4-Day Massachusetts Lit Tour

Day 1 You'll See: Boston

This National Historic Landmark is the site of Henry David Thoreau's original cabin along Walden Pond in Concord, MA. Now known as the cairn, visitors traditionally leave a rock on the site to honor Thoreau.

  • Freedom Trail
  • Faneuil Hall and Marketplace
  • Boston Public Library
  • Literary Tour of Boston

Day 2 You’ll See: Concord

  • Walden Pond
  • Concord Museum
  • Louisa May Alcott Orchard
  • Old Manse
  • Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Day 3 You’ll See: Salem

  • House of Seven Gables
  • Cry Innocent
  • Salem Athenaeum
  • Salem Night Tour

Day 2 You’ll See: Amherst

  • Emily Dickinson Museum
  • Yiddish Book Store/Eric Carle Picture Book Museum

Who knew you could see so many literature related attractions in Massachusetts? We certainly did, which is why we’ve put together this fun 4-Day adventure through Massachusetts, from Boston to Amherst, for your group to explore all the most legendary, exciting, and popular literary stops strewn across the state. Any literature, English, or history buffs in your group are going to be eternally grateful for this intelligent and truly fun trek that allows them to put themselves in all their favorite classic novels, poems, and short stories.

 

Day
1

Freedom Trail -Boston is the birthplace of revolution, the very beginning of the American Revolution and patriotic movements that shaped the country as we know it. Here in this highly historically significant city your group will follow a 2.5 mile, red-lined route in downtown Boston that leads to 16 different historically significant sites. This impressive and unique collection of museums, meetinghouses, churches, burial grounds, ships, and historic markers was officially dedicated in 1951 and has since then grown into a historic landmark drawing in a ton of crowds, from dedicated locals to nationwide tourists. On this trek you will learn about the brave people who shaped the nation while also discovering the rich Revolutionary history. The typically 90-minute tours feature tales of high treason, mob agitations, revolutionary actions, and partisan fights. Visit the nearby Boston Common Visitor Center for more or different information on the location not covered in your walk!

Faneuil Hall and Marketplace-. Serving still today as exactly as it has since it opened in 1742, this meeting hall and marketplace attracts thousands of guests weekly for historic, tourist, shopping, and business reasons. Your group is going to have the opportunity to explore all the outdoor street performers, open air markets, and live music before heading inside for a tour or shopping trip. The first floor is a lively market with over 70 different retailers, the second floor is a meeting hall mainly used for Boston City debates, and the fourth floor holds the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company collection. There are plenty of unique, locally loved, and nationally recognized shops and cuisine, all of the restaurants, pubs, and Quincy Market Colonnades holding the freshest and most delicious ingredients. Before you go try a bite from Salty Dogs Oyster Bar, Cheers, or McCormick and Schmick’s before heading over to unique and fun Faneuil Hall shops such as A Hat for Every Head, Local Charm, and Magic Rice.

Boston Public Library - Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library was the first large, free municipal library in the United States, today claiming the second largest library in the nation after the Library of Congress. This library holds an astounding 23 million items so hold onto your hats bookworms and be sure to wear your walking shoes so you can see them all! Your group will find rare books, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, and original prints everywhere throughout this library, including Shakespeare folios and Mozart scores. Your group will get the chance to take any of the several daily tours, each lasting about an hour and detailing the magnificent architecture and art throughout these impressive collections. You may also just choose to self-tour and explore the building on your own, in which you will see outstanding architecture, murals, statues, and amazing collections of dvds, bestsellers, research materials, encyclopedias, and just about anything else you could possibly want to read here! Be sure to check out McKim and Bates Hall before you go, as well as the Cafe and Courtyard!

Literary Tour of Boston - Get ready for one of the most literary educational and genuinely fun tours in Boston, the Boston by Foot Literary Landmarks tour. Inspired by the mid-19th century nickname given to the city of Boston, "Athens of America," this tour aims to captivate this term and why Boston is an important center for literature. Here you will find the home of many of America’s greatest writers, serving as the launch pad for American Romanticism, Transcendentalism, Fireside Poetry, and American Realism. Your group will enjoy an official tour highlighting the homes and haunts of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, David Henry Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Henry James, Charles Dickens, and Henry Longfellow! The tour will discuss in depth why these authors and homes made Boston the epicenter of American letters, answering any questions you may have along the way!

