Are you in Boston but still not sure how to tour the city? Then worry no more, all you need is a self-guided tour that will guide you through this beautiful city attractions. Considering Boston is pretty large and well established, a wrong plan will either get you lost or land you in the hands of the authority for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Boston is a hidden jewel in America that most tourists have not discovered. It’s filled with historical, architectural and natural wonders that are once in a lifetime opportunity. For this reason, you need a comprehensive guide that will guide you to all the right and intriguing sites to visit.
To keep you on the right track and make things much simpler for you, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide for you. This guide is handy for a self-guided tour but particularly through the most famous Freedom Trail that attracts millions of tourists in Boston annually.
The trail covers over sixteen intriguing attractions that will make your tour memorable. And that’s not all; the trail comprises of the great story of how America rose from colonial rule to independence.
This is through famous characters like Paul Revere, Sam Adams and Benjamin Franklin among other heroes. To get through the freedom trail, the following is a well-researched guide that contains all attractions on the trail and additional ones close to it.
See Also: Best Things to do in Boston
1. Markers for Freedom Trail
If you have a map of Boston along with you, that’s great, but if you don’t, there are markers for freedom trail you can use. They are characterized by a brick pathway and metallic medallion distributed along the path. Even though this path meanders through the city, it’s the perfect means for a self-guided tour in Boston without a Map.
You can also download the map here.
2. Boston Common
Typically, the start of a self-guided walking tour in Boston is at Boston Common. This beautiful park was founded in 1634. Being the oldest among the parks in the United States, it’s situated in the southernmost trail section.
Many self-guided tours often begin from this place visitor center. From there, you can explore the surrounding area as it’s filled with trees and lawns. Also, you will have an amazing view of the city skyscrapers as they rise above the park treetops.
What’s more, Boston Common is a fascinating spot to visit during winter. If you love skating, it’s a perfect place to apply your skills on the frozen frog ponds. However, it’s also a great spot to spend your summer by having picnics and stroll around the intertwining paths of the park.
3. Massachusetts State House
Once you are through admiring the natural wealth and beauty of Boston Common, Massachusetts State House is just across the street. This building it’s truly a remarkable scene perfect for photography.
Designed like a castle, Massachusetts State House is the legislative and governing body’s Capitol building of Massachusetts. This building provides a chamber where they carry out the governing duties of the state.
To have a spectacular view of the building, you can have access throughout the week except on weekends. Also, try to find time within the working hours to ensure your entry into the building. If you are lucky to get in, spare about 30 to 45 minutes of your time for a guided tour.
The most intriguing part of this tour is the statue of “Sacred Cod” which is found in the chamber of the House of representatives. It serves a special meaning to the state fishing industry.
4. Park Street Church
After an interesting tour at the Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church is just down the street. You can also visit the church directly from the Boston Corner tour as its’ situated right on its corner. Established in 1809, it’s an incredible place to explore a bit of history as you explore the amazing architectural design of the building.
At the time of its completion, it was Boston’s tallest building. Currently, the church still offers ground for worship every Sunday. To visit, you can gain access to the vicinity during the summer. So don’t forget to organize your time of the visit to match with the opening days of Boston attractions.
5. Granary Burying Ground
Adjacent to the street church is the famous Granary Burying Ground in Boston. At this point, you will encounter a bit of fascinating history. Within the ground, it’s Benjamin Franklin Parents’ final place of resting. Also, it’s John Hancock and Paul Revere resting place.
What’s more intriguing, is there are piles of tombstones at certain spots depicting multiple people buried in the same place. It was basically, families who were unable to afford a private spot on a graveyard to bury their loved ones. Thus, in this piece of land, there are thousands of people who were buried here.
6. Boston Public Garden
Before moving any further from Boston Common, there is Boston Public Garden, situated across the street; it’s a place full of wonders and charm. It is not included in the Freedom Trail, but it’s worth taking a look. The beauty of the well-cured gardens is quite breath-taking and hard to notice.
It’s the perfect place for love birds on tour due to its stunning beauty. However, you need to visit the place from May to October. Between these months, there is an abundance of colorful flowers, which sets a relaxing mood perfect for calming your nerves or enjoying what nature has to offer.
What’s more, there are swan boats you can enjoy taking a ride while admiring the ducks and geese as they gracefully swim on water. Thus with the tree blossom in May and the golden theme during the falls, Boston Public Garden is truly a jewel in the heart of this city.
