Top 27 Best Things to Do in Worcester Massachusetts

You’ll find plenty of things to do in Worcester MA. The following activities highlight the culture, recreation, and history of the second-biggest city in New England.

Worcester Massachsuetts in the evening

Although often overlooked by nearby larger and more cosmopolitan Boston, Worcester offers a surprising number of cultural and recreational attractions, including a revitalized downtown full of shops, restaurants, a public market, and various visual and performing arts. 

Worcester sits in approximately the middle of Massachusetts, 40 miles west of Boston, and is New England’s second biggest city with 206,000 residents.

The city’s many colleges and universities (eight in total) also add a youthful feel to the town. And the Worcester’s high concentration of immigrants (22% of the city’s population was born outside of the United States) adds diversity.

27 of the Best Things to Do in Worcester MA

Whether you’re local or on an extended trip, you’ll find many fun and interesting things to do in Worcester MA.

Stroll among the Canal District’s shops and restaurants

The back of some buildings in the Canal District - among the things to do in Worcester MA
The Canal District is a mix of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. Photo credit: Kerry Flatley

One thing you’ll definitely want to do in Worcester is visit the Canal District.

Nestled in and around Green Street and Harding Street, this neighborhood has emerged over the past decade as a destination buzzing with activity, including shops, restaurants, and events. 

Within the Canal District, you’ll find the Worcester Public Market, which hosts a variety of small eateries and specialty food vendors. Across the street is Table Talk Pies, and further down is a fantastic bakery and cafe, Birch Tree Bread Co. (138 Green Street)

A short walk down Green Street will take you to Crompton Place, containing fun-to-visit shops like Bedlam Book Cafe and the plant boutique, Seed to Stem. Downstairs you’ll find Crompton Collective, a collection of boutique home, antique, and clothing stalls. (138 Green Street)

See related: Worcester’s Canal District: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting

Visit a museum

The Worcester Art Museum
The Worcester Art Museum, photo credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel / Creative Commons

Among the cultural things to do in Worcester MA, is to visit one of the city’s many museums.

The Worcester Art Museum, located in the city’s center, rivals bigger city museums. It contains objects from all over the world, from ancient history to contemporary artworks. Visitors can also see a Medieval Chapter House and explore one of the museum’s most recent acquisitions, an armory collection of two thousand arms and armor objects. (55 Salisbury Street)

If history is more of interest to you, tour the American Antiquarian Society, which has one of the largest collections of books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, and other published works printed through 1876 in the United States. Free tours are given at 3 PM on Wednesdays. (185 Salisbury Street)

To dive into more local history, stop by the Worcester Historical Museum. In it, you’ll find exhibits on Worcester history and the Alden Family Gallery, specifically designed for children. Kids can pretend to work at an old diner and take in other hands-on and imaginative play exhibits. (30 Elm Street)

Learn about science and nature at the EcoTarium

A view from the inside of the EcoTarium
Photo credit: EcoTarium

The EcoTarium is unlike any place you’ve visited before. Perfect for children and adults, although mainly focused on kids, the EcoTarium features indoor and outdoor exhibits on its 45+ acre campus.

Favorite things to do at the EcoTarium include:

  • Seeing the live animal habitats (such as mountain lions and otters, to name a few).
  • Experiencing hurricane-force winds in a wind tunnel.
  • Viewing stars in the planetarium.
  • Taking a train ride (in warm weather months) around the campus.

You’ll also find extensive hiking trails through meadows and forests and outdoor play areas for kids to explore.

Hours are Tuesday – Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM. (222 Harrington Way)

Attend a show or performance

The front of the Hanover Theater

If theater or the performing arts are of interest, Worcester has several locations to take in a show. 

The Hanover Theatre, situated in the heart of the city, is considered one of the top four concert halls in the country. Originally built in 1904, the theater underwent extensive renovations over the years, but much of the original 1920s facade is still intact. Today, you’ll be able to take in a variety of shows at the Hanover Theater, including Broadway plays, comedy acts, and contemporary musical theater, to name a few. (2 Southbridge Street)

Another notable Worcester venue is Mechanics Hall, considered one of the nation’s finest pre-Civil War era concert halls. Like the Hanover Theatre, Mechanics Hall has also undergone several renovations. In 1973, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and restored to its current glory in 1977.

