When celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian (known for co-hosting Food Network’s The Kitchen and having restaurants like The Lambs Club and Point Royal at The Diplomat Beach Resort) and his wife, Margaret (president of Zakarian Hospitality), found out that their fourth-grader Anna was studying the American Revolution, they decided to bring the family to Boston to retrace the historical event, which marks its 250th anniversary this year.
The Zakarians left their New York City home, hopped in the car, put on the Hamilton soundtrack (the three kids saw the musical live and it spurred them to want to learn more about history) and road tripped it to Massachusetts for their first family Boston getaway.
One highlight was the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking path cutting through Boston that tells the story of the revolution through 16 major historic sites.
“There are so many wonderful places on the Freedom Trail — walkable starting at the Commons — that the whole family will enjoy, such as the Old South Meeting House, where the Sons of Liberty met before dumping the tea, to Paul Revere’s House, that shows typical living quarters during the birth of America in the late 1700s,” Margaret said. She advises downloading the Freedom Trail map online or picking up a printed copy from your hotel concierge before you set off.
Margaret shared more from her family’s historical tour, along with their top stop-offs for shopping, sightseeing and snacking.
Best Breakfast For The Family
Four Seasons Hotel Boston next to Boston Common is the perfect location for breakfast. It has a full menu with healthy options, and it caters to allergies and dietary needs effortlessly. As well, you can score a table by the window overlooking the park, and if your little ones require a more relaxed setting of a couch and coffee table, they have that as an option, too.
After breakfast, you can go right in to the park to see the swans and some historic monuments.
Best History Museum That’s Not Actually A Museum
Head directly to ye olde Union Oyster House. Established in 1826, it is the oldest restaurant in America and is directly on the famous Freedom Trail. It’s the perfect place to stop, refuel and hear a bit about the history that took place in these walls.
Ask to sit in the main original room. You won’t believe the table and booth sizes. It will give a feel of what is was actually like to dine in the early 1800s. This restaurant, just like a museum, is complete with a great little shop where you can pick up some souvenirs.
Best Street For Shopping
Newbury is one of our favorite shopping streets in the Northeast. The charm of the brownstones brings a traditional New England feel while the eclectic boutiques, coffee shops, bakeries and upscale brands make for an excellent few hours of strolling along.
Even if you are not shopping, you will enjoy walking Newbury’s length from Massachusetts Avenue to the Commons.
Best Place For Dinner With The Family
I love taking the family to Eataly, a giant Italian food emporium filled with incredible imports hard to find elsewhere alongside many food counters and stations throughout. Coming here at dinnertime allows you to feast with your eyes and stomach unlike any other time of day.
You can satisfy the children with a wonderland of pasta, and the dessert, gelato and coffee options are an incredibly authentic way to end your moveable feast. It’s loud and bustling, so no need to worry about the children moving around or being a little noisy themselves.
Tip: Grab bag of homemade chips to carry along for snack the next day as well.
Best Hands-On History Lesson
The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is a must-visit. The fully immersive experience starts off with each family member getting assigned a character from history and learning common language from the era to use in a mock town-hall-style meeting. Then, you endeavor on to the Tea Party Ship itself, learning about that famous night during the revolution when the Sons of Liberty dumped barrels of tea into the harbor.
The entire experience is top-notch, expertly run and well worth the visit and price of admission. This store onsite is well-curated with educational items great for school projects, like brass compasses, model ships, wooden tools, historic money, maps and, of course, tea.
Flour Bakery & Café has multiple locations, including close to the tea party museum all the way over to Harvard Square, which makes this gem a reliable go-to for coffee, pastries or even a quick daytime meal. The cinnamon cream brioche and the apple snacking spice cake are two of our favorites.
The children always ask for sushi at least one time while we are on a trip, and thank goodness they do because Uni is one of the best Japanese meals we have had all year. The cooking was current and the flavors bold, delicious and exciting. We ordered several things twice because we couldn’t get enough.
Dining on the earlier side with the whole family is a better option in the large banquet near the kitchen, or it’s great for a date night on the later side.
Best Quick Road Trip
For history seekers, Lexington and Concord is a must. The easy drive to Lexington gives the whole family time to envision Paul Revere and William Dawes furiously riding horses from Boston to deliver the famous message that the British were coming!
Once at the town center, visit the historic Buckman Tavern site and the Lexington Battle Green, pivotal places in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, marking the beginning of the American Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775.
Before continuing on to Concord, a lovely spot for lunch is Artistry on the Green at The Inn at Hastings Park. The short drive to Concord takes you through a rural area where you can imagine the local militia all the way between these two towns hiding with its ammunition, waiting for the British.
There are many historic sites to see along the way, which can be found on a pamphlet and map at the Lexington Visitors’ Center.
Once at Concord, go immediately to the North Bridge and stand exactly where “the shot heard round the world” was fired. It is a powerful and humbling moment, remembering all those who came before us who used their voice and courage to build the foundations of our great country as we know it today.