Travel Ideas by Region
- Worcester and surrounding towns
- Cape Ann (north of Boston)
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island/Connecticut
- Western Massachusetts
Or, you can search by category:
- For the History Buff
- A Day in the Country
- For the Art Aficionado
- For the Sports Fan
- For the Foodie
- A Day in the Sun
- For the Book Worm
Worcester has a lot of history, industry and some hidden gems for gourmands looking for a unique meal. Below are some of our favorite spots to see and things to do if you’re staying in the Worcester area for a day or two around the conference. Enjoy!
Shrewsbury Street Restaurants
Although New England is known for a variety of cuisines, you’ll definitely want to sample our Italian and seafood fare. Right here in Worcester, Shrewsbury Street offers a range of casual (The Flying Rhino Café, ) and high-end (111 Chophouse ) spots to try.
Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace
If you’re always on the hunt for hard-to-find ingredients and spices, or want to sample interesting wines and cheeses, Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace at 408 Pleasant St., Worcester, is a must-stop spot. Housed in the city’s oldest firehouse (the brass poles are still there), family-run Ed Hyder’s has been a staple for area cooks for more than three decades.
Miss Worcester Diner
Another fun fact for foodies: The Worcester Lunch Car Company made lunch cars (diners) here from 1920 into the 1960s. The city is dotted with the company’s handiwork, and just off campus, the Miss Worcester Diner (“Miss Woo” to some) is the site of many late-night cups of joe and burgers to quell a college-size appetite. Locals swear by their favorites and pay no attention to the calorie counts.
A tiny spot with just a few tables, Armsby Abbey on Main St. in Worcester is a hip, low-key new eatery for fans of micro brews and locally grown dishes (Oatmeal bread French toast with fig butter…drool.)
Browse the artifacts and ephemera of Worcester’s heyday as an industrial center: the mid and late 1800s. Then take a tour of Salisbury Mansion, built in 1772 by Boston merchant Stephen Salisbury. Restored in the mid 1980s, the home is open for tours Thursday–Saturday.
Hardcore historians will definitely want to spend time at The American Antiquarian Society, an independent research library founded in 1812. The collections here document American life from the colonial era through the Civil War and Reconstruction. One-hour tours are given every Wednesday at 3 p.m., but scholars can apply to access the library’s vast collections after a short application process (remember to bring two forms of ID!).
If you want a taste of classic Currier and Ives New England, you won’t have to go far. Worcester marks the start of the Blackstone River, which flows down to Rhode Island and has powered hundreds of mills for generations. The Blackstone River National Heritage Corridor is your best bet to pick the charming mill villages you may want to visit. You’ll also find a lot of farm stands with homemade preserves and fresh produce to sample (and the pick-your-own berries are sweet and delicious).
Tower Hill Botanic Gardens
In nearby Boylston, you can take in a summer tour of the Tower Hill Botanic Gardens.
Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary
If you’d like to get close to some wildlife and walk a nature trail, visit the in nearby Princeton.
Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery
Right here on the Holy Cross campus, you can visit Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, the College’s venue for a changing series of historical and contemporary public exhibitions. Open Monday through Friday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Saturdays 2–5 p.m., the Cantor Art Gallery is on the first floor of O’Kane Hall, in the center of campus (the building with the big clock tower).
Worcester Art Museum
Venture off campus just a few minutes and you can take in the amazing Worcester Art Museum. WAM boasts a 35,000-piece collection that spans 50 centuries. With contemporary and ancient art from around the globe, plus a grand facility, WAM is a point of pride for the city of Worcester.
Worcester Center for Crafts
You can also support local artists by viewing their work (the vases this season have been really lovely) at the Worcester Center for Crafts at Worcester State College.
Museum of Russian Icons
Just 30 minutes north of Worcester in Clinton, Mass., you can visit the largest collection of Russian icons in North America at the new Museum of Russian Icons.
Bob Cousy Statue at Holy Cross
Before the Houdini of the Hardwood, Bob Cousy ’50, gained fame with the Boston Celtics, he thrilled his fellow Holy Cross classmates here on Mount St. James with his amazing basketball talents. Our purple pride runs high for this devoted family man, alumnus and basketball legend. Take a stroll up to the Hart Center, and pose with our new statue of “The Cooz.”
The City of Worcester is home to two professional sports teams: In the winter we watch the Sharks hit the ice, and in the summer, you can join in the fun at a Worcester Tornadoes baseball game! The Tornadoes play right here on campus at Fitton Field, and will be playing the Brockton Rox and the Quebec Capitales in mid-July. Trivia Time: Where did Ted Williams hit his first home run? Right here at Holy Cross on Fitton Field.
