A Historic and Literary Weekend in Boston
Boston is a picturesque city. It’s beautiful, no matter where you’re at.
During our weekend trip, the weather was perfect for day-long treks through the city. We spent most of Friday and the end of Saturday in the Boston Commons area. We easily found our way around the cobblestone roads and the red-bricked buildings, marking landmarks and working our way through the crowds. The Quincy Market bustled with tourists buying souvenirs, food vendors calling out orders, and crowds enjoyed the sunshine and street music performances.
Our first day in Boston, we hit the Freedom Trail, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
A Weekend in Boston: Day One
The Freedom Trail The Freedom Trail: Walk Through History tour was a perfect explanation of all the history associated with the significant Freedom Trail site. We had a fantastic Freedom Trail guide who successfully shouted over a hovering helicopter, live street music, and a few law enforcement sirens. We passed many old churches and many beautiful government buildings, like the Old South Meeting House pictured below. We even passed the Omni Hotel, where many famous men and women stayed while they were in the city throughout history.
Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
I’ll admit, I was very skeptical of going to the Boston Tea Party Museum. A couple of hundred years ago, a group of men dumped tea into the water in protest of taxes--what more can you say about it?
We began the tour in a meeting house where we were assigned characters (which turned out to be real men that claimed to be a part of the Boston Tea Party). I was assigned Thomas Porter, who coincidentally got a speaking part in the mock-meeting led by the Samuel Adams actor. I did pretty well if I do say so myself. From the meeting house, we “sneaked” our way to one of the two ships docked in the harbor. We walked around to the starboard side of the ship and threw “tea” overboard into the harbor. Check out the boomerang below!
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
From the harbor, we took an Uber south to visit JFK’s presidential library. We had about 45 minutes to take in the entire library, and only a small part of me regrets not having more time. I have been intrigued by the public life of John F. Kennedy for a couple of years now, and honestly, have been wanting to know more about him.
From growing up in the New England area to being the Harvard graduate, fighter pilot, and eventual U.S. president, JFK is a pretty fascinating man. We spent the most time in the last room, where the museum displayed the policies and aspects of American culture directly influenced by JFK. The room includes his hand in space exploration, environmental issues, and events like the Bay of Pigs and the Vietnam War.
We spent a few minutes enjoying the breezy shores behind the library before we got another Uber, completely exhausted and not entirely capable of forming a plan. When we rested and put ourselves back together, we wandered back out into the city to hunt down some good food and a Shakespeare play. We found the food but weren’t too lucky with the play and ended up enjoying a picnic at sunset in the park before heading back to the hotel.
A Weekend in Boston: Day Two
On our second day in Boston, we drove out to Concord, Massachusetts, to see the place that had inspired a few of the greatest American literary figures. I’d taken a college course titled “American Novel,” where I read many novels by the literary figures who found a home in Concord. For the entire day, I couldn’t wait to tell my teacher all my stories and show him the pictures I’d taken.
Louisa May Alcott’s House
Now, don’t hate me, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the Alcott family or Little Women. However, my traveling companions really wanted to see the nearby Orchard House, home of the Alcotts and where the great American novel was written. We followed along on a guided tour throughout the old home, finding many of the Alcott’s original belongings in decent shape. Throughout the house, you can find the early sketches of May Alcott (Amy in the novel). These sketches are located on the walls under the wallpaper and along the fireplace edges. May later studied art in Europe, and many of her professional pieces are hanging throughout the house as well.
In Louisa’s bedroom, you can find her writing desk where she wrote Little Women. On this desk, you can look over sample writing of Louisa’s handwriting of both her left and right hand. It’s said that she taught herself to become ambidextrous so that she could write for longer periods of time.
My favorite memory from the house is discovering the stacks of books in nearly every room--many classics of the time or copies of Little Women in any of the 50 languages it’s been translated into so far.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
The rest of our afternoon was completed unscripted. We hadn’t realized in our minimal research of Concord just how much there truly was to see! We left Orchard House and traveled to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where the Alcott family and other literary figures were buried. After driving through the maze of a cemetery, we finally found Author’s Ridge.
We found Henry David Thoreau, author of "Walden’s Pond," and Ralph Waldo Emerson, a great American poet and dear friend of the Alcott family. While at Orchard House, our guide told us that Emerson had even coached and encouraged Louisa in her writing. Also, on Author's Ridge, we found Nathaniel Hawthorne’s grave. I don’t much like The Scarlet Letter, (which he’s most well-known for), but I did love reading House of the Seven Gables in a college class. Finally, we found the Alcott family plot.
The coolest thing about these author's graves are the writing utensils and coins left behind by their visitors to show honor and respect for these great literary figures. (Although, I'm not quite sure why Thoreau's also include paper birds haha.)
The Old Manse
Another unscripted stop was The Old Manse, the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson and at one time, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Rumor has it that you can see where Hawthorne and his wife autographed a windowpane. However, the home wasn’t open for tours and visitors at the time, so I have no proof. But I happily got my snapshot of it anyways!
At this point in our literary adventure, I was ready to throw in the towel. We had done so much! However, this was one of my favorite literary stops. I didn’t know much about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow before college and am still pretty unfamiliar with his work. However, his biography is incredibly interesting! The poet was no stranger to tragedy as most writers seem to be.
Before Longfellow’s time, this house was used as a headquarters for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Longfellow was very respectful of this historical fact and placed pictures, statues, and other objects throughout the house to honor Washington and the significance of the house itself. He even used Washington’s war room as his office.
The historical and literary significance compacted in this one area amazed me every second of the trip. However, as wonderful as Boston was, the trip never would’ve been the same if I hadn’t gone with two of my best friends, Abi and Nicole. If I can give any advice about visiting Boston, it would be to find great travel friends that you can nerd out with because this city will give you plenty to talk about. Happy travels!
If you liked this post, you can find more of Kayla's work at www.somedayreading.com where she has a great selection of book reviews to help you pick out your next read! Or, check out her booklists on Pinterest at https://pin.it/qx6qjg25bnivai.
Be sure to subscribe to see more great posts every week and follow the blog on social media! As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you'll be back here soon!