Maybe you’ve never heard of sleepy Concord Massachusetts population 18,000 (2020), but your life has certainly been impacted by it. This is where "the shot heard round the world" was fired in the spring of 1775, setting off a chain of events that would eventually lead to the creation of the United States.
This article also covers the neighboring town of Lincoln population 7,000 (2020).
The Massachusett people lived here for thousands of years prior to European arrival. This site at the confluence of the Sudbury and Assabet rivers was chosen, as the floodplains created abundant arable land and opportunities for fishing. The area was known as Musketaquid, an Algonquian word meaning "grassy plain". The vast majority of the first inhabitants were killed off by smallpox and other plagues at the dawn of the 17th century. Survivors sold their land to the colonists, and began to assimilate into the prevailing Puritanical culture. Those who did not "bend the knee", were exterminated during wars and other conflicts throughout the 1600s.
The American Revolution essentially began here at the Battle of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775. Paul Revere had ridden to Lexington the previous night, raising the alarm and giving Massachusetts Minutemen time to prepare for battle. By around noontime the British Army had advanced to the Old North Bridge, where they were finally repelled by Minutemen and forced into retreat. From here the Redcoats returned to Boston while under fire and barricaded themselves inside. Thus began the siege of Boston, and in turn, the Revolutionary War.
During the mid-19th century, Concord was a hotspot of activity for Transcendentalist authors. Rounding things out, Concord’s literary excellence is palmary. Ralph Waldo Emerson is perhaps the town's most famous author, however: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau were all strong voices inside his circle. They churned out thought provoking titles in the mid-1800s like Civil Disobedience, The Scarlet Letter, and Little Women, among dozens of other titles. Their Transcendentalist views led Thoreau to imprisonment, as he refused to pay taxes to a government that supported slavery. Even today, notable authors like Doris Kearns Goodwin and Gregory Maguire have called Concord home.
Another Concordism—although much more mundane—is the common comestible grape jelly. The humble peanut butter and jelly sandwich is often made with the ubiquitous Concord Grape, first cultivated here in 1849. So if you’ve ever eaten a PB&J or sipped grape juice; you may have already gotten a little taste of Concord.
- 1 Minute Man Visitor Center, 250 North Great Road (Lincoln), ☏ . 9AM-5PM daily May 7 - Sep 3. This is the recommended starting point for those visiting Minute Man National Historical Park. Park Rangers are available to answer questions during open hours. Amenities include: bike racks, gift shop, exhibits, maps, parking, bus parking, accessible restrooms, and a water bottle filling station. Free.
- 2 North Bridge Visitor Center, 174 Liberty Street, ☏ . May 7-Sep 3 10AM-5PM. The visitor center is hosted in a brick mansion dating from 1911. It features a short video about the North Bridge fight, a bookstore, and additional exhibits. Parking is available on-site, along with bike racks. Park Rangers are available to answer questions during open hours. Free.
The only major road in the area is MA Route 2, it cuts through the area from north-west to south-east. From Rt 2, several "feeder" roads all run in to Concord center, like spokes on a wheel. The road names all describe where they go, so depending on your next destination you'll wind up using: Elm Street, Main Street, Sudbury Road, Walden Street, Cambridge Turnpike, Lexington Road, Bedford Street, or Lowell Road. Bedford and Main streets are also called MA Route 62, but it would never be confused for a highway. Most parking at the train stations is reserved for Concord residents only.
Concord is blessed with extensive cycling infrastructure, and the relative closeness of attractions can make biking an attractive option. The Reformatory Branch Trail is roughly 4 mi (6.4 km) of unpaved path connecting the wildly popular Minuteman Commuter Bikeway in Bedford with Concord center. It can get muddy after a rainfall, but generally speaking all but the skinniest of tires can roll along this path. Next, the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail passes through West Concord station. This 10-foot-wide paved trail runs you over 13 mi (21 km) north into the city of Lowell, or a few miles south into Sudbury conservation land. If you'd like to travel between them, you'll have to ride in the street for a mile or two.
Use the Fitchburg Line from Boston's North Station to arrive in Lincoln, Concord center or West Concord. You can walk to a few attractions from any station, but you'll need to connect with a car or bicycle to do any real exploring from the train.
- 1 Lincoln Station, 160 Lincoln Rd (Lincoln). Accessible boarding for all train cars. 161 parking spaces, 3 accessible. Bike racks. MBTA zone 4. $8.75 to Boston; parking $3.
- 2 Concord Station, 90 Thoreau St. Accessible boarding for all train cars. 86 parking spaces, 2 accessible. Bike racks. MBTA zone 5. $9.75 to Boston; parking: town permit only.
- 3 West Concord Station, Commonwealth Ave and Main St. Accessible boarding for all train cars. 146 parking spaces. Covered bike racks. MBTA zone 5. $9.75 to Boston; parking: $5.
