You’ll find plenty of things to do in Concord MA including visiting revolutionary war and literary sites, walking on paths once traversed by great thinkers, and discovering unique shops you won’t find anywhere else.
A visit to Concord MA feels a bit like stepping back in time – with a modern touch.
Well-preserved colonial homes dating back to the 17th century sit side by side on tree-lined streets. And Concord’s quaint downtown practically screams New England with its well-acquainted shops, cafes and restaurants, narrow village green, and ancient cemetery.
Not far from downtown, visitors will find a plethora of historical sites to visit from both the revolutionary war and 19th-century authors – many of whom were members of the Transcendental movement. This is the town where the first “shot heard around the world” was fired and Louisa May Alcott wrote her novel, Little Women.
Concord also provides a variety of outdoor recreational activities from hiking on wooded trails, swimming in the iconic Walden Pond, and boating along the Sudbury and Concord rivers.
Even if you’re not inclined to explore Concord’s rich history or outdoors, it’s the perfect town to spend a morning or afternoon wandering in and out of stores, lingering at one of its two cafes, browsing for books in its eighty-year-old bookshop, or eating at one of many restaurants.
Top 10 Things to Do In Concord MA
These are among the best things to do in Concord MA to give you a complete sense of this historic town.
Explore Minuteman National Historical Park
If you’re a history enthusiast, one of the best things to do in Concord MA is to visit the Minuteman National Historical Park.
This park highlights key battlegrounds and historic sites from April 19, 1775, the day British Regular soldiers traveled from Boston to Concord to look for hidden ammunition. At the Old North Bridge, the British soldiers were confronted by local militia, minutemen, setting off the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
Minuteman National Park consists of four parcels of land and covers three towns. If you’re short on time, the two areas of the park you’ll want to focus on are the Battle Road Trail and the North Bridge.
Battle Road commemorates the walk British soldiers took after their defeat at the Old North Bridge and is also the site where Paul Revere was captured after warning residents that British troops were on their way. It consists of over five miles of trails showcasing preserved landmarks, homes, and other sites of historical significance. (751 Lexington Road)
A short three to five-mile drive (depending upon where you park) will take you to the Old North Bridge, the site of “the shot heard around the world”, as local Concordian, Ralph Waldo Emerson described it in 1837. Visitors to this section of the park can walk across a replica of the bridge and see the Old Manse, the home of a number of well-known literary greats such as Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. (174 Liberty Street).
There’s plenty of parking throughout Minuteman National Historical Park and entrance to the park is free.
Entice your senses at the Concord Cheese Shop
A trip to Concord MA’s main downtown isn’t complete without a stop at The Concord Cheese Shop.
This quaint local purveyor has been a staple of Concord since 1867. Walking into the shop, your senses are instantly surrounded by the approximately 200 cheeses from around the world the shop carries at any one time. Employees are happy to give out samples of cheeses as you browse the selection.
Closer to the back of the store, you can pick up sandwiches, charcuterie, homemade salads, and sliced meats. Other specialty items include coffees, teas, jams, chocolates, and a curated wine and beer selection. There are a few small tables in the store, but most food is purchased to go. (29 Walden Street)
Explore Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House
One of the best things to do in Concord MA for literary enthusiasts is to visit Orchard House, the former home of Louisa May Alcott and her family.
Visiting here, you’ll not only see where the author lived from 1858-1877, but also get to explore the setting of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s most famous book.
Guided tours of the house last approximately 45 minutes and are the only way to tour the home. A highlight of the tour includes seeing the desk Louisa’s father, Bronson Alcott, built for her and from where she wrote her novels.
The Orchard House is open throughout the year, although the hours change depending on the season. The house is closed during major holidays. (399 Lexington Road)
Pick up a treat at Gräem Nuts and Chocolate
Just down the street from The Concord Cheese Shop is Gräem Nuts and Chocolate, an upscale European-inspired retailer specializing in – you guessed it – nuts and chocolate.
As you walk into the store you’ll smell the nuts roasted on the premises and see stacks of chocolate bark and displays of specialty dried fruit and chocolate candies. Walking around the shop is an experience in itself and the perfect place to pick up a snack or small gift. (49 Main Street)
Learn about the original minimalist at Walden Pond
A five-minute drive from Concord’s main downtown will take you to Walden Pond, the setting of Henry David Thoreau’s book, Walden. Thoreau wrote Walden in 1854 after living in a small single-room cabin for two years not far from the pond. The book contains eighteen essays describing Thoreau’s experiment in living simply off of the land.
