Boston Freedom Trail Exploring Framed by MFA and Gardner Museum

Boston Freedom Trail Exploring Framed by MFA and Gardner Museum

When Therese had to go to Boston for work recently, she invited me to come along.  She explained that for part of the time I would be on my own, but we would also have time to visit a museum or two together.  So I put together a rough and ready itinerary where we could visit the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday afternoon when we arrived in Boston, then I would have dinner on my own. On Thursday morning I would explore the Freedom Trail, and at lunchtime we would re-connect and go to the Gardner Museum before heading home on a late afternoon train.


Our Wednesday morning Amtrak train got us to Boston mid-day (we ate lunch on the train), and we immediately taxied over to the museum (which has a coat check room where we were able to leave our luggage as well as our coats).  I did not have a very ambitious agenda for the museum – I thought we would make our way through the galleries of the second floor, eventually arriving at the gallery 252, reputed to be one of the best collections of the paintings of Impressionist artist Claude Monet (my favorite from this visit was definitely his portrait of his wife in Japanese dress, called “La Japonaise“).  Along the way, we saw lots of other wonderful things – lots of American art and furniture, ceramics (some very whimsical), and paintings we didn’t know existed.

In this last category I would definitely place “The Triumph of the Winter Queen” by Gerrit van Honthorst.  The Winter Queen was the title given to Elizabeth Stuart, who was only Queen of Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) for one winter (the details are complicated, so I encourage you, if you want to know more, to click on the hyperlink of her name).  The painting includes her whole family – all her children, as well as her deceased husband and his brother.  We spent a good deal of time sorting out who was whom and taking in the whole spectacle.

We concluded our time at the museum with beverages at the Taste Cafe.  From there, we Ubered to the Ames Hotel to check in.  It was at this point that Therese and I went our separate ways – she to her dinner with her clients/work colleagues, me to my bachelor evening.  Don’t get too excited – I just walked over to my dinner restaurant, Crudo, had some food, and walked back to the hotel.

Crudo is an Asian fusion sort of restaurant, apparently very popular with the younger crowd in Boston (I was easily the oldest person in the restaurant, I believe).  I had some sushi and some appealing grilled appetizers – octopus with a citrus glaze and grilled pork belly.

The next morning, Therese was off early to attend morning meetings, so I had breakfast solo in the hotel’s executive lounge (part of the perks of being Hilton Diamond members).  From there, I headed out for my morning on the Freedom Trail.

My first stop was decidedly un-freedom-ish.  I had read that Equal Exchange Cafe sells some vegan baked goods, so I thought I would pick up some for snacks for the ride home later in the day.  They didn’t have much, but I bought what they did have: a cranberry muffin and cranberry nut rolls.  I was surprised to discover that the home of the Boston Celtics, TD Garden, was just across the way from the cafe.

Stocked up on snacks, I pulled out my phone and got Google maps going to tell me how to get to the famous Old North Church.  Little did I realize that along the way, I would pass one of Boston’s oldest cemeteries, Copp’s Hill Burial Ground.  I spent about a quarter of an hour exploring the many 18th century (and some 17th century) gravestones.

Down the block from the burial ground is Old North Church, which features so prominently in the legend of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.  The details of what really happened on the night of April 18, 1775 are a little different than the legend, but the important thing for me was seeing this beautiful historic church with its many pews and the nameplates of the people who owned them, some of which are very colorful (it’s hard to beat “William Increase Rideout Gatchett”, don’t you think?).

The gift shop adjoining the church is also an interesting building, with its stone lions framing the entrance.

Circling around the church and heading southeast, I passed by the church’s Memorial Garden, which pays tribute to American service-people who have died in the recent Middle East wars.

From there, stretching out in front of you is the Paul Revere Mall, with the famous statue of Paul Revere riding his horse at the far end of it.  I had to pause and take the iconic photo of the statue with Old North Church in the background.

