To get around the Merrimack River Valley, a car is essential; most of the places mentioned are near interstate highways. First get in touch with the Merrimack River Watershed Council, 181 Canal Street, P.O. Box 1377, Lawrence, MA 01842 (978-681-5777;
We rented our kayaks in Concord at Hannah’s Paddles, 16 Hannah Dustin Road (603-753-6695). Open from May to October, they charge $35 for a 10-mile stretch just a stone’s throw from the Hannah Dustin statue. We didn’t spend much time in Concord but we would have liked to. The Museum of New Hampshire History at 6 Eagle Square (603-228-6688) gets good reviews, as does the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium (603-271-7827). About 20 minutes north of Concord is Canterbury Shaker Village, 288 Shaker Road (603-783-9511 or 866-783-9511;
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The Lawrence Heritage State Park (www.state.ma.us/dem/parks/lwhp.htm) consists of various sites around the city. The visitors’ center, at a restored boardinghouse on Jackson Street (978-794-1655), will get you started in the right direction. Haverhill and Newburyport also have visitors’ centers, both on streets of the same name. The former is at the Buttonwoods Museum, 240 Water Street (978-374-4626) and the latter at the Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water Street (978-462-8681). You can ask there about access to Newburyport’s seventeenth-century houses and nearby beaches.