2 Oct
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Take a Trip: Boston

View of Boston from Bunker Hill Monument

Go visit Boston, sooner rather than later. Trust me on this one.

We’ve visited an array of U.S. cities…Portland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Chicago, Savannah, and Louisville to mention a few. None of the American metropolises have won my heart quite like Boston. She’s unique.

North Bridge - The shot heard round the world

We visited Boston this summer as part of our epic road trip to the East Coast. Cities are not my favorite vacation destinations. I prefer mountain tops and beaches to sidewalks and buildings. This road trip had several major U.S. cities on the itinerary. My only experience in Boston before July was inside Logan International Airport for a long layover before flying to Europe over 20 years ago. I’m a history nerd raising pint-sized lovers of history. Our oldest had just finished studying the early years of American history in school, so Boston was a the perfect spot for him to show off what he had learned. More than once I was impressed with how much knowledge he had about events that happened in and around Boston.

Witness house at Minute Man National Historic Park

Musket reenactment at Minute Man National Historic Park

We began our visit to the Boston area at the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lexington and Concord. Walking the area where witness houses and stone walls still stand on the road where the battle occurred April 19, 1775 puts history in perspective. We’ve heard the story of Paul Revere’s ride and the “shot heard around the world” to start the American Revolution, but to stand where those stories occurred was more powerful than words on a page. Walking through militia battle formations and understanding what worked and didn’t work in 1775 was illuminating. The life and training, or lack thereof, for minute men left me in awe of the conviction and determination of the people who fought in the American Revolution.

Freedom Trail medallion on a Boston sidewalk

Children walking the Freedom Trail line in Boston

I could wander Boston for days. The juxtaposition of historical buildings dating to the 1700s next to modern architecture in the downtown area had me continuously reaching for my camera. The 2 1/5-mile Freedom Trail connects significant historical locations, museums, churches and burying grounds in downtown Boston. The trail is marked by a red line guiding tourists from location to location. Visitors can pay for guided tours of the trail or traverse it self-guided. We chose to go at our own pace and walk the trail without a tour guide. The Freedom Trail ranks as an all-time favorite activity we’ve done on vacation.

We walked the entire trail which includes 17 official sites ranging from the USS Constitution to the Bunker Hill Monument to the Boston Massacre site to Paul Revere’s home. We didn’t tour the inside of every site. We researched the sites and then chose which ones to spend our time in that were historically the most pertinent in our minds and fit our interests.

Stained glass at the old Massachusetts State House

We started at the Massachusetts State House that visitors should give at least a short tour of to see the beautiful stained glass windows. It’s quite stunning inside the massive building where we started our walk of the Freedom Trail. I’m not going to write about each of the places we visited, but touch on our favorite spots from the trail. This could be a wordy post if I covered everything.

Downtown Boston

Side note: We stayed outside of Boston and took public transportation into the city. Everything we read and heard about Boston traffic was true. I would never drive in that city. There were times we felt crossing streets was dangerous. Word to the wise, double and triple check streets before crossing, even at a crosswalk with a blinking walk signal. Back to the history tour…

Paul Revere house - Boston

The Paul Revere House was built in the late 1600s and is the oldest building in downtown Boston. Revere was living in this house when he made his famous ride in 1775. A tour of the house costs $3.50 per adult and $1 per children. It doesn’t take long to make your way through the home and attached museum. Our kids find it interesting to compare home and furnishings from times gone by to what we have now. There were a lot of differences to discuss after touring this house. My favorite spot in the tour is a display of different silver pieces Revere made — a silversmith being one of his many occupations.

A cannoli from Mike's Pastry in Boston

After touring the Revere House, we made a slight detour off the trail to visit Mike’s Pastry for homemade Italian goodies. This bakery was filled with a copious amount of the choices and a large crowd eager to make purchases — cash only. Don’t be daunted by the crowd. There are several “lines” inside the bakery with numerous people working behind the counter to help patrons. It took us longer to choose what we each wanted than it did to purchase the delectable treats. If I make it back to Boston, Mike’s will most definitely be on the list of places to visit again.

Bunker Hill Monument climb ticket

The Bunker Hill Monument honors the site of the first major battle of the Revolutionary War. Tickets to climb the monument can be obtained across the street at the National Park Service office for the Boston National Historical Park. The 294-step climb to the top of the monument was a hot and sweaty ordeal in July when we visited, but the views of Boston from the top were worth the trek. I recommend listening to a ranger talk about the battle. Our ranger was passionate about the topic and taught us a great deal more on the battle in 15 minutes than I ever learned in a classroom.

USS Constiution - Charleston Navy Yard

We have a deep love for touring battleships and the Charlestown Navy Yard did not disappoint. The yard has the USS Cassin Young and the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship in the U.S. Navy. We didn’t tour the Cassin Young because of a planned visit to Battleship Cove in Massachusetts and allotted our time at the yard to the USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, and the USS Constitution Museum.

USS Constitution top deck

The USS Constitution was dry docked during our visit for refurbishment. It being out of the water allowed us to see the copper plating on the bottom of the ship which is not normally visible. The ship, first launched in 1797, can still be deployed in times of conflict. Naval officers educate visitors about the history of the ship. We walked the deck of a ship that’s served our country for 200 years. The stories that ship holds are countless. Experiences like that are why we traipse thousands of miles around this country to not only tell our children about the history of this place we call home, but show them where the history happened.

Acorn Street Boston

From Faneuil Hall where people have met and debated issues for 275 years, to Old North Church where two lanterns were hung in 1775, to the graves of Benjamin Franklin’s parents, Boston is home to important pieces of our country’s history. If you have the means and love of travel, especially with children, make Boston a future destination. I hope to make a repeat visit in the future.


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