Classic Photo of Paul Revere Statue and Old North Church

But looking in the other direction is very appealing as well, since beyond the Revere statue is beautiful St. Stephens Church.  This church is the last remaining Boston church designed by architect Charles Bulfinch, and it definitely has a style all its own.

It was back to Google maps for me again, but my next destination was not far – the Paul Revere House.  Yes, my friends, I was doing the total touristy thing that morning.

I am glad I visited the Revere house.  Seeing the furnishings inside, all of which are of the period that Revere and his large family lived there (that is, the late 18th and early 19th century) and many of which actually belonged to the family, is very cool.

Having completed my tour of this house and getting a glimpse of the nearby Pierce Hichborn House (an early Georgian house on the same property which unfortunately can only be visited by afternoon tours), I saw that my time for exploring was running out.  But luckily, my walk back to the hotel to meet Therese would take me past two more Boston monuments, Faneuil Hall and the Sam Adams Statue.

Faneuil Hall

There was a huge line of people outside the former – I never did find out what the event was that they were all waiting to get in for.  I know that Faneuil Hall has a museum as well as numerous shops inside it.  One of these days when we are in Boston for more than a couple days, maybe we will do some shopping and exploring here.

Sam Adams Statue

Most people nowadays when they hear Sam Adams name think of the beer, but I still think of the Sam Adams we heard about in history class, the second cousin to President John Adams who was one of our Founding Fathers.

In another few minutes, I was back at the Ames Hotel to meet Therese.  While a lovely building, this hotel didn’t strike us as being exceptional.  Other Hilton properties in their “curio collection” have definitely impressed us much more, like the Providence Biltmore we stayed in last November.

Anyway, once Therese arrived, we jumped in a cab and headed to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Once again, we checked our luggage (again), and headed to their restaurant, Cafe G, for lunch.

Cafe G’s menu changes seasonally, and I found a number of options that sounded really good to me.  I went with a lamb chop for my appetizer, maybe the best lamb chop I have ever eaten, and then a salmon entree.  Very good lunch.

The good news at the Gardner Museum is that they have changed their policy on photography.  Previously, you were only allowed to take photographs in the museum of their center atrium; but now, you can take photographs everywhere (without flash, of course)!  So I had to capture some of my favorite piece to share with you, like the ceiling by Paolo Veronese and the Lamentation of Christ by Giovanni della Robbia.

We spent a couple wonderful afternoon hours at the Gardner Museum, and then it was time to think about heading train station-ward.  But along the way, we made a stop at Jacob Wirth to pick up some German sausages to serve as our supper on the train.  Sitting on our somewhat comfortable Amtrak seats, munching on weisswurst with brown mustard, I had to say that, while short, this not quite two day visit to Boston had been a lot of fun.

About Karl Peterson

Karl Peterson is an avid traveler, passionate about food and food-related entertainment, completely allergic to dairy. He is founder, owner and principle contributor to "The Dairy Free Traveler" blog. The Dairy Free Traveler perfectly dovetails two of his greatest areas of interest: traveling near and far, and searching for great cuisine (especially dairy free!) The Dairy Free Traveler publishes original material about the dairy free lifestyle, eating the best food in the most interesting destinations around the world. Karl's tours take him from thriving New York City, to exotic Marrakesh, to elegant Paris bistros -- (yes! even Parisians have gotten on the dairy free bandwagon.) The Dairy Free Traveler himself also engages with independent dairy free food producers, highlighting new dairy free product launches and events that support dairy free entrepreneurs. Peterson is among the top 7 most widely read TripAdvisor reviewers in New York City and is repeatedly cited as a Top Contributor at His reviews have garnered more than 542,000 readers -- half in the U.S., and half among the many countries he has visited around the world. Beyond writing this blog, Peterson is a published author, with contributions to "Savoring Gotham" edited by Andrew F. Smith (published 2015 by Oxford University) and the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Cheese (a bit ironic, yes, but a professional is often asked to stretch beyond their comfort zone!).
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