include those of include Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams.
This is a shady spot to take a breather on a hot day.
King’s ChapelKing’s Chapel was the first non-Puritan church erected in Boston, and it’s a fine example of Georgian architecture and Boston’s Anglican history.
The adjacent burial ground was the first official cemetery in Boston and contains interesting headstones of Massachusetts’ first governor and earliest residents.
Boston Latin School
Boston prides itself on being a leader in education, and the first public school in the country — the Boston Latin School — was founded on this site.
The original school is no longer here, but the site is marked by a statue of its most famous dropout: Benjamin Franklin, who high-tailed it to Philadelphia before graduating from the illustrious institution.
Old Corner Book StoreThe Old Corner Book Store is one of the oldest surviving buildings in all of Boston and was for many years the epicenter of Boston’s literary community — a group that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne, to name just a few writers you may remember from high school English class.
Though the building still stands, it’s no longer a bookstore. Today it houses a Chipotle, so grab a burrito if you’re hungry.
Across the street is the Irish Famine Memorial, an emotional bronze sculpture worth seeing up close.
Old South Meeting House
Most famous as the site of Samuel Adams’ speech that riled the crowds to dump British tea into Boston Harbor and foment the coming rebellion, the Old South Meeting House is one of the most kid-friendly sites on the Freedom Trail.
Ask the docents for a scavenger hunt list and watch your kids explore every nook and cranny to discover the history of this building and Boston’s revolutionary heroes.
There’s also a great book store in the basement to pick up a souvenir or two.
Insider Tip: If you’re interested in exploring this part of the trail further, Old South Meeting House tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Old State HouseThe Old State House was the where Boston legislators met until the British government — accurately predicting that the colonists were becoming too unruly — dissolved the legislature and tool control local affairs.
The tiny building still holds its own amid a backdrop of modern skyscrapers, housing both a museum and the entrance to the T — Boston’s underground subway system.
Insider Tip: If you’re also interested in this building, Old State House tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
Site of the Boston Massacre
In front of the Old State House is the site of the Boston Massacre — you can’t miss the large medallion embedded in the sidewalk.
Though today historians note that it was hardly a massacre, and that British soldiers were provoked into firing the weapons, at the time the incident inflamed the colonists’ sensibilities and pushed them into full rebellion.
It’s also a great reminder that, in Boston, history is everywhere — even beneath your feet.
Originally a commercial center, Faneuil Hall became another popular meeting place for Boston’s leaders to discuss their options and express their indignation as they marched towards revolution.
Today the building hosts a National Park Visitor’s Center with exhibits explaining the building’s history.
It’s also the centerpiece of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, an outdoor shopping center where you’ll find street performers and other entertainment on the open-air plaza in the summer.
Paul Revere House
Follow the Freedom Trail across the North End Park and into the North End to the Paul Revere House.
Guides here tell the story of the country’s most famous silversmith, and you can see a collection of his wares.
This is also a great spot for architecture buffs: The building itself has been carefully restored and highlights early American design inside and out.
Insider Tip: If you want to learn more about America’a favorite silversmith, Paul Revere House tickets are included with the Go Boston Card.
オールドノース教会In front of the plaza on the way to the Old North Church is the famous statue of Paul Revere as he began his ride to warn the residents of the countryside that the armed and dangerous Redcoats were coming.
The spire of the Old North Church is the place where the signal lanterns (“one if by land, two if by sea”) were hung to set the events in motion.
Boston’s oldest surviving church would be worth a visit even without its ties to history: The interior is an airy, gorgeous example of what it meant to be a pious colonist.
Copp’s Hill Burial GroundCopp’s Hill is a steep climb, but the views of North End and Boston’s rivers are worth it.
The Copp’s Hill Burial Ground is Boston’s second oldest cemetery, and it’s a quiet, leafy retreat where you can enjoy peacefully browsing the old headstones away from the crowds that form at the other historic burial sites in the city.
U.S.S. ConstitutionMake the trek across the Charlestown Bridge to the Navy Yard to visit “Old Ironsides,” the oldest commissioned naval ship in the world.
