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.
Agritourism is alive and well in central Massachusetts. So is the nineteenth century. It all adds up to unique opportunities for family fun.
145 Redstone Hill, Sterling
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.
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
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.
222 Harrington Way
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,
Higgins Armory Museum
100 Barber Avenue
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.
Love to explore the outdoors? Whether you prefer to ski, walk, bike, or drive, recreational opportunities await.
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
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
Hike, climb, or simply picnic beside the seventy-foot granite walls left behind by the last Ice Age at this natural landmark.
485 Ware Road/Route 9, Belchertown
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.
499 Mountain Road, Princeton
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.