Bunker Hill Walking Tour, Boston

Bunker Hill Walking Tour (Self Guided), Boston

If you're a history buff or simply interested in understanding more of America's past, take our self-guided walk covering some of the places associated with the origins of the USA as an independent nation, as well as lots of maritime history!

On the banks of Boston Harbor and the Mystic River, the towering Bunker Hill Monument can’t be missed: a really nice place to reflect on the battles fought during the American Revolutionary War. The surrounding park area also features a cool statue of William Prescott, leader of the rebels, and the lovely Bunker Hill Museum with a gift shop and a diorama presentation upstairs.

Grab a pint at Warren Tavern, the same pub frequented by George Washington and Paul Revere, then head to the next big sight: the Boston Navy Yard, home to USS Constitution – the famous Revolutionary War-era frigate known as “Old Ironsides” – along with the USS Cassin Young. After touring the ships, you may also want to visit the Constitution Museum, beautifully laid out and enriched with fascinating photos that add much to the human context of those who were employed at the Yard, and detailing the Yard's important role in World War II.

Follow this self-guided walking tour – you will agree that it’s a great addition to the long list of Boston’s historical must-sees.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Bunker Hill Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Bunker Hill Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Boston (See other walking tours in Boston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: anna
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Bunker Hill Monument
  • Bunker Hill Museum
  • Warren Tavern
  • Civil War Memorial
  • Boston Navy Yard
  • USS Constitution
  • USS Cassin Young
Bunker Hill Monument

1) Bunker Hill Monument

The Bunker Hill Monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill that was fought on June 17, 1775, during the Siege of Boston, in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which was peripherally involved in the fight and is now one of the sites on the Freedom Trail.

It all started when the British attempted to fortify the unoccupied hills surrounding Boston in a bid to establish control over the city harbor. To prevent that, American colonial troops stealthily occupied Bunker and Breed's Hills and built there a line of defense. The British, once aware of that, mounted waves of attacks against the colonial forces and incurred severe casualties. The battle ended only after the defenders ran out of ammunition and proved somewhat Pyrrhic a victory for the British. Although tactically they won, the battle had clearly demonstrated that the inexperienced American militia were able to stand up to the regular British army.

The 221-foot granite obelisk was built between 1827 and 1843 with granite from Quincy, Massachusetts, and was delivered to the site via the Granite Railway built specially for that purpose, followed by a trip by barge.

Curiously enough, the Bunker Hill Monument stands not on the actual Bunker Hill but on Breed's Hill where most of the fighting took place. The Monument Association, which had purchased the battlefield site, was forced to sell off all but the hill's summit in order to complete the monument. An exhibit lodge built adjacent to the monument in the late 19th century houses a statue of Warren and a diorama of the battle. Leading to the top of the monument are 294 steps.

Why You Should Visit:
The views from the top are worth it and so is the whole exploration effort.
If you're doing the Freedom Trail, you owe it to yourself to keep dragging along to this.

Visit early in the day, when you are not tired, or after a meal, and/or visit after you have gone everywhere on the Freedom Trail so that you can name the places and buildings seen from the top.
If you go down the hill to the Bunker Hill Museum, they have a bathroom you can use. A good place to learn about the history of the city and the Battle for Bunker Hill.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Bunker Hill Museum

2) Bunker Hill Museum

The Bunker Hill Museum is located just across the street from the Bunker Hill Monument and is housed in the old Charlestown Branch building of the Boston Public Library. Even if you don't intend to visit the museum but want to go up the monument only, you'll still have to go to the museum to get a virtual ticket.

The compelling exhibits of the museum tell the story of the battle and its commemoration, plus the story of the Bunker Hill Monument construction and the history of the Charlestown community. Events are described without bias, relying on the actual facts rather than rhetoric.

Among other things here you will find a fascinating 360-degree cyclorama mural of the battle showing the disposition of forces, refurbished dioramas including that with narration on the second floor that takes you through the entire battle, and those depicting Boston and the coastline back in the day, plus a number of other excellent interactive displays and artifacts. The latter are all authentic, not replicas, including an original drum captured from the Brits during the battle. The onsite bookstore carries an excellent collection of books on all things “Bunker Hill”.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Warren Tavern

3) Warren Tavern

The Warren Tavern is reportedly one of the oldest pubs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and one of the most historic watering holes in the United States. It is named after General Joseph Warren, one of the revolutionary leaders killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and was founded in 1780. The pub stands in the very same spot where it was put upon foundation, at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Main Street in Charlestown, Massachusetts – just across the Charles River from downtown Boston.

