What to See and Do in Central Massachusetts

Have you always passed through central Massachusetts on your way to somewhere else? Here are some reasons to spend a day or two in this part of the state.

Family Amusements

Agritourism is alive and well in central Massachusetts. So is the nineteenth century. It all adds up to unique opportunities for family fun.

Davis' Farmland

145 Redstone Hill, Sterling

978-422-MOOO

www.davisfarmland.com

This playful place with interactive farm-themed activities for children ages one to eight also has a serious mission: to protect rare barnyard breeds. The seventh-generation, family-run farm is North America's largest private sanctuary for endangered livestock. Meet baby animals in the spring, cool off at the Adventure Play & Spray (a zero-depth water sprayground) in the summer, and pick your own apples in the fall.

TRAVEL TIP

Each autumn, Davis' Farmland is home to Davis' Mega Maze, the oldest and largest corn maze in New England. With the help of renowned English maze designer Adrian Fisher, an eight-acre cornfield is transformed into a three-dimensional puzzle; there's a new design and theme every year. Your family will enjoy the challenge of navigating the elaborate maze, which features bridges, dead ends, and plenty of surprises.

Old Sturbridge Village

1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge

800-SEE-1830

www.osv.org

This living history site, which re-creates New England life in the 1830s, attracts thousands of tourists each year. Visitors can get in on the act by talking with costumed “Village People,” watching artisans at work, tasting foods prepared hearthside, learning nineteenth-century crafts, and attending special annual events such as an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration in July and Christmas by Candlelight evenings in December.

Museums and Historic Sites

Worcester is home to several museums, including two with terrific kid-appeal.

EcoTarium

222 Harrington Way

508-929-2700

www.ecotarium.org

This science museum and environmental center, open Tuesday through Saturday, has indoor and outdoor wildlife habitats, a planetarium, nature trails, a railroad, and interactive exhibits.

RAINY DAY FUN

Tatnuck Bookseller & Café (18 Lyman Street, Westborough, 508-366-4959, www.tatnuck.com) is one of America's largest independent book stores with more than five miles of books. Enjoy a light lunch at the café; then spend a rainy afternoon browsing the children's department.

Higgins Armory Museum

100 Barber Avenue

508-853-6015

www.higgins.org

Catch a glimpse of a past that predates New England's at the only museum in the Americas dedicated to arms and armor. The amazing collections of John Woodman Higgins are grandly displayed in a Great Hall that resembles those found in European castles. Children will enjoy making their own brass rubbings and modeling medieval garb. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.

Outdoor Recreation

Love to explore the outdoors? Whether you prefer to ski, walk, bike, or drive, recreational opportunities await.

FAST FACT

Johnny Appleseed was real. John Chapman was born in Leominster, Massachusetts. What possessed him to travel an area of about 100,000 square miles sowing the seeds of apple trees? No one is completely certain, but legend has it that Chapman had a dream in which he saw a vision of a land filled with blossoming apple trees where no one went hungry.

Johnny Appleseed Trail

Along Route 2

978-534-2302

www.appleseed.org

If a scenic country drive past farm stands, orchards, vineyards, and other points of interest appeals to you, explore the Johnny Appleseed Trail, the nickname given to the stretch of Route 2 that runs from I-495 west until it connects with the Mohawk Trail around Westminster. This stretch of Route 2 traverses more than twenty-five classic New England towns and offers dozens of reasons to park and stretch your legs. Stop first at the Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center, located on the westbound side of Route 2 in Lancaster, for information on trail attractions.

Purgatory Chasm State Reservation

Purgatory Road, Sutton

508-234-3733

www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/purg.htm

Hike, climb, or simply picnic beside the seventy-foot granite walls left behind by the last Ice Age at this natural landmark.

Quabbin Reservoir

485 Ware Road/Route 9, Belchertown

413-323-7221

www.friendsofquabbin.org

Built in the 1930s, Quabbin Reservoir — a popular free spot for hiking, fishing, and bicycling — is one of the largest human-made reservoirs in America. Beneath its tranquil surface lie the “lost towns” of Dana, North Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, all flooded and destroyed so that metropolitan Boston could have an additional water supply. Though the towns no longer exist, their history and fate are preserved by the Swift River Valley Historical Society at the Whitaker-Clary House (Elm Street, New Salem, 978-544-6882), which is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons from June through mid-October.

Wachusett Mountain

499 Mountain Road, Princeton

978-464-2300

www.wachusett.com

This ski area located on the tallest peak in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River offers twenty-two trails and eight lifts. The Polar Kids program provides ski and snowboard instruction for ages four to twelve. After the ski season, the mountain hosts a variety of festivals and events each summer and fall.

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