Traveling by car is easiest, but many of the tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other.
There are extensive walking trails in Lincoln that go through conservation land, and also connect with the Lincoln MBTA commuter rail station.
- 1 Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Bedford St, ☏ . 7AM–5PM daily. Visit the final resting place of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau. The largest of Concord's municipal cemeteries; not related to the much more famous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Free.
- 2 Wright's Tavern, 2 Lexington Rd, ☏ . A National Historic Landmark owned by the Society of the First Parish.
- 3 Thoreau Farm (Wheeler-Minot Farmhouse), 341 Virginia Rd, ☏ . May-Oct; Sa, Su; 11AM, 1PM, 3PM. Built around 1730 by John Wheeler, this 2½-story wooden home is the birthplace of Henry David Thoreau in 1817. Over the years the building has seen extensive modifications, and after a non-profit purchase in 1995, underwent comprehensive restorative work. The 20 acres of grounds are free and open year-round. House visits by guided tour only. During the warmer months "saunters" of the grounds can be organized, and writers retreats are offered as well. Free, suggested donation $5.
- 4 Concord Museum, 53 Cambridge Turnpike, ☏ . Tu-Su 10AM-4PM. Emerson, Thoreau and more. $15, seniors $12, children $8.
- 5 The Olde Manse, 269 Monument St, ☏ . House: W-M, 11AM-5PM, grounds: sunrise-sunset daily. Built in 1770 by the Reverend William Emerson. Later residents include his grandson Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathanial Hawthorne. Period furnishings and family memorabilia from the Emerson, Ripley and Hawthorne families. The grounds border the Concord River, and the Old North Bridge. Owned by The Trustees of Reservations non-profit. House: $12, senior $10, child $6, grounds: free.
- 6 Orchard House (Louisa May Alcott), 399 Lexington Rd, ☏ . 10AM-5PM daily. Former home of the Alcott family and the setting of Little Women. Open for tours at varying times depending on season. See also the Concord School of Philosophy, founded by Bronson Alcott, and located just behind the main building. $12, senior $10, child $6.
- 7 Ralph Waldo Emerson House, 28 Cambridge Turnpike, ☏ . Th-Sa tours start at 10AM, Su tours start a 1PM. $12, seniors & children $10.
Minute Man National Historical Park
- 8 Minute Man National Historical Park, 174 Liberty St, ☏ . Sunrise to sunset year round. Free.
- North Bridge Visitor Center: Nov-Mar: daily 11AM-3PM; Apr-Oct: daily 9AM-5PM.
- Minute Man Visitor Center: Apr-Oct: daily 9AM-5PM; Oct-Nov: Daily 9AM-4PM.
- Hartwell Tavern: Jun-Oct: daily 9:30AM-5:30PM.
- The Wayside: open by guided tour. Jun-Oct: Th 2PM & 4PM; F Sa Su at 11AM, 1:30PM, 3PM & 4:30PM. Nathaniel Hawthorne's home.
- 9 Old North Bridge.
- 10 The Wayside, 455 Lexington Rd.
- 11 Barrett Farm, 448 Barretts Mill Rd.
- 12 DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, 51 Sandy Pond Road (Route 126 to Baker Farm Road.), ☏ . Hours: Museum open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Closed Mondays. The Sculpture Park is open year round during daylight hours. On 35 acres of parkland this is a beautiful setting for 75 outdoor sculptures ("at any given time"). The DeCordova collection includes more than three thousand works of contemporary art. Summer jazz series. $9 Adult, $6 seniors, children, active duty military. Lincoln residents and members free.
- Drumlin Farm Educational Center, 208 South Great Road, ☏ . Mar-Oct 9AM-4PM, Nov-Feb 9AM-4PM. Drumlin Farm is a Mass Audubon Society wildlife sanctuary and education center. Features a working farm with pigs, horses, cows, and more. Hay rides.
- Gropius House, 68 Baker Bridge Road, ☏ . June-mid Oct, W-Su; Nov-May Sa,Su. Tours at 11AM, Noon, 1PM, 2PM, 3PM and 4PM. First house in America to be designed by architect William Gropius, father of the Bauhaus school of modern architecture. $10.
- Ponyhenge, 39 Old Sudbury Rd. Since 2010, an unknown number of anonymous individuals have left (or abandoned) hobbyhorses, rocking horses, and other assorted equine toys in a random field near Lincoln. Occasionally someone will come by and rearrange them (again, anonymously) but the collection just keeps growing.
- 1 Concord Scout House, 74 Walden Street, ☏ . M & Th 7:30-10:30PM. A community hall and home to local boy scout and girl scout troops. The Scout House is a regional center for "contra dancing," a common New England folk dance that is easy to learn and highly social. Several groups conduct contra dance and square dance evenings to live music at the hall. Two weekly series happen year-round, one on Monday nights and a more popular one on Thursday nights. For both, there's a different band and dance caller each week. $10-20.
