This post covers how to see the USS Constitution, where it’s located, the history of the ship and how to take a tour of Old Ironsides.
It is free to visit and is one of the best things to do in Boston for free!
- What Is It?
- Take a Tour
- Visit the Museum
- How to Get There
- Bunker Hill Monument
- Other Things To Do in Boston
The USS Constitution, one of six ships constructed in accordance with the Naval Act 1794.
That act called for the building of a navy to protect American merchant ships in the Mediterranean from being raided by Barbary pirates who would kidnap the crews and hold them hostage for ransom.
The USS Constitution was made famous during its success in battle during the War of 1812, earning it the nickname “Old Ironsides”.
The nickname was chosen because the ship was so strong (it is made out of wood) that the cannonballs from British ships would bounce harmlessly off its sides.
In 2017, a 12 million dollar restoration was completed. Today you tour the ship, as well as visit the USS Constitution Museum. We explain how just below.
The USS Constitution can be visited year-round. Admission to the ship is entirely free!
In fact, this is one of the best free things to do in Boston!
While there are no guided tour offers, you can tour the ship at your own pace.
Crew members, many of whom are part of the United States Navy, are on hand to answer any questions you may have about the ship.
Admission to Old Ironsides and the self-guided tour is provided on a first-come, first-served basis and reservations cannot be made in advance.
If you want to avoid missing out, we recommend that you don’t wait until the last minute to arrive.
Tours/Admission are available during these hours:
- Spring-Summer | 10 am - 6 pm from Tue - Sun
- Fall-Winter | 10 am - 4 pm from Wed-Sun
Note: All guests must pass through a security check first.
The USS Constitution is covered on our pay-what-you-wish Freedom Trail Tour. We do not go inside, but your guide will tell you about the ship's history from outside the ship.
In addition to the USS Constitution itself, there is also a museum you can visit which has a lot of interesting artifacts and exhibits covering the history of the landmark.
Although it’s free to enter the ship, the museum has suggested prices for admission:
- Adults | $10-$15
- Children | $5-$10
- Families | $25-$45
- Groups (10 or more): $75-$250
All active duty and retired military members receive free admission from Memorial Day (May) to Labor Day (September). All you need is a photo ID proving your status.
If you live in Massachusetts, you can also take advantage of the Library Pass Program to get free admission by asking for a pass from your local library – all you need is a library card.
The USS Constitution Museum is open daily with the following hours dependent upon season:
- Spring-Summer | 9 am - 6 pm
- Fall-Winter | 10 am - 5 pm
The museum is closed on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
What to See at the Museum
Whether you’re interested in period artwork, arms, and armament from the time, navigation equipment that was used hundreds of years ago, or historic texts describing the story of Old Ironsides, there’s plenty to see here that will please any history buff.
There are almost 2,000 different artifacts and 10,000 archival records you can see at the USS Constitution Museum!
There is simply no way we could describe them all here, so check the USS Constitution Museum Collection list to find out what you can see on your visit.
The USS Constitution is located at the end of the Freedom Trail. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the Copp’s Hill Burial Ground.
Click on the map for a larger view.
One can walk there easily by following the Freedom Trail. If you look at our self-guided Freedom Trail tour, you will see the USS Constitution is Stop R.
The best way to get there is by using the MBTA Water Shuttle which is a bargain at $3.25.
If you have an MBTA Subway Pass it is free and is a short boat ride over to Charlestown, which also doubles a scenic harbor cruise.
The shuttle departs from Boston’s Long Wharf (map) at the New England Aquarium and will whisk you over to the USS Constitution in 10 minutes.