Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Concord, MA

  • Published 2022/02/19

Take a trip to Concord, Massachusetts, and you’re bound to notice some things that make it stand out from other colonial cities.

Located 20 miles west of Boston, you’ll find that the Middlesex County town looks more like an old English village than anything else.

Tranquil country roads wind through verdant hills, dotted with white-steepled churches and picturesque homes.

Historic buildings are preserved in their original settings, making this city one of America’s best-preserved examples of the Colonial era.

In fact, Concord was the site of the first battle in the American Revolution and home to some of the most outstanding literary minds, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.

It’s no wonder that Concord became known as a center for the study of American literature centered around “The Age of Reason.”

Interested to know more about this place?

Here is a list of the best things to do in Concord, MA:

Revisit History at The Old Manse

The Old Manse surrounded by beautiful trees

Jay Yuan /

Revisit history by staying at the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts.

From the moment you step into this beautiful Georgian clapboard home built in 1770, you can feel history all around you.

Not only is the architectural design of this building impressive, but there are also many records pertaining to what happened during the battle that put its mark in American History.

Narrow soil path leading to The Old Manse

Jay Yuan /

Once you enter The Old Manse, your role as a tourist becomes real, as if you traveled back in time to witness that crucial moment when famed revolutionary general George Washington faced off against Bostonian troops.

The Manse served as a home for many notable writers in the 19th century, like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

In fact, the upstairs of the home looks out over North Bridge because it was constructed specifically for William Emerson (a Patriot minister).

Here in the Old Manse, Hawthorne and his wife Sophia lived happily together, enjoying the vegetable garden that Thoreau planted in honor of their wedding.

The Old Manse during fall

Jay Yuan /

Take a Peaceful Stroll along Walden Pond

Walden Pond in Concord

Alizada Studios /

If you’re a tourist and lover of the natural world, you could spend an entire day at Walden Pond.

Walden Pond is a 64.5-acre kettle hole lake formed when glaciers retreated some ten thousand to twelve thousand years ago and inspired Henry David Thoreau’s work, “Walden; or, Life in the Woods.”

Site of Henry David Thoreau's hut at Walden Pond

James Kirkikis /

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation protects the Walden Pond as part of the 335-acre state park and recreation site Walden Pond State Reservation.

Walden Pond is a celebrated natural landmark in the state that offers many wonderful recreational activities: you can visit Thoreau’s cabin, or swim, walk around, and boat on the pond.

This idyllic outdoor body of water is conveniently located just off Massachusetts Route 2 and a quick drive away from (mostly) West Massachusetts Route 126.

Walden Pond at Concord

Alizada Studios /

Dabble in History at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

Front view of Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House

Zack Frank /

Nestled among the tranquil orchards and flowering gardens along the Lexington Road, Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House has provided wonderful opportunities for visitors to experience what life was like in the 19th century.

This gorgeous building was originally used as a home in 1868 and is still noted as being where Louisa May Alcott created her soon-to-be world-renowned novel, Little Women.

Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House with lawn in the forefront

Zack Frank /

This historic site has been open to the public for more than 100 years and boasts a rich history tracing back to the 1600s.

As a home-turned-museum, Orchard House offers guided tours year-round that are designed to help you learn about life back in the 1800s.

During the off-peak months, you can come here to explore all of the fun activities the museum has to offer.

Pick Sunflowers and Strawberries at Verrill Farm

Freshly harvested tomatoes at Verrill Farm

Paul Mozell /

With dozens of types of fresh produce coming straight from more than 200 acres of farmland located throughout Concord and Sudbury all year long, Verrill Farm is a local haven for anyone looking to find their fill of the freshest seasonal produce.

Through their quaint little shop, they sell farm-fresh goods along with some local specialty items and have staple groceries and gifts for one’s home, including flowers.

Their kitchen is fully equipped to provide homemade soups and sandwiches that taste as good as they look.

Rhubarb at Verrill Farm

Paul Mozell /

In the summer, Verrill Farm has picnic tables under a tent outside their farms, and in winter, you can sometimes eat inside their greenhouse.

Verrill farm’s Kentucky pecan bourbon pie is the talk of the town!

Their sunflower and strawberry fields bring countless field-goers to enjoy nature at its finest each year.

Learn More about American History at Old North Bridge

People strolling around the Old North Bridge at Concord, MA

Jay Yuan /

Often referred to by locals as the Old North Bridge, the North Bridge was where the first shots of the American Revolutionary War were fired.

The British Army had marched into Concord after hearing that weapons and ammunition were being stored here, but they were surprised to see how quickly and effectively the minutemen fought.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “the shot heard round the world” was a catalyst for America’s fight for independence at a time when people had been disheartened by Britain’s rule over them.