In the early years, the tavern was frequented by many American Revolutionary War heroes, such as Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, Sergeant David Turner and George Washington. Since opening in 1780, the legendary Warren Tavern has been closed only for short periods of time. Today, it is a staple for locals much as a popular hangout for tourists who, apart from beer, varied pub food & colonial charm, are also interested in understanding American Colonial history and culture.
Civil War Memorial

4) Civil War Memorial

The Charlestown Civil War Memorial is an outdoor monument to the soldiers and navigators native of Charlestown, Boston, who fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was designed by Martin Milmore in 1871 and dedicated in 1872 in Boston's Winthrop Square also known as the Charlestown training field, where the Minutemen trained during the American Revolution. Today the square is surrounded by a beautiful park which you can't miss en route to/from Bunker Hill on the Freedom Trail.

The memorial is quite massive: statues measuring approximately 12x9x8 feet, and a pedestal – about 18x13x13 feet. It is made of granite and depicts three figures: an allegorical statue of Liberty in the center with a laurel wreath in each hand, and two figures of a soldier and a sailor in front of her. Surrounded by trees and a fence, the memorial can be viewed only from a distance.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Boston Navy Yard

5) Boston Navy Yard

The Boston Navy Yard, originally known as the Charlestown Navy Yard, is one of the oldest maintenance centers in the U.S. Navy, established in 1801 shortly after the U.S. Department of the Navy in 1798. Decommissioned since 1974, this Yard is now home to many attractions including the museum ship USS Cassin Young, a World War II era destroyer, tied up at Pier 1 and open to the public. The crown jewel of the Yard is undoubtedly the USS Constitution, the oldest fully commissioned U.S. Navy vessel, which still sails once a year, on the 4th of July, and each day, before the end of the day, fires a canon shot! Together these historic warships, although hundreds of years apart, exemplify what the Yard built, repaired, and maintained for two centuries, and illustrate the transition of the Navy from timber & sail to steel & steam.

The Navy Yard also hosts Dry Dock No. 1 used for maintenance of the USS Constitution and Cassin Young with the Commodore's house just across the road, with all its rounded "corners", built by Navy personnel; the USS Constitution Museum with some very good exhibits located in a restored shipyard building at the foot of Pier 2; plus a restaurant, gift shop, visitors center, and a park. All of the attractions are free except the museum where they ask for donations to help preserve history.

Tip: Periodically, the Constitution exhibit is closed for renovation and restoration. As this is a must-see exhibit, calling ahead of your visit to see if it's open is highly recommended.
If you get hungry during a visit, there's a surprisingly good cafe at the Yard with some decent sandwiches and a very serviceable clam chowder.
USS Constitution

6) USS Constitution (must see)

USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the U.S. Navy which was named so by President George Washington after the United States Constitution. Launched in 1797, this is the world's oldest floating commissioned naval vessel.

The Constitution is most noted for her contribution towards victory in the War of 1812 against Great Britain, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships, namely: HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane, and Levant. The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname "Old Ironsides" and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping. During the American Civil War, the Constitution served as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy.

Retired from active service in 1881, today the Constitution is missioned to promote understanding of and education about the Navy’s role in war and peace effort. As a fully commissioned Navy ship, her crew of 60 officers and sailors are all active-duty Navy personnel whose assignment is considered a special duty. The Constitution is usually berthed at Pier 1 of the Boston Navy Yard (formerly Charlestown Navy Yard) at one end of Boston's Freedom Trail. The privately run USS Constitution Museum is located nearby in a restored shipyard building at the foot of Pier 2.

Why You Should Visit:
To experience all the world's oldest commissioned warship has to offer.
You can't explore quite every nook and cranny, but you can explore most of them with a free guided tour.
The adjacent museum (admission with donation & valid ID) has great exhibits and a gift shop for souvenirs & snacks.

While here, visit the Navy Yard Visitor Center and the USS Cassin Young, a WW2 Fletcher-class destroyer.
If you have kids, make sure to go to the museum's second floor for interactive learning experiences.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Sun: 10am-4pm (USS Constitution); Daily: 9am-6pm (USS Constitution Museum)
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
USS Cassin Young

7) USS Cassin Young

USS Cassin Young is a Fletcher-class destroyer of the U.S. Navy named for Captain Cassin Young (1894–1942), a WWII hero decorated with the Medal of Honor for his distinguished action at the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. A year later, Captain Young fell in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. The ship bearing his name was launched in 1943 and saw action during the Second World War and the Korean War. Near the end of WWII the vessel survived two kamikaze attacks and lost several crew members. Cassin Young was finally decommissioned in 1974 and has been preserved as a floating memorial ship at the Boston Navy Yard since 1978. She opened to the public in 1981.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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