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A festival in front of City Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts
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Cultural history, pastoral charm and live entertainment make for a unique vacation for the whole family in central Massachusetts.

Right in the heart of Massachusetts, lively cities and bucolic communities alike offer a chance to stretch your legs and experience some of the most unique attractions New England has to offer. Central Massachusetts is an area full of exciting contrasts, where you can explore lively city centers one moment and take a peaceful hayride through bucolic farmlands the next. Heart-pounding live entertainment, from theater shows to minor league sports, and a diverse slate of culinary offerings round out the experience.

City Culture and Family-Friendly Outings Around Worcester

New England’s second largest city is full of surprises. Enjoy a day at Polar Park watching the Worcester Red Sox minor league baseball team play, then head just down the road to explore three floors of indoor interactive exhibits and hike outdoor nature trails at the EcoTarium, an immersive science and nature museum. More natural delights await in the flower gardens of the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill and in hundreds of animal habitats at Southwick’s Zoo.

Worcester’s diverse community is on display at lively annual events like the Albanian Festival, Juneteenth Festival and stART on the Street art and performance festival. Art lovers can rejoice in centuries of masterworks at Worcester Art Museum, while live shows at Hanover Theatre and DCU Center in downtown Worcester are sure to please any patron. When you want a break from city life, take a short drive south to Old Sturbridge Village to visit a recreation of an early 19th century New England town and interact with costumed historians to learn more about what life was like in rural Massachusetts.

The Worcester Red Sox Minor League Baseball team plays at Polar Park

The Worcester Red Sox Minor League Baseball team plays at Polar Park
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Worcester Red Sox

Embrace Nature in North Central Massachusetts

Right between Boston and Worcester you’ll find a pastoral paradise of outdoor charms. Start at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center in Lancaster to learn about the folk hero John Chapman who helped establish agriculture in the USA by introducing apple trees to pioneering farmers. Then, see his legacy in action at local farms where you can pick apples, flowers and other fruits. Many, like Bolton Orchards in Bolton and Carlson Orchards in Harvard, celebrate autumn’s arrival with hayrides and cider donuts. Adults can sample this local bounty year-round with beer and house-made ciders at the onsite Brew Barn at Red Apple Farm in Phillipson.

Winter brings a whole new outdoor experience: Skiing. Wachusett Mountain Ski Area offers 27 trails for all skill levels along with opportunities to book group or private lessons for all ages. After you hit the slopes, chow down at lounges, pubs and cafes at the base lodge and on the mountain. Head to Groton to turn in for the night at Groton Inn, a boutique hotel that puts you close to live shows at neighboring Groton Hill Music Center, or venture to Fitchburg for an action-packed stay at family favorite Great Wolf Lodge.

Skiing the thrilling slopes of Wachusett Mountain Ski Area near Westminster

Skiing the thrilling slopes of Wachusett Mountain Ski Area near Westminster
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Wachusett Mountain Ski Area

MetroWest Boston’s Artsy Culture

As the name suggests, this area lies just outside the hustle and bustle of the big city and offers a vibrant and easy-going home base for a Massachusetts getaway. There’s no shortage of dining options available with several craft breweries and cideries, local bakeries and chocolatiers in the area. A full roster of quality farm to table eateries, from The Farmer’s Daughter in Sudbury to Buttercup in Natick, use locally sourced ingredients to craft creative rotating menus. For a unique experience, dine in the historic rooms of the Wayside Inn while enjoying traditional New England cuisines.

Make sure to schedule time to explore the area’s welcoming small towns, four of which are home to state-designated cultural centers that include artsy experiences and boutique shopping in colorful, walkable neighborhoods. In the town of Franklin’s Cultural District, you can wander a public sculpture garden and enjoy live shows at The Black Box theater, while Marlborough’s Downtown Village Cultural District is home to open-air historical displays at the Museum in the Streets. Head to nearby Framingham’s Centre Common Cultural District to admire local artists’ work on the Many Cultures, One Heart sculpture scavenger hunt. Round out your trip with a trip to Natick Center Cultural District to experience a wealth of festivals, artists’ open studios and historic sites, and don’t miss a chance to see live theater performed in a preserved 1800s fire station.

A grist mill at the quaint Wayside Inn in Sudbury

A grist mill at the quaint Wayside Inn in Sudbury
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Getting There

Fly into Worcester Regional Airport (ORH) or Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and rent a car to explore Central Massachusetts with ease. If you’re arriving from Boston or New York City, Amtrak offers train service to Worcester aboard the Lake Shore Limited.