Concord, MA: History, Museums, Places to Stay
Discovery Museums, 978-264-4200. 177 Main St., Acton. A large green dinosaur in the front yard lets passersby know something special is happening inside these two hands-on museums. The Children’s Discovery Museum is aimed at toddlers and preschoolers; the Science Discovery Museum offers more challenging experiments for older kids.
Minuteman Bikeway, 781-275-1111. 111 South Rd., Bedford. The Redcoats could have high-tailed it back to Boston a lot faster if they’d had bikes. Roll through history on this 10.5-mile trail between the town of Bedford and the Cambridge MBTA station at Alewife. Free access at all hours, you’ll often meet today’s urban commuter along the way. At the Bedford end of the path, rent bikes from The Bikeway Source; 781-275-7799; 111 South Rd.
Great Brook Farm State Park, 978-369-6312. 984 Lowell Rd., Carlisle. The visitors’ center is an 1830s schoolhouse, the entrance sign advertises ice cream, and the main parking lot is down a tree-lined road by a big red barn. Picnic tables are scattered around a pond, and sheep, goats, chickens, and pigs are penned within toddling distance. In the ice-cream parlor (try the mocha chip), one wall is glass, revealing the inside of the barn itself with its two rows of cows. The 978-acre park also has 20 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback-riding trails.
Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, 978-443-4661. Monsen Rd., off Rte. 62, Concord. An observation tower and two miles of nature trails give dependable sightings of waterfowl. Open daily dawn-dusk. Free.
Walden Pond State Reservation, 978-369-3254. 915 Walden St. (Rte. 126), Concord. An oasis of clear water, more than 100-feet deep, that’s never too crowded. Regulars come to read and walk, fish and paddle, as well as swim. A one-room cabin replicates the one Henry David Thoreau built in 1845 and lived in for more than two years.
DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, 781-259-8355. 51 Sandy Pond Rd., Lincoln. Nestled alongside a picturesque pond, the sculpture park is a lovely setting with rolling lawns and wooded terrains that contain many rare and nonnative species. Bring the family and picnic on the grounds adorned with over 70 outdoor sculptures. DeCordova provides the only ongoing exhibition of large-scale, contemporary American outdoor sculpture in New England.
American Textile History Museum, 978-441-0400. 491 Dutton St., Lowell. Stop here and see how the weaving industry evolved. This renovated 1860s canal-side mill building houses nearly 100 exhibits dramatizing the evolution of the weaving industry from a 1700s felting mill to a 1950s weaving room and includes many costumes, samples of the five million fabric samples in the museum’s collection, and hundreds of spinning wheels.
Lowell National Historical Park, 978-970-5000. 246 Market St., Lowell. School groups from around New England come here — you should too. Begin at the Market Mills Visitor Center (open
daily 8:30-6; free) with its excellent free film, Lowell: The Industrial Revelation, dramatizing the story of the first completely planned mill city. The Boott Cotton Mills Museum’s feature exhibits include 88 thundering and vibrating looms (earplugs are available).
New England Quilt Museum, 978-452-4207. 18 Shattuck St., Lowell. Scheduled exhibitions of contemporary and historic quilts change every eight weeks.
Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center, 978-275-1826. Lowell National Historical Park, 40 French St., Lowell. Exhibits in an 1830s boardinghouse tell of the many waves of immigrants who came to work in Lowell’s textile mills. First came the Irish to build the canals to power the looms, then the French Canadians to work the looms. They were followed by Greeks, Poles, Lebanese, Armenians, and Turks, among others. After World War II came more Greeks and Portuguese. In the 1950s-70s Puerto Rican and Vietnamese workers arrived, followed more recently by Cambodians and Laotians.
The Revolving Museum, 978-937-2787. 22 Shattuck St., Lowell. This innovative art museum is designed to open the lines of communication between artists and the public.