Spirals in Charlestown


Who: Globe Staffer Stephanie Ebbert, with her husband, Ted Devlin, and children, Anna, 9, and Nick, 6.

WHERE: Charlestown

WHAT: Exploring the monuments and parks

My children’s favorite places are often not the region’s most obvious attractions, but the hidden nooks and crannies — magical places that they think they discovered themselves. Such is the “spiral playground,” which I had a hard time believing existed when they told me about their first trip there with Daddy. Paul Revere Park in Charlestown features an unusual mosaic spiral sculpture that winds up and around itself with ramps on several levels.

Tucked into an unlikely corner of the city, between the North Washington Street Bridge and the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, Paul Revere Park is an odd little greenspace; getting to it requires crossing a major thoroughfare or snaking under an underpass. But the park, along the Harborwalk, has a substantial playground, tot lot, and that appealing spiral. On Memorial Day, Nick, 6, and Anna, 9 (pictured at right, atop the spiral), chased each other up and around and down again, before visiting the playground and chasing some more.

Spirals seemed to be our theme on this day trip to Charlestown, as we also visited the Bunker Hill Monument, the granite obelisk marking the first major battle of the American Revolution. The monument’s interior can be climbed, by way of a long, winding staircase that coils around its core. There are 294 steps to the top and 294 back down, so this is not a trip for the wee ones or kids suffering sugar crashes; you don’t want to have to carry anyone. But my kids charged up with gusto and reached the top without stopping. Their sense of victory tempered their disappointment at the view — surprisingly anticlimactic through those tiny, too-tall windows. But Nick contented himself by calling down through the grate over the monument’s hollow center, until he persuaded someone down below to call back.

To climb the monument at this time of year, a visitor has to pick up a free pass at the Battle of Bunker Hill Museum, across the street and along the Freedom Trail. The museum itself was well worth a visit, especially for Anna, who has just begun learning about the revolution in school.

The museum, also free, features historical artifacts and educational displays — depicting the battle from the perspective of the monument — and a massive, glass-enclosed diorama. Both give a better sense of the magnitude of the battle.

I’m a little bit embarrassed, a little bit proud to admit that my 6-year-old was the only one who tried the button to discover that the diorama also talks. A recorded voice narrated the battle; colorful lights highlighted areas of action and sudden bursts of fire. The kids were mesmerized. Anna and I decided we didn’t ever want to face a war. “Unless,” she decided, “it’s a snowball war.”

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