THIS WESTERN SUBURB’S GOT IT ALL. Historic sites from the American Revolution? Check. A literary past studded with superstars like Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne? Check. Fiercely independent boutiques peddling everything from haute housewares to manly apparel? You bet. If you haven’t stopped by Concord center lately, here are six fabulous reasons to make the trip.
Tess & Carlos: The third Boston-area boutique from Tess Enright joins high-style spots Viola Lovely and French Lessons in outfitting Concord’s well-heeled clientele. Though this outpost is smaller than the Cambridge and Newton locations, it carries the same lines Majestic, Sibel Saral, Boy, Hache—and stocks a killer collection of scarves (recycled-cashmere wraps from Galadriel Mattei caught our eye). 81 Main St., 978-369-8377, tessandcarlos.com.
Albright Art Gallery + Supply: Owner Bonnie Albright’s contemporary-art gallery and her store used to share the same below-ground space. Last spring, though, she moved the supply shop into the hair salon next door, nearly doubling the size of the exhibition area. Don’t miss Lexington resident George Herman’s paintings, on display through March 11. 32 Main St., 978-369-7300, albrightartgallery.com.
Hatch: This cheerful, modern home and gift store features 7 A.M. Enfant’s water-repellent and fleece-lined mittens and booties, perfect for keeping your wee one’s hands and feet toasty. You’ll also find muslin swaddles, Egg Baby onesies, and Andrew Zuckerman’s Creature floor puzzles in the kids’ and infants’ section, while funky Joseph Joseph kitchen gadgets and Orla Kiely bags fill shelves elsewhere. 14 Walden St., 978-369-0252.
Blue Dry Goods: Need a break after browsing Peter Millar checked shirts and outdoorsy wool tops from Kühl? Flop down on the leather couch at the back of Jeff and Martha Blue’s handsome, guys-only shop; time it right and you could catch a beer or wine tasting, a trunk show, or even Steve Carell (the ex-Office star stopped in last summer). 16 Walden St., 978-369-1120, bluedrygoods.com.
The Concord Cheese Shop: Sure, the main draw here is the expansive fromage counter, which boasts 150 to 200 varieties at any given time. (Owner Peter Lovis’s “desert-island cheese”? A two- or three-year-old spring-milk Parmigiano-Reggiano.) But don’t leave without a stacked, priced-by-the-pound sandwich from the deli—it’s where the locals lunch. 29 Walden St., 978-369-5778, concordcheeseshop.com.
Jack + Toba: Plucky proprietor Suzy Watters opened this second-floor boutique in October (it’s named for her parents, who worked in New York’s fashion and design industry). She’s happy to share the stories behind the quirky housewares and gifts she sells: handpoured, branded-leather-scented Tatine candles; driftwood trees made by Maine’s Peter Koster; and vintage silverware stamped with cutesy phrases like “Butter me up.” 17 Walden St., 978-369-4060, jackandtoba.com.
> Parking: You’ll find Free parking lots off Keyes Road (behind the visitor center), and also off Walden Street (behind the post office).
> Restrooms: The public restrooms at the visitor center (58 Main Street) are open year round.
Photos by Christian Kozowik (stores); iStockphoto (brushes and cheese)