Once upon a time, I was searching for fun day trips from Boston, and that’s when I learned about Concord, a small town about 20 miles away.
My original reason for going to Concord was to hike around Walden Pond. (More on that in a moment!) That adventure brought me to explore the town as a whole, and I found that there are so many amazing things to do in Concord.
Concord is one of those quintessential New England small towns, filled with historic buildings, walkable streets, family-owned restaurants, and boutiques, and with proximity to peaceful nature trails.
Keep reading for a list of the best things to do in Concord, MA, and you’ll see why it’s become one of my favorite towns in New England!
⏰ Short on Time?
Essential Things to Know About Visiting Concord, MA
🚗 HOW TO GET TO CONCORD
From Boston (20 miles west): Take 93-N to MA-16 W (Mystic Valley Parkway) in Medford. Get on MA-2 in Cambridge and travel about 15 miles to Monument Square in Concord.
From Worcester (38 miles east): Follow I-290 E, I-495 N, and MA-2 E to Barretts Mill Rd in Concord. From Barretts Mill Rd, turn right onto Lowell Rd and continue to Monument Square.
🗓 BEST TIME TO VISIT CONCORD
Massachusetts has the best of all four seasons, so Concord is a great place to visit at any time of the year.
🎄 The first time I visited was in December when the town was decorated beautifully for the holidays.
🍁 I also love Concord in the fall, especially hiking around Walden Pond with the colorful foliage.
🌸 Visit in the spring to enjoy the freshly budding trees and flowers.
☀️ Summer is the best time for outdoor activities like kayaking on the Concord River, swimming in Walden Pond (though believe it or not, there are dedicated people who swim there in the winter), and fruit picking at Verrill Farm.
TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN CONCORD
🍁 Walk around Walden Pond
🏡 Tour Orchard House of Little Women
🇺🇸 Explore Minute Man National Historical Park
🛍 Browse the shops downtown
🍽 Dine at The Colonial Inn
🚌 TAKE IT EASY AND BOOK A GUIDED TOUR
Why not skip driving and finding parking and hop on a guided bus tour from Boston?
This combo tour of Concord and Lexington has great ratings and allows you to see several of the key sites mentioned in this post.
CHECK TOUR AVAILABILITY
15 Things to Do in Concord, MA
Without further ado, here are the best things to do during your visit to Concord!
1. Hike around Walden Pond
If you want to escape to nature, look no further than Walden Pond State Reservation. This dense forest is filled with a variety of hiking trails, with one of the most popular being around Walden Pond.
Walden Pond was made famous for its connection with the transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau, who lived in a small cabin near the pond from 1845 to 1847.
Thoreau wrote about his experiences and reflections at Walden Pond in his book Walden, which has become a classic of American literature.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Walden Pond itself is crystal clear and a favorite among swimmers. I’ve even seen people go for a dive in December. (They likely say it’s “refreshing.”)
The trail around Walden Pond is easy and takes about an hour to complete at a comfortable walking pace.
About halfway along the trail, you’ll come across the former site of Thoreau’s log cabin. You’ll only see some rocks and signage there now, but you can find a reconstructed version of his cabin near the visitor center.
Check out the Walden Pond State Reservation webpage for a list of special events the Department of Conservation and Recreation hosts throughout the year.
During one of my visits, there was a “Birds of Prey” event where they showcased a variety of local birds up close.
I had no idea there was an owl as small as the Saw-whet Owl (see below). It’s so cute, but don’t be fooled — this little guy will not hesitate to eat a mouse and other small animals.
Location: 915 Walden St., Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: The Walden Pond Visitor Center is open every day from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The hours for Walden Pond and its trails are seasonal but generally are from sunrise to sunset.
Cost: Free, other than parking
Parking: There is a large lot across from Walden Pond that charges $8 daily for MA residents and $30 for non-residents (purchased at onsite machines).
Restrooms: Public restrooms are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at the visitor center.
2. Browse shops on Main Street
One of my favorite things to do in Concord is shop along Main Street. This historic street is lined with an assortment of boutiques and cafes, making it an easy place to spend a few hours.
