By Robert Selwitz
Whenever leisure travel again makes sense, Boston should be a prime destination choice. After the present dystopia passes — taking with it the rampant fear of close contact — a look at the city where the American Revolution began should be refreshing.
Take a taxi to Charlestown, one end of the Freedom Trail. Its 16 stops cover 2.5 miles between the USS Constitution docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard and nearby museum, and/or Bunker Hill Monument (a three-minute walk) to the Boston Common. Allow several hours to wend through and pause at a selection of stops. Marked by red bricks and/or a painted line, the trail itself is free to peruse, although individual landmarks and sights often have entry fees.
The American Revolution was Boston-born, and while the USS Constitution (also known as "Old Ironsides") was best known for never losing a battle during the War of 1812, almost everything else on the trail is tied to the Revolutionary War or earlier.
For example, at Bunker Hill, the site of the war's first battle on April 19, 1775, view or climb up to the 221-foot monument.
Not far away is the Old North Church, where you'll hear about warning signals sent from the church steeple to troops at Lexington and Concord who needed to know when opposing British forces would arrive. Eventually rebels in the steeple flagged the news that the British were arriving by sea and therefore would take longer to reach Colonial forces than if they had departed Boston by land.
Next, head for the Paul Revere House, his home between 1770 and 1800. Though it was built in 1680 and is Boston's oldest standing structure, it has been heavily renovated. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating museum well worth a serious pause. Another major site is Faneuil Hall. Dating to 1742, it was a main meeting point for prewar anti-crown deliberations. The National Park Service provides regular talks.
Then there is the Old State House, the seat of the British colonial government from 1713 until 1776. Now a fascinating museum, it was from a front balcony here that the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public. The angry anti-British protest and snowball fight that devolved into the Boston Massacre occurred on a walkway at its front on March 5, 1770. You'll get all the incredible details via a lecture inside.
The gold-domed state house that debuted in 1798 and overlooks Boston Common is at the end of the Freedom Trail. Elegant interiors, legislative and executive offices, and fascinating talks by savvy guides make this must-see. You might also want to explore other trail stops that include Park Street Church, the Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel and Burying Ground, Boston Latin School, the Old Corner Bookstore, Old South Meeting House and Coop's Hill Burying Ground.
Also, just north of the capitol climb the steep streets of Beacon Hill to wend among the Federal and Victorian brick row dwellings of political and social leaders nicknamed the "Boston Brahmins." This is one of the nation's best-preserved urban enclaves.
Many of those residents also patronized the arts. Long-standing examples that are still at the heart of Boston tourism include the world-famous Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, containing much of her extraordinary personal art collection. Another world-famous Boston institution is Symphony Hall, home of the renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra. Attending a concert here is truly something special.
When it's possible to be in a crowd again, take in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Built in 1912, this is America's oldest and most iconic baseball shrine. When that's again possible, you'll know better days have, indeed, returned.
WHEN YOU GO
The Royal Sonesta Boston is a peaceful hotel on the Charles River. Though Cambridge-based, it is but a short taxi ride from Boston's prime attractions. Try the extraordinary lobster rolls at the Art Bar restaurant: www.sonesta.com.
Robert Selwitz is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com
The garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a must-see on a trip to Boston. Photo courtesy of Barbara Selwitz.