Beautiful view of the Old North Bridge with a river running beneath it

Christian Delbert /

North Bridge is one of the most cherished monuments of the American Revolution and also a popular tourist attraction.

In 1956, the wooden pedestrian bridge underwent reconstruction and then restoration through 2005, to keep its authenticity.

The area surrounding the bridge makes up 114 acres known as Minute Man National Historical Park’s North Bridge unit is under the management of the National Park Service.

Close-up view of the Old North Bridge

Bill Perry /

Expand Your Mind at Concord Free Public Library

Red brick building of Concord Free Public Library

KAD Photo /

Son of a famed pencil-maker and Concord native William Munroe established the Concord Free Public Library in Concord, Massachusetts.

You’ll find its main building at 129 Main Street, while the Fowler branch sits at 1322 Main Street in West Concord.

There is extensive information available at the Children’s Department on books, videos, and all kinds of other great items that will be useful in educating kids.

Front exterior view of Concord Free Public Library.

Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Concord Free Public Library houses a vast collection of primary and secondary source material about Concord history, landscape, life, people, literature, and influence from 1635 through the present day.

The library not only keeps you stocked with a wide variety of books new and old but also serves as the place for you to check out museum passes, trade books, events, and interlibrary loans for any materials held in other branch libraries around the Boston area.

Take a Walk through Battle Road Trail and Go Back in Time

A cyclist cycling through the wooden paved path at Battle Road Trail

Monika Salvan/

The Battle Road Trail offers history, beauty, and tranquility in one.

This scenic 5-mile trail is perfect for walkers, runners, and cyclists of all ages: it’s a great place to clear your mind and step away from the daily bustle of life.

You’ll enjoy the sounds of nature in addition to many historical sites, such as Meriam’s Corner, where you can learn more about what happened during the battle on April 19th, 1775.

Pretty yellow flower on the Battle Road Trail

Monika Salvan/

On this trail, you’ll go from the historic road that the Minute Men used to make their way to Lexington, across fields and wetlands, and into forests.

Next to being a hallowed piece of American history, the trail is known for its natural resources and biodiversity.

The trail is accessible by multiple parking spaces along Lexington Road and Route 2A.

Narrow path at Battle Road Trail

Monika Salvan/

Get a Blast from the Past at Concord Museum

Signboard of Concord Museum

Wangkun Jia /

The Concord Museum is like a hidden time machine where all of the remarkable past of Concord and its wonderful treasures come to life through its historical collections, literary pieces, and decorative art.

The museum welcomes everyone through its doors if you want to learn more about the history of Concord and the continual influence that this city has had on American life.

Its collections are of national significance and serve as catalysts for educational programs, exhibitions, dynamic programming, and relevant publications from a constantly changing world.

Concord Museum at Concord, MA

Wangkun Jia /

Since its inception in 1886, the museum has been a focal point for the enjoyment of culture and travel around the globe.

The Concord Museum has been one of the most active Museums in America since 1973, earning them an accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums.

Some of the historical artifacts you’ll see here include the Paul Revere Lantern, the Paleoindian Spearhead, The Boston Massacre print, Powder Horn, a 1659 hourglass, and more.

Front view of Concord Museum

Wangkun Jia /

Meet the Alcotts at The Wayside

The Wayside during snow

William Silver /

When it comes to historic U.S. landmarks, Massachusetts has no shortage of sites to visit.

A must for any history buff during a trip to Concord, Massachusetts, is arriving at the Wayside yourself and taking in its grandeur.

Side exterior of the wayside.

John Phelan, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built in the early 18th century, this old place has seen many visitors over the years, which usually involve authors and/or their families like Nathaniel Hawthorn, Louisa May Alcott, and Margaret Sydney.

The historic home once belonged to famous author Louisa May Alcott used to be called Hillside and now belongs to the National Park Service.

Now a part of Minute Man National Historical Park, the Wayside lies at 455 Lexington Road in Concord and offers guided tours to the public seasonally.

See The Hancock at the North Bridge Center

A young man hoisting American flag at North Bridge Center

Wangkun Jia /

Nestled in a charming red-brick mansion situated at 174 Liberty Street, the visitor center delights and inspires guests from far and wide with its dynamic information about all things related to out-of-this-world artifacts.

The little wonder house has a park store for your convenience, as well as exhibits that will catch your interest on every occasion.

Enthusiastic staff members fill the house’s homey walls at any given moment, eager to answer any questions you may have.