Day
2

Walden Pond - Welcome to Walden Pond, the famed temporary home of Henry David Thoreau as well as the birthplace of modern conservation. This gorgeous protected pond site nestled in mostly undeveloped woods that total out to be an impressive 2,680 acres. Henry David Thoreau lived here from 1845 to 1847, a small amount of time that provided material for his popular book Walden as well as helped inspire awareness and respect for the natural environment. During the summer guests use this spot as a popular swimming destination, and in the spring and fall visitors love hiking the trails and visiting the replica of Thoreau’s one-room cabin, complete with period appropriate furnishings. Park interpreters will be happy to give your group a tour, taking you through the beach, trails, and gorgeous woodland scenery that surrounds the three main buildings your group can visit. Before you go be sure to stop by the Tsongas Gallery, Bookstore, or Gift Shop!

Concord Museum -  Created in 1886, the Concord Museum serves as a highly popular center of cultural enjoyment for the region and also as a gateway to the town of Concord for visitors from around the world. This is the "one place where all of Concord’s remarkable past is brought to life," all through an inspiring collection of historic, literary, and decorative arts treasures. Once here your group will be able to take a self-guided or docent-led tour and see all the highlights of the museum, from the Native American stone tools from 4,000 to 7,000 years ago, to the 1775 Paul Revere Lantern. Learn about the shot heard round the world as well as the lives of many writers of literary renaissance. See Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study as well as Henry David Thoreau’s bed, desk, and chair! After you’ve explored all you can in the museum head over to the Concord Museum Shop to browse the fine selection of nature and history related books and gifts.

Louisa May Alcott Orchard - The Louisa May Alcott Orchard House was purchased in 1857 by Mr. Alcott,  the building itself built between 1700-1710. This originally 12 acre plot of land served as the historic home of the Alcott family, as well as the home of Little Women, the famous Louisa May Alcott novel that was written here in 1868. The grounds of this home contained an orchard of 40 apple trees originally, which Mr. Alcott considered the "most perfect food." The exterior of the home is much as it was in Alcott’s day, with much care given to provide structural upkeep. The interior is furnished as it was originally, with 75 percent personal furnishings from the Alcott family. Walk through the dining room complete with family china and Mrs. Alcott’s soap sink and bread board, as well as the family room with portraits, personal paintings and watercolors, and handmade quilts. Before you go check out the Museum Store that holds a wide variety of collectibles, gifts, books, and educational materials.

Old Manse - This next stop is a 4-acre land parcel was once also the home of such great minds as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, all of which revolutionized American philosophy during their time spent here. The home itself was built in 1770 and has since served as the center of Concord’s political, literary, and social revolutions throughout the centuries. It is here, in this Georgian Clapboard style building that Alcott, Fuller, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Ripley families all discussed popular and influential ideas about society, culture, and intelligence during their time. This gorgeous structure sits on the banks of the Concord River, surrounded by rolling fields that are themselves edged by century-old stone walls and a gorgeous orchard. You can see a handful of original furnishings and etchings, such as the window love poems from Hawthorne and his wife. Check out the many footpaths, and trails, as well as the stone boathouse that provides access for canoeists on the river.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery - Welcome to the 175 year old, 31.6-acre cemetery that is known as the largest cemetery in Concord, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Located just one block east of Monument Square your group will find over 10,000 gravesites, many of which are of local, national, and international interest. History buffs, literature buffs, and lovers of nature alike will absolutely fall in love with this burial site to a number of famous Concordians as well as some of the United States’ greatest authors and thinkers. Check out the hill known as Author’s Ridge, a measure of Concord’s dominance of 19th century American literature personified. The Melvin Memorial, or Mourning Victory, tells the story of a Civil War hero, and the rest of the cemetery will show sites of the Alcotts, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Sanborn, and Channing. Your group is really going to love this site, what an original designer called an "early natural garden with Emerson’s aesthetic principles in mind."

