Let Freedom Ring
One of Boston's top attractions is the Freedom Trail. This three-mile, do-it-yourself walking tour connects 16 landmarks from revolutionary days. The Trail brings those hazy lessons about Paul Revere and the Boston Tea Party to life. Here are the top five sites:
- The Old State House
Here is where the Declaration of Independence was first read in Boston.
- Faneuil Hall
Angry colonists decided "no taxation without representation" at this spot.
- Paul Revere's House
See where the famous patriot, silversmith, and father of 16 lived for 30 years. It's the oldest house in Boston.
- The Old North Church
This is where Robert Newman hung the two lanterns (one if by land, two if by sea) signaling Paul Revere to begin his legendary midnight ride.
- Bunker Hill Monument
It was here the phrase "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" was coined. The panorama from the top is outstanding; that is, if you can climb 294 steps.
The Freedom Trail starts on the Boston Common, winds its way through downtown, into the Italian North End, and onward to the Charlestown neighborhood. You can't get lost. Just follow the red-brick path or red-painted line on the sidewalk. The trail takes two to four hours to complete, depending on how many stops you make along the way. Free maps and guidebooks are available at the Boston Common Visitor's Information Center (Tremont St.).
By the time you reach the North End, everyone will be drooling for lunch. Order a pie at the original Pizzeria Regina (11 Thatcher St.), and dessert at Mike's Pastry Inc. (300 Hanover St.). Then, head to Charlestown for the climb up Bunker Hill Monument. (Tip: Take the "T" or ferry boat from the Charlestown Navy yard back to downtown Boston. You'll be too zonked to walk back.)
If your family balks at lots of walking, try these laid-back tours of Freedom Trail highlights:
- Boston by Little Feet
This one-hour walking tour is geared to kids ages 6-12, and covers 10 sites downtown only.
- Trolley Tours
Most sightseeing trolleys put you within easy walking distance of the must-see Freedom Trail sites, as well as other points of interest. The best part: You can hop on and off all day.
- Boston Duck Tours
This is not really a Freedom Trail tour, but it's the most popular sightseeing excursion in town. An amphibious World War II vehicle ("The Duck") cruises by the major landmarks, then splashes down in nearby Charles River, where kids take turns steering the ship. "Conducktours" are known for their eccentric outfits, personas, and narrative tidbits. Your mission: Quacking at passersby on cue.