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Fun stops for kids on the Freedom Trail in Boston

Our practical guide to walking the Freedom Trail with Kids & Teens16 Cool Spots for Kids on the Freedom Trail

Take an unforgettable walk through history as you follow the 2.5 miles of Boston's Freedom Trail.   Follow the famous red brick path with the kids to 16 historic sites through Boston's most historically well known neighborhoods that provide a fantastic way to introduce children to Boston's rich history and America's path toward liberty. 

Boston Freedom Trail Redcoats

Photo Credit: Saba Alhadai  | Boston Photowalks Tours

The entire trail runs 2.5 miles through the city.    For older children and teens, the historial sites and buildings may be much more interesting to see than for the younger set.    Read on for some helpful insider tips.

1. Boston Common

Visit the most famous public park and the oldest city park in the United States, dating as far back as 1634.  Bordered by Tremont, Beacon, Charles, Park and Boylston Streets, the expansive park spreads over 50 acres.  The Freedom trail actually starts here, so if you want to take on the entire trail - this is the place.

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Check out the visitor center for information about the park and about the plethora of events that take place there.  There is always something going on in the park worth exploring.  

To start your day, take a quick carousel ride,  play in the tadpole playground, watch or play in a softball games, and (seasonally) splash around in the Frog Pond's wading pool and spray pad when the temperature soars in the summer months.  

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In winter, get your skates and scarves out as the  Frog Pond transforms in to a magical ice skating paradise.  Let the kids run off some steam at the lovely playground  on site and take in the sights of the historic Gold Dome of the Boston State House across Beacon Street.

2. The Boston, Massachusetts State House

Take a tour of the emblematic gold domed Boston, Massachusetts State House and explore the oldest building in all of Beacon Hill. The building and its grounds spread over the distance of  two city blocks. 

boston-statehouse

Photo Credit: EckTours Boston

State House tours are conducted by the staff of the Tours and Government Education Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office and by volunteers who are well versed in the history and architectural background of the State House. Tours are given weekdays all year round from 10am and 3:30pm, and are free of charge. 

3. Park Street Church park-street-church-boston-freedom-trail

Gaze up at the towering steeple of the Park Street Church on the corner of Tremont and Park Streets across from the Boston Common.  

Park Street Church was the tallest building in the city from the time it was built until 1867.  Before the water surrounding Boston was filled in to create Back Bay and other neighborhoods, someone arriving by water could see the steeple from all directions.

Park Street Church stands as a landmark of social justice and human rights from famous anti-slavery speech dating back to the early 1800s, to the first performance of the song 'My Country Tis Of Thee (America)'  that was proudly sung by the Park Street Church's Children's Choir.

4. Granary Burying Ground

Explore the fascinating historical significance with a fun discussion about Boston's most famous patriots.  Kids and adults can scour the burial grounds and locate the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams,  Paul Revere, and members of Benjamin Franklin's family.  

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This a good stop along the trail to talk about the impact that these patriots had in Boston's history, as their names will resurface throughout the Freedom Trail.   It's interesting to see the wide variety of headstones, and monuments that have stood the test of time.  Plus, it's right in the middle of downtown Boston.  

5. King's Chapel

Have a look at the architectural delight of the magnificent Georgian Church with a tour of King's Chapel.   The tour focuses on themes of both constancy and change throughout King's Chapel's over 300 year history.  

On this tour, guests are able to explore the two floors of the sanctuary and  hear the stories the building can reveal  about the church's history.

kings-chapel-boston-freedom-trailPhoto courtesy of Kings Chapel

​Discover what we know about the first wooden chapel, why the church is no longer painted pink as it was 200 years ago, why the church was built on a burial ground and much more.

