From learning about the area’s history and visiting the many museums and galleries to catching a game at Fitton Field, these are the best things to do in Worcester, MA.
Worcester, MA doesn’t quite have the quaint town feel of many of the other Massachusetts towns we cover (such as Falmouth and Gloucester) – in fact, it’s Central Massachusetts’ second-largest city – but that doesn’t mean you should skip over it!
Home to several colleges including Holy Cross and WPI, Worcester provides many opportunities to dive into Massachusetts history and art and activities that appeal to the many college students who call Worcester home.
Here are our recommendations for the top fun things to do in Worcester, MA.
The Best Things To Do in Worcester, MA
Visit Worcester’s Excellent Art Museums and Galleries
Worcester is an art lover’s paradise! Whether you’re a connoisseur or just interested in the local culture, you’ll find that it’s easy to spend your days wandering the numerous museums and galleries in this town, featuring local artists and renowned international artists alike.
The Worcester Art Museum is a great place to start. Here you will find a collection of almost 38,000 items that include American, European, and Japanese art. There is also one of the largest collections of armor and arms in the nation. Tickets are $18 for adults, but they’re free for anyone under 18.
For a more hands-on approach to the arts, you can visit Worcester Center for Crafts. Here there are numerous classes and workshops that teach everything from ceramics to photography to glassblowing. It’s a pretty fun place! If you prefer to be an art admirer instead of an artist, you can also browse the exhibits at the Krikorian Gallery.
Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross is also home to a must-see spot for art enthusiasts. The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery hosts rotating exhibits and a rich permanent collection that specializes in ancient Southeast Asian textiles, as well as sculptures, paintings, and photographs from American and European artists.
See a Show at the Hanover Theatre for Performing Arts
Those in search of culture and active entertainment won’t want to miss the various productions put on by the Hanover Theatre and Conservatory. Here you can take in the magic of the theater with touring Broadway shows like Annie, Hadestown, and more.
You can also attend a THT Rep show to enjoy some local productions made by and for the people of Worcester. But if you’d rather rock out and enjoy some music, don’t worry. Hanover Theatre often hosts big-name bands and cover artists, so there’s always a good show happening.
Last but not least, Hanover Theatre is also a conservatory. They offer numerous classes in the arts, including acting, dancing, and music. But this means there are often performance opportunities to show your support for these talented rising stars!
Enjoy a Concert at Mechanics Hall or Tuckerman Hall
If you love live music, be sure to check out Mechanics Hall or Tuckerman Hall. At these stunning venues, you will find that the atmosphere is just as rich and captivating as the performances.
Mechanics Hall is internationally recognized because it offers top-notch acoustics and a level of elegance and grace that will transport you back in time to the 1800s. Most of their events are classical performances, like symphonies or operas. However, they do host an occasional concert that is more contemporary in nature.
It might be surprising that two such beautiful venues could exist in the same town, but Tuckerman Hall is just as incredible as Mechanics. The building was designed by one of the nation’s first female architects, Josephine Wright Chapman, in 1902 and remains a popular spot for weddings and events. Although they don’t have many events that are open to the public, Tuckerman is home to the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, so they often will play here.
See the First Book Printed in America at the American Antiquarian Society
Calling all history buffs! Worcester is definitely the town for you. For one, only here can you visit the American Antiquarian Society. This research library specializes in American history pre-1876 and boasts an astounding collection.
The piece de resistance is the Bay Psalm Book that was bound in 1640. This is actually the oldest American book in existence, as was the first one to ever be printed in the colonies. Other standouts in the collection include early American newspapers, pamphlets, and children’s books.
A visit to the Antiquarian Society offers a fascinating way to explore history and the evolution of American history and culture. Only researchers are permitted to visit regularly. However, free public tours are available each Wednesday at 3 pm.
Shop at the Crompton Collective
If you’re searching for a souvenir or aching to go antiquing, your first stop should be the Crompton Collective. This charming store specializes in home goods and offers a wide array of one-of-a-kind collectibles, vintage decor, old furniture, etc.
The Crompton Collective also makes a concerted effort to support local artisans and creators from the Worcester community. This means that you can find a plethora of handmade products, such as candles, ceramics, earrings, clothing, and artwork. It’s the perfect place to find a gift for friends or family back home!
You also won’t want to miss the chance to stop in next door at the Haberdash. This is Crompton Collective’s sister store. The Worcester location of the Haberdash features a wide array of gorgeous, curated women’s clothing and apparel.
Pay Your Respects
New England is full of historic homes, museums, and other opportunities to learn about the nation’s past, and Worcester, Massachusetts, is no exception. However, as you engage with history, it can be a good idea to acknowledge those that lost their lives in defense of our country.
