Many visitors are interested in seeing all the colonial sites and taking an Old Town Trolley Tour is the most efficient way to accomplish that goal. This guide will help you plan your vacation around the oldest attractions in Boston and give you insights on which trolley stops are most important to visit.
Boston’s only burial grounds for 29 years (1630-1659) sit on Tremont Street next to the King’s Chapel. The tombstones in this historic cemetery are kept in impeccable condition considering they are more than 350 years old.
If you are interested in learning more about the burial grounds while you are here, then sign up for a Boston ghost tour, Ghosts & Gravestones. You’ll enjoy a great frightseeing tour and stories about the ghosts of Boston’s past.
Part of the National Historic Register and Freedom Trail, this was the second cemetery created in Boston. Notable Boston colonists were buried here along with many artisans, craftsmen, and merchants.
Named for the building that stored grain next to it, the Granary Burying Ground is probably the most famous cemetery in Boston. Some of the most famous citizens in Boston History are buried here including John Hancock, John Adams, Paul Revere, the parents of Benjamin Franklin, and Samuel Adams.
A very interesting fact about this cemetery is that there are about 5,000 people buried here, but only 2,300 tombstones. That is because each grave contained up to 20 bodies per family. Be sure to visit this burying ground while traveling along the Freedom Trail.
As the oldest building in Boston, the Paul Revere house boasts many historical artifacts from his family who lived there during the American Revolution. About 80-90% of the structure is original from 1680. The house itself is definitely not as spectacular as some of the public buildings and churches from colonial Boston, however it does give you a great sense of colonial family living.
Located adjacent to the Paul Revere house is one of the oldest Boston attractions: The Pierce-Hichborn House. This historic Boston attraction is one of the earliest surviving brick structures in Boston and was owned by Nathaniel Hichborn who was the cousin of Paul Revere. The Paul Revere Memorial Association operates the historical house and it is also part of the National Register of Historic Places.
The seat of the Massachusetts State Legislature until 1798, the Old State House is the oldest public building in Boston. After housing the state legislature and colony government for over 75 years, the Old State House was used for the Boston City Hall. Since 1881, the Old State has been preserved as a museum and the basement is used for a Boston MBTA station. The Old State House is now surrounded by a number of skyscrapers and modern buildings, which makes for an even more impressive site. Using the skyscrapers as a backdrop, tourists can really visualize how different life was in colonial times compared to modern day Boston.
Although “New College” was officially founded in 1636 and “Harvard College” was dedicated in 1639, the oldest building remaining on the campus is Massachusetts Hall built in 1720. In addition to being one of the top 3 universities in the world, Harvard also boasts some of the oldest historical buildings in Boston. The 210-acre campus is adorned with a plethora of historical red brick buildings and houses the largest academic and private library system in the world.
While the interior design of the Old North Church does not rival some of the great churches in America or Europe, it is the oldest active church building in Boston and one of the oldest in America. The church has a crypt of more than 1,100 bodies buried in the basement, which is covered by plaster and slate doors. Some of the famous colonial citizens buried in the Old North Church crypt include the Captain of the USS Constitution and a British Marine Major who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. This is definitely one of the great Historical Attractions in Boston that every tourist must visit.
Built by descendants of the Puritan pilgrims from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Old South Meeting House was used for public gatherings and as a place of worship for many of Boston’s most famous colonists. Some of the congregation included Samuel Adams, Phyllis Wheatley, and Benjamin Franklin. Most notably, the Old South Meeting House was used for a gathering of more than 5,000 colonists to organize the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Spend a morning reliving the event that started the American Revolution by touring the Old South Meeting House and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Located blocks from each other, you can experience one of the most historical events in American history!
Located right in the center of the Boston historic district and Freedom Trail, this Festival Marketplace offers tourists a myriad of modern shops combined with historic ambience. You can find great restaurants, bars, and cool historical sites while visiting Faneuil Hall, Quincy Marketplace, North Market, and South Market, which comprise the modern-day Festival Marketplace.
The property on which the current King’s Chapel sits is considered the oldest place of worship in Boston dating back to 1686; however, the King’s Chapel building was not completed until 1754. Located next to King’s Chapel is the Burial Grounds which date back to 1630. The King’s Chapel rounds out our list of the oldest attractions in Boston. The attractions on this list are more than 250 years old and represent a great piece of American History. We hope you can experience all of these historical sites on your next visit to Boston!