My favorite boutique in all of New England — Nesting — is here in Concord. Climb the staircase next to Main Streets Market & Cafe and you’ll feel like you entered a fairytale world.
The shop is intricately decorated with woodland-inspired trinkets, locally sourced gifts, collectors’ items, and more.
Main Streets Market & Cafe is also worth a stop, where you can order fresh pastries, sandwiches, and coffee. I loved their apple cinnamon muffin!
Concord Cheese Shop is another beloved local shop that offers a wide selection of cheeses, charcuterie, wines, and gourmet foods. This would be a great place to pick up items for a picnic at Walden Pond.
If you’re a bookworm, stop by The Concord Bookshop, an independent bookstore with a curated collection of books, many from local authors.
For clothes, accessories, and home goods, check out Comina, where they focus on sustainable and ethically made products.
For all the British paraphernalia you can imagine, stop by Best of British. They don’t call this area New England for nothing, I guess.
And finally, to satisfy your sweet tooth, visit Priscilla’s Candy Shop to sample their handmade chocolates and candies.
Parking: There is metered and two-hour parking along Main Street and its surrounding streets. If you visit on a Sunday, parking is free. You should easily be able to find an open space if there’s not a special event going on.
3. Tour Orchard House
Orchard House was the home of the Alcott family and served as the setting for Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel Little Women. The Alcotts had moved into Orchard House in 1858, which is where Louisa penned her literary masterpiece.
The house is in classic New England style, featuring beautiful Georgian and Federal-style architecture.
You can purchase tickets for a guided tour of the house to explore its well-preserved rooms and many artifacts. You’ll even get to see the original writing desk where Louisa wrote her novel.
Location: 399 Lexington Road, Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $15 for adults, $8 for kids ages 6-17, and free for ages 5 and under
Parking: There is free parking in front of Orchard House, as well as a large lot about a block away on Hawthorne Lane.
4. Visit Minute Man National Historical Park
Minute Man National Historical Park memorializes the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, which marked the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.
The park celebrates the bravery and determination of the “Minute Men” who stood their ground against British troops and forged the path toward independence.
One of the most significant sites at Minute Man National Historical Park is Old North Bridge, where the “shot heard round the world” was fired, beginning the Revolutionary War.
Another popular part of the park is the Battle Road Trail, a five-mile trail that connects historic sites from Meriam’s Corner in Concord to the eastern boundary of the park in Lexington.
While this road follows the remnants of the bloody battle in 1775, today, it’s a place where you can enjoy a quiet, scenic walk in nature — quite the opposite atmosphere.
Location: 210 North Great Road, Lincoln MA 01773
Open hours: Sunrise to sunset year-round
Parking: There are several free parking lots around the park. Check the National Park Service website for the full list.
5. Catch Patriots’ Day Festivities
Patriots’ Day is a special holiday in Massachusetts, celebrated on the third Monday in April each year. (In 2024, it takes place on April 15.)
The holiday commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the town of Concord celebrates the day in several ways, including:
- Dawn Salute: A musket and cannon fire salute is held at Old North Bridge around 6 a.m. in remembrance of the opening shots of the Battle of Concord.
- Reenactment of the Battle of Concord: This reenactment also takes place at Old North Bridge, where actors wear colonial attire and recreate pivotal moments of the battle for people to watch.
- Patriots’ Day Parade: This parade features a marching band and historic reenactors in colonial-era costumes who travel a 2.5-mile route that goes through the town center.
💡DID YOU KNOW?💡
👟The Boston Marathon always takes place on Patriots’ Day as well.
6. See The Old Manse
The Old Manse is the former home of famous writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as educator Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley.
Since this is the place where Emerson started writing his famous book Nature, the Old Manse is seen as the birthplace of the American Transcendentalist movement.
🌳 WHAT IS TRANSCENDENTALISM? 📜
According to Brittanica, Transcendentalism was a 19th-century movement of writers and philosophers in New England who generally believed in the unity of creation, the innate goodness of humanity, the supremacy of insight over logic, and the revelation of the deepest truths.
Transcendentalists were leaders in experimental ways of living, which is what inspired writers like Henry David Thoreau to live in a remote cabin near Walden Pond. They also championed better conditions for workers, free religion, educational innovation, and other humanitarian causes.
