Colonial history comes alive at some of the nation’s most treasured landmarks
With locations varying from museums and historic landmarks to the naval ship USS Constitution, Boston’s Freedom Trail offers revealing insights into the city’s colorful history. Originally dedicated in 1951, it has become one of New England’s most popular attractions, attracting nearly 4 million visitors a year.
Group trips are not only welcomed by the Freedom Trail Foundation but celebrated. Whether your group decides to join a tour or explore on its own, the following are among the must-see sites on Boston’s 2.5-mile Freedom Trail.
Visit the Paul Revere House in Boston
The oldest structure in downtown Boston, this was the home of patriot Paul Revere from 1770 to 1800. Its education and visitors center offers a variety of experiences surrounding Revere’s life. You can learn about his entrepreneurial endeavors as a silversmith, legendary midnight ride and contributions to the Revolutionary War. The staff organizes many special events, including live music and colonial art demonstrations.
Guests on the Freedom Trail’s official tours receive a discounted entrance fee, but if you would like to book a tour of the house itself, visit the Paul Revere House website at least two weeks in advance.
Learn about history at the Old North Church
Built in 1723, Old North Church is considered the starting point of the American Revolution. It is where Paul Revere rode to hang the lantern signaling “one if by land, two if by sea.” The church still functions as a place of worship but has hours during which it is open for historical viewing. Groups can enjoy an original play that runs from June to September, a fun scavenger hunt and an audio tour. The church is surrounded by five gardens, each with its own backstory. Also on the church’s campus is Clough House, where the team demonstrates a colonial-era printing process.
General admission to tour the church is free, but there is a small fee for the cemetery. Large groups are encouraged to contact the visitor experience manager in advance.
The Old South Meeting House is a great historical stop
The meetings that set the Boston Tea Party in motion took place here on December 16, 1773. Today the Old South Meeting House, the largest building in colonial Boston, is one of America’s earliest museums and preservation efforts. In 1872 the building was set to be demolished, but the citizens of Boston banded together to raise funds to purchase it, marking the first time the American people had saved a building of historical significance.
For groups of 10 or more not participating in one of the Freedom Trail’s official tours, the meeting house encourages you to fill out a group reservation request form.
The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest warship still afloat
Originally launched in 1797, the USS Constitution is the world’s oldest warship still afloat and is declared America’s ship of state. Crew members work to promote naval history through educational programs and historical demonstrations. Aboard the ship nicknamed “Old Ironsides” visitors can speak to U.S. Navy personnel who are happy to answer questions about the ship and its history. A museum is located in the Navy Yard next to the ship.
The ship is open for free public tours and operates on a first-come, first-served basis; reservations cannot be made in advance. If you are planning on traveling with a larger group, it would be best to arrive early to ensure the entire group is able to see the ship together.
Learn about a famous battle at Bunker Hill
This 221-foot monument is a pillar of remembrance that marks the site of the Revolutionary War’s first major battle. Fifty years after the Battle of Bunker Hill, General Marquis de Lafayette returned to place a cornerstone memorializing the losses taken in battle. That single stone would eventually become today’s monument, dedicated in 1843. For panoramic views, you can climb 294 steps to the top. The museum is full of exhibits on the war and staffed with historians happy to answer questions. (nps.gov/bost/learn/historyculture/bhm.htm)
Faneuil Hall has seen many important historical moments
This gorgeous hall witnessed many of America’s first decisions as it was becoming a nation and is often called “the home of free speech.” Throughout the years it has functioned as a political meeting house, marketplace and armory. For the past 275 years the hall has continued to serve as a place of community life and political events. The first floor includes the market and visitor center, the second is home to the great hall and the fourth floor is occupied by the museum of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. Many Freedom Trail tours start in front of Faneuil Hall.
The hall is owned by the City of Boston and operated by the National Park Service. (nps.gov/bost/learn/historyculture/fh.htm)
Subscribe to Leisure Group Travel today and always stay up to date on current travel trends and group activities.
By Olivia Opperman