You can find the Massachusetts Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial at Worcester’s Green Hill Park. It features three “places” that offer different ways to acknowledge the veterans through flags, words, and names. The Place of Words displays some letters written by fallen soldiers and the Place of Names lists all of the state residents who died as a result of the war.
The Korean War Memorial on Worcester Central Boulevard provides another place to reflect and remember those that fell. The memorial lists the names of the 191 veterans from Worcester County that died in combat.
Nearby you will also find a brick pathway that memorializes the people from the area, both veterans and journalists, who died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Gulf. You can also visit the Southwest Asia War Memorial to acknowledge those that perished during the Desert Shield/Desert Storm conflicts.
See a Game at Fitton Field
There’s nothing like cheering on a local sports team live from the stands. If you love college football, then a visit to Fitton Field is definitely in order.
Fitton Field is actually considered to be one of the best places to watch or play a game in the whole Northeast. It was established in 1903 but was last renovated in 1986, and it is the home of the Crusaders from the College of the Holy Cross. It’s been the site of many football games featuring notable teams, like those from Penn State, Georgia, and Boston College.
Learn About Local History At The Worcester Historical Museum
If you really want to learn about the history and culture of the area, there’s no better place than the Worcester Historical Museum. Unlike the other resources you can find around town, this institution only focuses on local history.
The fascinating collection includes a library with more than 7,000 titles, as well as many documents and artifacts. You can explore key moments in history through Civil War diaries, WWII weapons, wardrobes from various periods, and early pottery.
The best part is that the Worcester Historical Museum is a very affordable activity. It’s only $5 for adults, and it’s free for those that are 18 and under. There are also guided tours available for $5 more.
Sample Local Craft Beer at Wormtown Brewery
If you love IPAs, then you’ll be delighted by the selection at Wormtown Brewery. This is one of the favorite spots for visitors and locals alike. Their delicious beer and fun atmosphere has captured hearts and tastebuds and helped them to expand distribution to four states beyond Massachusetts.
“Don’t Worry” and “Be Hoppy” are the two IPAs that define the Wormtown menu, but if you prefer a lager, then look no further than the “Mass Whole”. There are also tons of seasonal options available all the time.
Perhaps the most exciting part of Wormtown is that it is such a central part of the Worcester community. They host frequent events, such as trivia nights and pre-game parties. You can even participate in Taproom Yoga!
Go Rock Climbing at the Central Rock Gym
Staying active while your travel can be important. So, if you’re looking for a fun activity that will get your blood pumping and help you work up the sweat, then be sure to pay a visit to the Central Rock Gym.
This chain of rock climbing centers exists across the Northeast, but Worcester is their original location. Here you will find 16,000 feet of climbing terrain, which includes a 42 ft lead wall and 4,000 sq feet of bouldering.
One of the best things about this experience is that it can be enjoyed by just about everyone, regardless of age or skill level. If you’re new to climbing, you can sign up for belay classes. Alternatively, a staff belay will let one of the gym’s team members guide you so that you can skip the class and head right for the fun part.
Central Rock Gym also offers Auto Belay and Bouldering options, as well. Plus, they even have non-climbing activities on their roster. If some members of your group want to scale the wall, but you would prefer to stay planted on the ground, they have a series of fitness and yoga classes that you may enjoy!
The prices for classes and special programs will vary, but a day pass starts at $25. It is discounted to $22 for those in the military or under the age of 23. Admission for kids 5 and under is only $15.
Get Outside and Enjoy Worcester’s Parks
New England is a region rife with natural beauty. So while you’re in Worcester, be sure to stop to explore your surroundings and enjoy the great outdoors. One great way to accomplish this is by visiting some of the numerous parks and lovely green spaces in the city.
Elm Park is the jewel of Worcester’s park system. This 58.4-acre space is not only beautiful and full of amenities, but it’s also historic. The land was first purchased in the mid-1850s and was one of the earliest uses of public funding to expand parks in the United States.
The features that you will find at Elm Park include tennis and basketball courts, an ice skating rink, nature trails, and a playground. Elm Park is also connected to Newton Hill, which is the best place to play Disc Golf in the area. This free course has all 18 holes.
If you’d like to trek longer trails or enjoy the rolling hills of the area, then Green Hill Park should be top of your list. This park has a storied history and measures 470 acres. It can be found on the National Register of Historic Places and features a ton of fun activities to occupy your time. There are numerous sports fields and a golf course, as well as ponds, playgrounds, an arboretum, and a place to visit farm animals.
See the Animals at Green Hill Park Farm or the Ecotarium
If you are traveling with kids, there are plenty of great activities in Worcester that will combine fun and educational experiences. A visit to either Green Hill Park Farm or the Ecotarium can be a wonderful way to learn about the animals of the region and connect with nature.
Green Hill Park Farm is home to many traditional farm animals, such as chickens, goats, pigs, and sheep. Plus, they also offer the opportunity to see animals like alpacas, mini-horses, and peafowl. Visitors can’t pet the animals, but they still observe them and explore the farm year-round. The best part? It’s an entirely free experience.
