Adams National Historical Park | GUIDED TOUR

Adams National Historical Park tour bus

Adams National Historical Park tour bus

The birth homes of John Adams and his son John Quincy and the Old House at Peacefield are open to the public by guided tour only. (Peacefield is the estate where John and his wife, Abigail, lived when they returned to the United States in 1788 after John served as commissioner to France and then minister to Great Britain.) There is a fee—credit or debit card only—and tickets can be purchased in the Adams National Historical Park Visitor Center on Hancock Street (tours depart from here as well). A bus takes participants to the homes, so you do not need to drive. Tours are held seasonally, typically from May 1st through October 31st. Get the latest schedule on the National Park Service’s official Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Adams National Historical Park.

Tours last approximately two hours and depart every half hour, with the first tour leaving at 9:15 AM and the last at 3:15 PM. Spots are taken on a first come, first served basis, and there is a limit of ten people per tour (two groups depart each half hour, so there are actually twenty spots per time slot). Peak visitation comes in July and August, and waits of one to two hours are not uncommon. From my experience, you can never go wrong by arriving first thing in the morning. I arrived at the Visitor Center a few minutes before 10 AM and was able to get on the 10:15 AM tour on a Saturday in early August.

Groups of ten or more people must make a reservation in advance by calling (617) 770-1175. Groups are competing for space along with the general public, so call as far in advance as possible. There is no group discount for tickets.

Luggage, large bags, and large backpacks are not allowed on the tour. There is no place to store such items at the Visitor Center, so leave them in your car, home, or hotel room. All you really need is a bottle of water and a camera. The only restrooms are at the Visitor Center.

The tour first stops at the birth homes on Franklin Street, then proceeds to the Peacefield mansion on Adams Street. While there is nothing to do at the birth homes except tour the houses, there are gardens that you can explore on your own at Peacefield. If you want to spend more time there, you do not have to take the bus back with your group. A bus comes every thirty minutes, and you can hop aboard one at any time. You can also walk back to the Visitor Center. The distance is only a half mile, a 10-15 minute walk for most people.

Birth home of John Adams

Birth home of John Adams

The tour of the birth homes only covers the lower floor, so those in non-motorized wheelchairs or with other mobility problems can enter the house (if you only have a motorized wheelchair, you can borrow a non-motorized chair at the park). The tour of the Old House at Peacefield ventures upstairs, so while the first floor is accessible, disabled visitors cannot see the second floor. Furthermore, the bus does not have a place for wheelchairs, so disabled visitors must drive themselves to the homes. If this is your situation, please call the park at (617) 770-1175 before arriving so the proper arrangements can be made.

Photography was not allowed inside the house when I took the tour, and thus I have no interior photos. However, the policy has changed, though no flash or selfie-sticks may be used, and no video may be shot. You can do what you want outside. You can see some of the rooms of the Peacefield mansion in this short video by Bob Vila.

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Last updated on June 1, 2020
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