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From the convenience of the Omni Parker House hotel right on the Boston Freedom Trail, we got a leisurely start to our morning, ate breakfast across the street at Starbucks, and walked to the North End. The plan for this day on the Freedom Trail was to initially walk to our furthest destination, the Old North Church, and then slowly meander back to the hotel by evening, catching the historic sights along the way.
The Old North Church was built in 1723 and is the oldest standing church building remaining in Boston. From its steeple, two lanterns were left on the night of April 18, 1775 to warn troops across the river in Charlestown that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by water, not land, and the American Revolution began.
Some sites along the Freedom Trail are free while others charge a small fee. We chose our fee-based sites wisely to keep costs down and this historic church definitely made the list. We browsed around the church sanctuary while waiting for our tour to begin. The tour first brought us up narrow stairs to the bell tower where we learned how the change ringing bells are played and then down to the crypt beneath the church.
After fully experiencing this beautiful and historic church, we walked to the nearby Printing Office of Edes and Gill where a printing of the Declaration of Independence was interway. Next door, we took in a chocolate-making demonstration at the adjacent Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop. Colonial chocolate is spicier than the smooth milk chocolate we enjoy today!
While in this historic Italian North End neighborhood, a pizza lunch was a must for the boys so we walked back through Little Italy, passed the Paul Revere House, and to Rina’s Pizzeria on Hanover Street. The brick oven-fired pizza and arancini balls were DELISH! For dessert, we picked up cannoli from Modern Pastry which we would enjoy at the hotel after our day on the cobblestone.
Following a quick walk through Quincy Market (way too busy and touristy for our taste), we stopped in the Old State House, another must-do fee-based site on the Freedom Trail. The Old State House is Boston’s oldest public building, built in 1713, and was the seat of colonial and state government. The Boston Massacre occurred outside its doors in 1770 and the Declaration of Independence was first read from its balcony in 1776. So much history inside and out!
We chose to explore on our own and felt like we had the place to ourselves as we were just a room behind a tour group the entire time. The interactive aspect here was great for the kids. Upon arrival, we each received a lanyard that described a Revolutionary character, ranging from child student John Greenwood to future president John Adams, who we could then learn about throughout the visit.
We continued following the red brick line of the Freedom Trail, reaching the Granary Burying Ground. Here, Paul Revere, John Hancock, victims of the Boston Massacre and more are interred.
We returned to our room by 4:00, a very early evening for our vacation standards, and got a take out dinner from a nearby Walgreen’s along with next morning’s breakfast. This downtown Walgreen’s was quite different than our usual suburban drugstore! Still not the greatest dinner, but lots of take out food choices. The evening was spent enjoying our suite, reading Boston’s own Make Way for Ducklings and completing our Junior Ranger booklets.