- 1 FOPAC (Friends of the Performings Arts in Concord), 51 Walden Street, ☏ . Various evenings. At the FOPAC hall a diverse assortment of concerts and plays can be seen year round. Mostly classical and operatic pieces from around the world. The resident groups are the Concord Players, the Concord Band, the Concord Orchestra, and Opera51. $20-30.
- Liberty Ride Trolley Tours, 1875 Massachusetts Avenue (Lexington), ☏ . Jun-Oct, F-M, 10 & 11:30AM. A seasonal trolley between Lexington and Concord that stops at many tourist attractions. $28.
- 2 Brewster's Woods Wildlife Sanctuary, Balls Hill Rd. sunrise to sunset daily. 130 acres alongside the banks of the Concord River. This area was once belonged to William Brewster, the Mass Audubon society's first president and an early ornithologist. The wetlands here attract plentiful ducks, herons, bluebirds, and woodpeckers, and other breeding and migrating water birds. Limited parking, no restrooms. Free, donations accepted.
- 3 Estabrook Woods. 24 hours daily. A wild tract boasting over 1,200 acres of woodland, hills, ledge, and swamp. It's owned by Harvard University and various private individuals, but it remains accessible to the public. The easiest way in is to follow the Estabrook road north from the Old North Bridge. Pavement aside, it remains much as it was during the colonial era. Today you can follow stones marking the path taken by Minuteman in 1775. Not overly car friendly, you'll just have to get out and walk! Free.
- 4 Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge (Drive east from Concord center on Route 62 toward Bedford. After about a mile, turn left onto Monsen Road. Continue to the refuge entrance road to the left.), ☏ . 24 hours daily. A twelve-mile long river wetlands conservation area, in two major parcels, stretching from the towns of Billerica (downstream) to Wayland (upstream), along the Concord and Sudbury rivers. Considered by some ornithologists among the best inland bird observatories in the state. The original 250-acre Concord parcel that started the sanctuary has long been known as the "Great Meadows," and was donated by Concord resident Samuel Hoar in 1944. There are several trails for daytime wildlife observation and walks, with trail-side observation blinds and an observation tower. The Dike Trail, a 1.7-mile loop circles one of the marsh pools. In winter, as snow permits: walking, snowshowing and cross-country skiing. The federal Fish and Wildlife Service manages the refuge. Free.
- 5 Hapgood Wright Town Forest, 600 Walden St, ☏ . 24 hours daily. Conservation land adjacent to Walden Pond. Suggested walks include: the Fairyland Pond Circuit, Brister Freeman extended loop, and Brister’s Hill Loop. About 30-60 minutes each. About 20 spots in the parking lot. Free.
- 6 Old Rifle Range, 4 Williams Rd. 24 hours daily. About 120 acres of conservation land too hilly and swampy for development. This area has a military history, and visitors will see various berms used for target practice scattered throughout. Some artifacts remain, as this shooting range was used as "recently" as WWI. Takes about an hour to walk the main "out-and-back" trail, and it's easy to spend additional time exploring. Parking available for 6 cars; the lot is just a few feet from the rail trail, if you brought a mountain bike. Free.
- 7 Walden Pond State Reservation, 915 Walden St, ☏ . 5AM-7:30PM daily. Walk, swim or fish in the footsteps of Thoreau, and see a replica of his cabin. While Thoreau escaped here to be surrounded by nature and experience solitude, don't expect to have exactly the same experience. The nature remains, but nowadays you'll have to share it. Facilities include: boat ramp, picnic areas, accessible restrooms and a visitors center. Parking has intentionally not expanded to meet demand, and the lot closes when it reaches capacity. Call the provided number and hear the lot status before heading out. Free. Parking $8 MA resident, $30 non-resident.
- 1 Artinian Jewelry, 39 Main St, ☏ . jewelry store
- 2 Fairbank and Perry Goldsmiths, 32 Main St, #1, ☏ . jewelry store.
- 3 Lacoste/Keane Gallery, 25 Main St, ☏ . art gallery
- 4 Nesting, 44 Main St, ☏ . antique, gift store
- 5 Priscilla Candy Shop, 19 Walden St, ☏ .
- 6 Blue Dry Goods, 16 Walden St, ☏ . M-F 10AM-6PM; Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM; Su noon-5PM. Upscale casual men's & boys' clothing.
- 7 Footstock, 46 Main St, ☏ . shoe store
- 8 The Grasshopper Shop of Concord, 36 Main St, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM. Clothing store.
