For families visiting Boston, Massachusetts, walking the Freedom Trail with kids is a must! There is so much American history in the city of Boston, and a walk along the Freedom Trail is the perfect way to see all those historical sites.
We visited Boston at the end of September, and since we only had a few days to spend, we decided the best way to experience the city was to walk along the Freedom Trail.
A step back into history
Within the annals of American history, the city of Boston is a prominent presence. The city played a pivotal role in the American Revolution and the birth of the United States.
It was in this city in 1773 that the Sons of Liberty, in a protest against the British imposed taxes on tea, dumped a whole shipment of tea from the East India Company into Boston Harbor.
Boston is also the city where Paul Revere made his famous ride in 1775, alerting Patriot troops of the advancement of the British before the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
As an American, walking along the same streets where these historical events happened, it is truly an incredible experience. I love visiting historical places!
And for kids, it’s a chance to learn about American history in a more interactive way.
Linking history with the present
The Freedom Trail itself was thought up in 1951 by a Boston journalist, as a way to link up many of Boston’s historical sites. There are 16 historical sites along the Freedom Trail.
You can choose to walk along the Freedom Trail with a guide, complete with 18th century dress, or tackle the trail yourself.
When we were walking the Freedom Trail with kids, we chose to walk without a guide. This allowed us to walk at our own pace, stop at the places we wanted, and skip past the places that weren’t as interesting.
If you’re thinking of walking the Freedom Trail with kids, whether on your own or with a guide, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your family has a good time.
It can be a bit challenging for young kids, especially if they’re not used to walking a lot. And there are times when you’re walking along busy Boston streets, so practicing road safety is absolutely prudent.
Tips for walking the Freedom Trail with kids
Those considerations aside, here are my tips for walking the Freedom Trail with kids.
Tip #1: Give yourself plenty of time
One of our biggest tips for walking the Freedom Trail with kids is to allow plenty of time to do the whole trail. The Freedom Trail spans 2.5 miles, with about 16 official stops. You want to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to explore some of those stops.
It took our family about five hours to complete the whole Freedom Trail. We stopped at several points of interests along the way, and also stopped for lunch.
Tip #2: Wear comfortable shoes
Walking the Freedom Trail with kids can be long, and it’s important that you (AND your kids) wear comfortable shoes. The last thing you want are blisters on your little ones’ feet! Look for shoes that provide support, as you’ll most likely log in more than 15,000 steps doing the trail.
The whole trail is paved, so don’t worry about getting your shoes dirty. But do keep in mind that you’ll be walking on some old cobblestone streets, so avoid wearing heels or fancy shoes that may make it difficult to keep your balance. And if you’re pushing a stroller, make sure it can handle those cobblestone streets.
Tip #3: Dress for the weather
Along the same lines as wearing comfortable shoes when you’re walking the Freedom Trail with kids, it’s important to dress appropriately for the weather. You never know what might hit you while you’re out walking!
During our day of walking the Freedom Trail, it turned out to be pretty blustery and cold. Fortunately, we came prepared with jackets. We stayed quite warm, despite the wind.
Tip #4: Bring water
As with any hike that you undertake, it’s important that you stay hydrated while you’re walking the Freedom Trail with kids. The trail can be long, and on hot days, you might actually get dehydrated!
We liked bringing along our GRAYL water filter and purifier bottles because we could refill them wherever we were. You can also just use your own non-disposable water bottle, so as to reduce your environmental footprint.
Tip #5: Brush up on your history
The Freedom Trail takes you to many of America’s historical points of interest in Boston. One thing to do before walking the Freedom Trail with kids is to brush up on your American history.
The Freedom Trail website has brief descriptions of each point of interest along the trail, and its significance in United States history. If you want more in depth information, you can take one of the many Freedom Trail walking tours offered.
Another thing that the kids and I did before walking the trail was to read a book about the American Revolution, to get us in the mood for learning about history.
Tip #6: Check out the points of interests
Walking along the trail is only half the fun of the whole Freedom Trail experience. There are 16 spots along the Freedom Trail, and each one is worth a bit of exploration.
During our experience of walking the Freedom Trail with kids, we chose to stop at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. While there, we saw a live demonstration of a printing press, printing a copy of the Declaration of Independence, just like in the 1770’s. What a treat for the kids to be able to see history come alive!
Tip #7: Eat at the eateries along the way
Speaking of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, be sure to give yourself time to check out the eateries along the Freedom Trail. Faneuil Hall, and nearby Quincy Market, has a number of sit down eateries, as well as counter-style places.
By far, our favorite place to eat while walking the Freedom Trail with kids is the Union Oyster House. This restaurant has been in business since 1862, and serves one of our favorite bowls of clam chowder!
An experience to remember
Walking the Freedom Trail with kids is truly an experience to remember. We were so proud of the kids, absorbing the sites as they followed the red line that wound through the old streets of Boston.
I know that we will see many more historical sites during our travels, both in the United States and elsewhere around the world. We are lucky to have this opportunity to experience history!
Do you have experience walking the Freedom Trail with kids? Share it in the comments!
Don’t miss out on my latest tool, the Overseas Family Vacation Checklist. Click here to receive your free copy and subscribe to my newsletter.