Heading to Boston? Take a walk along the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail, exploring the history of the country. And while you’re at it, do this Boston scavenger hunt — perfect for the whole family.
Founded long before the United States became a country, it was the site of rebellion, strike and revolution. Boston, founded in 1630, played a pivotal role in the American Revolution. Visitors to the city, nicknamed Beantown, can walk in the footsteps of history along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walk that visits 16 locations that are relevant to the founding of the country. This isn’t just local history — it’s the history of the founding of the United States.
If you haven’t walked the Freedom Trail with your kids, make a point to do it. It’s fascinating and humbling to see the country through history’s eyes. The meeting houses, churches, monuments and Faneuil Hall, among other stops, each have signed with historical information, perfect for a self-guided sightseeing tour. And you can add some fun to your walk with this Boston scavenger hunt that focuses on the Freedom Trail.
How it works:
Now, it would be too easy if the clues went in order along the trail so they don’t. Instead, read through all the clues together as a team and then discover the answers as you go. When you find an answer, check it off, take a picture (or maybe a selfie) with your smartphone and read through the descriptions for trivia and interesting information at each stop.
Intended for families with kids age 14 and under, the clues (again, they are not in order) span the length of the Freedom Trail. Take a photo (or maybe even a selfie!) each time you solve a clue so you can have pictorial evidence of your fun.
Ready to head off on your scavenger hunt adventure? Let’s go!
Freedom Trail Scavenger Hunt Clues
1. Massachusetts’ first governor rests here.
2. The world’s most famous tea party began here.
3. Where a famed silversmith who took a midnight ride laid his head at night.
4. This is America’s oldest park.
5. This stately building stood witness to the Boston Massacre.
6. In Puritan New England, this congregation opted for religious freedom.
7. Two lanterns were hung in the steeple of this church on the night of Paul Revere’s midnight ride.
8. This is the seat of the Massachusetts state government.
9. About 2,300 markers mark resting places here.
10. This marks the first major battle of the Revolutionary War.
Freedom Trail Scavenger Hunt Answers
1. King’s Chapel Burying Ground
Tremont Street, next to King’s Chapel
In Boston Proper’s first burying ground rests John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts. But he’s just one of the impressive people buried there. Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower, is also buried there as is the Reverend John Cotton, a 17th puritan reformist. Although named for the adjacent church, the burying ground has always been run by the municipality and not the church.
2. Old South Meeting House
310 Washington Street
The Boston Tea Party began here. Many protest meetings were held at Old South Meeting House in the 18th Century, but the most famous was on December 16, 1773, when efforts to find a compromise about a controversial tea tax failed. More than 5,000 men had crowded in that day to debate, and when they couldn’t come to an agreement, Samuel Adams signaled and the Sons of Liberty led the group to Griffin’s Wharf where 342 chests of tea were dumped into Boston Harbor.
Old South Meeting House was originally built as a Puritan meeting house and its congregants included African-American poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to Boston as a young girl, purchased as a slave and then educated by her slave owners. She published a book while enslaved, with the blessing of her owners. Benjamin Franklin and his family were also congregants.
3. Paul Revere House
19 North Square
Downtown Boston’s oldest building was once home to Paul Revere, a silversmith born in the North End and made famous by his midnight ride on April 18, 1775, when he rode to Lexington, Massachusetts to warn of the arrival of British soldiers. It was built in 1680 and became home to Revere and his family in 1770. After that, it was used as a boarding house for sailors, a tenement house, shops and more. Revere’s grandson purchased it in 1902 to ensure it would remain standing. It was restored a few years later and has served as a memorial to Revere’s legacy since April 1908.
4. Boston Common
139 Tremont Street
Puritan colonists purchased the rights to the area of Boston now known as Boston Common for a total of 30 shillings and used it for grazing livestock. Founded in 1634, that was what the land was used for until 1830, though it did see assembly and encampment of soldiers during the 18th century. It was also used for Puritan punishments — such as hangings and setting people in stocks. Today, it’s largely used for recreation with walking paths, playgrounds, Swan Boats and ice skating, all weather-dependent.
5. Old State House
206 Washington Street
Just outside the Old State House sits the site of the Boston Massacre. A copperplate engraving by Paul Revere reads, “The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston, March 5, 1770, by a party of the 29th Regiment.” While inside the statehouse, visit the period rooms, bask in the history and explore where the Declaration of Independence was first read, announcing the colonist’s intention to form their own sovereign government.
6. King’s Chapel
58 Tremont Street
Founded in 1686, King’s Chapel was the first Anglican church in New England, which was overwhelmingly Puritan at the time. It’s also one of the oldest churches in the present-day United States. Originally a wooden structure, the stone building was completed in 1754. It is a Unitarian church today.
7. Old North Church
193 Salem Street
Historic Old North Church is where Paul Revere’s fabled Midnight Ride began. The famed “One if by land, two if by sea,” was supposedly given from here, regarding the number of lanterns hung in the steeple. Today, the church remains an active church with an Episcopalian congregation that has two services held each Sunday.
8. Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon Street
Near Boston Common, this gold-domed building is the state capital building for Massachusetts. It opened in 1798 and holds the offices and chambers for both the state legislature and the state executive branch.
9. The Granary Burying Ground
95 Tremont Street
It’s estimated that more than 5,000 people are buried in this burying ground established in 1660. However, there are only an estimated 2,300 markers. Granary Burying Ground is the gravesite for many famous Bostonians including John Hancock, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams (famous for signing the Declaration of Independence, not for the beer named for him).
10. Bunker Hill Monument
43 Monument Square
This 221-foot granite obelisk was completed in 1842. It marks the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle of the Revolutionary War. Although the British technically won the battle, the colonial forces showed they could fight effectively. Ironically though, the battle was actually fought on Breed’s Hill.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this Boston scavenger hunt adventure along the Freedom Trail and perhaps even located a few hidden gems of history and trivia. What was your favorite part? Share in the comments below.