On Feb. 20, 2017, we celebrate George Washington, our nation’s first president on the occasion of his birthday. And while the obvious destination might be Washington, D.C., this year we recommend you eschew a trip to the nation’s capitol and instead grab your family and head to Boston, a former stomping ground of Washington himself.
While you’re here, visit these six destinations to capitalize on our nation’s revolutionary history — before you head off in search of a great lobster dinner:
Built in 1780, this historic watering hole was born immediately following the Revolution and is still operating today; its owners claim that it’s the oldest tavern in America. Paul Revere was a frequent customer. Rumor has it that Washington himself stopped in for a pint, and that upon his death his eulogy was read locally here. A short 237 years later, the kitchen serves up pints, as well as burgers, chowder and chips to neighborhood patrons.
Old Ironsides received her official name from our first president when he signed into law the Naval Armament Act of 1794, naming her in honor of the freshly minted Constitution of the United States of America. Initially, she was built to ward off Barbary pirates, but she ended up playing a significant role in the War of 1812. Today, she’s the Navy’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat. Although she's currently in drydock undergoing restorations, visitors can hop aboard the top deck and learn more inside the USS Constitution Museum.
Back in colonial times, Boston’s longest and most significant thoroughfare was what is now known as Washington Street. Have a hunch that it was named for old George? You’re right. Washington Street was the main drag—the only drag, really—into and out of the Shawmut Peninsula on foot. It allowed Washington to entrap the British army without supplies, then bomb them from Dorchester Heights and force them to flee, ending the Siege of Boston. Today, Washington Street is home to theaters, restaurants and boutiques in Downtown, the Theater District and the South End.
Longfellow House—Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site
In Cambridge, this yellow Georgian mansion was first owned by Loyalists and then occupied by General George Washington from July 1775 to April 1776 when he commanded the Continental Army during the American Revolution. While the home is closed for the winter season, history buffs are invited to tour the grounds (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived here, too) and participate in the special Washington Birthday Headquarters Tours, Feb. 22, 2017, 1-4 pm.
Dorchester Heights Monument
A ride on the Red Line out to Andrew Square in South Boston is the best way to get to Dorchester Heights. The hill offers one of the highest vantages of the city, and George Washington knew it. During the Siege of Boston, he surrounded British-occupied Boston and under the cover of night rolled cannons sourced from Fort Ticonderoga up to the summit, forcing the Red Coats to flee to Nova Scotia and scoring him a major victory of the Revolutionary War. Now the site is part of Boston National Historical Park and a white marble Georgian revival tower—that visitors can climb when it is staffed—commemorates the 1776 victory.
Equestrian Statue of George Washington
The centerpiece of the western portion of Boston's Public Garden is the towering monument of Washington on horseback, sculpted in the 1860s by Thomas Ball. People who aren't from around here often erroneously assume the rider is Paul Revere. Ball chose to depict Washington more at ease with life, as he was during his days as Commander of the Continental Army. These days, anytime a local pro sports team wins a championship, Washington shows his spirit by sporting their jersey.