K.C. Summers will be online to discuss this article Monday at 2 p.m. during the Travel section's regular weekly chat on www.washingtonpost.com.
Details: Boston's Alcott Trail
GETTING THERE: AirTran and American Airlines fly nonstop to Boston from BWI and are currently offering a sale fare of $96.70 round trip (purchase by Nov. 10). Independence Air flies nonstop from Dulles for $127 round trip. On Amtrak, the trip takes about eight hours; the round-trip fare from Washington starts at $178. On Greyhound, it's about 10 hours and $78 round trip.
Louisa May Alcott's final home was in Boston's elegant Beacon Hill area.
(K.C. Summers -- The Washington Post)
GETTING AROUND: Concord, Mass., is about 16 miles northwest of Boston. Take I-95 to Route 2A west; at the sign for Concord, bear right onto Lexington Road. Or take the train: The Fitchburg line runs from Boston to Concord, takes about an hour and costs $12.50 round trip.
WHERE TO STAY: Boston has plenty of high-rise and chain hotels, but if you prefer smaller inns, here are two good, affordable choices. In Beacon Hill, the John Jeffries House (14 David G. Mugar Way, 617-367-1866, www.johnjeffrieshouse.com) is a 46-room hotel across from a T subway stop and handy to Charles Street's cafes, boutiques, bars and restaurants. Most rooms have kitchenettes, a continental breakfast is included, and there's a lovely garden. Doubles start at $125. In Back Bay, the 32-room Newbury Guest House (261 Newbury St., 800-437-7668, www.newburyguesthouse.com) is a sweet, tastefully furnished 19th-century inn on the best shopping street in town. Doubles start at $125 and include breakfast.
WHERE TO EAT: Beacon Hill's Charles Street has lots of choices, including celebrity chef Todd English's upscale pizza place, Figs (42 Charles St.). The thin-crusted pies come with such creative toppings as calamari, prosciutto and, natch, figs. Dinner for two runs about $30, not including wine; be prepared to wait a long time for a table. In Back Bay, the Atlantic Fish Co. (761 Boylston St.) is a lively spot with a friendly, knowledgeable waitstaff and an impressive selection of fresh seafood. Dinner for two runs about $75, with wine.
The Wayside, 455 Lexington Rd., 978-369-6993, www.nps.gov/mima/wayside. Admission is $4. However, you may have to settle for staring at it from outside, because today is the last day it's open for tours; the house, part of Minute Man National Historical Park, has lost its funding and will be closed to the public effective Nov. 1. There is one exception, a special program Dec. 11-12 with costumed docents performing as members of the Hawthorne and Alcott families.
Orchard House, 399 Lexington Rd., 978-369-4118, www.louisamayalcott.org. Nirvana for Alcott fans. Admission is $8.
Thoreau-Alcott House, 255 Main St. Home of Abba, Anna and Louisa May Alcott after they left Orchard House. It's a private residence now so can't be visited, but you can view it from outside.
In Boston, the following sites are all private residences and can only be viewed from outside:
10 Louisburg Square. The final home of Louisa May Alcott and her father, Bronson, who lived here from 1885 to 1888.
20 Pinckney St. The Alcott family rented rooms here when the girls were children.
43 and 81 Pinckney St. Louisa May Alcott rented rooms here as an adult, shuttling between Concord and Boston as a successful author.
INFORMATION: "Literary Trail of Greater Boston," by Susan Wilson for the Boston History Collaborative (Houghton Mifflin, $10), provides directions, commentary and tidbits. For general info on Boston: Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, 888-SEE-BOSTON, www.bostonusa.com.
-- K.C. Summers