Boston was home to many prominent figures in American history, politics, and social life. Ralph Waldo Emerson—a 19th-century writer and philosopher—left his mark on the city through his life and work. As one of the leaders of the Transcendentalist movement in the 1800s, his writing went on to influence important figures around the world, including Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. His legacy is on display throughout Boston and the surrounding area.
Life and work
Born in Boston in 1803, Emerson spent his life living in the area. He spent many years in towns like Newton, Chelmsford, and Concord, all within an hour of Boston. At just 14, Emerson enrolled at Harvard University and would eventually attend Harvard’s Divinity School, which focuses on religious and spiritual studies. He would go on to become a successful public speaker and essayist, focusing mainly on speaking and writing about Transcendentalism, a 19th-century spiritual movement. Emerson was also a prominent voice in the abolitionist movement of the day, which pushed for an end to slavery in the United States. He wrote a poem, “Boston Hymn,” that expresses his admiration for the city of his birth, especially during the unstable era of the Civil War and the abolitionist movement.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Emerson was one of the key figures of the Transcendentalist school of thought. The main foundations of this philosophy are a belief in the personal freedom and equality of all individuals. In 1841, Emerson wrote “Self-Reliance,” an essay that built on this idea and became one of the most influential pieces of the era. Along with his friend Henry David Thoreau (author of Walden) and several other writers, thinkers, and politicians, Emerson argued against society’s institutions, claiming they corrupted the goodness of the individual.
The Unitarian Church, a branch of American Christianity, grew alongside this movement. Emerson himself was a prominent member of the church. His influence helped shape modern Unitarianism, a religion that advocates for growth through spiritual thought, soul-searching, and a shared respect among its members. Unitarianism is still a popular religion throughout New England. Emerson attended a few Boston-area Unitarian churches in his life, including the Arlington Street Church in South Boston.
This library on Beacon Hill, opposite the Massachusetts State House, is among the oldest independent libraries in the United States. It contains a large collection of sculptures and busts of historical figures, as well as a catalogue of books, research materials, historic documents, and more. Given his love for writing and public speaking, one can imagine that Emerson liked to spend time here. The balconies at the back of the library offer great views of the city.
Boston Anthenaeum, 10 ½ Beacon St, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 227 0270
Ralph Waldo Emerson House
Emerson’s house in Concord, where he spent the last years of his life, is now a museum dedicated to remembering his legacy. This destination is a great place to visit for anyone who would like to learn more about his life and work. The town of Concord has its own significant spot in American history as the location of one of the first battles of the American Revolution. Emerson’s house is also down the street from the Louisa May Alcott House, where the author of Little Women lived. There are also many museums nearby that detail the town’s history.
Ralph Waldo Emerson House, 28 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord, MA, USA, +1 978 369 2236
Concord Soldier’s Monument
Located in Monument Square, this memorial obelisk stands in memory of the town’s residents who served in the military during the United States’ historical conflicts. From the Civil War through Vietnam, their names are located around the monument’s base. During the memorial’s inauguration, Emerson gave a poetry reading as a dedication. His lines remain on a plaque at the base of the monument. Monument Square is less than a mile from Emerson’s house.
Though Emerson is heavily associated with Boston, he spent the majority of his life in Concord. That is where you can find the most locations that are specific to his life. Walden Pond is in southern Concord. This spot is more commonly known for its importance to the work of Henry David Thoreau, Emerson’s friend and colleague. Emerson acted as a mentor and teacher to a young Thoreau who was trying to get his writing career off the ground. Thoreau secluded himself at Walden Pond, resulting in Walden, his most famous work. Emerson owned part of the forest that Thoreau stayed in and would visit his friend regularly during this time.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.