Concord is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Boston, Massachusetts. The town is steeped in military, social, literary and natural history. The first shots of the American War of Independence rang out on a bridge in the town. There were places of refuge for runaway slaves in Concord, and the progress of freed men and women is documented here. There were five authors who were almost contemporaries and the way in which their lives were intertwined is recorded in various museums and places of historical interest. Even the Concord River and Walden Pond are famous.
1.Old North Bridge
The wooden bridge that spans the Concord River at the confluence of the Assabet and Sudbury Rivers is a replica of the one that was made famous on the first day of the American War of Independence. On 19 April 1775, 400 colonists outnumbered the British infantry, forcing them to retreat across the bridge. A shot rang out and history was made. It was “the shot heard around the world”, as Ralph Waldo Emerson described it. The original bridge had been built in the 1760s but was dismantled in 1793. The present bridge was built in 2005. It is situated in the Minute Man Historical Park.
© Concord Museum
Concord has a long track record of recording its history. After the bicentennial celebrations in 1836, Cummings Davis started collecting artifacts. In 1886, 2000 of these were transferred to the Concord Antiquarian Society. A year later the house of the saddler, Reuben Brown was purchased for the purpose of housing the collection. Through the years, several additions were made to the complex. Highlights of the collections are a spearhead from the Ice Age, Paul Revere's lantern, Henry David Thoreau's desk and spy glass, a recreation of Ralph Waldo Emerson's study and a gallery devoted to Thomas Dugan, a freed slave who became a successful farmer.
53 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, MA 01742, Phone: 978-369-9763
3.Minute Man National Historical Park
This park commemorates the first day of the American War of Independence. Within its borders there are several historical sites. North Bridge is the point at which the first shots were fired and where the British suffered their first casualties. The Battle Road Trail marks the route of the running skirmishes between the British soldiers and the Colonial forces. There is a monument at the site where Paul Revere was captured. Barrett's farm was one searched by the British, looking for arms and ammunition. Wayside, the home of several notable American authors is also in the park. The Visitor Center overlooks North Bridge.
4.Sleep Hollow Cemetery
Some of the USA's greatest authors and thinkers are buried in this cemetery. It was designed by Cleveland and Copeland who were influenced the Transcendentalism movement. The natural contours form an amphitheatre and much of the original shrubbery and wild plants were allowed to remain. It was dedicated in 1855 by Ralph Waldo Emerson who was a proponent of the movement and also on the committee that chose the design. Emerson was later to be buried there. The Melvin Memorial to three brothers in the Civil War stands in the cemetery. The Alcott family, Nathanial Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau and Elizabeth Peabody are also buried there.
Walden Pond is a 64 acre lake situated in the 335 acre Walden Pond State Reservation. It was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1962. The lake is known as a kettle hole, a depression left by retreating glaciers that fills with water. It was made famous by Henry David Thoreau who wrote about it in his famous work, 'Walden'. For two years he lived in a cabin near the shore, on land owned by his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. A replica of his cabin has been erected and signposted. At the same time, ice from the lake was being harvested and exported to tropical countries. The park is open for hiking and water activities.
© Verrill Farm
This farm has been in the same family for more than a century. It operated as a dairy farm from 1918 to 1990. Thereafter, the family grew vegetables for the market and later to sell off the farm. A third generation daughter put her baking and other culinary skills to good use on the farm. In 1995, a commercial kitchen and farm stall were erected. Besides fresh produce, a deli, bakery and catering services are offered. Customers can pick their own strawberries and pumpkins. Family entertainment includes festivals, pie-eating competitions and farm-to-table dinners. The farm is open 7 days a week.
11 Wheeler Road, Concord, MA 01742, Phone: 978-369-4494
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7.The Old Manse
© Faina Gurevich/stock.adobe.com
The Old Manse is on Monument Street, with the Concord River behind it. It was built by Ralph Waldo Emerson's grandfather in 1770, the town minister and chaplain to the Provincial Congress and the Continental Army. The house is adjacent to North Bridge. After his death, his widow married his successor, Reverend Ripley, and they continued living in the house. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne also lived in the house but at different times. The house remained in the Emerson-Ripley family until 1939 when it was transferred, with all its contents, to the Trustees of Reservations. It is open seasonally.
8.Ralph Waldo Emerson House
© Concord Museum
The house was built in 1828 by the Coolidge family. In 1835, Ralph Waldo Emerson acquired the house and six acres of land. He and his second wife moved in the day after their wedding, along with his mother. He lived there until his death in 1882. He paid $3500 for the house but immediately made alterations to the house and gardens. He later purchased another 11 acres, including Walden Pond. He wrote many works at 'Bush' as they called the house, and entertained the literati of Concord. The house is still owned by the family and is operated as a private museum.
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9.Concord Free Public Library
© Concord Free Public Library
William Munroe, who made his fortune selling dry goods and textiles, sought to give something back to his community. He thought that with the rich history of the town, a suitable library would be needed. He lobbied for permission and the resources to erect the grand, Gothic structure which was a departure from the norm at the time. The collections have grown to match the stature of the building. Concord's literary, social, political and architectural history are well documented. Some collections have been digitized and made available online. The library is open 7 days a week.
129 Main Street Concord, MA 01742, Phone: 978-318-3300
10.Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge is a 12 mile long freshwater wetland conservation area. It is in two parts along the Concord and Sudbury Rivers, totaling more than 3800 acres. Samuel Hoar donated the first 250 acres in 1944. The wetlands are a haven for waterfowls and many small animals. Two lakes drain each summer creating mud flats. These rich nutrient feeding grounds provide the ideal breeding habitat for migratory birds. A 1300 feet boardwalk was constructed by the local carpenters' union, giving visitors access to the area without damaging the environment. The Concord unit is open daily from dawn till dusk.
