Lexington and Concord are two small towns about 20 miles west of Boston that have a long association with the history of our nation.
Home to the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and home to some of America’s most famous writers, if you want to see first-hand some of the places where American history was made, a visit to Lexington and Concord is a great place to start.
Distance from Boston: 25 miles
Travel time: 40 minutes
RELIVE THE REVOLUTION
When Paul Revere and William Dawes set out to spread word that “the British are coming!”, they were heading to Lexington and Concord. On April 19, 1775 British redcoats marched through these two towns, and the Revolutionary War was underway.
Minute Man National Historical Park
Begin your visit in this national park (250 North Great Road, Lincoln) with a stop in the Visitor Center to see the audiovisual show “The Road to Revolution.” This is especially good for children who may not be fully aware of the historic nature of the area. The visitors’ center also has a 40-foot mural of the battle, which is a masterpiece in itself.
Within the park you can take a five-mile hike – guided or on your own – on Battle Road Trail. Follow in the footsteps of the British Soldiers and the American Militia as they began what would become the American Revolution. You will see the place where Paul Revere was captured by redcoats and the Hartwell Tavern – an authentic period home. Bike tours are also available through Concord Bike Tours (Concord Bike Tours 978-697-1897).
This site of another famous battle between the Minute Men and Redcoats offers a scenic landscape, a place for the kids to run off a little energy, as well as a lesson in history (174 Liberty St. Concord). Rangers are on hand to give presentations on ‘the shot heard round the world’.
A walk through this chapter of American history would not be complete without a visit to the Lexington Green (intersection of Route 4 &225). It is hard to believe that this beautiful scene is where the first blood of the Revolution was spilled. The Minuteman Statue now memorializes the eight Americans who lost their lives here. Across the green is the Visitors Center where you can find out about more highlights within walking distance.
HOME OF THE AMERICAN WRITER
Concord was not only home of the Revolution, but home to many great 19th century American writers.
This is the home where Louisa May Alcott lived, and where she wrote ‘Little Women’ (399 Lexington Road). Today you can visit the Alcott home, and take a guided tour into the lives of Louisa May and her family. The similarities between the real Alcott family and the March family of ‘Little Women’ are quite striking and you will be thinking of Jo, Amy, Beth, Meg and Marmie as you take your guided tour of the house.
Located off Route 2 in Concord, this reservation offers acre upon acre of undeveloped woods surrounding Walden Pond itself. It was along these shores that Henry David Thoreau penned ‘Walden’. Ralph Waldo Emerson also owned land along the shores. Today visitors can swim, canoe, bike or hike through this protected landscape.
This was the longtime home of author Nathaniel Hawthorne, the childhood home of Louisa May Alcott, and later home to author Margaret Sidney. Wayside House (455 Lexington Road) is open for tours May through October.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
No trip to this area is complete without a stop at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Bedford Street), where all the main players in this literary circle are buried. The Alcotts, Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau graves are all huddled on what is called Authors Ridge. Maps are available to help you find the graves.