A Sarah Winston Tour

By Sherry enjoying a rainy late fall day in Northern Virginia



I’m happy to do another give away today! You can choose a copy of one of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries. I will also give away either a vintage Christmas or birthday postcard.



I was delighted when Robin Templeton asked me if I would take her on a tour of Sarah Winston sites before the writers conference, Crime Bake, started. And was equally delighted when we found out Eleanor (Ellie) Carwood Jones could also join us. These are all places Sarah visits or mentions in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

Photo by Ellie

It was the perfect fall afternoon. There were so many places I wanted to take them and I knew we couldn’t do it all. Plus by the time we drove from Dedham, Massachusetts to Concord we’d only have about two and a half hours of daylight. I had to pick wisely. (And yes I ducked down to fit in the picture — we were trying to capture some of the fall foliage!)

The Minute Man National Historic Park which spans Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord, MA is one of my favorite places. It follow the path that of the opening battle of the Revolutionary War. I decided we’d stop at the Paul Revere capture

Photo by Ellie
Photo by Ellie

site. I was fascinated with the true story of what happened the night Paul Revere road from Boston.

I’d always believe the poem by Longfellow that Revere was the only rider and that he made it to Concord to alert them that the Redcoats were coming. Boy was I wrong.

Our next stop was at The Wayside the home of three very famous authors: Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriet Lothrop (Margaret Sidney — she wrote The Five Little Peppers books). The stories that take place in Little Women happened at this house.

img_1547 I pointed them to the left and said, “There’s Orchard House where Lousia Mae Alcott wrote Little Women.”  I wish you all could have seen how excited Robin and Ellie were. It made me so happy to show them around!

I think Louisa’s room is on the upper right. I wish we would have time to taken the tour because it is fantastic.

img_1557Our next stop took us through the town of Concord to the North Bridge of “the shot heard round the world” fame. However, before we walked to the bridge we stopped at the Old Manse near the bridge. Ralph Waldo Emerson lived here. He let Nathanial Hawthorne and his wife Sophia honeymoon here (for three years). Thoreau was their gardener.

The North Bridge is where the militiamen first fired on the Redcoats. The fight had the militiamen chasing the Redcoats all the way back to Boston. The bridge is a reproduction of the original which was taken down in 1788. There is something so special about this spot — you can just feel the spirit of freedom here.

photo by Robin
photo by Robin


Across the bridge is a statue of a Minute Man to honor those who fought. The statue was sculpted by Daniel Chester French who had his first art lessons with May Alcott. His best known work is the Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.





Photo by Ellie
Photo by Ellie

Our next stop was at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord. (Sarah goes there at the end of Tagged For Death). This is not the Sleepy Hollow of headless horseman fame — that cemetery is in New York. But it is famous for its Author Ridge where Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott, and Emerson (along with their families) are buried.

It’s a beautiful space and it’s amazing to think that all these great authors, who knew each other in life, are buried so close together.



Here are some other images from the cemetery:

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By this time we’d worked up an appetite. I suggested a couple of places to eat but we ended up at one of my favorites The Colonial Inn. It’s supposed to be haunted. Ellie took these photos and the food shots:

And then there’s our food chicken pot pie, cod with crab stuffing, and Yankee pot roast:

After dinner it was on to Bedford which I’ve fictionalized for my books and re-named Ellington. We stopped at the town common and parked across the street from “Sarah’s” house. I’ve added a covered porch to the house and it sits a bit farther back from the street. This is the church that Sarah sees out her window.


This is a picture of Sarah’s house (I took these on another trip). The second picture is of DiNapoli’s Roast Beef and Pizza if you were standing in front of Sarah’s house. It’s the green building. Paint and Wine would be to the right.

We ended our tour at Bedford Farms Ice Cream. We managed to save a little room after our dinner. Sarah often goes to get a kiddie cup of ice cream. Believe it or not the picture below is the kiddie cup. Sarah’s favorite is in the middle — Almond Joy. Yum!


It was such a fun day for me to show Robin and Ellie some of my favorite places and Sarah’s too. Next time I hope I can take them on base, spend more time at the Minute Man National Historic Park, and tour Orchard House. And then of course have ice cream.

Readers: Do you have a favorite small town?

85 Thoughts

  1. This is so good! Thank you. I love Concord, but my favorite town is Marblehead which is (I think) about 30 miles from Concord. Marblehead used to be part of Salem where I was born.

    1. I didn’t realize Marblehead used to be part of Salem! Or did I and people left Salem and went to Marblehead? I need to go do some reading. And I think Marblehead is beautiful too.

