Tour past and present
Staying close to home can still mean delving into a different world. Exhibit A: In the Concord area, there’s a full day’s worth of shopping, noshing, nature hiking, and cultural exploration.
Miles from downtown Boston: 24 miles
Drive time: 35 minutes
9 a.m.: Fuel up with a chai and mango salsa omelet at Main Streets Market & Cafe (42 Main St., Concord, 866-413-3981), a former Revolutionary ammunition depot turned al fresco community gathering spot.
10 a.m.: Arrive early to grab a parking place (and a spot on the beach) at Walden Pond State Reservation (915 Walden St., Concord, 978-369-3254). Catch some rays while the kids splash around - then hike to Thoreau’s house site to add your stone to the cairn honoring Concord’s original environmentalist.
1 p.m.: Not all of the local history is ancient. Commune with the father of modern architecture at the historic Gropius House (68 Baker Bridge Road, Lincoln, 781-259-8098), which was the family home of Walter Gropius, originator of the Bauhaus. The house and furniture’s clean and simple forms put Ikea to shame.
3 p.m.: Browse “offline’’ at the Concord Bookshop (65 Main St., Concord, 978-369-2405), which not only boasts a full complement of past and present local authors, but also the smartest staff within 100 miles. Afterward, find kid stuff that is safe, educational, and fun, at the Toy Shop of Concord (4 Walden St., Concord, 978-369-2553); and surprisingly sophisticated women’s clothing at French Lessons (8 Walden, Concord, 978-369-6227).
5 p.m.: Stock up on prize-quality produce, cider, and kettle corn at Wilson Farm, (10 Pleasant St., Lexington, 781-862-3900). While you are at it, pay a visit to a barn full of goats, pigs, and chicks.
6 p.m.: Discover why comfort and elegance aren’t necessarily opposites: Dinner at Walden Grille (24 Walden St., Concord, 978-371-2233), a converted firehouse, brings in the regulars with dishes like seared scallops and snow peas, and pineapple hoisin-glazed pork tenderloin.
Sleepover option: Perhaps the best known is the award-winning Hawthorne Inn (462 Lexington Road, Concord, 978-369-5610. Rooms $149-$329. Rates change seasonally). It’s quaint and warm, and owners Marilyn Mudry and Gregory Burch will have you feeling like you’ve found your home away from home. Kids are welcome for a small additional fee, and they have one pet-friendly room to boot.