At the top of the hill, near the Boston State House is the Boston Athenaeum, one of the oldest private libraries in the country. Founded in 1807, by 1851 it became a cultural institution and one of the largest libraries in the country. Ralph Waldo Emerson would travel from Concord to Boston to read here, before attending his monthly Saturday Night Club at the nearby Omni Parker House with other famous Boston philosophers and writers, including William James and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Despite the age, the Athenaeum is a progressive institution and hosts regular exhibits. The portrait of George Washington that was used to make his image on the quarter hangs in the 5th floor, where members and scholars research. On a good day, you can even get up close and personal with the resident hawks that live nearby and often hang out on the balconies.
Stash your backpacks in the lockers when you enter, and then go to the membership desk to get access to the museum. Head to the children’s room for a few stories, and try out a art scavenger hunt.
And across the street is a restaurant that was the kitchen of the hotel where Louisa May Alcott stayed while finishing the second half of Little Women. Go ahead and nosh there, and have your kids start calling you Marmee.
Behind the Athenaeum is the Granary Burying Ground, final resting site of Revolutionary Greats.