Walking through History

Lace up your walking shoes and get ready to enjoy a historic tour of Boston. We're going all the way from Boston Common, America's oldest public park, to Bunker Hill, of "Don't Fire until you see the whites of their eyes" fame.

Many say that Boston is the easiest town in the world to walk through, and I think that's true. Especially if you focus on the historic sites along The Freedom Trail.

Steepest hill I've found in Boston goes from Cheers, where hundreds of tourists seem to throng outside every sunny day, to the State House. Beacon Hill. But, generally, walking still beats driving in the city known for impatient, honking, gotta know where you're going, and willing to pay high prices for parking drivers.

Having grown up in Iowa, where we could only read about our country's earliest patriots, and the Boston tea party, and famous men like John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin (who didn't spend all of his time in Philadelphia), Samuel Adams, Mary Chilton (first woman off the Mayflower) and Crispus Attucks, I've thoroughly enjoyed exploring everything from the Old North Church to the Burying Ground just a block from my office.

The easiest way to see Boston is to join the three million other people that walk The Freedom Trail every year. It's just two and a half miles, marked by a new, red, brick line. You can't possibly get lost, and you'll enjoy a story that's more than 2000 years old.

You can walk The Freedom Trail in just an hour, non stop. But to enjoy the trail, take at least three hours; to explore every stop and site, and the adjoining Black Heritage Trail, schedule a full day.

By every site, I mean Boston Common, the State House, Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel, King's Chapel Burying Ground, Site of the first Public School, Old South Meeting House, Old Corner Bookstore which first published Longfellow's poem about Paul Revere.

And, there's more. The Old State House, Boston Massacre Site, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Copp's Hill Burying Ground where British soldiers used the gravestones for target practice during the Revolution, the USS Constitution, and Bunker Hill Monument.

Only three (Paul Revere House, Old South Meeting House and the Old State House) charge admission.

Be sure to sign up for one of the free, guided tours of the State House. And, stop by Room 254 weekdays, to say "hello" to your Representative. I'm right off the Rotunda, where all the antique flags of our Commonwealth are displayed. Look for Westfield's own flag in the Hall of Flags. And find the sacred cod in the House Chamber.

Take a swan boat ride in the Public Garden, look for the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture, stop in at the country's oldest continuously operating restaurant for some oysters on the half shell or a cold beer, or a complete dinner or lunch, have an hour long conversation with Paul Revere at the Old North Church, and see an amazing view of Boston Harbor.

If you wonder how the Freedom Trail started, it began just forty years ago, the brainchild of Journalist William Schofield, and has grown and progressed thanks to National Park Service, City of Boston, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts efforts, and money, to include bronze medallions, pedestrian walkways and the new, red, brick line to follow.

Today, The Freedom Trail is a National Park, and rangers give free guided walking tours every day, spring, summer and fall. You'll find the rangers all along the trail.

Happy trails! Hope to see you in Boston.

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