A history teacher can’t vacation in Massachusetts without seeing where it began, in a sense, Lexington and Concord. In April 1775, British troops marched to these small villages with orders to confiscate stockpiled weapons and, if possible, to arrest the rabble-rousers Samuel Adams and John Hancock who were somewhere in the area. Alerted by several riders (not just Paul Revere, whose accomplishment was greatly exaggerated for poetic effect by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), the rebels lay in wait at both locations, where they refused orders to disperse. The result was “the shot heard ‘round the world”, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the beginning of the American Revolution.
Concord is an easy ride from Boston via commuter train, but we found it wasn’t exactly the best idea. The train station is a really good walk from downtown Concord, and the battlefield itself is even farther out. We didn’t really know that. Fortunately, at the battle site, we discovered The Liberty Ride tour bus. The tour takes you on a 90 minute circuit of all the sites in Lexington and Concord, complete with a very knowledgeable tour guide. You can approach the tour in several ways. You can do the entire circuit, which is a good idea because it gives you an overview, and you can decide what sites you want to go back to explore on your own time. Or you can get on and off at any stop on the route. It’s the best way to learn about the battles.
Like every other place we visited in Massachusetts, there is so much to see in Lexington and Concord, beyond the Revolutionary War sites. Besides the Old Manse, you can see and tour houses lived in by Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and John Hancock. You can even see the house where the Concord Grape was born. And set aside some time to spend in the towns themselves. There are great shops and restaurants to sample.