The Very Best of Concord, MA

WHERE TO GO + WHAT TO DO IN THIS RICHLY HISTORICAL New England TOWN

If you haven’t been to or heard of Concord, MA you need to change that ASAP and don’t worry I’m here to help as it’s one of my favorite places to visit in New England!

Concord is still a hidden gem in some ways. Every time I bring it up to my Massachusetts friends or otherwise people often look puzzled and ask, Concord, NH? Before I have to tell them about Concord, MA.

WHY I LOVE CONCORD SO MUCH

Concord is the cozy safe haven of a New England town you haven’t heard of yet.

It was home to the greatest Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and as you may or may not know already it bore some of the most quintessential quotes about the woods.

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

In fact the main spot of Thoreau’s exodus to the woods, Walden Pond, is available for you to walk and explore at all times of year. However, I venture to say the most optimal time to visit is Autumn for the foliage.

You can check out the site of his cabin while there, as well as the faux cabin they’ve erected to show what it might’ve been like.

In the Summer you can even swim Walden Pond.

THE RESTAURANTS

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Haute Coffee

If you’re looking for some fresh pastries to nosh on or a delicious piece of avocado toast and latte look no further than Haute Coffee. I have to say it’s often an absolute pain in the you know what to get a table there, but not impossible! And as far as parking, the lot that is shared with Haute Coffee and a few other businesses is small and incredibly difficult to find parking in, as well. Even with that I say don’t give up! I didn’t anyway. If all else fails there’s an even bigger public parking lot on Keyes Lane that you could park in and then walk over. The walk through town is lovely anyway with plenty of quaint storefronts to window shop!

Main Streets Market and Cafe

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For lunch, dinner, live music, and drinks look no further than Main Streets Market and Cafe. The atmosphere inside is homey and warm, with framed pieces of local art and history on the walls. Some nights they even have live music, which adds a special energy to the cafe. I’ve tried many of the items on their menu over the years and it’s all mouthwateringly delicious, but some of my favorites are the Parmesan Truffle Fries, Guinness Onion Rings, Turkey & Brie Extreme Grilled Cheese (yep, EXTREME GRILLED CHEESE), and the Farmhouse Chutney Chicken Salad. The Raspberry Lime Rickey is a treat, as well!

MUST SEES

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Walden Pond

As mentioned above Walden Pond is a must-go while you are there! It’s a lovely walk through the woods that’s sure to yield beautiful photos.

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Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Okay, first of all, how could you not want to go to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery? The name alone is enough to bring me there, but that’s just me! I happen to have a bit of a thing for cemeteries. But! This one in particular is the resting place of several famous authors including Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and many of their family members. Visitors often leave little trinkets on the gravestones.

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The Concord Free Public Library

I don’t know that everyone finds libraries exciting, but I do and this one in particular has some interesting artifacts that you should at least pop your head in and look at! My favorite part of the library is “The Transcendental Alcove” that houses books by Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne. Sometimes they even have interesting galleries of local art and photography. While there I was able to view a gallery by a local photographer named Richard Higgins.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson House

I know what you’re thinking, ugh, a historical tour…I’m with you, but this one is an exception! This tour of Emerson’s house is actually super interesting! Not only do you get an insight on Emerson’s family and his life, but seeing his home with pretty much all of the original items inside of it intact really gives you an idea of how people lived during Emerson’s time. The tour guides are also very cool and unique! Not boring whatsoever. You can tell they’re knowledgable and passionate about the information they’re reciting and you learn many interesting facts about Emerson during the tour. You are also free to walk around the grounds. From his house is a trail that you can explore and there’s a magnificent grape vine in the garden that you’ll definitely want to check out. I highly recommend adding this to your list if it’s the only “museum-like” thing you do while here!

SHOPPING

The Concord Bookshop

Every time I’m in Concord I stop in to The Concord Bookshop to buy something new to read. The atmosphere of this bookstore is quiet and beautiful and I find it has a very good selection. This year I got myself a book of Keats as he is one of my favorite English Poets. Yes, I know an American poet would be more appropriate for Concord, but I think Keats and Thoreau could’ve been friends if they’d known each other.

Thoreauly Antiques

Wherever Thoreauly gets their antiques they have acquired quite the collection of lovely wares. I’ve found use books there, as well as unique items such as old glass slides and photographs and so much more. It’s like a little magical realm full of wonder. Definitely check out Thoreauly Antiques if you love pieces from the past.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Although I consider Concord a hidden gem it is often quite busy and full of interesting people, so be prepared for reasonable waits at the restaurants and cafes I mentioned (they’re much busier on the weekends!). Also, if you’re visiting in Autumn make sure to bring your camera as the foliage in Concord is gorgeous and bright - plus, the town is ripe for some unique New England street photography! I hope you enjoy your trip to Concord, MA! Feel free to reach out to me if you want anymore pointers on where to stay and what to do!

Have you ever been to Concord? What’s one of your favorite places or where are you dying to go now? Let me know in a comment!