On my first trip to Boston as a cruise embarkation port, I spent a couple nights there pre-cruise. That trip I sailed with a couple aunts and an uncle. We stayed at a hotel near the subway and used it as our main mode of transportation. At that time the USS Constitution, which is normally near the end of the Freedom Trail, was undergoing repairs and not available for tours so we didn’t cross the bridge leading to it. There was a nice area on the riverside with a walkway and benches and things where we hung out a bit before walking back to Boston Commons at the other end of the trail where we had started out.
I had an opportunity to visit Boston again on a trip with my husband as the airport we flew into on a trip with the final destination in Vermont. This was my first time out of our home state of Washington since the pandemic started. Though this trip was not for a cruise, it was supposed to include a day-trip cruise on a lake in Vermont – which like so many other cruises got cancelled. This time due to a death in the captain’s family. We did take a harbor cruise on a sailboat in Boston though and spent some time one day in New Hampshire doing about the smallest sort of cruising possible – paddling around a lake in one-person kayaks.
This trip we were nearest to the blue subway line which did not go directly to Boston Commons as the one near the first hotel had. It did however have a station that crossed one that did so we were able to change trains and get there easily enough. The Freedom Trail starts at Boston Commons. The red and green subway lines stop there so if you start out on a different color find a station where you can switch to either of those.
There’s a brick line in the pavement just uphill from the subway station. That line indicates the Freedom Trail. From there it goes either direction. Facing uphill if you go to the left it leads to some government buildings where that end of the Freedom Trail starts (or ends if you began at the other end). If you go to the right it leads to everything else along the Freedom Trail.
Much of the freedom trail was the same as on my first visit, though there were bits of it that had detours or where the road had been worked on since my last visit that no longer had the original brick. Not that the whole thing had the original brick on my first visit, there’s just a few more patches that don’t now.
The last time I walked the Freedom Trail I wore Sketchers shoes, this time my Sketchers boots. Sort of a coincidence, but not entirely since a good portion of my shoes are Sketchers as that is the brand where I most often find comfortable shoes that fit well. The boots are great airplane shoes too since besides being soft and comfortable, they’re slip-ons so no tying or other sort of fastening involved which makes getting them off and on quick and easy – quite handy for boarding if shoe removal is required at the security check.
We took the time to explore a few things along the trail that I just walked by last time. The first was Granary Burial Ground, the graveyard where Paul Revere is buried. There are large monuments to some other people there, and a lot of tall skinny gravestones. Some still stand up straight, but a lot of them have gone wonky over all the years. Some are still readable, some not. We never did find a marker for Paul Revere, but assumed it was the one surrounded by a tour group with a guide yakking on and on so nobody else could get near it. There were a few signs around the cemetery, one of which mentioned a family that had lost several children under 2. The oldest was 18 months and the youngest 3 days. Quite sad indeed. We did see some living residents of the cemetery in the form of squirrels.
Other places we walked through that I had not gone inside on the first visit were Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. Quincy Market had a variety of little shops inside. Faneuil hall turned out to be full of food places, but we’d had breakfast at the hotel and weren’t hungry for lunch yet so we didn’t stop anywhere.
In front of Quincy Market there was a busker doing a unicycle show. He had a regular sized unicycle and a 12-foot tall one with a fake unicorn on the top. He called himself the unicorn unicyclist. He was part showman and part comedian and put on a pretty good show which included jumping the small unicycle over a child and juggling bowling pins followed by dangerous objects from atop the large one.
We walked past a couple places I’d gone inside last time, Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church. Last time the road out front of Paul Revere’s house was full of dips and bumps, but this time it was flat and smooth.
It still had cobblestones rather than having been paved over. They looked different, but whether that was because they weren’t the same stones or just because they were now arranged in nice neat flat rows instead of all over the place on uneven ground I don’t know.
The Old North Church is still hard to get a decent photo of because it has trees blocking one side and buildings the other. The steeple rises high enough above the surroundings that it can be photoed from a cemetery at the top of the hill next to it. There’s a building blocking the view of the rest of it from there though so you can’t get photos of anything but the steeple.
There was a dog-tag military memorial outside of the church that had not been there on my first visit. This is the church of one if by land, two if by sea fame from The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The cemetery above the Old North Church, called Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, had more of the skinny gravestones like the ones at the Granary Burying Ground near Boston Common. It also had a sign saying bodies had been moved and the stones were not in their original location, though that must have all happened long enough ago for some of them to go wonky as they weren’t all standing straight up.
Across the street from the gate to the cemetery a very skinny house sat sandwiched between larger buildings. Built in the mid 1800’s, the skinny house is just over 10 feet wide at its widest point and just over 6 feet at its narrowest. At 1166 square feet over its 4 stories, it’s more spacious inside than it appears. It even has a small backyard at the far end of the skinny alley that leads to the front door, and a rooftop deck with a view of the harbor. It recently sold for over a million dollars.
This trip it was the Charlestown Bridge undergoing construction rather than the Constitution. There was a detour to the other side of the road there, and the whole side of the street where we went down to the waterfront area last time was fenced off and inaccessible. We followed the new painted red line to the detour across the bridge. It went over a rickety temporary bridge, then on to the Naval Shipyard that is home to the Constitution.
Crossing over the temporary bridge we had a view of some small locks. I didn’t know Boston had locks. There was nothing going through them either on our way over the bridge or on our way back. No big ships could go through as the 3 slips were small and smaller and it didn’t look like the height difference between the water on one side of the locks or the other was much over a few feet. So not nearly as impressive as the locks in the Panama Canal, or even the Ballard Locks, but it still would have been more interesting had there been any boats going through.
Touring the Constitution (AKA Old Ironsides even though it is made of wood) we found it mostly as space to hold cannons. The upper deck was full of them, as was the one below. Other than the captain’s quarters and some very small rooms the only sign people lived onboard was many hammocks bunched together at the bow.
There’s also a visitor’s center and a museum nearby. It’s free to go inside the visitor’s center and to tour the ship, though you do have to pass through security to access the area. They need to see ID and run all your belongings through a scanner. The nearby Constitution Museum was not behind the security screen, but did have a fee to enter, or at least a sign that said suggested fee or something along that line so we didn’t investigate further.
The Freedom Trail runs for nearly 2.5 miles and has 16 historical sites along the way. These sites are Boston Common, Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, King’s Chapel and King’s Chapel Burying Ground, Boston Latin School (site of Benjamin Franklin statue), Old Corner Bookstore, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Boston Massacre Site, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, USS Constitution, and Bunker Hill Monument.
This is great post with a ton of sightseeing ideas!