Holy Cross Campus Walk
Because the hilly Holy Cross campus is also an arboretum, you can get in a great workout among the flora in no time.
Less than 10 minutes north of Holy Cross, Elm Park offers walking trails, picnic areas, and basketball courts, along with idyllic bridges that are often the sites of wedding photography. You’ll find Elm Park in the center of Park Avenue, Highland, Russell and Elm Streets.
Fifteen minutes south of campus, more experienced hikers and rock climbers will want to visit Purgatory Chasm State Reservation. The Chasm runs for a quarter of a mile between granite walls rising as high as 70 feet.
Blackstone National Golf Club
Blackstone National Golf Club is a popular local course if you brought your clubs.
For a freshwater dip, check out the state park at four-mile long Lake Quinsigamond. Picnicking, swimming, fishing and canoeing are all popular “Quinsig” activities.
Special Note for Gluten-Free Eaters
Our gluten-free friends recommend these Worcester eateries for delicious g-free grub:
Nancy Chang Healthy Asian Cuisine
The Boynton Restaurant & Spirits (great gluten-free pizzas)
The Grafton Country Store (gifties, pretties, pastries, coffees) on Grafton Village Common, about 10 minutes south of Holy Cross.
Catch a game on the huge TVs and a great meal at Brew City Grill & Brew House on Shrewsbury St. (about 6 minutes from campus) . (Try the BBQ Brisket Salad…yummo!)
Find fun, unique gifts and artwork at Bhadon’s Gift Gallery at 1075 Pleasant St., (across the street from a big white Congregational Church).
Eaton Farm Confectioners, just south of Worcester in Sutton, Mass., makes a marshamallowy, peanuty, chocolate-coated treat called (very aptly) “The Peanut Butter Lust Bar.” www.eatonfarmcandies.com
We love hiking in Purgatory Chasm, just south of Worcester off Route 146. Remember to pick up some bug spray!
Boston offers so much for the first-time visitor, it’s hard to encapsulate it. But we’ll try by listing some of the must-see places in Beantown!
The Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is your best bet for history and sightseeing (it couldn’t be easier…the 2.5 mile trail is literally part of Beantown’s landscape, made of red bricks in the city’s sidewalks and streets). The Trail starts at Boston Common and runs up through the city’s heart across the Charlestown Bridge to the Bunker Hill Memorial. Opt for guided, ticketed tours, or set out on your own. If you have just one day in the city, start at the visitor center across from the site of the Boston Massacre, then stroll north toward Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where you can grab a snack or a souvenir. Then head up to the Old North Church and into The North End, Boston’s historic Italian section.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Great for a snack, a souvenir, people watching, street performers and just seeing the city buzzing on a pretty summer day.
Continue your tour in the North End, the historic gateway for Boston’s Italian immigrant population and a must-stop for fans of Italian pastries, pastas and other gourmet treats. Along this section of the Freedom Trail, you will see the Old State House, the Old North Church and the Paul Revere House, along with the charming, narrow cobbled streets of the North End.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Right in the heart of Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts are a stone’s throw from each other. Park once and see both. Tip: Splurge on the $4 headset and audio tour at the Gardner Museum…there is no signage or labeling on the collections per Mrs. Gardner’s wishes. The audio tour gives you some interesting insight to this unusual woman and her impressive collection.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
This is about an hour south of Boston along the coast.
Leave your Yankees caps at home, this is Red Sox Nation. Whether you choose to go into Boston for a game at Fenway (though we have to warn you, tickets are hard to get) or catch a game at a sports pub, you’ll catch BoSox fever.
Museum of Bad Art
Have a chuckle at the Museum of Bad Art in the basement of the Dedham (Mass.) Community Theater, the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms.
Tune into WBZ Newsradio 1030 for Boston area traffic on the threes.
South Station is the Hub for trains, busses and the T (Boston’s subway). To avoid traffic snarls and parking woes, take the commuter rail into Boston from Worcester’s Union Station. www.mbta.com
- The Bleacher Bar is actually built under the bleachers at center field of Fenway Park, just a few feet from Ted Williams Red Seat. Stop in for a drink and some grub, and enjoy the amazing view of this historic ballpark. bleacherbarboston.com
- The Colonial Inn in Concord, Mass., for lunch is divine.
