5 Must-Visit Historic Sites in New England

Jocelyn Murray November 20, 2014 No Comments


Freedom Trail – Boston, MA 

The Old State House on the Freedom Trail dates back to 1713
photo by Wally Gobetz

Freedom Trail is a 2 ½ mile walking tour of 16 historic sites within the Boston National Historical Park. Visitors can walk on self-guided (free) tours or guided (paid) tours and see some of the places in pre-Revolutionary America’s Colonial Boston. Some highlights of the best sites along the trail include the Old State House and Museum; the 1660 Granary Burying Ground (Boston Massacre victims are buried here, along with John Hancock, Sam Adams, and Paul Revere); Faneuil Hall; Old North Church; Boston Massacre Site; the Prado; Paul Revere House; and Bunker Hill Monument commemorating the American Revolution’s first major battle in 1775. It can take about two hours to tour the entire trail, though going at a more leisurely pace will allow time to explore the landmarks. Paid trolley tours are also available.


Plymouth Rock – Plymouth, MA 

Pavilion at Plymouth Rock
photo by Don Pugh

This is where it all began. English Pilgrims on the Mayflower seeking religious freedom landed at the site of Plymouth Rock and established the Plymouth Colony in 1620. Known as “America’s Cornerstone,” it was here that the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest and shared their “harvest feast” with Native Americans – a feast we continue to celebrate annually during Thanksgiving; a holiday formally recognized by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Plymouth Rock represents those ideals held fast by immigrants everywhere, and upon which the American dream is built: courage, faith and freedom.


Salem – Massachusetts 

Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts
photo by Karuana G

Salem is best known for the witch persecutions of 1692 when 20 people accused of witchcraft were put to an ignoble death. It marks a time when hearsay and hysteria sent fear rippling through colonial North America; a dark period when tragedies and tribulations were blamed upon the forces of evil, superstition, and the people who were believed to have had a supernatural hand in the misfortunes. Salem is also the historical center of commercial shipping with a historic waterfront and other sites along the Heritage Trail. Visitors can also tour American author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables which is found here. For those interested in its witch-related history, sites worth visiting are the Salem Witch Museum, Witch Dungeon Museum, Salem Witch Trails Memorial, and the Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers.


Lexington Green – Massachusetts 

Minuteman Statue and Buckman Tavern at Lexington Green
photo by Rachel James

Lexington Green was where the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, and where first blood of the Revolution was shed. Now an open public park, Lexington Battle Green was once the old Village Common where cattle grazed, and where 75 minutemen (merchants and farmers ready to fight on a minute’s notice) faced several hundred advancing British soldiers. This historic site is steeped in the past with its authentic 18th century homes and churches. Make time to tour Buckman Tavern, Munroe Tavern, and Hancock-Clarke House for a fascinating look at history and colonial treasures.


Tea Party Ship – Boston, MA 

Boston Tea Party Annual Reenactment on December 16
photo by Lee Wright

Located in downtown Boston, in the Fort Point Channel of Boston Harbor, the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum features an authentic replica of the type of famous ship where Bostonians disguised as Mohawk Indians dumped 342 chests of East India Company tea into Boston Harbor in protest of England’s loathsome Tea Act of 1772. It reportedly took three hours to dump the 10,000 pounds of tea into the harbor. It was this kind of unfair taxation and stifling policies that undermined American free trade, and sparked the fires of rebellion against the British, which later led to revolution. The site is full of hands-on exhibits that are not only educational, but fun for adults and kids alike. Come experience a bit of fascinating history for yourself!

avatarAbout the Author:

Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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