A state park and National Historic Landmark, Walden Pond is a 64.5-acre body of water set on 335 acres of land. Visitors can walk along the park’s 1.9-mile path through the woods alongside the pond.
About halfway along the path is a replica of Thoreau’s single-room cabin demonstrating how basic Thoreau’s life was during this time. Visitors can also swim from the beach and use non-motorized boats on the pond.
Parking is available across from the pond for $8 for in-state residents and $30 for out-of-state visitors. The lot has been known to fill to capacity during warm weather months, so it’s best to arrive early. (915 Walden Street)
Learn about the Revolutionary War at the Concord Museum
History buffs and those interested in Concord’s literary history will want to make a stop at Concord Museum. The museum was founded in 1886, although collections date back to 1850.
A few notable items in the collections include the lantern hung in the Old North Church in Boston that signified “one if by land, two if by sea”, a recreation of essayist and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study, revolutionary war artifacts, and the largest collection of Henry David Thoreau’s possessions.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday (10 AM to 4 PM). Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for children (ages 6-17). (Check the website to confirm times and prices). Concord Museum is about an eight-minute walk from the center of town and parking is also available. (53 Cambridge Turnpike)
Pick up a book at the Concord Bookshop
It’s not surprising that a town with such rich literary history has an excellent bookstore. Located on Main Street, The Concord Bookshop has a wide variety of fiction, non-fiction, children’s, and other books.
From the moment you start browsing it’s obvious that the Bookshop’s selection is carefully curated. You’re bound to find a few titles you haven’t seen before – and be sure to check out the staff recommendations for new suggestions.
Some of Concord’s well-known contemporary authors, such as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and Gregory Maguire (author of Wicked), have been known to give talks at the Bookshop. (65 Main Street)
Ride a boat down the Concord River
Among the fun things to do in Concord MA is to see the town from the water by renting boats at the South Bridge Boathouse.
As you travel along the Sudbury and Concord rivers in your kayak or canoe, you’ll have the opportunity to paddle under the Old North Bridge and pass behind many of Concord’s beautiful historic homes.
The South Bridge Boathouse is located at 496 Main Street and customers must call to get a quote.
See famous authors’ graves at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Only a few steps away from Concord’s downtown, Sleepy Hollow contains the graves of many of Concord’s most notable authors and residents including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.
Visitors can find their graves in Author’s Ridge, located in the northeast section of the cemetery. Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne often took evening strolls in Sleepy Hollow and the cemetery is known to have inspired their writings.
William Ellery Channing also memorialized the cemetery in his poem “Sleepy Hollow”. (24 Court Lane and Bedford St.)
Discover history, art, (and books!) at the Concord Free Public Library
Stepping into a local library usually isn’t a typical activity when visiting a new town. But Concord’s main library branch, located at the intersection of Main Street and Sudbury Road, is worth a stop.
As you walk in the front door, you’ll find the original heart of the library much as it looked in 1873, when it was built. Surrounding this foyer, are marble busts of many of Concord’s famous residents including Louisa May Alcott, her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, and Ephraim Wales Bull, the originator of the Concord grape.
There’s also a marble statue of Ralph Waldo Emerson and in a side room, five original N.C. Wyeth paintings from The Men of Concord as portrayed in the Journal of Henry David Thoreau.
The library also carries an extensive collection of its famous authors’ works and a variety of books written about them. (129 Main Street)
Stroll down the Emerson-Thoreau Amble
Among the fun things to do in Concord MA is to experience the town’s history while also taking in its outdoor beauty along the Emerson-Thoreau Amble.
This trail replicates the path Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson traversed daily when they lived in Concord in the mid-19th century.
You can begin your walk at either Heywood Meadows, a seven-minute walk from downtown Concord and just next to Emerson House and across from the Concord Museum, or on Walden Street, across from the high school entrance and not far from Walden Pond.
The route is 1.7 miles and travels through both public and private wooded land. Beware that this path intersects with other hiking paths so look for markers to stay on course.
Other places to visit nearby:
About Kerry Flatley
Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.