12 Favorite Haunts of the Founding Fathers You Can Still Visit Today

The Founding Fathers built the groundwork for America, but they were much more than military strategists and document writers. Like modern Americans, the Founding Fathers knew how to enjoy life, and spent their leisure time (and in some cases, work time) grabbing a pint at the tavern, scarfing down desserts, and exploring the great outdoors. To celebrate these iconic Americans, we’ve compiled 12 favorite haunts of the Founding Fathers that you can still visit today.

1. GREEN DRAGON TAVERN // BOSTON

The Green Dragon Tavern was known for its drinks, but it was also an important meeting spot where the Founding Fathers made important decisions about this country—like to throw the Boston Tea Party (and the equally important decision to save their rum and toss the tea!), and the resolutions that built our Federal Constitution. It's also often claimed that this is where, in 1775, British plans for the invasion of Lexington and Concord were overheard and Paul Revere was dispatched for his famous ride to warn the colonists. (According to a letter from Revere, they only met at The Green Dragon until November 1774, when they discovered that they had a traitor in their midst and moved to a more secure location.) The Green Dragon is no longer in its original location, but its historic significance as the “Headquarters of the Revolution” remains strong—just like its rum punch.

2. BELL IN HAND // BOSTON

Back in the day, big names like Daniel Webster and Paul Revere frequented Bell in Hand for its good booze and great company. Opened by the retired town crier in 1795, it was known as the primary alehouse in Boston (its proprietor refused to sell harder liquors). Today, Bell in Hand (which moved to its present-day location in 1844) is more about dancing and drinking than defending our country’s freedom. But hey, even the Founding Fathers had to let loose sometimes, right?

3. ADAMS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK // QUINCY, MASSACHUSETTS

John Adams's former residence—his “sweet little farm”—has been turned into a historic museum center that tells the story of the Adams family, from its presidents and first ladies to its writers, and everyone in between. And though you can't grab a drink at the site, if you'd like to drink like the second president, start your morning with a tankard of hard cider. Adams was known to down hard cider for breakfast every day, starting from when he was a 15-year-old student at Harvard through his presidency and retirement.

4. MOUNT VERNON INN RESTAURANT // MOUNT VERNON, VIRGINIA

George Washington may have traveled all over this country, but his favorite place of all was home sweet Mount Vernon. Today, you can dine like George Washington just steps from his estate at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, which serves some of the legendary president’s favorite dishes like freshly caught fish and apple pie (though they don't have his beloved Madeira wine). The Mount Vernon Inn does not require admission tickets like the GW Estate and is a great way to taste some Founding Father flavors.

5. BAR ORDINARY // NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

Before leading the army to Cambridge in 1775, George Washington spent the night at New Haven's Beers Tavern, and gathered 100 Yale students (including the fife-playing Noah Webster—he of dictionary-creation fame) in front of the bar the next morning to march with him out of the town. Fast forward more than 240 years, and you can still dine and imbibe at this iconic spot—now called Bar Ordinary—which has also seen visitors like presidents Abraham Lincoln and William Howard Taft.

6. PISCATAQUA RIVER // KITTERY, MAINE

While visiting the New England area in the late 1700s, George Washington made a pit stop for cod fishing in the Piscataqua River right off the shores of Kittery, Maine. Washington didn’t have much luck on his trip—he reported only catching two—but today, you can give it a try to see how your fishing skills compare to our nation’s first president.

7. WHITE HORSE TAVERN // NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND

Rumor has it George Washington celebrated Rhode Island’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1790 at—among many popular places—the White Horse Tavern in Newport. Today, you can raise a glass at the White Horse just like Washington, but don't dress like you're headed to a pub—this iconic spot requires country club or business casual attire.

8. LAKE CHAMPLAIN // LAKE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY, VERMONT

James Madison and Thomas Jefferson crossed Lake Champlain from New York to explore Vermont—which had just become the 14th state—in early 1791, but the two Virginians left mostly unimpressed by the area as a whole, saying that it is "much larger but less pleasant water than L. George." But Jefferson did appear to be enjoy the fish, mentioning the 20-pound catfish, sturgeon, and salmon, and he was also pleased by how few mosquitos were in the area.

9. HAMILTON PARK // WEEHAWKEN, NEW JERSEY

On July 11, 1804, vice president Aaron Burr shot and mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in America’s most famous duel. While you may not (read: should not) reenact the Burr/Hamilton duel scene, you can walk the grounds where this historic event took place at the Hamilton Park in Weehawken, New Jersey while reciting Hamilton lyrics if your head. Side note: Don’t forget your camera, because Hamilton Park also has some of the best NYC skyline views!

10. CITY TAVERN // PHILADELPHIA

We can thank Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern for supplying the food and spirits needed to make this country what it is today. The Founding Fathers spent many late nights here while preparing the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution—according to George Washington, on September 17, 1787, after the Constitution was signed and ready to be sent to the states for ratification, "The members adjourned to the City Tavern, dined together, and took a cordial leave of each other." While today’s clientele may have fewer powdered wigs and breeches, you can still dine and drink circa the 18th century at this fully operational, completely reconstructed tavern.

