Going on Faith

JUN-JUL 2016

The Magazine for faith-based travel planners.

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going on faith [ june | july 2016 ] 18 A plum location in the heart of New England has served Massachusetts' Merrimack Valley well. The area has been at the center of major events in American history, art, literature and commerce for hundreds of years, and that heritage pays off in numerous ways for visitors. Located about a half-hour's drive northwest of Boston, Merrimack Valley comprises some 21 cit- ies and towns. The most famous site in the area may be Lexington and Concord, where the Revolutionary War began, and National Park Service sites there give visitors the chance to walk on the historic Lexington Green, where fight- ing first broke out in 1775. In Lowell, the valley's largest city, visitors can learn about an impressive industrial history. "At one point, Lowell was the largest economic SNAPSHOT T R A V E L MERRIMACK VALLEY by B R I A N J E W E L L FROM MILLS center in the United States because of the textile trade," said Deborah Belanger, executive director of the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Lowell National Historical Park is one of the country's first urban national park sites. You learn about the Industrial Revolution. Most of the textile mills that were powered by the Merrimack River are still in existence, but they have been converted into museums, artists lofts and art galleries." Many groups that visit the National Historical Park will take trolley rides through the area to learn about the city's industrial history and see some of its historic architecture. During the spring and early fall, they also have the option of seeing the park by boat. "When the mills were being powered off the Merrimack River, they built 5.6 miles of canals to get some of the power downtown," Belanger said. "So the park does canal boat rides from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Groups of up to 25 can go on these boats, and you actually go through locks in some of the canals." Travelers can learn more about Lowell's history at various museums in the area, such as the Boot Cotton Mills Museum and the New England Quilt Museum. Famous American authors such as Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau have connections to the Merrimack Valley, and groups can visit Alcott's home or see Walden Pond, which inspired Thoreau's most famous work. In addition to these attractions, the Merrimack Valley offers numerous other attractions and experi- ences that groups will want to include during a tour. Photos courtesy Greater Merrimack Valley CVB Colonial Inn is a favorite historic hotel and restaurant in Massachusetts' Merrimack Valley. A canal in Lowell National Historical Park Downtown Lowell trolley ride TO MINUTEMEN

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