- 9 Lyn Evans, 29 Main St, ☏ . woman's clothing store
- 10 Viola Lovely, 38 Main St, ☏ . woman's clothing store
- 1 Verrill Farm, 11 Wheeler Road, ☏ . Farm stand with bakery, prepared foods. open year around
- 2 Nashoba Brook Bakery, 152 Commonwealth Ave, ☏ . M-F 6:30AM-5:30PM, Sa Su 8AM-5PM. Bakery using homegrown yeast and slow-rise breads.
- 3 Club Car Cafe, 20 Commonwealth Ave, ☏ . Comfort food, breakfast, lunch, near West Concord train station
- 4 Rossini's, 206 Fitchburg Turnpike, ☏ . pizza/Italian food
- 5 Main Streets Market and Cafe, 42 Main Street, ☏ . Th-Sa 8AM-9PM; Su-W 8AM-4PM. Classic spot in a storied building. Various options for meals and baked goods offered throughout the day, for dine in or takeaway. Eclectic indoor and outdoor seating options. Friendly folks, Full bar, and dog friendly to boot. Entertainment many evenings with no cover charge. $12-25.
- 6 Twin Seafood, 2 Church Street, ☏ . Primarily a seafood market, but offers a few options for outdoor dining. Seating is limited.
- 7 Rapscallion Kitchen & Bar, 208 Fitchburg Turnpike, ☏ . brewpub
- 8 Trail's End Cafe, 97 Lowell Road, ☏ . Cafe, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar
- 9 [dead link] Asian Gourmet, 794 Elm St, ☏ . Taiwanese/Chinese restaurant with hibachi (1st floor), Japanese (2nd floor)
- 10 Fiorella's Concord, 24 Walden St, ☏ . Italian Restaurant
- 11 Adelita, 1200 Main St, ☏ . Organic Mexican restaurant
- 12 Saltbox Kitchen, 84 Commonwealth Ave, ☏ . New American restaurant
- 13 Karma, 105 Thoreau St, ☏ . Asian fusion restaurant
- 14 80 Thoreau, 80 Thoreau St, ☏ . Fine dining restaurant
- 15 Woods Hill Table, 24 Commonwealth Ave, ☏ . Farm sourced organic fare
- 16 Papa Razzi, 768 Elm Street, ☏ . noon-9PM daily. Family friendly small chain offering wood fired pizzas and a wine program. Where the kayakers go drinking on Friday afternoons. $20-30.
- 1 Best Western at Historic Concord, 740 Elm Street, ☏ , fax: .
- 2 Concord's Colonial Inn, 48 Monument Square, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Charming old inn with 56 rooms and a restaurant.
- 3 [dead link] Hawthorne Inn Bed and Breakfast, 462 Lexington Road, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of New England's 10 best inns. $125-$285..
- 4 North Bridge Inn, 21 Monument St., ☏ , fax: .
- 5 Mill Brook Inn, 69 Walden Street, ☏ . Lovingly restored and updated, the house was built in 1758 and added onto in 1828, after being moved to its current location. Steps away from downtown Concord.
- 6 Residence Inn by Marriott, 320 Baker Ave Extension, ☏ .
- 3 Concord Free Public Library, 129 Main Street, ☏ . M 10AM-8PM, Tu-W-Th 9AM-8PM, Fr-Sa 9AM-5PM. Houses a priceless collection of oil paintings, marble sculpture and original Transcendental Movement manuscripts. Free.
- 4 First Parish in Concord, 20 Lexington Rd, ☏ . 10AM Sunday service. Unitarian Universalist religious services. Free.
- For more Revolutionary history look no further than Lexington, just next door. The Minutemen saw action here as well, and Lexington has the receipts to prove it.
- More than just the Freedom Trail, Quincy Market, and Fenway Park; it's easy to spend another day in Boston. Take your pick: Newbury street shopping, North End dining, or an evening in the Theater district.
- Another top tier tourism town is Salem, site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Steeped in history, it's easy to imagine how a life controlled by the tides might have been lived. Home to the world class Peabody Essex Museum, and House of Seven Gables; Salem's bursting with funky shops and one-of-a-kind restaurants.
- Get off the beaten trail and head for nearby Lowell. A city in its own right, you'll find many "undiscovered" options for dining and nightlife. Of course there is also a National Historical Park to explore, you're still New England after all.
- Further afield, the White Mountains in New Hampshire offers some of the region's best outdoor experiences. Tops for hiking, fall foliage viewing or skiing.
|Routes through Concord|
|Fitchburg ← Acton ←||W E||→ Lincoln → Boston|
|Fitchburg ← Acton ←||W E||→ Lincoln → Boston|
|Hudson ← Acton ←||W E||→ Bedford → Danvers|
|Harvard ← Acton ←||N S||→ END|
|Rindge ← Acton ←||W E||→ END|
|Fitchburg ← Acton ←||NW SE||→ Lincoln → Boston|