Boston: Following The Freedom Trail & America’s Oldest Tavern

The Freedom Trail is a literal trail. Not a figurative journey. It wasn’t until the second day we figured this out.

This 2.5 mile-long string of red bricks will take you to various historical sites related to the Revolutionary War.

Many sites charge a small fee for entrance or a tour. Otherwise, you can simply read the plaques out front.

This morning, we had already wandered around the wharf near the Aquarium and Faneuil Hall before following the Freedom Trail. We cut our trip short to make the first seating at Neptune Oyster Bar. I think the founding fathers would be ok with that.

Faneuil Hall
We arrived at Faneuil Hall before the day’s action got started. A friend of a friend had advised us to wander around and check out the street performers but NOT to buy anything.

While the buildings are beautiful and offer a free bathroom, it reminds me of a dead suburban mall with Navy Pier energy. You can shop at Anne Taylor, Urban Outfitters, and a pewter store if that’s what you came all of the way to Boston to do. There’s also a replica of Cheers. If you want to enjoy a $10 mug of clam chowder or $17 Norm-themed burger, pull up a seat! We might have entertained the idea of a beer if it had been open.

The Quincy Market Food Colonnade’s vendors were prepping for lunch and the building smelled enticing; chocolate chip cookies, grilled peppers and onions, and gyros. We took in the smells and kept walking.

The towering Ben Franklin statue stands outside the oldest public school in America. 

King’s Chapel Burying Ground

The old burial ground is located outside King’s Chapel, the oldest Anglican church in America. It’s the resting place of John Winthrop, Massachusetts’s first governor and Mary Chilton, the first woman to exit the Mayflower.

The gravestones are intricately carved. There’s also a big subway ventilation shaft where you can hear the trains rumble.

Boston Commons, Boston’s Oldest Public Park

We wandered around Boston Commons before heading to Neptune Oyster Bar.

Some other places we visited are Paul Revere’s house in the North End, Old South Meeting Hall where the Boston Tea Party supposedly began, and Granary Burial Ground where Benjamin Franklin’s parents, John Adams, and Paul Revere are buried.

There are two really old bars along the Freedom Trail. 

Green Dragon Tavern claims to have been established in 1654. Supposedly, Paul Revere and John Hancock used to frequent the tavern and Revere started his midnight ride here. I’ve also read the tavern is not in the same location as the original public house, nor an earlier version of the tavern (according to this article), so I’m confused.

“Paul Revere stood in this general direction!” all the bars in the historic downtown area should say. I mean, he probably did.

We ended up leaving the Green Dragon for the Bell in Hand Tavern across the street. The wait was shorter. And when I saw a man dressed up in full Revolutionary war costume chilling the bar, I noped my way out of there.

Bell in Hand claims to be America’s oldest, continually operating bar. Although it changed locations in 1844, it continued to operate and still features its original bar.

The menu here is a little fancier than it’s neighbor across the street with a modern and more upscale feel. If you didn’t know Bell in Hand’s backstory, you might wonder if you were in some type of new bistro.

This was our first meal off the plane and we were hungry. The fried calamari was excellent. We loved the thin slices of pickled peppers tossed into the mix along with the crisp coating that was completely grease-free.

Having never had a lobster roll, this one left us scratching our head. It sure looks beautiful and tasted fine. “This is fine, but why would any one pay $30 for one? we wondered,” picking the lobster off the shredded lettuce.

That is, until we got to Neptune Oyster where we saw toasty rolls overflowing with lobster and glistening with butter. It all made sense.

Next post on eating a bunch of seafood at Neptune Oyster Bar and Trattoria Di Monica.  

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1 Comment

  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Yummmmm. As always your food pictures make me realize how hungry I am. A good lobster roll is worth it, in my humble opinion. You just have to find a good one and I am thinking you did later on….I am staying tuned.

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