20 Things to Do with Kids in Concord, Massachusetts

categories: USA Travel

Summer is here, and it’s time to hit the road with the family in search of a great time. If you live in the Northeast, hardly is there a better tourist destination than Concord, Massachusetts. From amazing seafood restaurants to a town dripping with history, the area offers a plethora of outing choices for travelers with little ones in tow.

Those who love the great outdoors will not be disappointed with a weekend excursion to Concord, either. The town hosts a plethora of natural areas for both aquatic and landlubber recreation. Start planning your trip with the 20 suggestions below and enjoy your journey to the beautiful Northeast coast.

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1. Walden Pond State Reservation

Have you always wanted to know where Henry David Thoreau penned his tome “Walden, or Life in the Woods?” Walden Pond State Reservation provides the answer beautifully. Travel back in time to the mid-1800s when swimmers wore much more clothing to sunbathe publicly than they do today.

The center allows swimming and boating, with the park opening at 7 a.m. Get there early or suffer having to wait to launch, and be sure to dock by 7:30 p.m. Electric vehicle parking is first-come, first-served, so if you drive a Tesla, plan on arriving at opening or as fully charged as possible.

Battle Road Trail

2. Battle Road Trail

If you want to walk in the footsteps of America’s forefathers literally, head to Battle Road Trail. It mirrors the march the Minutemen took in the battles of Lexington and Concord during the nation’s war for independence against the British.

Start at the Minute Man Visitor Center at the head of the trail, where you can watch a recreation of Paul Revere’s midnight ride. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The trail itself is 9.1 miles long, so bring the off-road stroller for tiny tots whose little legs tire quickly.

Great blue heron at Great Meadows

3. Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Did you know only roughly 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh? Luckily, approximately 85% of the 3,800 acres in this preserve are among this number.

Budding young hunters will enjoy the archery and rifle events throughout the season, although in accordance with state law, such activities are forbidden on Sundays. Those craving a goose to grace their holiday tables can bag a big one at this refuge.

4. Concord River

Dreaming of canoeing the day away while the kiddos splash in their own boat? Head to the Concord River, which you can feel free to make as lazy as you like. In the spring, though, the river offers Class III-IV rapids, so book a sitter for the littlest visitors. The entire family can enjoy a hike to Egg Rock when the waters subside enough to make the landmark accessible by foot.

Concord Free Public Library

5. Concord Free Public Library

Does your family hanker for new knowledge? Take a day trip to the Concord Free Public Library. The facility hosts a ton of low-cost and free events for the entire family to enjoy.

Treat everyone to a concert under the stars, or let the little ones learn through a singalong. You can also simply kick back, relax and enjoy listening to a good story read to you — the possibilities are endless.

6. Hapgood Wright Town Forest

Hiking is a fabulous exercise that tires out little legs, so if you’re dying for the tots to take a nap for one afternoon and let you dive into that novel you’ve been meaning to read, head to Hapgood Wright Town Forest in the morning. Visitors describe the forest as quiet and charming, and it inspired Henry David Thoreau.

Visit Brister’s Spring, named for a freed slave who once found sustenance from its flowing waters. Hike to the Brister-Freeman homesite, where he settled with his family and some claim inspired Thoreau, although they lived during slightly different eras. Stop at the reflection circle to meditate if you can get the tykes in tow to cooperate.

7. Middlesex Fife and Drum Corps

If you’ve ever wondered how it sounded during the American Revolution, you’ll want to check out a performance by the Middlesex Fife and Drum Corps. Originated in 1982 by Boston musicians who wished to recreate the sounds of the Revolutionary War, you’ll want to march off to battle during a riveting performance. The group plays at everything from small-town parades to weddings, so ample opportunities abound for you and the crew to catch a show.

The Old Manse

8. The Old Manse

Those who have wondered where greats like Ralph Waldo Emerson once called home can’t turn down a trip to the Old Manse, an elegant historic building on the banks of the Concord River. Not only did Emerson pen his famous “Nature” from this abode, but writer Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia also began their married life on the property.

The building is surrounded by trails allowing easy access to the river. The facility is open sunrise through sunset, and a bookstore is available on-site for bibliophiles.

9. Barefoot Books

Although the current studio is slated to close on July 19, Barefoot Books owner Nancy Traversy plans to move into a larger facility soon. Her priority at the moment is collaborating with her team of ambassadors who work from home to grow their businesses.

People waiting for the relaunch can connect with Barefoot Books on social media to keep apprised of upcoming events. They can also connect on the company’s website, BarefootBooks.com.

Orchard House

10. The Orchard House

Louisa May Alcott, the famous author of “Little Women,” penned the tome while residing at The Orchard House, a centuries-old mansion in Concord. Today, the home houses numerous educational seminars and conversation series for ages ranged from early childhood through adult. Simply strolling through 350-year-old halls gives you a sense of history seldom encountered in the Americas.

Sign the young ones up for a summer youth program or take them on one of the center’s monthly living history tours. The facility even offers an annual 5K and 10K run you can register and compete in to raise money for historic preservation.