7. Kings Chapel
After admiring the first five attractions found on the freedom trail, Kings Chapel is the sixth one. It’s found a few walks away from the Boston Common as you head northwards to Faneuil Hall. While this place has free entry, the site does compel you to donate a few dollars for a walk around this charming church.
The chapel also holds a bit of history. You will encounter posters of some of the people who have visited or attended this church before. Also, the chapel holds a graveyard that is small and attached as part of the church. From the crypt below, the place houses about 120 people as their resting place. Therefore, a tour at this place will consume approximately 10 to 15 minutes of your time.
8. Benjamin Franklin Statue and Latin School
Are you tired of bits of Boston history? If not, then Benjamin Franklin Statue and Latin School is a great spot to stop by. Benjamin Franklin grew up in Pennsylvania which I think it’s synonymous with the likes of Philadelphia.
But nonetheless, Franklin was born and spent his first seventeen years in Boston. This includes getting admitted to Latin School as well as the first public school in America.
The Franklin statue is situated right at the front of the school. Ita detailed with all the accomplishments he made. Together with a couple of other popular revolutionists, he went to this school although he later dropped out. This school is still in existence to date, although the venue has been changed to Fenway.
9. The Bookstore at the old corner
Several walks away; you will find Old Corner Bookstore as well as Old South meeting house. The building housing the bookstore carries a bit of history for being a commercial building that is the oldest in Boston.
This book store is home to the famous work of Paul Revere midnight ride and the scarlet letter. Who apparently, was the building’s original resident. Currently, the building still serves as a commercial. Currently, the building hosts a Chipotle.
It’s unfortunate that the place is a commercial considering the great historical background, but if you compare that to demolishing the whole building to create space for much bigger flats, it’s totally worth it.
10. Old-South meeting house
Old-South meeting house is just a couple of steps away from the bookstore at the old corner. A unique thing you will note about Boston is the blend between modern architecture and the traditional building design. This creates an outstanding general image of the whole city.
The Old-South meeting house is among the traditional building design which has a charming look of the brick wall design and a towering front face like that of the medieval church with a clock at the top.
Old-South meeting house still stands strong due to the historical significance of the whole country. At one given point, this beautiful old design building was almost brought down to pave the way for the modern design skyscrapers.
When it comes to historical significance, this building was the debate meeting point. And this includes the debate over the controversial tea tax that resulted in the disgraceful Tea Party in Boston.
11. Old State House
This is another charming old house that still stands firm at the heart of Boston. Once a statehouse, this brick-walled building is characterized by a unique charm from the old design. And that’s not all, at the rooftop, stands two horses facing each other. One is a white unicorn while the other is a golden horse. While close to the foot top, there is a large clock with decorations above and below it.
Currently, this magnificent building stands as a museum with great historical significance. At sight, you will get to appreciate the building as well as the area history. And that’s not all; it all has exhibits and artifacts depicting the revolution and history behind this region. To gain entry into this place, there is a small fee required at the entry point.
12. The Massacre site at Boston
Just a couple of steps away from the Old State House is a small area that depicts the agony faced by the lost souls on 5th March 1770. During this time, the British soldiers massacred five men at the Old State House front phase in a small area.
This incident resulted in a public outcry that forced the British soldiers to retreat from Boston. Also, the soldiers who engaged in this atrocity were later tried for murder to uphold justice for the lost souls. This incident created tension between the public and the British rule that led citizens joining the fight for independence from the rule of the British.
Every year, there is a reenactment that commemorates the injustice that took place in that area. And Just as an honor to the five men who were massacred, a large medallion shape inscription was made on the ground. It’s metallic at the border with the date of occurrence on it.
This site is popular along the freedom walk trail. At any given time, you will encounter a gathering of people as they share about the history of the place.
13. Faneuil Hall
Faneuil Hall is currently a huge and well-known tourist destination in Boston. Found in the heart of the city, this place is characterized by an old architect design with brick walls. This entire building is a marketplace full of shopping points and various dining options you can opt for. It’s a great point to stop and re-energize after burning your energy in the first part of a self-guided tour in Boston through the freedom trail.
At this point, you have covered almost half of the attractions along the freedom trail. The time may seem to have gone first, but the distance isn’t that far apart from your starting point. In fact, it’s just a few blocks away.
Some visitors would choose this point as the final destination of the Boston Self-guided tour along the freedom trail. But if you still have more energy and motivation to proceed, there are more fascinating sites waiting for you in the remaining half of the tour.
From this point, the distance separating the attractions become longer. Thus it’s important to rest and re-energize well for the next section of the tour. For snacks, this place has incredible options, and if you are collecting entry stamps, this is a great point to pick all the stamps you need for the rest of your tour.
