15 Best Things to Do in Concord (MA)

Revolutionary and literary histories collide in this fascinating city. On April 19, 1775, the first British army was killed at the hands of American colonial militiamen, firing “a gunshot heard all over the world.” The famous transcendentalist who coined the term, Ralph Wald He Emerson (1803-1882), spent most of his adult life in Concord and wrote about some of the greatest writers and thinkers in American history. was an instructor. From the mid-19th century, Concord became a hotbed of ideas and creativity for Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864). In Concord, spend a few days exploring its many monuments of overwhelming importance, artifact-filled museums, and lovingly preserved historic homes. All these can captivate and impress anyone today.   1. North Bridge Visitor Center The National Historical Park’s North Bridge Visitor Center occupies a mansion built by the descendants of Major John Buttrick, the officer who first ordered the militia to open fire on British forces. For background information, watch his eight-minute film detailing the events leading up to the battle with its grave consequences. An interesting exhibit is his “Hancock”, one of his four brass cannons smuggled out of Boston. The recovery of this cannon was one of the main reasons for General Gage’s dispatch of British regulars to Concord on 19 April 1775. The manor house is a short walk from the bridge but is very scenic and has a magnificent formal garden open to the public.   2. The Old Manse Along the Concord River overlooking the Northbridge is a Georgian house built in 1770 with a fascinating history, even by Concord standards. The Old Parsonage is managed by the Reservation Board of Trustees and was built for Ralph Wald his Emerson grandfather. I lived here in my 20’s and 30’s. During this time he wrote the first draft of Nature (1836) and proposed marriage to Lydian Jackson. Nathaniel Hawthorne then stayed here for several fruitful years as newlyweds in the 1840s with his wife Sophia Peabody, writing some twenty sketches and short stories during their stay. Shortly before their arrival, Henry David Thoreau planted a vegetable garden for the couple on the property as a wedding gift. The structure of the house has remained largely unchanged for over 250 years, and each room is filled with mementos of America’s most revered figures. Particularly moving is the little poem the Hawthorne family carved into their windows for each other some 180 years ago.   3. Walden Pond State Reservation For two years beginning in 1845, Henry David Thoreau lived in a one-room cottage on the north bank of the pond. This stay later formed the basis of his famous book Walden. Or “Life in the Forest” (1854), which recalls a simple life in a natural environment. Many believe that these ideas laid the foundation for the conservation movement of the second half of this century. Feel connected to nature at this 335-acre state park centered around Kesseloch Pond, formed by retreating glaciers about 10,000 years ago. A granite stake marks the original location of Thoreau’s hut. Visit the visitor center to see replicas, exhibits, and shops of the Solow Society. The pond is a popular spot for swimming and boating in the summer and is surrounded by walking trails and picnic areas near the shore.   4. Ralph Waldo Emerson House The roots of Concord’s decades-long activity as a literary center can be traced to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s return to the city with his wife Lydian in 1835, shortly after their marriage. Emerson will live in this house at 28 Cambridge Turnpike for the rest of his life, almost fifty years. During this time he completed the final draft of his seminal essay Nature in his 1836 and Independence in 1841. Emerson’s speeches and writings drew other writers and thinkers to Concord, many of whom visited his home. And the barn on the property not only housed livestock, but was also used at one point as a classroom for Emerson’s children, Lizzie and Abbie Alcott, Lizzie and Barry Goodwin, and Caroline Pratt. The house is open until the end of October and is on display in its early 1870s restoration.  5. The Wayside This house is believed to be over 300 years old. Early in the revolution, the house was occupied by Samuel Whitney, his 1775 Massachusetts congressman and pattern master of the Minutemen of Concord. The Wayside, adjacent to Orchard House, is best known for its rich literary establishments and requires a guided tour. Louisa Her Mae Her Alcott lived here with her family from her early teens until she was 20 years old. Renowned author Nigel Hawthorne then moved in, making it the only home he owned. Between trips to Europe, he lived here from 1852 to his death in 1864, and shortly thereafter (from 1879 to 1881) the poet and novelist George Parsons Lathrop. continued. For the next 40 years, Wayside was the home of successful children’s author Harriet Lothrop (pseudonym Margaret Sidney), who lived here with her publisher husband, Daniel Lothrop.   6. Verrill Farm This sustainably managed farm in Concord has been owned by the same family since 1918 and the land has been cultivated for over three centuries. Thanks to methods such as tillage, crop rotation, and the use of organic matter as fertilizer, Beryl Farm’s soil is more fertile than ever before. From June, you can buy PYO strawberries, hand-cut sunflowers, and PYO sweet corn, and there are many pumpkin fields. This time of year hosts numerous events, including Family Farm Day in September and his annual Thanksgiving in October, with live music, hay wagon rides, farm animals, and games. The field-front farmer’s market and greenhouse are open 24/7 and sell fresh, homemade produce, delis, fresh pastries, cakes, flowers, and plants.  7. Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge The original of the two units on this 12-mile wetlands reserve is in Concord. These are two ponds along the Concord River that drain in the summer