11. Concord Museum

Celebrate all things Revolutionary War history at the Concord Museum. The newly launched Rasmussen Center holds over 100 artifacts, including the famous “one if by land, two if by sea” lantern of Paul Revere. Guided tours come free with the price of admission, so why not take advantage?

The center is open seven days per week between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The facility is currently upgrading several galleries that will reopen soon.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

12. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery sounds like it should hold the body of Ichabod Crane, but it does represent where some of America’s most brilliant writers and thinkers lie at rest. The cemetery originated as a nature garden under the purview of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who rests within the gates. Among his peers are Henry David Thoreau and his wife, as well as the Alcott family.

Take a pad of paper and some charcoal with you to make gravestone rubbings. Work gently as to not damage the precious tombstones, and you’ll have a piece of memorabilia worthy of framing and showcasing on your walls.

13. Verrill Farm

If you’re considering tying the knot, you can’t go wrong by having your nuptials at Verrill Farm, a family-owned and operated facility with breathtaking grounds.

Take the kiddos in the spring to pick strawberries fresh from their vines. They’ll love the treat, and you’ll know they’re getting organically grown goodness to snack upon. Toward the end of summer, you can take them to pick corn for your annual Labor Day barbecue.

14. Monument Square

It’s hard to miss Monument Square — after all, it’s located almost perfectly at the epicenter of town. From here, it’s only a 10-15 minute walk to many other area attractions, making this the ideal place to begin a day trip to the city.

The center is named for its obelisk memorializing the Civil War. Several historic churches, as well as the Old Hill burial ground, surround the monument. In the summer months, you can watch the cyclists taking a break from their exercise and enjoying the natural beauty.

Grist Mill at the Wayside Inn
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15. The Wayside Inn

If you want to stay at a truly historic hotel, you can’t go wrong with the original Wayside Inn, the oldest-operating inn in the United States. Even though it now shares a name with Longfellow, it began its days as a tavern when the How family ran it back in 1716.

The facility also offers lunch and dinner dining on-site, so stop in for the lobster rolls, which are out of this world. Enjoy a hot bowl of New England clam chowder, the creamy goodness of which will have you driving back up the shore every weekend.

16. Nashoba Winery

Who says you need to get on an airplane and fly out to Napa Valley to enjoy some great wine nearly fresh off the vine? If you’re looking for an honest farm-to-table repast with the family during your journey, you can’t go wrong with Nashoba Winery. Of course, those at the grown-up table can enjoy some heavenly libations as well.

If you’re looking to get hitched soon, the facility offers 52 gorgeous acres that make perfect backdrops for shoots with that gown — and, oh yeah, your husband. If you’re already married or a sworn bachelorette, hit up food truck Fridays during August for amazing nibbles and drinks. The best part is that admission is free.

17. Toy Shop of Concord

It can’t be all about wine when kids are in tow, so hit up the Toy Shop of Concord, the nation’s first specialty toy shop. The founders took to heart the value of play in creating their unique line. They keep the thoughtful decision-making of parents paramount in creating their wares, constantly asking themselves if a product is age-appropriate and inspiring to young imaginations.

The facility has several special events listed on its Facebook page. The store is conveniently located on Thoreau Street with Bedford Farms Ice Cream not far away.

18. Emerson Playground

Feeling hot, hot, hot? The Emerson Playground features a seasonal splash pad where you and the little ones can cool down without dropping so much as a single dime — until the ice cream truck comes around, that is. Tiny tykes can stretch their muscles on any one of the playground’s myriad equipment for climbing, sliding and swinging.

The facility features a running track, so fitness-minded mamas can squeeze in a workout while their children play. They can also sign their children up for summer sports leagues in flag football, soccer or softball. When you need to get the family out and moving and keep them from driving you nuts, but you lack cash, look to Emerson for easy entertainment.

Farmstead, Saltbox Farm--Concord

19. Saltbox Farm

Most children labor under the impression their food comes from the store. Break them of this assumption by taking them to Saltbox Farm, a 10-acre working family farm where peaches and apples come fresh from the tree they grew upon.

The facility will host up to 14 people in its true farm-to-table cooking class at the rustic farmhouse, making this a delicious way to spend a day in Concord. The kids will love getting involved and bonding with you over a shared love of food. Enjoy life the way it was before everything came shrink-wrapped in plastic.

20. Patriot Day

The City of Concord played a major role in America’s revolution, and there’s no better place to celebrate our nation’s independence. Head to Concord in mid-April to take part in the Patriot Day celebration to commemorate Paul Revere’s famous ride. The festivities culminate on April 15, so doing so is a great way to take your mind off doing taxes. Who wouldn’t prefer watching a float while eating cotton candy over filing a 1040?

Enjoying Beautiful Concord

If you’re a history buff or more the outdoorsy type, there is no shortage of things to keep you entertained in Concord. Take some tips from the list above and enjoy a day on the town

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

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