After much deliberating, we finally made the choice between seeing New York and Boston. It was a difficult choice but we came to the conclusion that it would just be so much cooler if we could…see both. One at a time though, the first being one of the most historic places in America.
The original plan was to park the van at a Wal-Mart just outside the city but were quickly convinced that paying for parking in the middle of the city was the best idea. I think I spent the entire three hour drive researching parking garages that were not only cheap but also had enough clearance for the van. Here’s a little hint: the Post Office Parking Garage near the Boston Commons has enough clearance for a 7’10” vehicle. Just be sure to get there early because large vehicle parking is extremely limited. Another tidbit: parking is a lot cheaper over the weekend in Boston. During the week, they generally charge per hour, meaning you can end up paying a stupid amount of your vacation money just for parking. On weekends, prices are cut in half. We ended up paying $9 for the entire day for an ideal parking spot.
As soon as we got out of the van, we excitedly made our way to the Freedom Trail. This route is probably the best thing to ever happen to any city in America. Going into it I knew we would get a great history lesson but I didn’t realize just how amazing it would be. Not only is it the best way to see the city, it’s also the best way to learn the history, visit some great shops and restaurants, and save some serious cash. The trail itself is a 2.5 mile long walking excursion that loops you through the city by means of a red brick path that you follow to sixteen different historically significant locations for free. No tour guide or trolley pass required but some stops do require a ticket to go inside the building and learn more about the site.
It began at the Boston Commons information center where you can purchase maps and books that will learn you many a thing on the walk. Eli and I opted for the cheaper option and grabbed the free mini map at the entrance and relied on our cellphones for summaries on the trail stops. Stop one was the massive State House, a sprawling and very regal looking building that looms over the Boston Commons. Unlike most spots on the trail, this one you couldn’t go inside to view. Stop two was the Park Street Church, which was sadly closed for reconstruction or general maintenance or something on its spire.
Location three was probably the most interesting for me, the Granary Burying Ground. Can you tell I have a weird interest in dead things yet? This graveyard was established in 1660 and houses the sleeping place of numerous historical figures including Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Mary Goose (associated with Mother Goose), Benjamin Franklin’s parents, and many other historical figures. The tombstones were old and decrepit, some broken to pieces, others completely weathered away. I was like a kid in a candy store as we wandered through snapping pictures. It was easily my favorite part of the trail.
Stop number four was another fun one; King’s Chapel. With the mismatched stone walls and pillars it looked a bit out of place and reminded me more of an Egyptian tomb than a church. The inside had a stark contrast in comparison to the outside with pure white paint covering nearly every surface. It was beautiful but a little odd. The church offered a tour of the building called Bells and Bones, which we opted to take for $7 per student ticket (Yeah, we lied in a church. What are you going to do about it?). The tour guide gave us an extensive history of the building and religion throughout its lifetime. We were led into the crypt where there are massive graves in the walls, one of which we got to look into and see real human remains and a small infant casket. We were then led up to the enormous church organ and then up to the bell tower where we got to see the two thousand pound church bell that was made in Paul Revere’s bell foundry during his lifetime.
We ventured onward to stops five and six, The Boston Latin School, America’s first public school, and the Old Corner Bookstore. To my dismay, the bookstore was not a bookstore anymore but a Chipotle. Why they decided to make it into anything other than a bookstore is beyond me and I am a bit salty about it. By the time we had reached that part of the trail, we were starving so we made a quick lunch stop at Scholars, a swanky bar and bistro that had the outward appearance of being expensive but was actually pretty reasonably priced, especially for the quality of food that they served. Eli got a burger and I got an arugula truffle flatbread and both were amazing. We stuffed ourselves silly before we went on to continue our journey along The Freedom Trail.
Stop seven was the Old South Meeting House, which housed quite a few dramatic events that pushed us towards the American Revolution, including the decision to dump a massive quantity of tea into one particular harbor in the area. After that was stop eight, one of the prettiest stops on the trail, in my opinion, The Old State House. Believe it or not, many more meetings occurred there that lead to the American Revolution. It’s almost like Boston was the epicenter for those events! Around the back of the building was were we found stop nine, the site of the Boston Massacre. Unlike most points on the walk, this was just a plaque on the ground that stated what it was.
Stop nine brought us to Faneuil Hall, which is often referred to as the home of free speech, where America’s first town meeting was held. Boston is cool because it holds a lot of America’s “firsts”; the first restaurant, the first public school, the first church organ, etc. Behind Faneuil Hall lies the Quincy Marketplace, a massive shopping center that is filled with some of Boston’s best restaurants and some awesome shopping locations. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to check it out for reasons that we will discuss later on.
We continued on our historical journey through the city and landed at Paul Revere’s house at stop ten and decided that it would be worth our $7 to check it out. The house itself is the oldest standing structure in Boston and it actually did belong to the Revere family for a time and it now stands as a testament to the Midnight Rider and his life. They had the inside decorated as if there were still a colonial family living there with historically accurate furniture, decor, and even foods. Some of the furniture actually did belong to the Revere family as well, which I found pretty exciting. It was like a portal into the past, definitely worth the money if you’re interested in learning about Paul Revere and how he lived during the 1700’s.
The Old North Church was our final stop on the trail because the final two destinations were a considerable distance away and we weren’t willing to try to navigate the subway system or hail an Uber. Walking up to the place was a sight to behold on it’s own as the main spire peaked through the surrounding trees. We did what we do best and snapped some pictures and enjoyed a stroll through the courtyard area behind the church where there was a statue of Paul Revere as well as a memorial for the lives lost in the Iraq war. The church itself was very similar interiorly to the first church we visited so we didn’t spend too much time there, though they do off a cheaper Bells and Bones tour where you can see the bell tower as well as the crypt, which I have come to understand it very very cool and spooky.
We finished up our grand tour of the city and decided to make our way back towards Quincy Market to see if we could get our hands on some good desserts or fun Boston memorabilia. Unfortunately, that was when disaster struck. I had begun to progressively feel more and more sick as we continued until I ended up puking in the closest public restroom. So with that, we decided to cut our Boston trip short by one day and head back to Connecticut so I could deal with my sudden illness. Our original plan was to go see the Boston Tea Party Museum the next day but there was nothing we could do to remedy the situation. Prior to that, our day had been so enjoyable and interesting that we didn’t feel like we were missing out on much. It was such a fantastic time and I would definitely recommend the Freedom Trail to anyone who wants to take in the full effects of Boston. Even though the excursion was cut short and I ended up having to vomit in plastic bags on the ride home, everything is still fine.