The statue of Minute Man at North Bridge Center

Wangkun Jia /

One of the many pieces in the visitor center is a brass cannon that was recently titled “The Hancock.”

In 1775, this cannon was removed from Boston right before it received damage, and Gage’s reason for sending troops out was to retrieve The Hancock and three other cannons.

This extremely rare gun, displayed courtesy of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, depicts a moment in history rarely found embedded within such a pristine piece.

Tourist strolling around the North Bridge Center

Wangkun Jia /

Enjoy a Show at The Umbrella Arts Center

Umbrella Arts Center is a new artistic safe haven in the middle of historic Concord, Massachusetts.

The center provides a relaxing and inviting place for people across the state to come together and enjoy a chance for growth and development through the arts.

They strive to inspire the community and promote meaningful art with accessible exhibitions, public art installations, arts education programs, and collaborative works around their city.

Umbrella’s Arts Center offers studios for more than 50 artists showcased in three rooms with a large dance studio, a brand new ceramics studio, and a makerspace.

Their distinct arts and environment summer camps have attracted thousands of children from the community to the arts.

Along with year-round programming for children as well as adults, Umbrella Arts Collective offers aspiring filmmakers a state-of-the-art space like their 344-seat main stage theater and 100-seat black box theater for year-round education.

At The Umbrella Arts Center, it’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to praising the talent on display.

Not only are shows like Tuck Everlasting, Hedwig, and the Angry Inch, 100 Days, and 42nd Street so impressive, but the work being done behind the scenes by those in charge is second to none.

Find Your Peace and Part of History at Thoreau Cabin Site

Stone tablet at Thoreau Cabin Site

James Kirkikis /

If you’re in the mood for a bit of nature, maybe you’d like to come down to Thoreau’s cabin.

In 1945, a team of archaeologists discovered an abandoned cabin on the outskirts of Concord and what may have been built by author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau.

During his time at the cabin, which was known as Walden Pond, Thoreau made many observations about nature and spent much time reflecting upon his life; he described these reflections in two books titled Walden (1854) and Civil Disobedience (1849).

Site of Thoreau's cabin

James Kirkikis /

It is not only Thoreau’s original hearthstone that was discovered but also a number of other important artifacts relating to his life, which now reside at the Thoreau Institute.

After Thoreau left Walden, his cabin was completely dismantled, but its iconic image survives as seen in recreated cabins that today exist in places such as the Thoreau Institute and Walden Pond.

It’s possible to visit Thoreau’s cabin at the Walden Pond State Reservation, following through its Pond Path.

The trails near Thoreau’s cabin have been known to be very slippery in the winter, so it’s probably safer that you turn around during the freezing cold months.

Thoreau Cabin Site at Concord, MA

Erika J Mitchell /

Pay Homage to the Legends at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Tombstone at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Lucas Correa Pacheco /

Concord’s largest public resting place, Sleepy Hollow is one of the city’s most important public belongings and is just a stone’s throw away from Monument Square, on Bedford Street.

The majestic, verdant, and serene cemetery is situated on a sprawling, sloped woodland filled with soft golden rays of afternoon light.

Emerson admirers established this tranquil cemetery in the late 19th century, and it serves as a monument to transcendentalism.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at Concord, MA

Al Munroe /

Here, you can check out some of the more prominent graves in the area, like the family gravesites of Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

And it’s also common practice for tourists who visit them to leave pens and pencils as a sign of respect for all they’ve accomplished.

It just goes to show how certain traditions are passed down through generations, even if their meanings aren’t entirely clear.

And it’s also the perfect place to take a stroll during a peaceful summer day and get in touch with your inner thoughts.

One notable statue by Daniel Chester French also rests on Authors Ridge: The Minuteman Statue that stands in Concord’s Old North Bridge mall.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery with autumn leaves

Al Munroe /

Glide through the Ice at Valley Sports Inc

While it’s easy to assume ice skating would be a hit with kids, just as many grown-ups are fans of gliding around on blades.

For ice skating aficionados and beginners alike, Valley Sports Inc is an excellent place for fun and exercise.

It has everything from lessons to hockey leagues and public sessions—the perfect way to enjoy an afternoon with friends.

With regular ice maintenance, they ensure superior quality and safety.

And when it comes to the ice, it has a great glide to it, and the lighting here is bright enough so that you won’t be tripping over yourself.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the perfect destination to spend your time away from home doing fun things with friends and family, consider planning a trip to Concord!

This city is brimming with activities to do that are sure to help make your visit memorable, including learning about local history and seeing beautiful nature up close.

If you’re planning a trip soon, consider making it an unforgettable adventure by taking a look at this list of things to do in Concord, MA!

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