6. Ben Franklin's Statue (the marker for Boston Latin School)

Take a walk down School Street and keep an eye out for a well known historical figure in statue form that will greet you outside of the Old Boston Latin School. Ben Franklin stands prominently as a marker for the school where he studied in his early years at what has now become America's oldest public school.

ben-franklin-statue-boston-freedom-trail

Photo Credit Saba Alhadi | Boston Photowalks Tours

7. Old South Meeting House

Enjoy a vivid retelling of the story of the Boston Tea Party at the Old South Meeting House!   Follow the Freedom Trail's red line you'll come upon the Old South Meeting House.  Built in 1729 as a Puritan Church, the site has become better known as the site from which the 'Mohawk Indians' set out for Griffins Wharf and the Boston Tea Party.

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Photo Credit:  Old Town Trolley Tours

No tax on tea was the result of the protest of 5,000 angry colonists gathered here on December 16, 1773 and sparked a revolution with the Boston Tea Party.  

Enoy several audio programs that detail the events that occurred that night, including the actual Boston Tea Party Meeting on that fateful mid December evening.  Additionally, take part in the Old South Meeting House Scavenger Hunt which adds some interactive fun for families.

8. Site of the Old Corner Bookstore 

Check out the charming exterior of the literary hub of the 19th century, then waltz right back into the present when you walk inside of the now contemporary space where you can grab a bite to eat or simply consider the literal figures that once walked through those doors.  

Currently leased by Chipotle, (ha), it's a great pit stop on the freedom trail to satisfy the hungriest of bellies while discussing that the very location once housed the publisher of most of the famous authors of the 19th century.  

old-corner-bookstore-boston-freedom-trail-chipotle

Photo Credit: EckTours Boston

The Scarlet Letter, Walden, The Star Spangled Banner are a few of those books.  Literary greats such as Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as many others gathered here to discuss their works at what was known back then as 'The Saturday Club'.   Now - it's a Chipotle.

9. Old State House

The Old State House is Boston's oldest surviving public building and serves as a museum which is dedicated to Revolutionary Period.  For added excitement, visit the Old State House in the Month of March for a scheduled reenactment of the historically significant Boston Massacre, featuring costumed reenactors who elicit participation from the crowd.  

Old State House Boston

Photo Credit: Saba Alhadi | Boston Photowalks Tours

Experience where our history was born at  the meeting spot of the Massachusetts Assembly and prominently the site where the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to a large crowd of Bostonians from the East Balcony.

10. Boston Massacre Site

boston-massacre-site-freedom-trailStand on the street level circular monument that marks the site of the great Boston Massacre where the well armed, well uniformed Redcoats opened fire on the unarmed colonists.

Many historians credit this act of violence that caused the first five casualties and proved to be the spark that started the Revolutionary War.  

You'll have to use your imagination and sense of reflection at this rather subdued monument. Try to look back through the past to envision what that scene must have been like and the feelings that it would have invoked in you.  You can also be creative and come up with a cool photo op.

11. Faneuil Hall

Visit Boston's Cradle of Liberty, Faneuil Hall, where Bostonians first asserted themselves publically against British reign. Due to the size of the assembly hall, it became a favorite gathering spot for Colonial Patriots who advocated for their liberty from Great Britain.

Take a step back into history as you enter the Great Hall and imagine the lively debates that took place here.  Be sure not to miss the opportunity to chat with a local park ranger on site who is  available to share stories and information about the hall which truly makes this historic landmark come to life.  

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If your tummies are rumbling at this point in your journey down the Freedom Trail, be sure to grab something to eat at one of the restaurants or shops within the massive Quincy marketplace that includes over thirty food merchants representing cuisine from around the globe, as well as a number of fun restaurants, including Cheers!

Boston Holocaust Memorial

While not an official stop on the Freedom Trail, the Boston Holocaust Memorial is located  located in Carmen Park on Congress Street near Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, on Boston’s historic Freedom Trail. 

The Holocaust Memorial in Boston is dedicated to the Jewish people who were killed by Nazi Germany.

The entrance sign simply states "Remember".

Six glass towers are raised above six pits that are dug out and lined with black concrete.   At the bottom of each pit is a glowing fire.  

Etched on the glass towers are MILLIONS of numbers that flicker with light. On the walls of each tower, a memory of a survivor from the camp is etched. Between the towers, a line of text locates the Holocaust in historical context.

