Walking the Freedom Trail is one of Boston’s best experiences. On this walk, learn about Paul Revere’s midnight ride, visit historic meetinghouses and churches, and learn about battles and events that sparked that start of the Revolutionary War.
What is the Freedom Trail?
The American Revolutionary War began in Boston. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile route that takes you to 16 important sites during this war.
The walk starts (or ends, depending on the direction you choose to walk it) at the Boston Common and ends (or starts) at the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill. Along the walk, you will visit historic churches, meeting halls, cemeteries, and battlegrounds.
How Long Does it Take?
This can vary. How much time you spend at each site will have a big impact on how long it takes to walk the entire trail.
We walked the Freedom Trail in about four hours. We started at the Boston Common and ended at the USS Constitution. Along the way, we visited everything possible. At some sites we stayed for just a few minutes but at the other places we really liked, we stayed longer. The only thing we didn’t go into was the USS Constitution (it was closed for renovation) and the USS Constitution Museum (history overload by this point).
If we did it again, we would plan to have a break at about the halfway point (which is near Faneuil Hall and Quincy Marketplace). It’s a great walk and we learned a ton, but it does get to be a bit of history overload towards the end. Having a scheduled break in the middle might help with this.
Tours of the Freedom Trail
You can schedule a guided tour of the Freedom Trail. However, most guided tours do not cover the entire Freedom Trail. The official Freedom Trail Foundation offers a guided tour of 11 of the 16 sites (Boston Common through Faneuil Hall). This tour takes 90 minutes.
You can also purchase a guided walking tour through GetYourGuide. This tour includes the portion of the Freedom Trail between Boston Common and Faneuil Hall as well as other Boston sites.
GetYourGuide also offers a self-guided tour of the Freedom Trail via an app you install on your mobile device. The app includes audio narration, a live GPS map, and the route from stop to stop. Click here to learn more about this option.
Note that these tours do not include admission to the sites on the Freedom Trail.
How to Walk the Freedom Trail Without Taking a Tour
We chose to walk it on our own. I printed out the Freedom Walk Trail brochure, which provided information on each of the 16 sites. You can also download a copy of the map using this link. At each stop, we took turns reading about what we were visiting. Joining a tour probably would have provided more information, but for us, it was nice to explore the Freedom Trail at our own pace.
Each of the 16 sites is marked with a Freedom Trail plaque on the ground. A narrow, red brick trail connects all of the sites. Just follow this trail through the city.
Map of the Freedom Trail
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest. If you click the star, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
The Freedom Trail Sites
Here is a quick overview of the sites you will visit on the Freedom Trail.
#1 Boston Common
This is the oldest public park in the United States. It was once a grazing area for sheep and later become a training ground for the militia.
#2 Massachusetts State House
Built in 1798, this is the state capitol building and the seat of government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is free to visit and open during the weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. You can also schedule a tour of the building.
#3 Park Street Church
This is a landmark in Boston and a site where slavery was protested and woman’s suffrage was supported. Cost: free
#4 Granary Burying Ground
In this very old cemetery, search for the tombstones of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin’s parents. Cost: free
#5 King’s Chapel and Burying Ground
Established in 1686, this is one of the oldest churches in Boston. It houses the oldest pulpit still in continuous use in the United States. Sitting next to the King’s Chapel is another cemetery. Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off of the Mayflower, is buried here.
#6 Benjamin Franklin Statue and the Boston Latin School
This was America’s first public school and Benjamin Franklin attended school here.
#7 Old Corner Bookstore
This was once a bookstore, selling works by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott. Now it is a Chipotle. Hungry yet?
#8 Old South Meeting House
It was here that people protested the tax on tea, which led to the Boston Tea Party. Just across the street, at 1 Milk Street, is where Benjamin Franklin was born.
#9 Old State House
This was the site of many debates that lead up to the Revolutionary War. Inside is a museum with exhibits explaining the events that lead up to the start of the Revolutionary War.
#10 Boston Massacre Site
On March 5, 1770, a skirmish broke out between Redcoats and a crowd of Boston residents. Five of these Bostonians were killed, which Paul Revere called a “bloody massacre.” This event is memorialized with this plaque on the ground.
#11 Faneuil Hall
This was another meeting venue where people protested against British oppression. The first floor is a marketplace and on the second floor is the Great Hall where the debates and protests took place. Cost: free
#12 Paul Revere House
Built in 1680, this is the oldest building in Boston. Paul Revere purchased this house when he was 33 years old and lived here in 1775 when he went on his famous midnight ride.
#13 Old North Church
“One if by land, two if by sea.” These famous words, referring to signal lanterns on Paul Revere’s midnight ride, ignited a revolution. These lanterns were hung in the tower of this church on that famous night. Cost: free, donations appreciated
#14 Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
This is another very old cemetery. The British also used this spot to fire their cannons during the battle of Bunker Hill. Cost: free
#15 USS Constitution and Museum
The USS Constitution, also called “Old Ironsides,” was constructed in 1797 and used during the Battle of 1812. You can also visit the USS Constitution Museum to learn more about the warship.
#16 Bunker Hill Monument
This is the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. You can climb the gigantic granite obelisk for decent views over the city. During the summer months, it can be hot and crowded inside. Cost: free, open 9 am to 4:30 pm, 294 steps to the top.
Our Favorite Sites
If you want to walk the Freedom Trail, but don’t necessarily want to enter every single site, which ones should you visit? Here are our favorites:
- Granary Burying Ground, we loved the old headstones
- Paul Revere House, for its historical importance
- Old North Church, for its importance in American folklore
You can walk the Freedom Trail in either direction. If you start at Bunker Hill in the morning, you can climb the obelisk before the crowds arrive.