14. Paul Revere House
Famous through his midnight ride, Paul Revere was also popular for engaging with the community as well as a silversmith. According to the website of Paul Revere House, this home was purchased in the 1900s by his great-grandson. This was to ensure; nothing would be torn apart as people seek to demolish the old building while constructing modern design, which is much taller.
In the House, over 90% of the structure is from the original design, and this includes the furniture which was owned by Paul Revere Family. It’s a great place to appreciate the traditional House and furniture design.
To have access to the vicinity for a spectacular view, there is a cash entry fee you need to pay at the entry point. The time and money you will spend on this particular attraction greatly relies upon the season. Therefore, it’s important to make prior arrangements to avoid surprises or inconveniences.
15. Old North Church
Either by land or by sea, is the heroic tale of Paul Revere Midnight ride as he came to warn about the incoming troops of British to Boston. At the Old North Church, steeple were lanterns to be hung before Paul Revere, and a couple of other riders found their way to Lexington Forever and immortalized in Poem of Longfellow- “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” Entry into this magnificent church is entirely free; however, you have to be cautious so as to avoid getting locked out. You can confirm the opening hours before the start of your tour to avoid the great opportunity of getting into the church.
16. Burying ground of Copp’s Hill
This is another famous burying ground along the freedom trail. These grounds host a few residents from north Boston. And among them includes USS constitution builder- Edmund Hart. Since there are only a few interesting features to look at, you will only need a couple of minutes for this stop.
17. USS Constitution
Nicknamed iron-side, the USS Constitution was built for an important reason. Despite being crafted from wood, this vessel was impenetrable by the cannons during the 1812 famous war. And it’s for this reason; it was nicknamed iron-side. In the US navy, this ship ranks as the oldest as well as among the six original designs that were commissioned by the US president George Washington.
There is limited access to get on the boat as well as an incredible USS constitution museum that allows entry for all ages. What’s more, there are interactive displays which are showcasing the date and how it was built.
This attraction is quite unique. This is because it was until 1797 that the boat was launched successfully on Boston Harbor. This was after independence. However, the boat served as an important part of sea security until the time of the withdrawal of the British troops.
18. Bunker Hill Monument
When you get to this point, you are at the final stop to the self-guided tour along the freedom trail. This place is among the major landmarks in Boston. In fact, it’s a must-visit spot. The monument stands in representation of the Banker hill Battle where the colonial troops for the first time battled against the Redcoats British troops. This was at the end of 1774.
Even though the British were the victors, they also suffered significant casualties. The place has well-manicured lawns with over 294 stairs to get to the top of the monument. It took about 17 years to complete this magnificent monument due to the expensive cost of construction. But after completion, it was dedicated in 1843 as the national monument.
Entry into the monument is only permitted during the day.
FAQs about Boston Self Guided tour
Q. Where does the freedom trail in Boston begin?
Traditionally, the visitors, as well as locals, often begin the self-guided tour along this trail at Boston Common. From this point, you will head towards the north where the tour ends at the famous Bunker Hill monument. Along the way, you will encounter some of the finest attractions in Boston.
Q. How long will it take you to walk along this trail?
Normally, it will take approximately 2 to 3 hours of your time to complete the self-guided tour along the trail. This will only be possible if you have no detours or stopovers to rest. But to have the best experience throughout this tour, you can spare at least five hours. This will give you enough time to take pictures, ask questions and even have plenty of rest or snacks during the tour.
This particular trail covers at least 2.5 miles from the starting point which is at Boston Common to the endpoint at Bunker Hill Monument. Considering you may need to stop over or venture into places found close to but on the trail, you may even need the whole day for this tour.
Q. Are there eating joints along the trail?
Yes, there are stops that have snacks and drinks to replenish your energy reserves along the way. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about being hungry for instance, at Faneuil Hall, you have more than enough snack options to choose from. However, you can along with you some snacks and take away drinks.
Q. How can I get to the starting point after reaching the end of the tour?
As mentioned earlier, the distance is about 2.5 miles and not looping. After long hours of adventure, your body may be too exhausted; in this case, you can take a taxi or Uber back to your hotel or the starting point. But if you still have more energy to dispense, you can actually retrace your steps back to the starting point.
Other things to factor in during your tour
- Visit the statue of “Make way for Ducklings” at Boston Public.
- Refresh with a drink or two at the North-End Beerworks or Rock Bottom Brewing nearby.
- As always, a tour isn’t complete unless you grab a souvenir, and there is no better place as Quincy Market.