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A History Lover's Guide to Boston

Founded in 1630, Boston is one of oldest settlements in the country. For generations, history lovers have made their way to this town in hopes of catching a glimpse of our nation's past. That is why so many in Boston work hard to preserve its past and keep the memory of our nation's birth alive. While exploring Boston you will see everything from 18th century churches to redbrick meeting houses and historic pubs to wide open gardens.

Many of our nation's oldest buildings and businesses are located in the heart of Boston, including the Bell-in-Hand Tavern, the oldest continuously operating watering hole in the nation. There are many museums and tours that will take you on an adventure into the heart of Boston's history, which is why a Boston getaway is a dream vacation for many history buffs.

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Boston Stone is embedded in the building at the corner of Marshall and Salt Lane. This stone was used as the zero point where all distances were measured from in the 1700s. You will be able to see this stone when taking the self-guided walking tour of the Freedom Trail.

The U.S.S. Constitution, aka "Old Ironsides," has won the hearts of the many history buffs who come to see her. This warship is one of the most unique American icons. Everything about her represents our nation's history and continuous fight for freedom. As you walk the decks of this ship, you will be transported back to the 1800s when she played a pivotal role in the War of 1812 against the British.

The Bunker Hill Monument stands 221 feet tall, marking the site of the Revolutionary War's first major battle on June 17, 1775. Visitors can climb 294 steps to the top of the monument for a breathtaking view of the city as they remember the men who fought for our country's freedom.

Other historical sites in Boston include:

  • Tremont Street Subway, which was the first subway in Boston and opened in 1897, making it possible for trolleys to run between Boylston Street and Scollay Square.
  • Old South Meeting House was built in 1729. This was the location where services were held every Sunday and was where the Sons of Liberty and their supporters gathered before their march down to the Boston Harbor where they protested taxation without representation by dumping tea overboard from a British merchant ship.
  • Old City Hall, the former site of the Boston Latin School, our country's oldest public school and was the seat of Boston's City government until 1969.
  • King's Chapel was founded by English Puritans who constructed their own Anglican church.
  • Massachusetts State House was originally shingled in wood, but Paul Revere sheathed it in rolled copper before it was gilded with gold in 1861.
  • Boston Common is the oldest public green area in America, where thousands of people still gather for free Shakespeare productions during the summer.
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The Old North Church quickly became a symbol of our country's fight for independence back on April 18, 1775. This is the church where the lanterns were lit in the steeple to signal that the British were coming by sea, which sent Paul Revere on his legendary ride through the city. This historic landmark is the oldest church building in Boston and has been restored back to the way it looked during America's fight for freedom. You will also want to make a stop at Paul Revere's House for a further look into the life of the man whose ride lives on throughout history.

The Union Oyster House is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the country. The building dates back to 1714 and the Oyster House officially opened in this location in 1826. The Union Oyster House changed its name in 1916 and has only had three owners. For decades, public officials have visited this restaurant while in the Boston area.

The building the Old State House is located in was built back in 1713. This was where the British housed the royal governor's office in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This was also the site where the Boston Massacre occurred in 1770, when the Redcoats fired into the crowd killing five, including a former slave, Crispus Attucks.

Historic hotels

When visiting Boston, you will want to stay somewhere that will make you feel like you are living back in another time. That is why so many local hotels have been set up in historic buildings throughout the city. Popular historic hotels in the Boston area include:


When visiting Boston, you can choose to enjoy a guided tour complete with knowledgeable guides who offer insight into the city's rich history. If you want to explore the city on your own time, self-guided tour maps are available throughout the city or they can be downloaded. Self-guided walking tours include those along the Black Heritage Trail, the Freedom Trail, the Irish Heritage Trail and the Walk to the Sea. All of these will give you an up close look into history as you leisurely take your time walking.

The Freedom Trail will take you on a journey where you will see 16 of Boston's most historically significant sites. From start to finish, this tour should not take you more than three hours to complete. But you can always take your time and make a day out of it, but stopping at restaurants and shops along the way, including the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Historic Tours of America offers various types of tours for those looking to get an inside look into Boston's history. Tours available include Old Town Trolley, Ghosts & Gravestones, Boston Tea Party Ship, chocolate tours and educational tours.

Old Town Trolley Tours offers guided tours throughout the Boston area, including many historic stops along the way. Historic stops include Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Historic North End, U.S.S. Constitution, North Station, Old State House Museum, Cheers, Copley Square, Beacon Hill and the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

Other historical tours in the Boston area include:

  • Boston's Freedom Trail – a self-guided tour is available that will take you to various historical sites, including the two-story wooden house where Paul Revere lived.
  • Boston's Granary Burying Ground – take a walk through history and see the headstones and markers from the Revolutionary War, including those belonging to John Hancock, Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.
  • Boston Pirates and Patriots Tour – takes you back in time where you will walk from Faneuil Hall Marketplace down to Fort Point Channel, where imported goods from the British arrived.

Historical events

Bostonians love to continue the city's historic culture, and to help honor the area's past this city is home to many events throughout the year. These events feature reenactments, entertainment, educational shows and food. Many locals and visitors gather in Boston for these events as a way to keep the rich history of the city and our country alive.

Popular events held in Boston include:

If you love learning about our country's history, then you must make plans to visit Boston. This area is home to many historical sites and you will definitely feel like you have traveled back in time. Nothing beats experiencing America's history first-hand. Which is why every history lover needs to plan a vacation in Boston.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions - writing and travel - to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at


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