      1. Sherry, thank you. If you ever would like some references, regarding Marblehead history, I have a few. There is a lot of local lore as well as historic documentation that might interest you. Local lore is often presented as fact, but historic documentation exists. Native People were there when English arrived and settled Marblehead straight off. Then there were those who left Salem for Marblehead. Marblehead was incorporated in its own right in 1649. For those who enjoy historic drama there’s a lot of it there.

      2. And thank you for the reminder of Bedford Farms Ice Cream! As a special summer treat when we lived in Billerica, my mother would take my friends and me over there for ice cream. They have been around since the late? 19th century. Great, great, great!

  2. What a great tour, Sherry! And today is Alcott’s birthday, to boot! On the tour I took of Concord, with our Sisters in Crime New England chapter one drizzly Saturday, our guide pointed out that seen from the rear, the Minuteman actually has quite an attractive posterior. ;^) Make sure you point that out to Robin and Ellie next time.

  3. The next time try Kimball Farm ice cream at their Carlisle stand…kiddie cups are as large or larger. And there is always the Concord Bookshop in Concord to visit.

  4. What fun, you did a lot! The Orchard House remains one of my favorites sites of all time, went there as a kid with my family. That same trip we hit several little towns on the coast– so much good seafood and taffy. Love the feel of small towns and enjoy them as settings.

  5. I grew up in a small town so I would have to claim it as my favorite small town, Oil City, PA. It was in the middle of the first Oil Boom back in the 1870s. Titusville is just a short ways away with Drake’s Well. The ghost town of Pithole is nearby. Lots of history all around and the scenery is awesome.

  6. Oh, my! I want to go on this tour with you 🙂 My favorite small town is Eagle River, WI!

  7. How fun! Thanks for sharing Sarah’s stomping grounds.
    My family loves the town of Oak Glen, CA. We go there for berry and apple picking every year. The fall Apple butter festival is our favorite.

  8. Thanks for the vicarious tour. I grew up in a small town so I guess it must be my favorite by default. I need to get out more.

  9. Definetly have a favorite small town. Historic Virginia City Nevada were Mark Twain lived and worked for a few year. I don’t live far away and love to visit. I

  10. My favorite small town is Canton NY. Its where I went to college and you would never know it was a college town. ( there are 4 colleges within a 1/2 drive of each other) It reminded me so much of my home town. Seeing this post made me laugh because I was just talking to my husband last night about how I wanted to get a better picture in my head of where Sarah lives. My exact words were “I want to know what the common looks like, I think its like our village green but i’m not sure.” Thank you for showing me that it is very similar.

    1. Canton sounds wonderful! And what a coincidence! I think the term “common” and “green” are interchangeable — some towns use one and some the other!

  11. Thanks for the tour! I love the history and beautiful pictures. My favorite small town happens to be the one I live in. I always tell people I was born here, and I plan to die here. No matter how run down it becomes. This is where all my memories are, and I wouldn’t change that for anything!

  12. What an excellent tour! Love the pictures too. You know this area is one of my favorites. 😊 It’s been fun retracing Sarah’s footsteps since I’m back in MA.

  13. I love St. Augustine FL. If you’ve never been- it’s a must see! It is the oldest settlement in the US. Walking down St. George St., the Fort, The Fountain of Youth is located there. And there is just so much in a cute town! (I’m lucky it’s less than an hour away- a vacation for the day.)

  14. Very hard to pick a favorite small town – I think each presents a unique environment and charm that is then enhanced by memory. Grew up a mile outside Emmitsburg, MD, but over the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line, so had a Fairfield, PA address. Both towns are charming – Emmitsburg with its statute of a WWI Doughboy at the western end of Main Street, and Fairfield with no stop lights. Both are just about 10 miles from the megatropolis of Gettysburg – which is “big” by true small town standards.

      1. Sherry, we should make it a field trip to both. Emmitsburg has a really fun antique mall that I think you would love. Fairfield does have the Fairfield Inn, which dates back before the battle, but is now open for events, rather than on a regular basis.

  15. That is a great tour of Sarah’s places, real and fictitious, Sherry! Looks like you had a lot of fun!! My favourite small town would be St. Jacobs, Ontario which is a Mennonite community that has an awesome year-round farmer’s market. I used to go there quite often when I was at university, and now occasionally when I am in that part of Ontario.

    1. That sounds like an awesome place! There are lots of Mennonite and Amish communities in Iowa (where I grew up) and Northeastern Missouri (where I went to college). I just opened my last bar of soap I bought from a Mennonite farmer’s market!

