Thursday, February 29, 2024

8 Things To Do In Worcester: Complete Guide To Exploring A Coastal Massachusetts Gem

Must read

Nestled in the center of Massachusetts, the city of Worcester is brimming with New England charm.


Known as the “Heart of the Commonwealth,” Worcester is the second-largest city in New England. Home to a number of educational institutes, including Worcester State University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the city is known for being a bustling college town.

But it’s much, much more than that. With bountiful outdoor spaces, including flowering gardens and parks, countless cultural museums, a thriving art scene, and an array of exquisite restaurants, Worcester is certainly one of the East Coast’s hidden gems.

Located less than an hour away from Boston and Providence, the city offers visitors a chance to partake in a plethora of enjoyable adventures, from seeing a minor league baseball team in action to admiring striking art spanning the centuries.

Top Things To Do

Of all the awesome things to do in Massachusetts, a trip to Worcester should be at the top of any globetrotters list. From the best activities the city has to offer to its most delicious eateries, here is the complete guide to exploring one of the Bay State’s most prized retreats.

14 Visit The Worcester Art Museum

Photo by Sean Pavone via Shutterstock.com

The charming city of Worcester, Massachusetts.

When it comes to American cities with the best museums, Worcester reigns supreme. That’s because this museum is home to some of the oldest art, dating back to 3,000 BC.

Founded in 1896, the museum houses a collection of more than 38,000 pieces, from European sculptures to Asian artifacts.

  • Address:
    55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609

  • Hours
    : Galleries open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm

  • Cost:
    $18 for adults, $14 for seniors, and children under the age of 17 are free

13 Explore The Salisbury Mansion

An aerial view of Worcester's historic downtown area.
Photo by Wangkun Jia via Shutterstock.com

An aerial view of Worcester’s historic downtown area.

For a tour through a historic New England house, check out the Salisbury Mansion. Built in 1772, the home is rich in history, serving as a gentleman’s club and a boarding house in its earlier days.

Visitors can explore the Georgian-style home’s various rooms, from parlors and drawing rooms to its impressive library.

  • Address:
    40 Highland St, Worcester, MA 01609

  • Hours
    : Open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12 pm to 5 pm

  • Cost:
    $10 per person

Reservations are required for guided tours, which are held at 1 pm and 3 pm.

12 See The Exhibits At The EcoTarium

A road winding through a forest in Massachusetts in the fall.
Photo by Eilis Garvey on Unsplash

A road winding through a forest in Massachusetts in the fall.

For science and nature lovers, this museum has it all. Head inside to explore the planetarium, a natural history collection, and the Mineral Dome—a rare collection of crystals and stones that are displayed under colorful skylights.

Outside, visitors can explore the museum’s 45 acres of trails and interactive exhibits, including the Wild Cat Station, Otter Encounter, and Animal Corner. The outdoor section even has a train that visitors can hop aboard for a scenic ride around the property.

  • Address:
    222 Harrington Way, Worcester, MA 01604

  • Hours:
    Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm

  • Cost:
    $19 for adults, $14 for children ages two and up, and $15 for seniors

11 Take A Stroll Through Elm Park

Colorful fall foliage in Elm Park in Worcester.
Photo by Jay Yuan via Shutterstock.com

Colorful fall foliage in Elm Park in Worcester.

New England has some of the best day hikes. For a relaxing afternoon, take a stroll through one of Worcester’s oldest parks. Purchased back in 1854, it now encompasses 58 acres, which are divided by Park Avenue.

Traverse the west side’s wooded trails or explore the east’s ponds (which are open for ice skating in the winter) and historic bridges.

  • Address:
    138 Russell St, Worcester, MA 01602

  • Hours
    : Open daily from 5 am to 10 pm

  • Cost:
    Free

10 See A Baseball Game At Polar Park

Polar Park Minor League Baseball field.
Photo by Francisco Galarza on Unsplash

Polar Park Minor League Baseball field.

For the sports fanatics—tickets to see a game at Polar Park, which is home to a Minor League Baseball team, the Worcester Red Sox, are a must. And when it’s not baseball season, worry not. The park hosts a number of other events, including concerts and other sporting events.

