Boston, Massachusetts is one of those American cities that seem to have a fully-developed sense of self; the people who compose the population of this metropolis are fiercely loyal to their neighborhoods. Today, there are major league sports teams like the Red Sox and the Patriots, a strong educational culture, as well as a shared historical significance to tie it all together. Indeed, one of the finest ways to spend a weekend in Boston is touring the sites of its rich Revolutionary War-period history. If you’re looking for things to do while you are in Boston, consider “time traveling” back to the fascinating and exciting birth of the American nation – you might even see a ghost or two.
The Concord Colonial Inn, located on Monument Square in Concord, MA (a Boston suburb) was first constructed in 1716 and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The elegant, luxurious home-away-from-home comes complete with pillow-top mattresses, private baths and, according to some, a few non-threatening spirits who haunt a few of the rooms. One of the original buildings was used to store arms and ammunition during the American Revolution, and the first battle of the War for Independence was fought only five miles away.
If your idea of “otherworldly” encompasses an ideal location and plenty of amenities for a reasonable price (keep in mind, Boston is an expensive city), try the Boston DoubleTree Downtown Hotel in the heart of the city. Help yourself to two floors of exercise equipment, an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool and rooms that feature hypoallergenic down pillows, flat screen TVs and high speed internet.
Forge Your Own Freedom Trail
Sixteen of the most popular Revolutionary sites in the city can be seen by foot, over the course of three to four hours, by following the Freedom Trail, which starts at the Old State House on the corner of State and Washington streets. The trail is a literal footpath that will lead you throughout Boston and there are multiple ways to approach it, whether it’s following a tour group or guide or even by trolley. Yet you don’t necessarily have to follow a guide, and the trail is fully amendable according to your own interests or desires.
You might start at the Old State House, where Samuel Adams once cried, “No taxation without representation!”, and in 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred outside the building. Faneuil Hall was home to protests of such famous British legislation like the Sugar and Stamp Acts, as well as providing the meeting grounds for the gatherings that led up to the Boston Tea Party.
Another significant stop is the Paul Revere House, the oldest building in downtown Boston. Try to imagine a prosperous silversmith’s life in the late 18th century as you tour the interior that once housed Revere, the two women he married and outlived, his 16 children (eight by each wife!) and his mother. A few blocks away is the Old North Church, the oldest chapel in Boston and the site of the two lanterns which would signal that the British had arrived, either by land or by sea.
Deviate off the trail and take to Lexington, just outside of Boston, where the first battle of the Revolutionary War occurred on the Lexington Green. Close by is the Lexington National Historical Park, as well as the National Heritage Museum, with its fascinating collection of historic textiles, paintings, prints and more.
Patriotic Watering Holes
If you’re struck by hunger and thirst on your Revolutionary adventure, try the Green Dragon Tavern, which is not the original building of the 1650s (it had a habit of moving around the city a bit) but is the location of who knows how many informal meetings between Samuel Adams, John Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren–all important men during the revolution for independence.
In nearby Charlestown, the Warren Tavern considers itself the most famous bar in the United States, a claim to fame that might be difficult to contend with. Not only was it one of Paul Revere’s favorite spots to pull up a stool and have a cold brew, General George Washington, the nation’s first president, is known to have visited the tavern while he was in town.
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
Lawrence Sullivan is a contributing writer and proud product of the Dorchester neighborhood in Boston. While he now lives across the country, he credits the city’s rich heritage for his interest (and multiple degrees) in history.