I am a preschool teacher in Charlestown. We bring the children to the Bunker Hill Monument to play in the grass. We walk to the Navy Yard to wave to the USS Constitution. The Freedom Trail literally passes by our school’s front door. To say we are deep in tourist territory is an understatement. We pass by walking tours, step around people taking pictures of our neighborhood, and give directions to people from all over the world.
We often forget to take time to enjoy how much our small neighborhoods have to offer. One day, as the children were playing in the Training Field, drawing with chalk on the red bricks of the Freedom Trail, I decided I would be a “tourist for a day” and rediscover some areas through a new lens. There are so many well-known places in Charlestown — many with some lesser-known close-by attractions.
Bunker Hill Monument
In addition to being a great place to walk your dog, take a morning yoga class, or enjoy a picnic, the monument has so much to offer. Sitting in the grass, the views of the city are spectacular. But if you can make it up the steep staircase of 294 stairs, you can sneak a peek through tiny windows and get an even better view. Be sure to check out the two small museums, both at the base of the monument and across the street.
While you might be familiar with the monument, you might not know about the amazing locally owned shops nearby. Monroe is a fabulous home decor store owned by a Charlestown mom. Place and Gather and their sister store, Junebug, hold the key to super cute seasonal items as well as some Charlestown-specific pieces.
USS Constitution (and museum)
Most Bostonians have heard of Old Ironsides and know all the stories about this unsinkable ship, but it is great to rediscover. After all, there is a hidden gem right next to the boat. After you take a tour of the U.S. Navy’s oldest commissioned ship, walk across the way to the USS Constitution Museum. You may think the ship is the real thing to see, but if you skip the museum, you are missing out. From personal accounts of the crew to learning how to swab the deck and climbing the sails, there’s something for everyone here. Younger children will love the second floor for its interactive exhibits, so be sure you make it up there!
Everyone knows parking in the city can be a nightmare. Many people who are traveling into the city will park at an MBTA station and take the T into Boston. But there are some other great ways to get from one place to another. Try the MBTA-run ferry that takes passengers from the Navy Yard (right next to the Constitution) to Long Wharf (near the aquarium). This ferry ride is about 15 minutes, fares are low, and a boat ride can be a perfect new experience for Bostonians to explore. There are also many water taxis that will take you on scenic tours as you travel from one area of Beantown to the other.