Something everyone should do when they visit Boston is walk the Freedom Trail. It’s a well-demarcated walk through downtown that covers many of the events and locations that were important in the American Revolutionary War.
The walk doesn’t even really need a map. You get off the train (or T) on Park Street and follow the red line; wherever one of the circular discs like that above is located is where you stop to look around and learn.
Luckily for me, when I got off the T near Boston Common, it was the middle of Harborfest, which meant a regiment of British soldiers was patrolling the Trail.
Well, ok, they were reenactors, but who’s counting? I followed them anyway until I got to Park Street Church, which had a really cool display of its history inside.
After you leave the church, there’s the same cool cemetery next door I visited for the Irish Heritage Trail: The Granary Burying Grounds.
There are several famous American patriots buried here, including Paul Revere, who factors heavily in the Freedom Trail’s stops.
An interesting custom at the burying grounds is the leaving of coins or stones on the gravestones. The coins are cleaned off every few weeks and given as donations for the upkeep of the graves.
King’s Chapel also made its second appearance on this trip; it was actually open this time (because it wasn’t seven in the morning), so I took the time to explore its very interesting interior, which consists of rows of pew boxes that an entire family could occupy for sermons.
King’s Chapel Burying Ground is next door; it contains the body of John Winthrop, whom you may remember as one of the founding citizens of Massachusetts and its first governor.
The Old State House down the street held several interesting discoveries. At first, the building looks totally normal.
Then you notice the restaurant set in the courtyard underneath the statue of Ben Franklin and the donkey in the entryway.
Now, the reason the donkey picture has to be in this post is because as a child, I went on a family road trip by the Hoover Dam. The dam’s information center had a life-size paper-mache donkey that I wheedled and whined next to until my mom took a picture of me with it. To this day, she still has that picture and loves to laugh about it. So, mom, this one’s for you: I took a picture of the donkey.
A hop, skip, and a jump down the street is the Old South Meeting House, where the Boston Tea Party was planned.
On my way toward the Old North Church, I made a stop in the North End for lunch at Galleria Umberto, which I had heard was the best hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in the Italian District. I ate the most delicious Italian lunch I think I’ve ever had in this little square while I briefly debated kidnapping the cook and taking him home with me.
Now, picture this: A wide shaded alley, golden leaves drifting toward the ground. You walk toward the Old North Church, and then… The theme to Harry Potter starts playing in the background.
A street performer was playing theme songs for tourists passing by, and had picked the perfect spot to play something for the aspiring wizards among us.
The Church is where the lanterns were lit for Paul Revere to see for his midnight ride. It has quite a few activities on the weekends, but it looked like most families weren’t partaking of them.
Just down the street from the Church is the grave of the man who lit the lanterns, buried at Copps Hill Burying Ground (which has a pretty steep slope to walk).
Further on, the trail crosses a bridge into Charlestown, where the Bunker Hill Monument and USS Constitution are hiding.
The Constitution is the oldest ship still in commission by the US Navy. It hasn’t really been updated (there are still hammocks in the living quarters, which my father says they rarely, if ever, use anywhere anymore), but it was squeaky clean and shiny because several Tall Ships from other countries were visiting in honor of the Battle of 1812’s anniversary.
Fun story: While I was waiting to get on one of the Canadian ships, a young girl in front of me was screaming. The man in front turned around and excitedly asked, “Do you want ice cream?!” The girl calmed down enough to say “No!” He got up in her face and asked very loudly, “Then why are you screaming?!” She was so flustered that she went quiet and hid behind her dad’s legs for the rest of the wait.
Meanwhile, I decided to finish my walk by visiting Bunker Hill.
When you walk up, there is a statue at the base of the monument of a man drawing his sword.
William Prescott is known as the man who coined the phrase “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” Also, how awesome does he have to be to look like the Zorro of the Revolution?
Anyway, there are also some unofficial stops on the Freedom Trail that make it obviously a tourist stop.
After all of my walking around, I’m pretty sure this is the only McDonald’s I saw in the entirety of Boston. It’s obviously there for the tourists who are walking the trail and not for the Bostonians themselves; the natives just visit the Dunkin Donuts every 2 hours (don’t try to deny it!).