I’ve officially declared it Freedom Trail Week at WCiB. Get excited.
Confession time: I grew up in New Hampshire, an hour away from Boston, and have lived in the city since 2004…and I have NEVER toured the Freedom Trail. Ridiculous, I know. I really don’t know why I’ve been avoiding it for so long. Its definitely not because its “too touristy” – I love touristy things. When I first went to NYC a few years ago, I was more excited to ride the double decker tour bus than anything else (and it was AWESOME, let me tell you.) I have no excuse.
So now, the stars have aligned. I have unlimited free time (and better yet, free time during the week when the crowds aren’t as crazy), the weather is decent (ok, way too hot for me but I’ll survive) and I’m ready to go.
You may have noticed the “part one” in the title. I wanted to split the trail up into a few days so I could take my time, get a lot out of it, and not die of heat exhaustion. I’m starting the week with a guided tour, then splitting up the individual sights across two or three days.
The Guided Tour
If you want a guided tour of the trail, you have a couple options.
- National Park Service offers tours led by Rangers. The tour lasts 90 minutes and follows the trail from the Old State House to the Old North Church. Tours are offered daily throughout the summer and on the weekends through the rest of the year.
- The Freedom Trail Foundation offers tours led by 18th century costumed guides. These 90 minute tours begin at Boston Common and end at Faneuil Hall. they are offered multiple times daily. $11 for adults, $9 for students and seniors, $5.50 for children ages 6-12.
- Boston By Foot offers tours of the downtown Freedom Trail sites including the Old State House, Faneuil Hall,
King’s Chapel, Old South Meeting House and the site of the first public school in America. These tours are also 90 minutes and are offered daily. $12 adults, $8 children. Also check out the other tours from Boston By Foot.
- Guided Segway Tour offers a two hour tour of the Freedom Trail and Harbor Walk all from the comfort of your own Segway. After a 30 minute training session, zip around the streets and ignore the people giving you funny looks. $94.50 per person.
Sticking with my “free or under $10″ plan, I chose the National Park Service Ranger led tour this morning. These tours begin at the Boston National Park Visitors Center at 15 State Street across from the Old State House (take the Red or Green line to Government Center or the Orange or Blue line to State). The website says that tours are at 10AM and 2PM but a sign at the visitors center had more times listed. It may be worth it to give them a call before you plan to visit – (617) 242-5642. Tours are on a first come first served basis with a maximum of 30 people. Stickers are given out 30 minutes before the start of the tour.
You’re first led across the street to a vantage point showing off the array of architecture in Boston, including the Old State House. From there, you move down the street to Faneuil Hall (for out of towners – its like “Samuel” with an F and an N). Then through the Holocaust Memorial (not actually part of the Freedom Trail but a worthy detour) and down Marshall Street (home to two historic pubs – the Bell In Hand and Green Dragon). Across the Rose Kennedy Greenway is the North End, home to some 130 Italian restaurants, and Paul Revere’s house. After a stop at St. Stephen’s church, the tour ends on the Paul Revere mall with a view of Old North Church (one if by land, two if by sea, etc.)
Even for someone who lives in the city and knows a decent amount of Boston/early US history, this was an informative and entertaining tour. Along with interesting facts about the Freedom Trail you might not have known, you also learn a bit about other sights along the way. The tour is long enough so that you learn and see a lot, but not long enough to get bored. Our tour guide was soft spoken, but clearly loved history and the city.
Overall, this tour comes highly recommended from me. Its a good appetizer to the Freedom Trail – once done, you’ll want to back track or keep going, looking more closely.
Total money spent: $4.95….for some apple gelato. I was in the North End! How could I resist?
Tomorrow: I’ll visit the first few stops on the trail and provide more information on each. Maybe I’ll even take pictures this time! Fun!