Most sites are open from 9 to 5, but this can vary depending on the day of the week and the season. If you plan on entering these sites, make sure you check the operating hours before you go.
Have a meal at Warren Tavern. This is a historic tavern just a few blocks from Bunker Hill. It’s the perfect end to a day on the Freedom Trail (if you start at the Boston Common).
To get back to the Boston city center, we used Uber.
Some of these sites have an entrance fee but they are included on the Boston Go Card.
Here are a few more tours that make nice additions to the Freedom Trail. These don’t take the place of walking the Freedom Trail, but they are interesting add-ons to the Freedom Trail experience:
Do you have any questions or want to offer advice about walking the Freedom Trail? Comment below!
More Information for Your Trip to Massachusetts:
BOSTON: For more information about Boston, read our article Best Things to Do in Boston. We also have a detailed guide on how to day trip to Plymouth, Lexington, and Concord from Boston.
MAINE: If your visit is part of a bigger road trip and you have plans to visit Maine, check out our Acadia National Park Travel Guide. We also have information on the best hikes in Acadia and how to plan your Acadia National Park Itinerary.
NEW YORK CITY: Let us take the guesswork out of planning a trip to New York City with our 5 Days in New York City Itinerary. We also have a New York City Hotel Guide and an article that covers the top sights in New York City.
USA TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in the United States, check out our article Best USA Road Trips, which has 18 sample itineraries for your next big adventure. You can also see more travel itineraries on our Travel Itineraries page.
Read all of our articles about the USA in our United States Travel Guide.
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Anyone knows if the freedom trail is opened tomorrow?
The Freedom Trail is always open, since it’s a walking route through Boston. However, the sites along the way, such as Faneuil Hall and the USS Constitution, might not yet be open. I just did a quick search. The Paul Revere House is open and the Old North Church is open for several days in April. It would take some work, but you can check the websites of each of the sites to see whether or not they are open. Cheers, Julie
If you are a Boy Scout, the Spirit of Adventure Council in Boston offers a Freedom Trail Medal for those who complete the full walk and answer a questionnaire — you can Google it, etc before your trip to Boston. My son earned it a few years ago – very cool way to explore historical sites in Boston!
I have Ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War. They were from New London Ct. Their Names were Capt Nathaniel Hempstead. And Son Sgt Nathaniel HempsteadJr.
I was wondering if you had any information on them.
Nathaniel Jr. Later moved to Fredonia N.Y. and is buried in the Historic Pomfret Cemetary in Fredonia N.Y..
No, unfortunately we do not have any information on them. Good luck on your search and learning more about them. Cheers, Julie
Thanks for the tips! To add, I used the WalknTours app and took the Freedom Trail tours. These were GPS guided tours, so we just pressed play, put our phones in our pocket and the tour guided us turn by turn around the freedom trail. They have over 20 tours in Boston. I think the difference is WalknTours is a marketplace with lots of tours. And they are pretty cool. Loved the experience. Flexible, fun and well written.
They have it broken down into 3 tours with 3 different narrators. All were great, the Part 2 had a great narrator and felt very little Italy. They also had a bunch of tours around Boston, we tried the North End Pizza experience and found some good pizza places.
Just looked them up, walkntours.com
Wow, this is a great tip!! Thanks so much! Cheers, Julie
Thanks for sharing us your blog. It’s been nice reading it. It’s good in walking for a tour but I also suggest some sunset tours using a helicopter in Boston. While you explore all of the fun and exciting things to do in sunset tours, remember that a thrilling and rewarding air tour may be just what you’ve been looking for.
Thanks for this article. It is very informative and – unlike the materials put out by the Foundation – pretty useful. Readers might like to know that you can’t download the audio tour referred to above directly to your smartphone or tablet – you have to download to a PC first (I didn’t bring my PC with me on vacation 🙄). The app you mention is also incompatible with current versions of iOS (it was written for iOS3.2 by the looks of it 🙄) – so can’t use it either. Clearly, Boston is all about history not technology! 🤔
Thanks for all of this. The crazy thing is, the app I added to this post was the most up-to-date version I could find. Thanks again! – Julie
Try the WalknTours app on iPhone or Android. They have the Freedom Trail tours and 15 other tours in Boston. It’s all on your phone, easy to use and fun. All you have to do is choose the tour, press play and put your phone away. From there the app guides you turn by turn telling the stories of the Freedom Trail. And the narration’s fun.
thank you so much for your detailed post, very helpful indeed! We have found ourselves unexpectedly in Boston over the 4th of July and plan to walk the Freedom trail today, which as Brits should be very interesting! Maybe we’ll have some tea along the way 😉
Thank you for all your helpful tips! Could you please share where you parked your car or how you got yourself back to your starting point (Boston Commons)?
We did not have a car while in Boston. To get back to our hotel, we used Uber. I think you can also take a bus but I am not familiar with the details. Cheers, Julie
Hi! Can you share a link or more information about the Freedom Trail app you used? I am searching for it now and don’t see an obvious choice. Also, did you have to pay for the app? Thank you!
Sorry about that. All links have been updated and I included the link to the Apple store for the free app. Enjoy Boston!! Cheers, Julie
Here’s a new, and popular Freedom Trail Self-Guided Audio Guide app
For iPhone: http://www.ftapple.com
For Android: http://www.ftandroid.com
You can buy the password from Viator (http://tiny.cc/ftviator) for USD 4.99
My bad. Here is the correct link to download the app. Stumbled upon this blog again as am planning to visit in Mar end. Had fun last time. Enjoy.