The Old Manse has remained largely unchanged since it was first built in 1770. Take a guided tour of the house to see the beautifully preserved interior with original furnishings, and family heirlooms.
It’s also worth walking through the Old Manse gardens and admiring the home’s picturesque location on the Concord River.
Location: 269 Monument Street, Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Open every day except Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: House tours are $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 6-14, and free for children 5 years and under. (Exploring the grounds is free!)
Parking: The best place for parking is the National Park Service facility for Minute Man National Historical Park about 0.25 miles away.
Note: There are no public restrooms at The Old Manse but there are restrooms at the National Park Service facility.
7. Dine at The Colonial Inn
Located in the heart of Concord, the Colonial Inn — originally known as Wright’s Tavern — played a significant role in both the Revolutionary War and the Transcendentalist movement.
This inn was a popular gathering place for patriots and British soldiers, as well as American authors and thinkers like Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne.
Today, The Colonial Inn still maintains period-style furnishings and antique decor that will have you feeling transported back to the 1700s.
Even if you aren’t a guest at the inn, you can dine at one of their restaurants, Merchants Row and Liberty, where they serve classic American cuisine. During warmer months, there’s an outdoor patio where you can take in the quaint town scene while you eat.
Location: 48 Monument Square, Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Hours vary; check the Colonial Inn website for open times.
Parking: There is free parking behind the inn, as well as two-hour street parking.
8. Wander through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Before Sleepy Hollow became a cemetery, it was the first large, designed landscape in Concord. It was a popular place for locals to go for walks, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. This place also inspired William Ellery Channing’s poem “Sleepy Hollow.”
Sleepy Hollow was later converted into a cemetery, but the goal was to retain a lot of the same thoughtful landscaping that existed on the property.
Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, as well as other prominent New England authors and community members, including Louisa May Alcott, are all buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The authors’ tombstones can all be found in an area of the cemetery known as Author’s Ridge.
Location: Bedford St, Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
9. Explore history at the Concord Museum
The Concord Museum is a treasure trove of American history and culture. Founded in 1886, the museum is housed in a beautiful Georgian-style building that is a historic site in and of itself.
Here you’ll find a vast collection of artifacts, documents, and exhibits that illustrate Concord’s pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, as well as its contributions to literature, philosophy, and social reform.
One of the most iconic items to check out at the Concord Museum is one of the two lanterns that Paul Revere had placed in the belfry of Old North Church in Boston to signal that the British were coming.
The lanterns were lit shortly before Revere launched his Midnight Ride from Boston to Concord to warn locals about the upcoming invasion.
Location: 53 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (open on some Monday holidays as well)
Cost: $15 for adults, $8 for ages 6-17, and free for ages 5 and under
Parking: There is a free parking lot by the museum.
10. Visit the Wayside House
The Wayside House is a beautiful home with more than 300 years of history. Several influential people lived in this home, including Samuel Whitney, the muster master for Concord’s Minute Men and a delegate to the Provincial Congress.
The Wayside was once home to authors Louisa May Alcott (before she moved to Orchard House), Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney (Harriet Lothrop).
While the Alcott family lived in the home, they helped at least one individual find freedom from slavery as part of the Underground Railroad. Because of this, The Wayside House is considered part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
Location: 455 Lexington Road Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Hours for house tours vary seasonally. Call 978-369-6993 to learn about available tours. The grounds are free to explore any day from sunrise to sunset.
Cost: $7 for adults, free for ages 16 and under
Parking: The Wayside is part of Minute Man National Historical Park. The closest parking lot to the house is at the following GPS coordinates: 42.458383, -71.333338.
11. See the Home of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Visit the place that beloved Transcendentalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson and his family called home for 47 years, starting in 1835.
This place was not only used for Emerson’s study and writing but also became a literary center for the Transcendentalist movement.
Make yourself necessary to somebody. Do not make life hard to any.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Emerson house still has most of the original furniture and decor from when the Emersons lived there, making it a historic treasure.
Location: 28 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, Massachusetts 01742
Open hours: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. The house is only open from mid-April to mid-October.
