The John Adams house trolley tour is a lot of fun, very informative and inexpensive ($5 to get in, children and students get in free). The tour starts at the Adams National Historical Park Visitor Center; from there they take you by trolley to four destinations: 1) the birthplace of John Adams, 2) the birthplace of his son John Quincy Adams, 3) “The Old House” (also called “Peacefield” or John Adams house) and finally 4) The Stone Library. Both of the birthplaces are on the same lot of land; “The Old House” and The Stone Library are also located on one lot of land, meaning the tour really goes to just 2 destinations.
Starting at the Visitor Center
The Adams National Historical Park Visitor Center has a lot of information on the Adams family mounted on plaques and information cards around the room as well as miniature replicas of the tour’s destinations.
They also have many books and trinkets for sale to commemorate your visit. You purchase your tickets at the register for the next available guided tour. It’s first-come first-served so no reservations can be made beforehand.
The visitor’s center is located at 1250 Hancock Street in Quincy, MA.
John Adams and John Quincy Adams Birthplace
The first stop is to the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
The dark brown house with the wooden siding is John Adams’s birthplace and the tan house with the vinyl siding is his son’s. Both of these buildings are located on a busy street so at times the traffic noises drowned out the tour guide. Due to security reasons, no picture taking is allowed inside any of the buildings on the John Adams home tours.
The tour guides take you through the few rooms of each house and tell the story of John and Abigail Adams.
They explain how each room was significant and contributed to the rise of the Adams legacy as well as the important role they played in the Revolutionary War.
The first destination was a little hurried, the trolley showed up early and the park ranger cut his tour short; which was a little disappointing because he was a funny, pleasant, entertaining guy.
There wasn’t time to take any outside pictures of the buildings so we had to go back after the tour was over on our own. These two buildings aren’t fenced off so they are accessible at any time.
John Adams House at “Peacefield”
Next stop Peacefield! This is the longest part of the tour, so make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes – there are no breaks.
The Stone Library is an amazing piece of history; it contains about 12,000 books collected throughout John Adams’s life, most of which are still legible today. Some of these books are hundreds of years old. The Stone Library is considered the first presidential library in the U.S.
Between the library and the main estate is a beautiful, well-maintained garden that you can stroll through.
From there you will enter the mansion “Old House” at “Peacefield” and are taken through just about every room of the house, each room having a story behind it.
There are many well preserved relics throughout the estate that give you a feel for what life was like during John Adams’s time. The park ranger/tour guide Betsy was very informative, cordial and delivered the lines with a dramatic flair that made the experience that much more worthwhile.
Continuing to the Church of the Presidents
After the trolley returned to the visitor’s center, we walked over to the Church of the Presidents, only a few minutes away.
This was not an official part of the John Adams tour, but came recommended by the cashiers at the visitor’s center.
This church has a long history of being associated with the Adams family, in the basement of this church you can see the crypts of both John Adams and John Quincy Adams and their wives.
The tour costs $4 and you are allowed to take pictures inside the church, unlike at the other sites.
You are taken through the church, shown the special “Adams” pew and finally taken to the crypts below the church. The tour guide talked and walked fast and at times overloaded us with so much information that it was tough to follow what she was talking about. It was a much shorter tour but a nice conclusion to the day.
For history buffs or for those looking for a quick jolt of feel good New England pride, the John Adams house and Church of the Presidents tours are recommended. Tours are given from April 19th – November 10th, 7 days a week. Tours are given from 9AM – 5PM with the last tour departing at 3:15. Tours are about 2 hours long.