- Rabia’s Ristorante in the North End for dinner. Cozy and delicious after a long tour day. www.rabias.com
- Locals love The Clam Box on Wollaston Beach www.clamboxquincy.com near Quincy, just south of Boston.
Head east, and wind your way up the coastline north of Boston to scenic Cape Ann. From Gloucester up to tiny Rockport, Cape Ann is a quintessential artists’ paradise with welcoming, walkable streets of galleries, studios and cafes, and an abundance of nooks and crannies to explore (not to mention the amazing ocean views and the BEST seafood on the East Coast, in our opinion!).
Plan an evening in East Gloucester at Rocky Neck, the oldest working artists colony in the U.S. Events throughout the summer include art, music, wine and more.
In Rockport, be prepared to parallel park (but it’s so worth it)!
Troll along the coast for local, beachside favorites like lobster (“lobstah”) rolls and cardboard boxes of fried clam strips and french fries. You really can’t do wrong anyplace from Boston up the coast into Cape Ann (and up to Posrtmouth, N.H. and Portland, Maine!)
IN ROCKPORT: Hit Helmut’s Strudel on Bearskin Neck Rd. (when you need a break from gallery hopping). Enjoy a fine meal with ocean views at My Place by the Sea Restaurant.
The Monadnock Region
Make the drive up to the Monadnock region of southwest New Hampshire for a peaceful visit and unique treasures. We suggest starting in Peterborough, the hamlet known for inspiring Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” Depot Square just off of Main Street is a cluster of shops and restaurants and offers artisan crafts and antiques, as well as the locally beloved independent bookstore, The Toadstool. The Monadnock region boasts seven idyllic covered bridges and a handful of stone arch masonry bridges in the village of Hillsborough.
Mount Monadnock State Park
Pack your hiking gear: A climb up Mount Monadnock, noted as America’s most-climbed mountain, will be a three-to-four hour adventure.
Cathedral of the Pines
Stroll around the unique Cathedral of the Pines in nearby Rindge, N.H.
MacDowell Artists’ Colony
Check out Peterborough’s MacDowell Artists’ Colony, which presents public screenings, readings and other events throughout the summer.
The Lakes Region of New Hampshire
Remember the movie On Golden Pond? (“The loons, Norman, the loons!”) It is set in (and was filmed in) the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, less than three hours away from Holy Cross. Lake Winnipesaukee is a family mecca in the summertime, with dozens of sandy beaches along its 21-mile length. (With 72 square miles of water surface, Winnipesaukee is the largest freshwater lake in New England). Take advantage of the area’s many outdoor activities: Rent a canoe, kayak or jet ski and get out on the water. Explore nature and hiking trails for every level (the Appalachian Mountain Club’s New Hampshire chapter can help you find your perfect path). amc-nh.org The towns of Meredith and Wolfeboro are the tops when it comes to catering to visitors, with lots of lake rentals and hiking trails, plus dozens of lakeside eateries and shops, green parks and shady gazebos. Summertime concerts with local bands are popular. Trivia Time: Wolfeboro, est. 1759, is known as “America’s Oldest Summer Resort,” and we have to admit there’s a little “old money vibe” to go along with the moniker.
The Inns at Mill Falls
In the lakeside town of Meredith, this grouping of white clapboard inns, restaurants and shops is really one of the gems of the area. (Get a spa treatment at the Inn at Church Landing after a long day in the fresh mountain air!)
Catch the fireworks at Weirs Beach (a boardwalk area where you can also fill your annual quota of fried dough).
Ellacoya State Beach
Ellacoya State Beach and RV Park in Gilford, N.H., is a hidden treasure. And did we mention gorgeous? Nearby Mount Major is a moderate climb for day hikers, and the view of the Lake from the top is amazing. You can cool off afterward with an ice cream from Sawyer’s Dairy Bar down the street (the locals’ fave kid-friendly hotspot).
M.S. Mount Washington
Get the best tour of “The Big Lake” (Lake Winnipesaukee) on the M.S. Mount Washington or her sister boats, the Doris E. and the Sophie C.
Polly’s Pancake Parlor
North of the Lakes Region, up into the White Mountains around the town of Franconia, ask any local about Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, N.H. You’ll be talking about the pancakes for months, we kid you not.
Robert Frost’s Home
At Robert Frost’s home in Franconia, N.H., you won’t find modern museum amenities like multi-media displays or a café, but you will get a sense of the quiet, serene place that the poet loved so. Tucked away in the glorious White Mountains, the area prompted Frost to say “There is a pang there that makes poetry.”
No sales tax in New Hampshire!