Cost: $12 for adults, $10 for ages 7-17, free for ages 6 and under
Parking: On-street parking is available.
Note there are no public restrooms at the house.
12. Browse the Collections at the Concord Free Public Library
The Concord Free Public Library is a cultural and educational cornerstone of the community, dating back to 1873. This beautiful, historic library has remained open to the public ever since, housing an extensive collection of books, periodicals, archives, and more.
This is a great place to learn more about the history of Concord, as the library has several special collections related to Concord’s past, including town records, oral history, essays, and other artifacts from Concord authors and residents.
Location: 129 Main Street Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Monday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday & Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Parking: There is a free parking lot as well as street parking in front of the library.
13. Go on an African-American History Bike Tour
Aside from its connection to the Revolutionary War and Transcendentalism, Concord also has a rich African-American history.
Take a 90-minute (five-mile) bike tour to learn about the first generation of freed African Americans and Abolitionism in Concord.
The tour starts at the Concord Visitor Center and goes to Robbins House (home of a previously enslaved Revolutionary War veteran), John Jack’s grave (another previously enslaved Concord resident), and other houses that were part of the Underground Railroad.
Call 978-318-3061 or email email@example.com to request a tour. Note that tours are weather-dependent, and you will need to bring your own bike, lock, and helmet.
Location: 58 Main St. Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Tour times vary. Call the Visitor Center for available times.
Cost: $20 for ages 13-64, $15 for seniors 65+ and ages 12 and under
Parking: Free parking is available at the Concord Visitor Center.
14. Kayak or canoe along the Concord River
To explore Concord from a different vantage point, rent a kayak or canoe from South Bridge Boat House.
You can paddle from South Bridge Boat House to Old North Bridge, which is about a 45-minute trip (1.5 miles) one way. Dock your kayak or canoe near the bridge and enjoy a picnic lunch at this historic place.
While at Old North Bridge, you could walk to the Minute Man National Historical Park visitors center to explore the gardens and access the public restrooms.
Location: South Bridge Boat House, 496 Main St, Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. from April 1-November 1
Cost: Contact the boathouse at 978-369-9438 for a quote.
Parking: Free parking is available on Main Street.
15. Sample fresh goods at Verrill Farm
Verrill Farm is a beloved, family-owned farm in Concord that’s been around since 1918. This is the perfect place to pick up fresh produce, baked goods, and other sustainable, locally sourced items during your visit.
Verrill Farm operates a seasonal farmstand, a greenhouse, and a bakery, and they also host special events throughout the year, including pumpkin festivals, farm-to-table dinners, and holiday celebrations.
The farm also hosts educational activities related to farming, gardening, and cooking. Check the Verrill Farm website for the latest event listings.
Whether you’re looking to shop for farm-fresh ingredients or want to simply immerse yourself in a New England farm experience, Verrill Farm is an excellent addition to your Concord itinerary.
Location: 11 Wheeler Rd. Concord, MA 01742
Open hours: Daily from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Parking: There is parking available at the farm.
Things to do in nearby Lexington
If you have time to spare, consider a visit to Concord’s next-door neighbor, Lexington. As the name suggests, both towns played a pivotal role in the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.
Here are some of the key things to see in Lexington:
- Battle Green (Lexington Common): This picturesque park is where the opening shots of the Revolutionary War were said to be fired.*
- Hancock-Clarke House: This National Historic Landmark, built in 1738, is the former home of Founding Father John Hancock.
- Buckman Tavern: This is where about 77 Minutemen gathered on April 19, 1775, while waiting for the British regulars to arrive.
- Minuteman Bikeway: A 10-mile-long bike path that runs through Lexington. It’s popular for cyclists going to or coming from Boston, as it provides access to the MBTA Red Line.
*You may have noticed references to “first shots” from both Old North Bridge in Concord and Battle Green in Lexington.
This seems to have been long debated, but the term “Shot heard round the world” specifically alludes to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem where he was referring to Old North Bridge.
Either way, both battles took place on the same day, and both Lexington and Concord played a role in starting the Revolutionary War.
