Historic homes of America’s literary finest! Cute antique shops! A quaint New England town! These are all statements I’ve heard about Concord, Massachusetts. And then, when I saw the Orchard House while watching Little Women (the one with Winona Ryder) this winter and learned that parts of the movie were actually filmed in Concord, I knew I had to get there. So for our annual Adventure Day, my mother in law Karen and I headed to Concord, Massachusetts.First on our loose agenda was The Alcott Family’s Orchard House, pictured above. This is indeed what the front of the house looked like in the movie I watched, but pretty much everything else was different. I don’t know why it didn’t hit me that we are visiting the house in 2017, not the 1800s, but I was expecting the orchards, gardens, and surrounding stately homes (Lorie’s house!? haha) pictured in the movie. Instead, we have this beautiful home, full of history, right on the side of what is now a very loud and busy road. And all of the land surrounding the house has been chopped up into house lots. Ah, “Progress”… But, I digress. It was still exciting to be able to tour the Alcott’s former home. Our tour guide was very thorough and knowledgable and shared the highlights of this interesting family’s accomplishments, struggles, and day to day minutiae. Sadly, no photography was allowed in the house, which is a shame, but I do understand. The tours would take twice as long if everyone was clamoring over one another to all get photos of everything. My favorite part of the house were the drawings and paintings done by May Alcott, the youngest daughter, many of them drawn directly on the walls. The Alcott family couldn’t afford to buy their daughter art paper so they let the walls be her canvases and drawing paper but only if she was “trying her very best”. I love that so much. Bravo Bronson and Marmee! Not only did I think it was stellar parenting, but what a talent their daughter truly had! These weren’t just doodles on the walls, she drew ancient figures, cherubs, portraits, and animals- all done so well! It’s worth doing the tour just to see May’s artwork.
It was also very touching to see the very writing desk Louisa May used to write her novels, and we learned that she wrote Little Women in just 6 weeks! Touring the house was worth doing, it was a definite highlight of our day trip to Concord. We felt a bit hungry after the tour (it was about an hour long), and I saw a place called Haute Coffee on my maps app, so we headed there. It was a good choice.
Karen and I both drink decaf (such a sadness for me) but this place had some very decent decaf. I can only imagine what their regular espresso must taste like, yum!! Randomly and kindly (hehe) we were the happy victims of a random act of kindness when the women in front of us in line paid for our coffees. Thank you, lady in front of us! Their lunch food was excellent too (homemade pickles served with our grilled sandwiches!), all around just a great spot. Highly recommended for a light lunch and awesome coffee.
Our hunger sated and our yummy decafs consumed, we took to the streets for a stroll to see the historic homes and businesses up close. We wandered into an open art gallery. We poked into a few shops. We went into a florist that was hugely expensive (a recurring theme in a lot of the shops I found out…) but still beautiful to look around anyways. My favorite shop by far was Nesting. A small shop at the top of a plant-lined staircase, it was packed literally to the brim with unique home decorations, natural curiosities, beauty and bath supplies, jewelry, stationary, kids toys, and antiques. There was so much to look at it was hard to know where to start. But we meandered on through, ooing and awing as we went.
We then poked around a couple of antiques shops, and even stumbled upon a little gem of a place, a small cheese and wine shop, which we strolled around happily. I had wanted to also include a trip to nearby Walden Pond, but when we drove the few miles down the road to it, we found it completely packed and not free. Just as well, because at that point in the day, I was very tired out (still feeling the slight effects of anesthesia from a procedure at the hospital the day before while simultaneously coming down with a cold). So we bid Concord goodbye and headed on home.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my day in Concord (fatigue set aside), I wouldn’t rush to get back there (unless I started to drink caffeinated coffee again that is, Haute Coffee I would go!). I did find it overly expensive, and quite loud with traffic and crowded with people (though it was just a random Wednesday). I suppose it is essentially a busy suburb of Boston, so I shouldn’t have expected a quaint New England village with people impersonating Emerson and Hawthorne running around the streets. Creepy as that might have been, I did expect a quieter type of place. But, as all of the brilliant writers and thinkers who inhabited Concord no doubt sensed even in their time (maybe especially in their time), progress marches on. Sometimes for good. But more often than not, progress just leads to less quiet time for writing and thinking (I think).