Day
3

House of Seven Gables -  Start your day out at the House of Seven Gables, Salem’s premiere historic site! This house was the inspiration to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s legendary novel of the same name! Learn about the history and key influences this mysterious mansion has played in the role of that classic piece of literature, as well as many local legends and lore. Your group will have the pleasure of viewing the spectacular seaside gardens and truly lush landscape outside and surrounding this home before going inside to tour. Inside you will see many of the unique furnishings, as well as a secret staircase that is just one of the many things that make this mansion so mysterious. You will have the opportunity to explore the home Hawthorne was born in, as it was moved here and sits just feet away from the mansion. There is also a Kid’s Cove at the 1830s counting house, seaside colonial revival gardens, a museum store inside a 1655 Beckett House, and a photo worthy 18th century granite seawall!

Cry Innocent - The year is 1692, and local lady Bridget Bishop is accused of witchcraft, with you as the audience and Puritan jury which decides her fate! In this 45-minute ‘The People vs Bridget Bishop" show your group will hear historic testimonies, cross examine the witness, and ultimately decide the verdict! During the show the actors will respond to any audience participation in full character, revealing much about the puritan mindset and putting visitors back into that time period and state of mind. Gordon College’s professional acting ensemble in residence here will delight you with their fun and active performance, and if you get here 10 minutes early you can see Bridget Bishop being accused and arrested in the town square. Enjoy this show and its central location at Salem’s Old Town Hall in Derby Square, an architectural delight in itself!

Salem Athenaeum - The word Athena means "Goddess of Wisdom" in Greek, which is a fitting name for this private library full of words of wisdom, the Salem Athenaeum. This establishment is the city’s first permanent cultural institution, created in 1810 but with roots of a beginning in 1760 when the Social Library and Salem Private Library separately conducted business successfully before merging into what this library is today. This contemporary and historic library is actually one of the oldest private library organizations in the United States and aims to preserve and excite literary and cultural passions in the North Shore Community. Inside your group will see over 50,000 various historic and modern volumes of the greatest books and manuscripts!

Salem Night Tour - The Salem Night Tour has been "Salem’s number one haunt and history tour since 2006," providing guests thrills, chills, and historic information they can’t find anywhere else in Salem!  This thrilling, fun, and educational tour is an award-winning extraordinary experience based out of the Remember Salem Gift Shop on Essex Street. On this tour licensed tour guides will take you through all of Salem’s most famous legends, history, and even that infamous hysteria of 1692. Learn about Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harry Houdini, the TV show Bewitched, the board game Clue, and of course, witches and ghosts! This 1.5 hour tour will take you to the Peabody Essex Museum, Old Salem Jail, the Howard Street Cemetery, and the haunted Hawthorne Hotel. Enjoy this excellent mix of history, legend, fact, paranormal, and comedy as you trek across the chilly Salem night scape, each nightly tour departing at 8 pm!

Day
4

Emily Dickinson Museum  - The Emily Dickinson Museum was created in 2003 and is comprised of two historic houses in the center of Amherst: the Homestead and the Evergreens. These two buildings are associated with the famous and talented poet Emily Dickinson and members of her family during the 19th and 20th centuries, the Homestead being Emily’s abode and birthplace and the Evergreens next door being the home of her brother and his family. Together these buildings educated diverse audiences about Dickinson’s life, family, critical work, times, and enduring relevance. While here your group will have the choice of taking four different and highly distinct tours, taking part in any of the many lively programs (from poetry marathons to rock concerts), viewing any of the interpretive exhibits, studying their outreach programs, or admiring the meticulously restored exterior of this architectural wonder of a building!

Eric Carle Picture Book Museum - The Eric Carle Picture Book Museum is the perfect place to end your 4-day literary adventure, a fun and educational place to find your inner kid and find out all the secrets behind your favorite picture books. This museum works to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books and is the only full-scale museum of its kind in the entire United States. The Picture Book Museum collects, preserves, protects, and celebrates picture books and illustrations from around the world, providing a truly unique and educationally interesting museum experience. Explore the over 13,000 objects, three art galleries, art studio, theater, picture book library, and on-site graduate and teacher education programs. Be sure to check out the fully stocked Museum Gift Shop full of your favorite picture books, illustrations, toys, and gifts!