  16. I lived in Boston for 18 years and loved visiting all the places you mentioned. I do miss the area. For the past 10 years or so, I would say Jerome, AZ is my favorite place to visit. An old mining town draped over a small mountain, it became a virtual ghost town. It has been revived as an artist colony. The town is all historically protected so it is not “touristy”. The quality of the many media of the artwork is superb and the prices are very reasonable. I always break my budget when I visit.

  17. Wow, to see Louise Mae Alcott “Little Women” house is exciting. I would have been beyond excited (if there is such a thing). One day, i will take a trip.

  18. Fascinating. I always want to tour that part of the country when reading your books because of the history. I love Revolutionary War history, so I could probably spend a week up there looking around. Thanks for the pictures to satisfy me until I get the chance to actually visit.

  19. What a wonderful tour! I have to say my favorite small town is Boothbay Harbor, Maine, right? But I also love Stockbridge, Massachusetts and all the little towns in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. New England is so full of beautiful small towns.

  20. Wow! So many small towns mentioned that I would love to visit! I loved reading ‘The Five Little Peppers” as a child so that would be a must visit site for me!

  21. Having been in a military family, I have lived in many small towns. each has it charms.

  22. My favorite small town is near where I grew up. It is the Bavarian city, Frankenmuth, Michigan. Lovely shops and churches and one of the largest Christmas stores in the country called Bronner’s. I would love to have been on the tour you hosted and see where history happened! Thank you for the opportunity to win!

  23. Wow it sounds like a wonderful place thank you so much for sharing myself coming from the west coast then now in Iowa love reading things about the midwest or east coast so interesting. Thank you also for the print giveway would love to read and review any of your books as I haven’t read one yet and look forward to!

  24. What a terrific experience! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 My favorite small towns were mostly in New England, but I lived in a NJ town for a while that had two ice cream stores, a children’s store, a fascinating hardware store, a sweet shop, a bookstore, and two family-owned restaurants all within two blocks. They were book-ended by the two churches in town and around the corner from the movie theater and the pharmacy. The street has changed over time, but my memories are fond.

  25. Little women got me started reading! Wonderful tour. Seymour Wisconsin the home of the hamburger is my small town. A awesome library and museum. Around 3,500 people.

  26. What a wonderful, memorable day–especially for someone who’s never spent time in New England. I love the Sarah Winston stories (and their author) and seeing her stomping grounds, early American history sites, and the beauty of the settings was tremendously fun and exciting. And don’t get me started on the ice cream. When can we do it again? Thanks, Sherry and Robin!

  27. What a wonderful tour! Loved that area – we used to swim at Walden Pond. My favorite fact from your tour was that Thoreau was Hawthorne’s gardener. Such a small world then, it seems like all the authors were connected. You have brought it all to life in your books.

  28. My favorite small town is Amherst, MA. There’s a ton of stuff to do in spite of the fact that the shopping area is only a few blocks long because of Amherst College (great little art museum and natural history museum) and UMass Amherst which has all kinds of performances and lectures. I spend a lot of time in Concord, MA and have actually been to all of the places on your unofficial tour.

  29. The tour took me back to one of my favorite areas to visit. I was not aware they were buried in Sleepy Hollow cemetery so will add that to my next trip back east! !

  30. The Colonial Inn looks so cozy, and the food looks amazing!! Thank you for this post. It came at a great time because I just purchased your book, Tagged for Death, and it gives me a nice depiction of the main character’s surroundings. It’s my first by you. ( :
    I can’t say I have a favorite small town because I love so many, but I do enjoy several in Western NC, some of which may be currently burning from the wildfires there. ) :

  31. My favorite small town is Wemberly, Texas. It’s in the Texas Hill Country and is right on the richer. There are a lot of arts and crafts, and a great glass studio.

  32. If you ever decide to branch out and work for Lonely Planet, you’d have a great career as a travel/ tour writer. I have a whole vacation planned now!
    My favorite small town is near where I grew up- Cooperstown, NY home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and memorialized by a number of authors, Lauren Groff being the most recent.

  33. My favorite small town is Holland MI. It’s is a beautiful town that is on the Western shore of Lake Michigan and hosts a Tulip Festival in the first week of May each year. It has an awesome shopping district with unique shops and lots to do all year. The shopping area also has heated sidewalks in the winter and a fire pit that makes holiday shopping fun.

  34. I think I have found a new series to read. I have been reading Jane Langton’s series with Homer Kelly around the Concord area. I didn’t realize that “The Little Women” house still stood. How wonderful.

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