The EcoTarium is Worcester’s science and nature museum. There are three floors of engaging exhibits indoors, plus a 45-acre plot of land that offers many exciting ways to engage with the outdoors through hikes and playgrounds. The exhibits cover a range of scientific topics and include a planetarium, mineral dome, and a collection of natural history specimens and fossils.
But the best part of the EcoTarium may just be the creatures that you can meet at the live animal habitats. There are tons of exciting critters on display here. Everything from ferocious mountain lions to adorable otters is available. There are even owls, eagles, turtles, and frogs! Tickets to the EcoTarium are $19 for adults and $14 for kids. Those under 2 get in for free.
Visit the Bancroft Tower
Although it might be surprising, you can actually visit a feudal castle without leaving Worcester! Located in Salisbury Park, Bancroft Tower measures 56 feet tall and is made of stone and granite. It looks so much like the remnants of an old European fortress that you’d never suspect that this tower was only built a century ago.
Bancroft Tower was constructed in 1900 to commemorate George Bancroft, a diplomat and historian that was a native of Worcester and who once served as the Secretary of the Navy. 12 years later, Salisbury Park was formed in the land surrounding the park.
Bancroft Tower is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a great little spot to take some pictures and see while you’re touring the area. Since it’s situated in Salisbury Park, it’s free to the public.
Take a Walking Tour of the Salisbury Mansion
Worcester’s one and only museum inside of a historic home can be found at the Salisbury Mansion. It was first built in 1772 in the Georgian style to act as both the residence and storefront for Stephan Salisbury, a wealthy local merchant.
As time went on, the Salisbury Mansion evolved into many different roles. For a time, it was only a home before becoming a boarding-house and eventually a gentleman’s club. Fortunately, these many changes are well-documented, which means that the Salisbury Mansion is one of the best-understood and researched historic homes in the region.
The current set-up of the museum is designed to be authentic to the 1830s, a period in which the Salisbury Mansion was purely a home. Admission is only $5 for adults, and it’s always free for kids.
Make Your Own Pottery at Clayground
Traveling can be a great way to inspire yourself creatively. You’re free from the pressures of work and your typical daily obligations. Plus, you’re exposed to exciting new sights, people, and parts of history. So if you feel the need to channel your creative energy while you’re in Worcester, why not pay a visit to Clayground?
This studio offers opportunities to make art in a variety of mediums. You can spin pottery on a wheel, hand-build a creation with clay, make a mosaic, or craft something stunning with fused glass. There are plenty of class options with varying prices, so you can find one that matures your interest, availability, and experience level.
Plus, handmade pottery or works of art can make a great souvenir! You’ll always remember the fun that you had in Worcester each time you look at your mug or mosaic.
Dine at Union Station
Have you ever wanted to step backward in time? How exciting would it be to feel what life was like in another era and have a fully immersive experience instead of just learning about it through a book or documentary? Well, at Luciano’s in Worcester, you really can be transported back to the 1920s.
This glamorous decade, known for flappers and frivolity, is certainly a fun one to visit for an evening. Luciano’s mimics the excitement of a speakeasy during prohibition and captures the elegance of the era seamlessly.
The art-deco atmosphere at this restaurant is top-notch, and you won’t be disappointed if you come here for a date night or celebration. That’s because, in addition to a commitment to decor, Luciano’s also offers an incredible menu that will delight your taste buds.
Cat cafes are great, but why not try something a bit more unusual? After all, sometimes you just need to snuggle up with something cute and cuddly. So, whether you need to brighten your spirits or just want to have the best day possible, getting to hug miniature goats is a great way to spend the day.
Everyone will enjoy this unique activity, from grown-ups to little kids. You’ll be able to pet and play with Nigerian Dwarf Goats, and if you book your trip for March or April, you might even get to snuggle some babies. And you’ll also have the opportunity to learn more about the species and goat farming in general from the farmer.
Take a Day Trip to Old Sturbridge Village
Just outside of town, there is a place where you can go to time travel. Old Sturbridge Village is just shy of 30 minutes from Worcester and is a fully immersive museum that depicts life in the 1830s.
Here you will find a cast of reenactors in period-appropriate dress eager to tell you about the latest in 19th-century farming. If you’re lucky, you might also get to hear some local gossip and learn their thoughts on the current president (Andrew Jackson).
There’s a lot to do in Old Sturbridge Village. You can take tours and watch plenty of demonstrations to learn more about daily life 200 years ago. There are tradesmen, farm animals, shops, homes, schools, and classes to enjoy. Plus, if you get hungry along the way, there is a Tavern or a Bake Shop that can set you up with something to eat.
Admission is $28 for adults and $14 for those between 4 and 17.