Spring weather arrives a bit earlier for our Massachusetts neighbors, and that’s good enough reason to head south to Boston for a fun day of urban adventuring. It’s always a great experience, one that nets hours of good exercise, interesting sightseeing, a modicum of shopping and plenty of delicious food and refreshing drink.

The historic Freedom Trail is an excellent way to see on foot what I consider to be the best of Boston. I must admit, however, that until late last year I had never actually walked the entire route. But one fine day I was determined to see the trail through from start to finish, and with rucksack over my shoulder, did just that. You’ll enjoy it too.

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walking trail extending from Boston Common through the heart of downtown and across the Charles River to the monument atop Bunker Hill in Charlestown. Marked by a red-brick line weaving through the streets, the famous trail leads past 16 colonial, Revolutionary and federal sites. Together these tell the story of the important people, places and events in Boston’s history in and around the period of the American Revolution and the struggles to secure freedom and liberty in the form of a new nation.

The starting point of the Freedom Trail is Boston Common, which dates to 1622 and is America’s oldest public park. Originally a common grazing area for cattle and sheep, the park today is a revered center of outdoor activity for urban dwellers and visitors alike.

Uphill from the Common is the Massachusetts State House; beneath its golden dome the daily business of the Commonwealth is conducted. Further along on Court Street is the Old State House, which was built in 1713 to house the colony’s government.

The Park Street Church is one of three churches on the Freedom Trail. The 217-foot steeple of the church was a landmark for early travelers approaching Boston. The Old North Church on Salem Street in the North End is where the signal lanterns were hung warning of an impending British attack on Lexington and Concord, sending Paul Revere off on his famous midnight ride. The King’s Chapel dates to 1686 and is home to the oldest pulpit in the country.

Burying grounds at King’s Chapel and the Granary on Tremont Street and atop Copp’s Hill are the final resting places for many Boston notables, including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and Cotton and Increase Mather.

The Old South Meeting House, Boston Massacre site, Fanueil Hall and its marketplace of shops and eateries, Benjamin Franklin’s statue and Old Corner Bookstore round out the downtown points of interest. Across the green space covering I-93 created by the “Big Dig,” the walk passes the Paul Revere statue, visits the USS Constitution and concludes with a climb up the 221-foot Bunker Hill Monument, site of the first battle major battle of the American Revolution which also provides a grand view of the Boston skyline.

If you’ve got the time, preface your Freedom Trail jaunt with a walk around the Beacon Hill neighborhood on the Black Heritage Trail, which visits houses of worship, homes, schools, and Underground Railroad sites of Boston’s free African-American community established during its quest to end slavery and attain equal rights (www.afroammuseum.org).

Consider leaving your car behind and taking public transportation to Boston. From Portland, the Concord Coach bus (www.concordcoachlines.com) and the Amtrak Downeaster train (www.amtrakdowneaster.com) offer stress-free travel and eliminate city traffic hassles and parking expense. From South Station or North Station, hop the MBTA subway (www.mbta.com) to the start of the trail and you’re on your way.

Everything you need to plan your adventure can be found at www.thefreedomtrail.org or call 617-357-8300.

Carey Kish of Southwest Harbor is the author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast. Follow Carey’s adventures in his Maineiac Outdoors blog at:

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