By the mid-19th century, this lovely town was the center of the Transcendentalist movement, a philosophical movement that extolled self-reliance and the beauty of nature. Homes of transcendentalism’s core practitioners (and literary lions) Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott are here and open to visitors, as is their final resting place, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. The nearby body of water made famous by Thoreau, Walden Pond, is a popular spot for swimming and hiking. Today Concord is a prosperous pastoral suburb of about 18,000.

The earliest real battle of the Revolutionary War took place at the North Bridge, now part of Minute Man National Historical Park. For an excellent overview of town history, start your visit at the Concord Museum.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat -- Pretend you're Henry David Thoreau and take to the Concord River. The South Bridge Boathouse, 496-502 Main St. (tel. 978/369-9438; www.canoeconcord.com), just over half a mile west of the town center, will rent you a canoe for about $17 an hour on weekends, less on weekdays. Single and double kayak rentals are available, too.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.