Board the ship and take the full tour, then visit the U.S.S. Constitution Museum for a look at the fascinating history of shipbuilding and Old Ironsides’ critical role in the War of 1812.
The museum has fun, hands-on activities for kids, a well-stocked book store, and the cleanest bathrooms along the Freedom Trail.
Insider Tip: Truly inspired by this magnificent ship? Hop aboard a U.S.S. Constitution Cruise; tickets included with the Go Boston Card.
Bunker Hill Monument
Finally, climb the winding streets of Charlestown. As you pass quaint brick and clapboarded row homes, the stone obelisk of the Bunker Hill Monument will rise in front of you.
If you can make it up the hill to the park, it’s a great place for a picnic to celebrate your accomplishment — you’ve completed the entire Freedom Trail! You can also learn more about the all-important 1775 Revolutionary War battle fought on this ground.
If you’ve got the extra stamina, climb all 294 steps to the top of the obelisk and take in the breathtaking views.
If the official Freedom Trail landmarks aren’t enough to fill your day, there are dozens of interesting places to stop along the route as well. Here are a few favorites that are worth stepping away from the red line for a bit:
- The Public Garden: Across Charles Street from the Boston Common is the Public Garden, the dressed-up Victorian sister of the old cow pasture. Enjoy the landscaping, snap a photo by the “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture and ride the swan boats for the full experience.
- The New England Holocaust Memorial. Right near Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market on Congress Street, the New England Holocaust Memorial is one of the most thoughtfully-designed public works of its kind. Walk through the memorial at any time, but you may want to come back at night for the full impact of the piece’s nod to the ovens of the death camps.
- Hanover Street. The main thoroughfare of the North End is worth exploring, as are the side alleys nearby. This is Boston’s old Italian neighborhood, where you’ll still find authentic cigar shops, great cappuccino and gelato.
- The Printing Office of Edes and Gill. Adjacent to the Old North Church is the reconstructed Printing Office of Edes and Gill, where you can see first-hand how colonial-era newspapers were printed by hand. It’s a remarkable look at 17th-Century technology in action.
Places to Eat Nearby
Near Boston Common
- Cheers: The old Bull and Finch Pub on Beacon Street inspired the TV show “Cheers.” Now permanently called Cheers, it’s still a surprisingly great place to grab a burger and a brew.
- The Corner Food Court: Head down Winter Street from the Common into Downtown Crossing to the Corner Mall, where you’ll find a whole slew of fast food favorites to fuel up.
Near Faneuil Hall
- Quincy Market: Part of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Quincy Market is home to the food court to beat all food courts. You’ll find national fast food chains as well as more upscale choices. The best local options are Pizzeria Regina and the Boston and Maine Fish Company.
- The Union Oyster House: The Freedom Trail will take you right past this historic eatery, which is America’s oldest restaurant. The Union Oyster House is, not surprisingly, renowned for its seafood dishes: Lobster, oysters and clams are all fresh off the boat and cooked to perfection. If you can’t get a table, the pub scene is strong around Union Park.
In the North End
- Caffe Vittoria: This famous Italian coffee shop serves the best tiramisu you’ll ever eat. Caffe Vittoria is Boston’s oldest and best café.
- Caffe dello Sport: Dark, quiet and totally authentic, this little Italian sandwich shop has salad, wine and reasonably-priced paninis that make it a great lunch spot. Caffe dello Sport gets busy when there’s a big soccer match on TV, though, so be forewarned.
- Pasta E Pomodoro: You’ll never have a bad meal in the North End (as long as you love Italian food, that is). Pasta E Pomodoro is just one of many great pasta places that serves up Old World specialties perfectly every time.
Save on Tickets with a Go Boston Card
Remember, the Go Boston® Card is the best choice for maximum savings and flexibility, which includes Freedom Trail Boston Tours, plus admission to your choice of other top attractions.
Save up to 55% on top museums, tours, and activities vs. paying at the gate. Visit multiple attractions for one low price.