• Dedication of the Shaw Memorial 1897

    Boston African American

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Frequently Asked Questions

Park Ranger speaking with visitors about the Boston area and Boston African American NHS. They are speaking at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial.

Park Ranger speaking with visitors about the Boston area and Boston African American NHS at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial.

Boston African American NHS

Where does the Black Heritage Trail® start?

The tour starts at the Shaw Memorial across from the State House on Beacon Street. Look for the Ranger standing at the Shaw Memorial. Let the Ranger know you are there for the tour.


How many people are permitted on a guided tour at once?

To ensure safety, tours are limited to no more than 15 people per Ranger.


Is the walking tour free?

Yes. The walking tour is free of charge.


What time period does the tour focus on?

The tour primarily focuses on the years between 1783 when Massachusetts abolished slavery to 1865 when slavery was abolished nationwide after the Civil War.

What is the difference between The Freedom Trail and the Black Heritage Trail®?

The Black Heritage Trail ® is different from the Freedom Trail. While the Freedom Trail focuses on Boston's role in the American Revolution, the Black Heritage Trail® focuses on the emerging free black community of the 1800s and their leading efforts in the Abolition Movement, the Underground Railroad, and the early struggles for equality and justice. For more information on the Freedom Trail Tours, please visit Boston National Historic Park.


Is there parking?

Parking is very difficult in the city. There are some private garages but they are usually expensive, there is also limited and hard to find street parking. We encourage visitors to take the public transportation. It is easiest way to travel in the city!


Are there restrooms?

There are public restrooms located near the start of the tour at the City Visitor Center on Boston Common, but during the 90-minute tour there are no restrooms available. There are restrooms at the Museum of African American History.


What should I wear on the tour?

This is an outdoor tour, so wear weather appropriate clothing. This is also a walking tour, we suggest wearing comfortable shoes, as you will walk up several hills and uneven sidewalks.


What happens if it is raining?


The tour still runs in rain or snow, so bring an umbrella and wear weather appropriate clothing. If your group would like to cancel, please call (617) 742-5415 to let us know. Tours are only canceled due to lightening or extreme weather. You can call one hour prior to find out if the tour is canceled.


Can I take a self-guided tour?

Yes, please call ahead to have a map sent to you, or you can pick up a self guided map at the Museum of African American History's Abiel Smith School or at local National Park Service Visitor Centers. Please note, the homes along the trail are privately owned and not accessible to the public. Please respect the privacy of the home owners.


Can we go into the homes along the trail?

No. The homes along the trail are privately owned and not accessible to the public. You may go into the Museum of African American History's Abiel Smith School at 46 Joy Street.


Can children take the tour?

Yes. Our tours are geared to the general public which includes school age children. We recommend visiting the "For Kids" section of this website to prepare children for their visit.


Where do I get the Junior Ranger Handbook?

You can call (617) 742-5415 or email us and we will send you one, or you can get one at the Museum of African American History's Abiel Smith School at 46 Joy Street. You can also download it from the "For Kids" section of this website.


Is the tour wheel-chair accessible?

Yes. However, the tour includes difficult-to-navigate sidewalks and several steep hills through Beacon Hill.


Are there teacher materials?

Yes, there are activities, programs, and curriculum for teachers available on this website under "For Teachers" and also at the Museum of African American History's website.


How do I find out if the tour is canceled?

Please call our office at (617) 742-5415 or check the alerts on our website.


Can I take a private tour?

We do not offer private tours. Your group may make a reservation, but there is always a possibility of people joining the tour, as we are a free service to the public in a highly visited tourist location. If you are interested in making a reservation for your group of 5-15 people, please contact our office at (617) 742-5415.


How long is the walking tour?

The tour is approximately 90 minutes.


Is the Museum of African American History a National Park Service site?

No. Boston African American National Historic Site works in cooperative partnership with the Museum of African American History, which is a separate non-profit entity. To learn more about the Museum, please visit their website.


How do I donate to the Museum?

You can donate directly after the tour inside the Museum or visit them online to find more options.


Where is the African Meeting House and is it open?

The African Meeting House is open to the public Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. It is located on Smith Court next the Museum of African American History's Abiel Smith School.


Is the Museum wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the Museum is wheelchair accessible.


Is there a charge to visit the Museum of African American History?

Yes. The fee structure is as follows:
Adults
- $5, Senior Citizens - $3, 12-18 Years Old - $3, Children under 12 - Free, Museum Members - Free. For groups of more than 20 the fee is $2.50 per person. This is payable at the Museum Store located in the Abiel Smith School at 46 Joy Street. For any further questions, please contact the Museum of African American History at (617) 725-0022, extension #23.


Is food allowed in the Museum?

Food is not allowed in the Museum of African American History, but there are plenty of local restaurants. During the warmer weather it is also nice idea to have a picnic in the Boston Common which is nearby.


Where can I get the NPS Passport stamp?

The Stamp is available is at the Museum of African American History's Abiel Smith School at 46 Joy Street.

Can large groups visit the African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School?

Yes. However, if your group is larger than 40 people, please contact (617) 725-0022, ex. 222.


How do I find more Boston African American National Historic Site events?

Please visit the "Events" section of this website.

Did You Know?