My wife and I recently had an out-of-town guest visiting for only three days and we wanted to make sure that we made the time count. Our friend had already visited Boston numerous times, but never had the opportunity to visit Concord, MA. Though it doesn’t have the flash of Boston, Concord is a beautiful area to visit that’s less than half an hour outside of the city and the history that has happened within the area is amazing. Think about this: Walden Pond, the inspiration for Thoreau’s book, Walden, is here; Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott, is here; Paul Revere was captured just outside of town during his midnight ride in 1775; and the North Bridge, the site of 1775’s “shot heard around the world,” is here for you to walk over. See what I mean? So much to do, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The best part is that you can spend the whole day exploring the area or just a few hours. For us, we only had the afternoon.
The first thing to do to start your trip is to get a good meal. For us, this means a visit to the Cheese Shop (www.concordcheeseshop.com). That’s right, the Cheese Shop. The name alone lets you know that some good food is going to meet you on the other side of the door, but it’s better than you could ever imagine.
The shop features a huge selection of cheeses, wines, imported and locally produced foods, and, in the back, a fantastic deli with some of the best sandwiches you will ever eat. My personal favorite is called Rosemary’s Baby, which features Tuscan ham with hints of rosemary, piave cheese, lettuce, and balsamic glaze on a freshly made baguette. My wife prefers to get the French Picnic, which includes French ham, brie, apples, and champagne mustard (she leaves this off because she doesn’t like mustard) on a freshly made baguette. Both of these sandwiches are fantastic, as is anything you will get here, but there is one thing to keep in mind. The sandwiches are priced by the pound, which means that you tell them how long of a sandwich you want, they make it and weigh it, and you pay. Not bad when you consider that my wife and I usually are able to get two sandwiches that are very filling totaling less than $15. A major deal in an area that can be a bit pricey for a meal in one of the restaurants. They also have great side salads that are worth the extra price. I would suggest the broccoli salad. Now that you have your sandwiches, it’s time to sit on one of the benches outside of the store (or in your car if you prefer air conditioning) and have lunch.
It’s always a good idea to take a walk after a delicious meal and you’re in the right place. A great choice is the Minute Man National Historical Park (www.nps.gov/mima), which features extensive walking trails and historic sites that tell the story of the events that occurred in the area before, during, and after the American Revolution.
We started at the North Bridge, the site of the “shot heard around the world.” You arrive at the visitor center, which looks more like a mansion, and walk down a path (there is packed gravel, which should make it accessible for those in wheelchairs). It winds down the hill until you arrive at the Minute Man Statue, erected as a tribute to those who heeded the call to fight, and stand at the North Bridge. One thing to keep in mind is that it is not the original bridge, but a reproduction. According to the National Park Service, the bridge you walk over today is the fifth to call the site home. This doesn’t in any way take away from the experience of visiting the site. Standing on that bridge is like standing in the footsteps of history. You can almost hear the British soldiers and colonists approaching for a fight that would begin a war.
After visiting the bridge and the surrounding area, get back into your car and drive out of Concord heading east on Lexington Road. Look for a parking lot on the left just past Old Bedford Road. From that point, you can begin your walk on the Battle Road Trail.
The Battle Road Trail is a walk back into history. It’s a chance to see the landscape that was the backdrop to our nation’s founding. The trail weaves through wetlands, woods, and farm fields (some still being worked today). The trail is very well maintained – something that the employees and volunteers of our National Park Service should be very proud of – and is not very difficult to walk, bike, or run. That being said, please keep in mind that this is a trail that could pose some difficulties for people with physical disabilities because of things like hills and how spread out the bathroom facilities are. Remember to also bring snacks and water with you, but DO NOT litter. This park is nature at its best and doesn’t need wrappers thrown along the path. Please know your own strength and use your best judgement before you take any hike, but have fun doing whatever you can.
We walked from the parking lot to Hartwell Tavern (halfway down the trail) and back. Walking at a nice pace, we spent about two and a half hours on the trail, taking photos of the scenery and exploring this beautiful park. This was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon and it makes me thankful to have such places preserved by the National Park Service, so that future generations can appreciate and celebrate not only the natural beauty found in these places, but also the history that they have been a part of.