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Boston - Freedom Trail

Freedom Trail
Walking the Freedom Trail is a walk through the American Revolution. Follow the red brick (or painted red line) trail through the streets of Boston to see historic buildings, the cemetery where revolutionary patriots are buried, Paul Revere’s House, Italian neighborhoods in the North End, a sailing ship from 1797 and Bunker Hill. The trail is 2.5 miles, older kids will enjoy walking it from beginning to end, but it’s not necessary to do it in order. With younger kids, just pick a section to do, such as go to the North End, visit the Paul Revere House, then have pizza or ice cream.
Freedom Trail Photo Album
    Boston Common – The Freedom Trail starts at Boston Common, at the visitor center on Tremont Street (not far from Frog Pond). Shut your eyes and imagine cows grazing on the Common, public hangings, and during the American Revolution, British troops camped here for years on end.
Granary Burying Ground
  Granary Burying Ground – Here’s where Paul Revere, John Hancock, Sam Adams, and the victims of the Boston Massacre are buried. Ben Franklin’s parents have a big obelisk, and there’s plenty of family headstones, many decorated with winged death’s heads (a skull and angel wings). Don’t miss the grave of Mary Goose, whose stories became popular as Mother Goose.
    First Public School and Ben Franklin Statue – Just nip down School Street to check out site of the oldest public school in the United States and statue of Ben Franklin. A plaque on the sidewalk commemorates the founding of a public school on this site in 1635. The school was attended by Ben Franklin, Sam Adams and John Hancock, and was called the Boston Latin School.
      In the courtyard next to the sidewalk is a statue of Benjamin Franklin. Below the statue are scenes from his life – working in the printshop, scientific experiments, signing the Declaration of Independence.
    Old South Meeting House – On December 16, 1773, Sam Adams addressed the crowd in the Old South Meeting House. At the end of his speech, he said, “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country.” This was a signal for everyone to put on disguises and head over to the wharf, where they tossed chests of tea into the harbor, the Boston Tea Party.
Old State House
  Old State House (Museum of Boston History) – Before you go inside, check out the lion and unicorn on the front of the building (the lion and unicorn symbolize the British, who occupied the State House during the revolution). On July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony.

Inside are three hands-on history exhibits, where kids build can puzzles and brick walls of the building, "smell" a Boston timeline, and set the hands on the State House clock. There’s also bottle of tea from the Boston Tea Party, cocked hat, musket and pouch from the Boston Massacre, drum, cannonball and sword from Bunker Hill, John Hancock’s red velvet coat.

    Faneuil Hall – Built in 1742, and expanded to include a market on the first floor and meeting hall on the second floor, here the Sons of Liberty held town meetings to debate revolution. And it’s still an active meeting hall today.
    Out front (near Congress St.), there’s a large bronze statue of Sam Adams, standing with his arms folded. Also, look back to Faneuil Hall to see the gilded grasshopper weathervane on top of the building. According to local folklore, during the Revolutionary War the weathervane was so well known that if you couldn’t identify the grasshopper, you might be considered a spy.
    North End – The Freedom meanders through the Italian American neighborhoods of the North End. Stop off for a pizza, or the bakeries (Mike's Pastry) for cannolis and Italian sweets, gelaterias for ice cream.
    Paul Revere House – Paul Revere is most famous for his “midnight ride,” but he was also a successful silversmith and engraver, and set up a business to make cannons. His house dates back to 1680, and Revere had a large family with lots of children. Take the self-guided tour to see a typical kitchen (check out the cooking pots and baby cradle next to the fireplace), family room, and bedrooms upstairs.

Clough House – Clough House is located in Paul Revere Mall, in front of Old North Church.

making hot chocolate 1760

Captain Jackson's Historic Chocolate Shop – Hot chocolate was very popular in colonial times, and different from the way we make hot chocolate today. Kids will enjoy tasting hot chocolate made from scratch with seven different spices, ground chocolate, and hot water (no milk).


Printing Offices of Edes & Gill – Kids can watch demonstrations of colonial era printing. When we visited, they were printing authentic copies of the Declaration of Independence.

