It was an accident of geography that put Concord  at the center of the American Revolution. The Sons of Liberty needed a place to store their guns and ammunition close enough to Boston  to allow easy communication, but far enough away that the Minutemen would have time to rally in the event of attack. On the morning of April 19, 1775, the alarm was sounded that the British were marching to capture the weapons cache at Concord, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the twin towns of Concord  and Lexington  are among the wealthy suburbs west of Boston, where doctors, lawyers, and businessmen commute daily into the city, then return to bed down in old colonial homes. History is still very much in evidence in both towns, which have taken no small amount of pride in labeling themselves the birthplace of America. History isn’t the only reason to visit, however. The cosmopolitan and educated populace of the area has built an infrastructure of fine restaurants, bookshops, and boutiques in and among the historic buildings.
A dozen miles north of Concord and Lexington, meanwhile, the old mill town of Lowell  has a decidedly different feel, as poor as the other towns are rich, and as funky as they are patrician. Lowell, along with a dozen other cities in a ring of rivers around Boston , was instrumental in the Industrial Revolution that established New England as the nation’s first manufacturing powerhouse. Now variously reincarnated as a home for artists and refugees from around the world, the city has done an excellent job of preserving the industrial past in a series of museums and exhibits.
To drive to Lexington from Boston, take Route 2 west to exit 55, then Route 4 north to Lexington center (15 mi., 30 min.). For Concord, take Route 2 west from Boston past I-95. When the road takes a sharp left, continue on straight down the Cambridge Turnpike to Concord Center (25 mi., 40 min.). From Lexington to Concord, take Route 2A west, parallel to the Battle Road (7 mi., 5 min.) To drive to Lowell from Boston, take I-93 north to I-95 south to US Route 3 north (30 mi., 40 min.).
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, 617/222-3200, www.mbta.com ) runs commuter trains to stations in Concord  (90 Thoreau St.) and Lowell  (Thorndike St.). Buses by Yankee Line (800/942-8890, www.yankeeline.us ) run once daily from Boston  to Concord, stopping at Concord Center.
It is difficult to get around Concord without the benefit of your own car, unless you plan on walking a lot around town. The major historical sites are all a mile’s walk from the train station. In Lexington , a shuttle bus called Lexpress (781/861-1210, http://ci.lexington.ma.us ) runs routes throughout the town. Lowell is also bus-rider friendly, with trips all over town run by the Lowell Regional Transportation Authority (978/452-6161, www.lrta.com ).