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.

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.

ALCOTT HOUSES:

In Concord:

* 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