As visitors walk along this path, entering the towers, they are tattooed with the shadows of numbers as a visual reminder of the events that took place. 

 

12. Paul Revere House

Step over the threshold of oldest standing private home in Boston and once belonged to Paul Revere.  It now stands as  a small museum comprised of rooms decorated in authentic colonial style where you can get a feel of what Boston's famous midnight rider lived like in Colonial Middle Class America.  

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Visit during school vacation weeks for some added educational experiences for the kids to enjoy.  You are also right around the corner from Boston's famous North End - so if you are looking for some great Italian food or treats - this is the place! 

Insider tip:  Small kids may not be up for the entire 2.5 mile walk, nor understand, the history some of the spots, but if you reverse the tour, or start, at say, Paul Revere House and only do half of the tour ending with cool venues like Old Ironsides and the Bunker HIll Monument, you've got yourself a great day for all ages.  

And remember, you can reward yourself with a short ferry ride back from Old Ironsides to Atlantic Wharf from Charlestown.  What a terrific way to wrap up a historic day in Boston with your family.

 

13. Old North Church

Relax in the pews at the Old North Church and imagine it is 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution.  Envision the lanterns that Paul Revere had hung from the steeple of the church to signal the route that the British Redcoats would journey on before he left on his midnight trek on horseback to alert the residents of Massachusetts.

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Without, Revere's courageous ride atop a galloping horse, racing through the streets of Concord, the unsuspecting colonists would likely never have been warned of the British's imminent attack.

 

14. Copp's Hill Burying Ground

Boston has quite a few historic burial grounds within the city.  Visit Copp's Burying Ground in Boston's North End, where the British Troops camped out before the and throughout the Battle of Bunker Hill.  

The grounds are a higher elevation where the Charles River and the Mystic River converge as the flow into Boston Harbor and offer a clear view of Charlestown.

 

15. USS Constitution

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Climb aboard Old Ironsides,  the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world! 

Get your family's sea legs on with a tour of the 200 year old USS Consitution, where you will capture a view of the harbor upon this magnificent sailing vessel.  

Perhaps most excitingly, seize the the opportunity to meet and hear stories from a real U.S. Navy Sailor on board the ship.

Experience 19th century sleeping quarters of sailors when your guided tour takes you to the Berth Deck.  If you are visiting later in the day, simply take a  conduct self guided tour of USS Constitution's top deck.

Save time to visit the USS Constitution Museum as well.  Offering free admission and lots of interactive exhibits for kids & toddlers - this is a great place to stop for awhile.  There is also a super fun playground (Menino Park) just a short walk away near the Spaulding Rehab Center.

 

 

16. Bunker Hill Monument

Last stop on the trail, and the most challenging, ascend the 294 steps of the interior spiral staircase up the granite obelisk of Bunker Hill Monument if you dare.  Your climb will be rewarded with a breathtaking view across the Boston River from 4 small windows at the top.   There is only 1 spiral staircase up and down.   It's quite an accomplishment to make it.

This 221 foot granite obelisk marks the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution.  While visiting, take a few minutes and locate the welcome center behind the base where park rangers share the story behind the monument.

bunker-hill-monument

Insider Tips on Walking the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail starts at Boston Common.  The Freedom Trail is 2.5 miles long and to walk it will likely take you an entire day.  Plan on it taking longer if you have children, stop for a snack, or want to spend more time at any of the sites.   You can also opt to 'reverse the trip' and start at the Bunker Hill Monument as well, which is also fun.   

Either way, we like to take the short ferry ride from Charlestown to Atlantic Wharf to add an adventurous twist to all that walking.   Families with smaller children may consider breaking the Freedom Trail into smaller segments over the course of a number of days. 

Just across the street from the Atlantic Wharf ferry dock you will find Rings Fountain on the Greenway - kids will love splashing around in the spray jets on a hot day.   Grab a snack from a popular Food Truck or pop over to Quincy Market for a much bigger selection of food & snacks.

Families with smaller children may consider breaking the Freedom Trail into smaller segments over the course of a number of days.