179 Monsen Road, Concord, MA
© Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
The earliest part of this house was built in 1717. The literary Alcott family acquired it in 1845 and called it Hillside. Inspiration for Little Women came from time spent in the house. Mr Alcott, split one of the outbuildings in two and added them to the sides of the house. He opened it up as part of the Underground Railroad, a refuge for slaves on the run. Nathaniel Hawthorne lived there from 1852-1864. He added a three-story tower. Margaret Sidney, a children's author and publisher, lived there until 1924. In 1927 it was opened to the public and later declared a National Historic Landmark. It is situated in the Minute Man National Historic Park.
This short river is one of the most famous in the history of the USA. It was the scene of the first shots fired in the American War of Independence and was the topic of the first book written by Henry David Thoreau. It is formed by the confluence of the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers, at Egg Rock. Native Americans named it the Musketaquid River, which means 'grass-grown'. Bulrushes, sedge and grass grow along the banks causing the river to slow down and making it the ideal habitat for bass, shad, pickerel, carp and American eel. It is a popular canoeing destination.
13.The Robbins House
© The Robbins House
The Robbins House chronicles the life and times of the first generation descendants of a freed slave, Caesar Robbins, who was a Revolutionary War veteran. In the early 19th century, his son and daughter and their families share the 544 square foot home on Monument Street. It was set in 13 acres of land along the Concord River, near the Old North Bridge. Ceasar's daughter married fugitive slave, Jack Garrison. The house was moved to Bedford Street but has been returned to its original position. Through exhibits, tours, benches, publications and guided tours, the museum explains how this generation assisted the antislavery movement.
320 Monument Street, Concord, MA
© 80 Thoreau
This restaurant is situated inside Concord's railroad depot. The décor is rustic, early American. The cuisine is New American, with a French twist, made from locally sourced New England ingredients. The menu is short and changes frequently, depending on what is in season. There is a wide selection of cheeses made by local artisans. The bar is well-stocked with microbrewed beers, and half and full bottles of wine. Cocktails are made to order and there is a menu of snacks available. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
80 Thoreau Street, Concord, MA, Phone: 978-318-0008
15.Woods Hill Table
© Woods Hill Table
National film maker, Kristin Canty, has a total commitment to organic, sustainable and fair trade practices in her owner-operated restaurant. It was the first establishment in the USA to receive three stars from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Only grass-fed meat, raw milk cheese and organic produce is used in the kitchen. Wood Hills Table collaborates with a myriad of like-minded suppliers, including Ms Canty's own Farm at Woods Hill. The restaurant has received numerous awards, including best farm-to-table restaurant, best new restaurant and best dining. To complete the experience, patrons can stay over at the Lodge on Woods Hill.
24 Commonwealth Avenue, West Concord, MA 01742, Phone: 978-254-1435
© Saltbox Kitchen
Professional Chef, Ben Elliot, grew up on Saltbox Farm. This is where he learned the family recipes and traditions. In 2009, he and his family took over the running of the farm. They started a subscription service for farm produce, a cooking school and a catering enterprise. They also started producing honey and growing hops for their craft brewery. In 2015, they opened the Saltbox Kitchen in town. Meat and eggs for the farm-to table meals are sourced from Saltbox Farm. There are breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. The café is also available for private parties.
84 Commonwealth Avenue, West Concord, MA 01742, Phone: 978-610-6020
There are three family-owned Rapscallion venues. The first to be established was a French restaurant in Acton, in an historic farmhouse, where comfort food can be enjoyed with craft beer. The Rapscallion brewery is at Sturbridge, in a 1940s apple barn on 150 acres. There is an 18-hole disc golf course, free tours on Sunday afternoons and weekly live music for entertainment. Patrons can bring their own food, order from the food truck or have pizza delivered. In the Kitchen and Bar in Concord, the emphasis is on seafood although meat and vegetarian dishes are an option. Belgian beers have been brewed exclusively for this establishment by Rapscallion.
208 Fitchburg Turnpike, Concord, MA, Phone: 978-610-6111
© Orchard House
The Alcott family lived in Orchard House from 1858-1877, across from their previous property, Wayside. Amos Bronson Alcott wrote his book on Ralph Waldo Emerson here and his daughter, Louisa May wrote her autobiographical novel, “Little Women” here. Her sister, Elizabeth, who became Beth in the book, died two weeks before the family moved in. The house was set on 12 acres, including an apple orchard, hence the name of the house. Mr Alcott built a chapel and made several changes to the house, creating several nooks and crannies. The house is much as it was when they lived there. Most of the furnishings belonged to the Alcotts.
18 Best Things to Do in Concord, MA
- Old North Bridge, Photo: lspi138/stock.adobe.com
- Concord Museum, Photo: Concord Museum
- Minute Man National Historical Park, Photo: IlluminataPhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Sleep Hollow Cemetery, Photo: shootingtheworld/stock.adobe.com
- Walden Pond, Photo: kichigin19/stock.adobe.com
- Verrill Farm, Photo: Verrill Farm
- The Old Manse, Photo: Faina Gurevich/stock.adobe.com
- Ralph Waldo Emerson House, Photo: Concord Museum
- Concord Free Public Library, Photo: Concord Free Public Library
- Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: duke2015/stock.adobe.com
- The Wayside, Photo: Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Concord River, Photo: jiawangkun/stock.adobe.com
- The Robbins House, Photo: The Robbins House
- 80 Thoreau, Photo: 80 Thoreau
- Woods Hill Table, Photo: Woods Hill Table
- Saltbox Kitchen, Photo: Saltbox Kitchen
- Rapscallion, Photo: Rapscallion
- Orchard House, Photo: Orchard House
- Cover Photo: lspi138/stock.adobe.com