Other Points of Interest
Take a self-guided tour or an unofficial guided tour by trolley down the red brick path through downtown Boston. The Freedom Trail covers two and a half centuries of America’s most important history in two or three hours. The path serves as a guide to 16 significant historic sites along a 2.5-mile walk from Boston Common to Bunker Hill. Simple ground markers explain the events, graveyards, churches and other notable sites along the Trail. Most sites are free, some suggest donations, and the Old South Meeting House, Old State House, and Paul Revere House require a small admission. The Freedom Trail is a unit of Boston National Historical Park.
The Boston Common dates back to 1634—in 1775, British troops used the park as a staging area prior to the Revolution—and is the oldest park in the United States. Located in the heart of Boston, the English-style park serves as an anchor for the “Emerald Necklace” of Boston parks and parkways. Bordering downtown, Beacon Hill and the Public Garden, Boston Common is a beloved spot for relaxation and recreation. It has also served as a performance venue for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Boston Lyric Opera and has hosted famous speakers, including Pope John Paul II and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Public Garden
The Public Garden is home to the famous Swan Boats, a Boston tourist attraction that originated in 1877. The Public Garden’s lake is accented by formal plantings of perennials and other flowering favorites that are replanted and rotated from season to season. Native and introduced trees are prominent in the park; weeping willows sway breezily along the shore of the lagoon, and majestic European and American elm line the park’s pathways. Noteworthy statues can be found throughout the park, including the 1869 equestrian statue of George Washington that graces the Arlington Street gate. The park’s suspension bridge, installed in 1867, is another well-known landmark.
Charlestown Navy Yard is home to the U.S.S. Constitution—the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world—and the accompanying U.S.S. Constitution Museum. Before the Navy Yard was decommissioned, it was the site where U.S. naval vessels were built, repaired and outfitted from 1800-1974. The Museum serves as the memory and voice of the U.S.S. Constitution by preserving and interpreting the stories of “Old Ironsides” and the people associated with her. The museum provides a hands-on, minds-on educational experience where all age groups and generations can learn and explore history side by side. Interactive adventures combined with images, sound, theatre, artifacts, and physical and mental tests foster discoveries and spark further exploration.
The famous Battle of Bunker Hill, a major battle between the American colonists and the British forces, was fought on this site on June 17, 1775. The 221-foot granite monument that marks the site offers a 294-step climb to the top—no elevators—for an inspiring view. Although the colonists lost the Battle of Bunker Hill, they surprised themselves and the British by holding off two major assaults and killing or wounding almost half of the British ground forces and artillery. The bravery of this ill-prepared and undertrained group was a critical rallying point that spurred them onward in the victory for independence.