The American Revolution, or Revolutionary War, saw the birth of the modern American nation. Disillusioned with their limited representation within the British parliament, many colonials believed that they would never achieve true equality within the existing system – the result was the American Revolution and the eventual overthrow of British rule.
A number of sites relating to the Revolution still exist today, paying tribute to the momentous events that led to the break from Britain. These sites range from the key battlefields of the war to the silent graveyards that hold some of the most prominent figures of the time.
We’ve put together a guide to the must-see sites, monuments, and landmarks of the American Revolutionary War, as well as some hidden-gems you won’t want to miss out on.
1. The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail takes visitors to Boston through a tour of 16 sites of importance before and during the American Revolution against British rule. Boston played a central role in igniting the American Revolution, and the Freedom Trail helps to tell this story where it actually happened.
The trail is a 2.5 mile trip in which visitors can either follow independently using the red pavement markings around the city, or join one of the selections of guided tours, which last around an hour and a half. Many of these sites also form part of the Boston National Historical Park.
2. Yorktown Battlefield
Yorktown battlefield in Virginia is the location of the final battle of the American Revolution. It was at Yorktown battlefield that, on 19 October 1781, the British surrendered to the combined forces of the French and American armies, under the command of General Washington. This dramatic action marked the end of the war and was the point at which the Americans attained independence.
Visitors to Yorktown Battlefield can learn about the history of the site and the end of the Revolutionary War with tours and exhibitions including visiting Moore House, where the terms of surrender were agreed. Aspects of the site also relate to the American Civil War.
3. Bunker Hill Monument
The Bunker Hill Monument is a memorial of the Battle of Bunker Hill, which took place on 17 June 1775 between the British army and the militias of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island early in the American Revolution.
Bunker Hill Monument sits atop Breed’s Hill, on which most of the Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought, however the battle is named after the parties’ objective goal, Bunker Hill. Bunker Hill Monument is an obelisk standing 221 feet high which visitors can enter and even climb to the top for stunning views from its observation deck.
The nearby Bunker Hill Museum also offers a detailed insight into the war, the history of Charlestown and the monument itself, with numerous exhibits and artefacts.
4. Paul Revere House
Paul Revere House was the home of goldsmith/silversmith Paul Revere and his family from 1770 to 1800. Revere was tasked as an express rider on behalf of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. This role would lead him to perform one of the most famous rides in American history, when Revere was called upon to ride to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that British forces were on their way to detain them.
Paul Revere House has been reconstructed to look just as it would have in the 18th century, and most of the architecture is original. Tours are self guided, with panels and explanations provided with plaques and illustrations. Paul Revere House also forms part of the Freedom Trail, a tour of all of Boston’s most famous American Revolution sites as well as being part of Boston National Historic Park.
5. Independence Hall - Philadelphia
Independence Hall in Philadelphia is one of the most important landmarks in US history, being the site where the nation declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on 4 July 1776 by signing the Declaration of Independence.
Visitors can choose from a variety of ranger guided walking tours as well as various indoor and outdoor activities. Across the road is the Liberty Bell Centre, housing the famous Liberty Bell, one of the most significant symbols of the American Civil War formerly hung in Independence Hall’s tower. Congress Hall is also next door to Independence Hall.
6. Old State House - Boston
The Old State House in Boston played an important role in the American Revolution. In 1761, the house was the scene of James Otis Junior’s famous speech against the Writs of Assistance. The site was also part of the Boston Massacre of 1770, when British soldiers fired into a group of Bostonians. This balcony was also the scene of happier times on 18 July 1776 however, when Colonel Thomas Crafts read out the Declaration of Independence to the public for the first time.
Today the Old State House is a museum of Boston’s history, managed by the Bostonian Society as well as being part of Boston National Historical Park. Guided tours of the Freedom Trail – of which the State House forms a part – are available, but you can also walk it independently. A visit to the Boston’s Old State House tends to take half an hour to an hour.
7. Minute Man National Historical Park
Minute Man National Historical Park in Massachusetts commemorates the start of the American Revolution. The site includes the Battle Road Trail, the site of the first battle of the American Revolution, which took place on 19 April 1775.
Visitors can hike this trail or drive parts of it and a guided walk starts every day from the Visitor Centre. The next site along the way is Hartwell Tavern, a traditional pre-revolution homestead followed by The Wayside, the former home of Louisa May Alcott and other literary giants. You can only visit the Wayside with a guided tour.
8. Independence National Historical Park
Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia is home to a plethora of significant national landmarks in the US. From Independence Hall, the site where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, and Congress Hall, seat of Congress from 1790 to 1800, to the home of Benjamin Franklin, Independence Park offers visitors in-depth insight into the founding of the United States of America.
Independence National Historical Park is spread over 55 acres within the City of Philadelphia and offers visitors a variety of ranger guided walking tours as well as various indoor and outdoor activities.
9. Fraunces Tavern
Fraunces Tavern is famous for being the site where George Washington delivered a farewell speech to the Continental Army after the British had left New York in the American Revolution.
Purchased by the Sons of the Revolution in 1904, Fraunces Tavern was restored to its colonial form and has since operated as a museum. Visitors to the Fraunces Tavern can view exhibits on the history of New York and of the building itself, from Colonial times through to the Revolution and the early years of the Republic.
10. Granary Burial Ground
Granary Burial Ground is a graveyard in Boston founded in 1660 and is the final resting place of many important figures from the American Revolution.
Amongst its famous residents lie Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine, the three signatories of the Declaration of Independence, the lawyer James Otis, who spoke out against the Writs of Assistance at the Old State House and Peter Faneuil, who was the wealthy merchant who built Faneuil Hall, the site of many pre-revolution protests.
Granary Burial Ground forms part of the Freedom Trail which highlights significant sites from the American War of Independence. Granary Burial Ground houses a fascinating mix of historic icons, ordinary Bostonians and modern dignitaries.