New England, with its rich dairy farms, is an ice cream lover’s paradise. But remember, in many parts of the region, a milkshake is called a “frappe” (sounds like “slap”). And in R.I., a milkshake is called a “cabinet.”
In the Monadnock Region: In Jaffrey, go to Kimball’s Farm. Best. Ice cream. Ever. (Coffee Oreo is a strong favorite.)
- Also in Monadnock: Live music at Harlow’s Pub on School St. www.harlowspub.com and browsing at nearby Red Chair Antiques. www.redchair-antiques.com
- In the Lakes Region: We can never resist a few games of skee ball at Funspot in Meredith. www.funspotnh.com
Old Sturbridge Village
Right on the border of Connecticut and Massachusetts, a scant 40-minute drive from Holy Cross, you’ll find Old Sturbridge Village. Most of us grew up taking field trips to Old Sturbridge Village, which is a living history museum where you get to experience early New England life from 1790-1840. There are historians in costume, 59 historic buildings on 200 acres, three authentic water-powered mills and two covered bridges.
Boston’s North End neighborhood is well known for authentic Italian meals, but Providence, R.I. has it’s own Italian specialties in its Federal Hill district (about 45 minutes south of Holy Cross). Venda Ravioli tops our list, with a combination of restaurant, café, and Italian market/deli.
Caprilands Herb Farm
Drive down to Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner” (the northeast quadrant of the Nutmeg State) and enjoy Caprilands Herb Farm (near the University of Connecticut), where cooking, sipping, growing and enjoying herbs is a passion.
The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Conn.
We’re just going to lift a little note straight from the Museum’s website to entice you here: “Long celebrated for its apparent whimsy and stylistic idiosyncrasy, the Twain House is more accurately noted as an inspired and sophisticated expression of modernity.” Come on, doesn’t that sound cool?
IN HARTFORD, CONN.: If you are going to the Twain House, do not miss the chance to see the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, which is very nearby.
Travel tip: New England, with its rich dairy farms, is an ice cream lover’s paradise. But remember, in many parts of the region, a milkshake is called a “frappe” (sounds like “slap”). And in R.I., a milkshake is called a “cabinet.”
Of course Vermont has a lot to do and see, but just two of our staff faves are listed here. See more Vermont info.
The Simon Pearce glassware and pottery factory in Quechee, Vt. is also home to The Mill, a quaint restaurant with seasonal menus and river views. The nearby Cabot Cheese store is also a popular Vermont stop (there are also Cabot stores in Waterbury and the village of Cabot).
Ben and Jerry’s Factory
Make the trek to the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, Vt. (might want to make that an overnight trip, and the little free sample will only whet your appetite for the mega-ice cream parlor at the end of the tour)
Drive out to Western Massachusetts, known for its natural beauty thanks to the rolling green hills and valleys of the Berkshire Mountains. Within two hours you’ll be able to see all of the great spots listed here.
The friendly, eclectic town of Northampton is a great first stop: It is frequently included in national “best” lists, including John Villani’s The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America. In “Noho” you’ll find a wide variety of artisan shops and lots of organic and vegan cuisine options.
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA)
Then toddle up to North Adams, in the northwest corner of the state, and visit the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA). Self-described as “a welcoming environment that encourages a free exchange between the making of art and its display, between the visual and performing arts, and between our extraordinary historic factory campus and the patrons, workers and tenants who again enliven it,” Mass MoCA is a gem with more than 100,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Emily Dickinson’s Home and The Evergreens
In the middle of Amherst, Mass., you can visit the birthplace and home and Emily Dickinson and The Evergreens, home of the poet’s brother and his family.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Also in the northwest corner of Massachusetts: The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, an art museum and a center for research and higher education, dedicated to advancing and extending the public understanding of art.
Norman Rockwell Museum
You really can’t call yourself an art buff in New England without visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.! It’s about an hour and 40 minutes due west of Worcester.
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
New Englanders are also awfully proud of the fact that basketball was invented here in Massachusetts (back in 1891). It’s a short drive to Springfield, where you can tour the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Frommer’s called the facility “A feast for fans, the Basketball Hall of Fame is painless even for those who regard the game as a blur of 7-foot armpits. It has been so popular that this entirely new facility was opened near the original hall in 2002.”
In Northampton, if you can’t find street parking, pull into the four-level John E. Gare Municipal Parking Lot in the center of town at the end of Armory St., (reach it via Pleasant St. or Hampton Ave.), and you’re in easy walking distance of a hundred shops, cafes and galleries.