Aerial view of O'Kane Hall in Worcester, MA.
Photo by Wangkun Jia via Shutterstock.com

Aerial view of O’Kane Hall in Worcester, MA.

Founded in 2012, this quaint boutique market features an array of local businesses, including antiques and handmade gifts.

From books and furniture to artwork and vintage clothes, the adorable shop is the perfect place to stop for gifts for loved ones back home.

Upstairs, shoppers will find the Crompton Collective’s sister shop, The Haberdash, which also sells small handmade gifts.

  • Address:
    138 Green St, Worcester, MA 01604

  • Hours
    : Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm; Fridays from 11 am to 6 pm; Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm; and Mondays from 11 am to 4 pm

8 Stop By Bancroft Tower In Salisbury Park

Bancroft Tower located in Salisbury Park in Worcester.
Image by Angel Villanueva from Pixabay 

Bancroft Tower located in Salisbury Park in Worcester.

Take a walk through Salisbury park and tourists will find this charming castle. Featuring a 56-foot lookout tower, this stunning display of architecture was built in 1900 to honor the legendary historian George Bancroft.

Nestled at the top of Prospect Hill, climb to the top to find breathtaking views in every direction.

  • Address:
    Bancroft Tower Rd, Worcester, MA 01602

  • Hours
    : Open daily from 7 am to 7 pm

  • Cost:
    Free

7 See A Show At The Hanover Theatre And Conservatory

Fall leaves on the ground in the Heart of the Commonwealth.
Photo by Cloris Ying on Unsplash

Fall leaves on the ground in the Heart of the Commonwealth.

Built in 1904, this theater is another iconic part of Worcester’s history. Ranked as one of the best theaters around the world by Pollstar, a music trade publication, it’s the perfect place to spend an evening.

Take a tour of the historic theater or enjoy watching a Broadway show. The conservatory also offers an array of acting, singing, and dancing classes for those interested in learning how to perform.

6 Best Time To Go

A cold, snowy day in Worcester.
Photo by Cloris Ying on Unsplash

A cold, snowy day in Worcester.

Much like the rest of the region, Worcester rains year-round and experiences much cooler temperatures in the late fall, winter, and early spring. For those not keen on the snow, these months are probably best avoided.

On the other hand, sun lovers can still enjoy themselves because the area is one of the best New England cities to bask in during the summer.

Keep in mind, however, that June, July, and August are the most popular among travelers, so hotel accommodations may be more expensive.

5 Best Ways To Get Around

Coes Park in Worcester, MA.
Photo by Francisco Galarza on Unsplash

Coes Park in Worcester, MA.

Overall, the city as a whole is somewhat walkable. However, there are several neighborhoods that are pedestrian-friendly, such as the downtown, Main Middle, and Canal District areas.

The city’s Regional Transit Authority, which is the second-largest in the state, offers bus services throughout Worcester and to 36 nearby communities.

But visitors looking to get around town on their own time should opt for either a rental or a carsharing service.

4 Where To Eat In Worcester

View of Worcester's buildings at night.
Photo by Francisco Galarza on Unsplash

View of Worcester’s buildings at night.

Worcester has no shortage of places to dine for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks.

Breakfast

Altea’s Eatery

  • Address:
    259 Park Ave, Worcester, MA 01609

  • Cuisine:
    American fare with a French twist

NU Kitchen

  • Address:
    335 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA 01602

  • Cuisine:
    Healthy cafe serving breakfast and lunch staples

Lunch

BirchTree Bread Company

  • Address:
    138 Green St #5, Worcester, MA 01604

  • Cuisine:
    American fare including soups, salads, and pizza (vegan and gluten-free options available)

Peppercorn’s Grille & Tavern

  • Address:
    455 Park Ave, Worcester, MA 01610

  • Cuisine:
    Quaint Italian eatery

Dinner

Deadhorse Hill

  • Address:
    81 Main St, Worcester, MA 01608

  • Cuisine:
    Salads, burgers, pasta, and plates

The Mercantile

  • Address:
    2 Mercantile St, Worcester, MA 01608

  • Cuisine:
    Upscale restaurant featuring a rooftop deck that serves standard American fare

Drinks

Wormtown Brewery

  • Address:
    72 Shrewsbury St, Worcester, MA 01604

  • Cuisine:
    Beers and seltzers

Armsby Abbey

  • Address:
    44 Main St, Worcester, MA 01608

  • Cuisine:
    Cocktails, wine, drafts, and bottles

Related: 10 Charming Islands You Must Visit In New England

3 Where To Stay

Fall foliage in Massachusetts.
Photo by Khalid Alotibi on Unsplash

Fall foliage in Massachusetts.