Where to stay in Concord
Here are a few popular accommodations in Concord, each with its own special character:
Stay in this historic hotel that’s more than 300 years old! The guest rooms are decorated with colonial-style furnishings, and the inn is home to some of the best restaurants in Concord: Liberty and Merchants Row.
Enjoy a cozy bed and breakfast in a beautiful Victorian home. Guests particularly rave about the delicious breakfast with fresh bread and muffins.
This is another popular bed and breakfast with intricately decorated rooms and a scrumptious breakfast. As one guest put it, this place “oozes New England charm.”
Great restaurants in Concord
Concord is filled with lots of great restaurants, but here are some of my top picks:
- Main Streets Market & Cafe: Casual venue with American classics like burgers and sandwiches. There’s also a nice coffee and pastry bar inside.
- Adelita: Mexican food and margaritas made with all-natural ingredients.
- Karma: A classy Asian fusion restaurant that specializes in Chinese food and sushi.
- Helen’s Restaurant: Family-friendly restaurant with American comfort food.
- Bedford Farms Ice Cream: Not a restaurant per se, but I have a hard time leaving out a good ice cream shop!
Here are answers to other common questions about Concord, MA.
What is Concord, MA famous for?
Concord is probably most known as one of the towns involved in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, triggering the start of the American Revolutionary War. Old North Bridge, located within Minute Man National Historical Park, is the site where it’s said that the “shot heard round the world” was fired.
Beyond the Revolutionary War, Concord is also well-known for its literary history, with many beloved authors who called this town home, including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.
Is Concord worth visiting?
Yes, I think it’s very much worth a visit! Concord is one of my favorite small towns in Massachusetts, offering the perfect blend of historic architecture, local shops and cafes, and natural beauty.
How far is Concord from Boston?
Concord is about 25 miles from Boston. If there’s no traffic, you can drive there in about 30 minutes. As I write this, it’s mid-afternoon on a Sunday, and the ETA is close to an hour.
If you want to beat the traffic, I recommend traveling earlier in the morning on the weekend or outside of rush hour on weekdays.
How big is Concord?
Concord is about 26 square miles in area, with a population of over 18,000 people. By comparison, Boston is 48 square miles with a population of 676,000.
So while Concord isn’t “small” in terms of land area, it has a much lower population density and has a small-town feel when you’re there — especially if you’re traveling from Boston!
Who is buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord?
Many prominent Concord community members are buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, including the beloved authors Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott. The section of the cemetery where they are buried is known as Author’s Ridge.
Is Concord walkable?
Yes, very much so! Concord is a great place to go if you’re interested in walking a lot.
There is ample street parking in downtown Concord where you can leave your car and enjoy strolling along the historic streets. The town is very pedestrian-friendly, with wide sidewalks and crosswalks on most streets.
Some of the main attractions are outside of central Concord, including Walden Pond and Minute Man National Historical Park, but both places have parking lots and an expansive network of walking trails.
What are things to do in Concord at night?
While museums, home tours, and other attractions are typically only open during the day, here are some fun things to do when evening rolls around:
- Grab dinner and drinks in the cozy atmosphere of The Colonial Inn.
- Go on a Concord ghost and true crime tour.
- Visit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery after dark for an eerie graveyard experience. (Note that it closes at 7 p.m., so if you want to visit in the dark, plan to go sometime between October and April when the sun sets earlier.)
What are things to do in Concord during the winter?
Winter is a wonderful time to visit Concord. In fact, it might be my favorite time to go because of how beautifully the town is decorated around the holidays.
Some of the best things to do in Concord in the winter are:
- Walking around Walden Pond when there’s freshly fallen snow.
- Browsing through the festive boutique Nesting on Main Street.
- Touring Orchard House or Old Manse.
- Visiting the Concord Museum
Conclusion: Things to Do in Concord, MA
Concord is a beautiful town within easy driving distance of Boston and other parts of Massachusetts, and there is no shortage of fun things to do here.
Whether you’re a history buff interested in touring museums and historic sights, you enjoy browsing local shops and boutiques, or you love walking on peaceful nature trails, there’s something in Concord for you.
Enjoy your time in this storied Massachusetts town!
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