11. GADSBY'S TAVERN // ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

With guests like John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Virginia native George Washington, the Gadsby's Tavern made quite a name for itself among the country’s most elite. Thomas Jefferson was even honored with a banquet there in 1801, the year he became president. And though you may not have an inaugural fete thrown in your honor, you can dine on "George Washington's Favorite" (a grilled duck breast with scalloped potatoes and a port wine orange glaze) or "Gentleman's Pye" (a lamb and beef red wine stew in a pastry crust) in this National Historical Landmark’s Colonial-style dining rooms.

12. FRAUNCES TAVERN // NEW YORK CITY

Lower Manhattan’s Fraunces Tavern is possibly the most monumental haunt of them all—it served as the location of General George Washington's farewell dinner to the officers of his Continental Army after the last British soldiers left America in 1783. Today, you can visit the Fraunces Tavern Museum’s Long Room—the site of Washington’s speech—and grab a pint to (figuratively) pour one out for the most famous of the founding fathers, and all the early Americans who helped make the revolution a success.

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The Time Ben Franklin and John Adams Shared a Bed
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iStock

Ever been on a road trip where the sleeping conditions were less than ideal? Such indignities aren’t just for average citizens like you and me. Even Founding Fathers and future presidents had to bunk with one another on occasion. 

In September 1776, just a few months after the thirteen American colonies announced their independence from Britain, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams got stuck shacking up together for a night. As part of a delegation sent by the Continental Congress, they were on their way from Philadelphia to Staten Island to negotiate with Admiral Richard Howe of the Royal Navy for a possible end to the Revolutionary War. As they passed through New Brunswick, New Jersey, the negotiators—Franklin, Adams and South Carolina politician Edward Rutledgedecided to stop for the night and find a place to sleep. 

The local taverns and inns were nearly full, though, and there were only two rooms for the three men. “One bed could be procured for Dr. Franklin and me,” Adams wrote in his autobiography, “in a chamber a little larger than the bed, without a chimney and with only one small window.”

That window would be a problem for the two men.

A ROOM WITH A VIEW

Adams, who was “an invalid and afraid of the air in the night,” closed the window before they got into bed. 

“Oh!” said Franklin. “Don’t shut the window. We shall be suffocated.”

When Adams explained that he didn’t want to catch an illness from the cold night air, Franklin countered that the air in their room was even worse. 

“Come!” he told Adams. “Open the window and come to bed, and I will convince you: I believe you are not acquainted with my Theory of Colds.”

Contrary to the lay wisdom of the day (and everybody’s grandmother), Franklin was convinced that no one had ever gotten a cold from cold air. Instead, it was the “frowzy corrupt air” from animals, humans, and dirty clothes and beds, he thought, that led people to catch colds when they were “shut up together in small close rooms.” Cool, fresh air at night, he believed, had many benefits. 

Franklin’s ideas were inconsistent with Adams’s own experiences, he wrote, but he was curious to hear what Franklin had to say. So, even at the risk of a cold, he opened the window again and hopped into bed with Franklin.

As they lay side by side, Adams wrote, Franklin “began a harangue upon air and cold and respiration and perspiration.” 

“I was so much amused that I soon fell asleep, and left him and his philosophy together,” Adams wrote. “But I believe they were equally sound and insensible, within a few minutes after me, for the last words I heard were pronounced as if he was more than half asleep.”

The strange bedfellows were out like a light, and continued on their way in the morning. The peace conference they were traveling to lasted just a few hours and produced no results. 

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214 Years After His Death, Alexander Hamilton Is Finally Getting a Law Degree
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Alexander Hamilton accomplished many great things. He was one of America's founding fathers. He was the nation's first treasury secretary. He was a lawyer. He even inspired an award-winning Broadway musical whose tickets are still among the hardest to score.

He seemed to have it all, except for one thing: a college degree. That will change on May 18, when Albany Law School in New York awards Hamilton an honorary law degree. His fifth great-grandson, Douglas Hamilton, will travel from his home in Columbus, Ohio, to accept the degree on his ancestor's behalf.

The announcement comes 214 years after Hamilton was killed in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.

Hamilton studied at King's College (now Columbia University) but never finished for one key reason: He dropped out and formed his own militia unit to fight in the Revolutionary War. In the chaos that ensued, the college shut its doors in 1776 and didn't reopen until eight years later.

Despite having no formal higher education, Hamilton later passed the bar exam. This is only one reason why Albany Law School's offer is symbolic, school officials say.

"Alexander Hamilton's ties to the Albany area are significant. Hamilton studied law and practiced law in Albany,” Alicia Ouellette, the school's president and dean, tells USA Today. "By conferring this degree, we are acknowledging his impact on the Capital Region and New York's legal community."

Hamilton came to Albany for the first time in 1777 on an important errand from George Washington. The general had asked Hamilton to persuade General Horatio Gates to send extra troops to defend the Philadelphia area during the war. Hamilton succeeded.

Two years later, Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler in her home city of Albany. And while traveling between Albany and New York City, he penned "Federalist No. 1"—the first installment of The Federalist Papers, which helped persuade the 13 states to vote in favor of ratifying the United States Constitution.

[h/t USA Today]

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