Worcester has plenty of places to stay, both in the town and in neighboring areas.

Budget-Friendly Accommodations

​​​​​​

La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Auburn Worcester

  • Address:
    446 Southbridge Street, Auburn, MA 01501

  • Amenities:
    Free parking, business center, and airport shuttle

Days Inn by Wyndham Shrewsbury Worcester

  • Address:
    889 Boston Turnpike, Rt-9, Shrewsbury, MA 01545

  • Amenities:
    Fitness center, free parking, and business center

Mid-Tier Hotels

Courtyard by Marriott Worcester

  • Address:
    72 Grove Street, Worcester, MA 01605

  • Amenities:
    Indoor pool, restaurant, coffee shop, fitness center, and bar/lounge

Hampton Inn & Suites – Worcester, MA

  • Address:
    65 Prescott Street, Worcester, MA 01605

  • Amenities:
    Indoor pool, free shuttle service, free airport shuttle, and fitness center

Upscale Hotels

Beechwood Hotel

  • Address:
    363 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605

  • Amenities:
    Fitness center, bar/lounge, coffee shop, free shuttle service, restaurant, room service, and free parking

AC Hotel by Marriott Worcester

  • Address:
    125 Front Street, Worcester, MA 01608

  • Amenities:
    Fitness center, bar/lounge, restaurant, and room service

Related: Discover The Charm Of New England: 10 Essential Stops On The New York City To Boston Route

2 Tips To Know When Visiting

Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester.
Photo by Cloris Ying on Unsplash

Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester.

Worcester is a quintessential New England stay. The city is brimming with art, culture, music, and eclectic shops for an eventful getaway spent on the East Coast.

Another perk is that the town is less than an hour away from other major Massachusetts cities, including Boston and Cambridge. This is good news for those eager to embark on a road trip to explore the state at large.

Tourists flock to the city during the summer—which is more than any other time of year. It may be more expensive to travel to Worcester during this time, compared to the spring, fall, and winter months.

Related: See Some Of New England’s Best Scenery On Its National Scenic Trail

1 How To Spend The Perfect Day In Worcester

A beautiful view of downtown Worcester's skyline.
Photo by Sean Pavone via Shutterstock.com

A beautiful view of downtown Worcester’s skyline.

With so many exciting things to do, visitors should start their day off with a nourishing breakfast at a local eatery to fuel the day. Stop by Miss Worcester Diner, an old-fashioned diner located on Southbridge Street, for classic comfort staples.

Next, explore the city with visits to the EcoTarium followed by the Worcester Art Museum and the Salisbury Mansion, which are located 0.1 miles away from each other.

Afterward, enjoy a spicy tomato bisque soup or a slice (or two!) of pizza at the BirchTree Bread Company. From there, head next door to shop at the Crompton Collective and its sister shop, The Haberdash. Continue exploring Canal District’s many unique shops and then head to Polar Park to catch a game.

Related: Road Trip New England: See Six States In Two Weeks

For dinner, Deadhorse Hill, which serves up fresh, local ingredients, is an absolute must. Finish the fun-filled day with a nightcap at the award-winning Wormtown Brewery, which is located less than a mile away.

FAQ

Q: Is Worcester worth visiting?

Yes! Worcester is one of the East Coast’s hidden gems and features an array of museums, parks, and exquisite restaurants for a relaxing trip to New England.

Q: What time of year is best for visiting Worcester?

Although it is the busiest time of year, the town is one of the best New England cities to bask in during the summer months.

Q: What is the nicest part of Worcester?

Although there are many awesome things to do in Massachusetts, a visit to the Canal District is a must. The nicest part of the city, it features a variety of eclectic shops and restaurants.

Latest article