Old North Church
  Old North Church - The Old North Church has a very tall spire, and in this steeple on April 18, 1775, two lanterns were lit (“One if by land, two, if by sea”) as a signal that the British were rowing across the Charles River in the direction of Lexington. It’s also the oldest church building in Boston, so it’s fun to go inside and see what an 18th century church looked like (families had to pay for their box pews).
    Copp's Hill Burying Ground – If you didn’t visit the Granary Burying Ground, this is worth a stop. Nobody especially famous is buried here, but the lovely old headstones are beautifully etched with skulls and crossbones, or skulls and angel wings, many from late 18th or early 19th century. Some people lived to be quite old.
    Follow the Freedom Trail over the Charlestown Bridge (it has a pedestrian walkway), checking out boats in the Charles River.
  USS Constitution - The USS Constitution sailing ship, nickname “Old Ironsides,” was built Boston in 1797, and was one of the first ships in the new American Navy. The ship fought (and won) in the War of 1812 with the British, and never lost a sea battle. Take the 45 min. guided tour through the ship, especially memorable is the gun deck with big cannons weighing thousands of pounds and the berth deck where the men slept in hammocks. Closed Mondays.
      At the Constitution Museum, there are hands-on activities and puzzles, hang in a hammock, take the helm in a computer game to sink your opponent’s ship, and there’s a large, exquisite model of the USS Constitution.
      USS Cassin Young Destroyer – Next door is the World War II destroyer used in the Pacific and built in the Charlestown Navy Yard. On the self-guided tour, peer into the gun turrets, see the crew’s quarters, galley radio room, and captain’s cabin.
  Bunker Hill Monument – Climb up 294 steps to the top of Bunker Hill, with panoramic views of Boston. The battle actually took place on this hill (which was called Breed’s Hill at the time). Across from the monument, visit the new Bunker Hill Museum (free), with the Battle of Bunker Hill dioramas, a great way to visualize this historic battle.
  Tip: The best way to get back to Boston proper is to take the Inner Harbor Ferry. From Pier 4 (just north of the USS Constitution), ride the ferry back to Long Wharf (at the New England Aquarium). It’s inexpensive, the ferry runs often, and there are great views of Boston Harbor. Here’s the schedule.
    Minute Man National Historical Park – The second half of the story is the Battles of Lexington & Concord (and find out what happened to Paul Revere in Lexington). Lexington and Concord are an easy day trip from Boston.
kids books boston american revolution
what was the boston tea party
What Was the Boston Tea Party?
Kathleen Krull, Lauren Mortimer

Why was Boston harbor turned into a giant cup of tea? Read this exciting illustrated history of the men who protested against British rule in America, with photos and drawings. (Chapter book)


Who Was Paul Revere?
Roberta Edwards

Illustrated biography of Paul Revere, famous for nighttime ride to Lexington, but he was also an expert silversmith and bell maker, Boston Tea Party member, delivered secret messages throughout the colonies, and was a spy for the Sons of Liberty. (Chapter book)


who was paul revere
siege how general washington kicked the british out of boston  

In summer 1775, after the Battle of Bunker Hill, George Washington took control of the Continental Army, and surrounded the city of Boston. For nine months the British army was trapped, supplies arrived by ship. In one night, Washington mounted cannons on Dorchester Heights and then attacked the British. Good for older kids. (Chapter book)


Ben's Revolution
Nathaniel Philbrick, Wendell Minor

See the war through eyes of thirteen year old Benjamin Russell – from the Boston Tea Party, to occupation by British soliders after Lexington & Concord. Ben and his schoolmates join in the fight for freedom, aiding in preparations leading up to the Battle of Bunker Hill. Excellent illustrations bring alive time and place in revolutionary Boston. (Picture book)


bens revolution
childrens books boston american revolution Midnight Rider  
Midnight Rider
Joan Hiatt Harlow

It's 1775, and orphan Hannah Andrews is sent to work in the home of Thomas Gage, the British governor. There might be balls and picnics in the household, but Hannah, disguised as a boy, rides to warn the patriots. A super adventure, based on real events. (Chapter book)


Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak
Kay Winters, Larry Day

It's Dec. 16, 1773 in Boston. As dramatic events unfold, meet the people living in Boston a baker, school teacher, tavern keeper, barber, midwife, blacksmith's slave, clock maker, shoemaker, silversmith's apprentice, Sons of Liberty. Ethan, the printer's errand boy, goes through the streets, stopping at shops and homes, delivering messages about Old South Meeting House assembly and secret plan of the patriots. (Picture book)


colonial voices hear them speak
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