Best American Landmarks to Visit with Kids: Boston’s Freedom Trail
America’s historic landmarks may not be as ancient as those found in other parts of the world, but their more recent origins add a tangible quality that may inspire a child’s learning. Whether seeing firsthand the documents our nation was built on, or gazing in awe at the beauty found in our national parks, visits to these places are an opportunity for memorable family bonding and can bring history to life for a powerful learning experience. This series includes tips and educational resources for visiting some of the most amazing landmarks our country has to offer with your kids. Some may be in your back yard, while others require a longer trip, but all are well worth a visit.
If you’re in Boston, Massachusetts, any time of the year, feel free to take a walk down memory lane. Actually, here we call it The Freedom Trail. The 65-year-old free urban walking path designated by a 2.5 mile long brick line takes walkers on a trek visiting 16 historic 18th and 19th century buildings and locations. For older children it can be done in a day with great stops to eat, play, and rest along the way. For younger walkers, you might consider splitting into two days. Though some sites have an admission fee, many are free to explore. Before you visit, consider reading the book Liberty Tree: Ordinary People and the American Revolution to learn a bit about the sites you’re going to see and check out the links included to look at hours and other resources.
While you may have heard of Paul Revere’s house, The Old North Church, and the Bunker Hill Monument, others are true gems that are worth learning about. The Freedom Trail begins on the Boston Common, which is a lovely place to skate in winter and play in during the summer. It’s also the oldest public park in the United States. Many of the Founding Fathers and Mothers walked through daily!
The Old South Meeting House was the staging ground for the Boston Tea Party and just peeking in at the door always makes me feel like I’ve stepped back in time! I can hear the shouting as the patriots debated what should be done to protest the tax on tea!
The Granary Burying Ground may only be the third oldest burying ground in Boston, but you’ll find names there that you’ll recognize. Adams, Franklin, Revere, Hancock, Goose (as in Mother Goose!), and the victims of the Boston Massacre were laid to rest there. While it may seem strange to walk through the gates into a cemetery, it’s important to know that a lot of history resides in that small space.
Finally, two of my favorite spots on the Freedom Trail are near the end in the Charlestown Navy Yard. The USS Constitution and USS Constitution Museum are really interesting and fun places to explore, not revolutionary history, but the War of 1812. This beautiful ship is the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy and is also a National Landmark. You won’t want to miss a trip aboard the ship or a visit to the free museum right nearby.
No matter when you come to the fair city that I call home, know that you are only steps away from some of the earliest history of our nation! After your visit, your student can learn more by visiting the first mission on Mission US and checking out the great explorations on The Boston National Historic Park site. Welcome!
Resources for Your Visit to the Freedom Trail
Lori Beverage is senior manager of national community and family support for K12. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary and special education from UMaine at Farmington, a Master of Arts degree from Emerson College in theater education, and a decade of experience in the brick-and-mortar classroom as a special educator. She also has 17 years of experience homeschooling her four children using K12 and other curricula.