In addition to being the home of Music Worcester (since 1858), Mechanics Hall also features the oldest four-manual tracker organ in the Western hemisphere and was used by cellist Yo-Yo-Ma to record his albums. Today, guests to Mechanics Hall will find various shows, plays, dance performances, and other events. (321 Main Street)

If classical music is of interest, Worcester is home to the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, which has featured artists Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli and performs in Tuckerman Hall and Mechanics Hall. The MSO features a summer concert series in Institute Park. It is also home to the Worcester Symphony Orchestra, which performs in Mechanics Hall. 

Take in Worcester’s arts scene

The inside of an art gallery

Also among the cultural things to do in Worcester MA is to visit the city’s art venues and events.

The Worcester Center for Crafts allows students and artists to practice ceramics, jewelry-making, glass blowing, flameworking, bladesmithing and blacksmithing, forging, enameling, and digital and analog photography. The center also features a gallery, open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM – 5 PM, and hosts various events throughout the year. (25 Sagamore Road)

ArtsWorcester, with a mission to promote contemporary art, hosts fifteen exhibits across three venues, exhibits the work of over 300 artists, and also offers education about contemporary art. (44 Portant Street)

Worcester PopUp (now in a permanent location) is a venue for artists, organizations, and other creatives to host various events, including art shows. PopUp’s use is fully subsidized, meaning events are free to the public. 

Art-related events in Worcester include:

  • stART: central Massachusetts’s largest art, music, and performance festival; occurs on the third Sunday in September
  •  Art in the Park: a biennial exhibit of large-scale sculptures in historic Elm Park.

Go ice skating downtown

Ice skates on ice

Ice skating at the Worcester Common Oval is one of the best cold weather things to do in Worcester MA.

This centrally-located ice rink, just behind Worcester City Hall, is 12,000 square feet, making it 4,000 square feet larger than New York’s Rockefeller Center rink. 

You can rent a pair of skates for $5 at the rink. Ice skating admission is $5, and children under five skate for free. 

Explore nature, visit a park

A bridge in Elm Park - visiting a park is among the things to do in Worcester MA
Elm Park

Among the outdoorsy things to do in Worcester MA is to visit one of its many parks.

Elm Park, located at the intersection of Park Avenue and Highland Street, contains sixty acres of land. The west side of the park is mainly woodlands and trails. In contrast, the east side, on the other side of Park Avenue, contains ponds with two unique bridges, a playground, and a picnic area. During the winter, ice skating takes place on the ponds.

Green Hill Park is 480 acres of rolling hills and woodlands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside the park, you’ll find a golf course, a field for football, five soccer fields, and two softball fields. There’s also a small farm within the park grounds full of gentle farm animals and free to visit. 

In the West Tatnuck section of Worcester, you’ll find Cascades Park, which contains over 120 acres of wooded trails, including a 1.4-mile loop trail that passes a waterfall. (135 Olean Street)

Serious hikers can also trek the fourteen-mile East-West Trail, starting at Coal Mine Brook near Lake Quinsigamond and finishing at Cascades Park. The trail connects 20 green spaces, city streets, and throughways within the city. 

Visit Bancroft Tower

Bancroft Tower in Worcester Massachusetts

Located in Salisbury Park, Bancroft Tower was built in 1900 by Stephen Salisbury III in memory of George Bancroft. Bancroft was a well-known politician and statesman in his day and was the childhood friend of Salisbury’s father. 

The 56-foot-high, two-story tower is built out of boulders and cobbles. It has two square towers and an arched gate in the middle of the structure. The tower is built to look like a miniature castle. On select days, visitors can walk up the tower’s middle to enjoy the view. 

See related: Bancroft Tower: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting

Explore Salisbury Mansion

The outside of Salisbury Mansion - among the things to do in Worcester MA
Salisbury Mansion, photo credit: John Phelan

Located at 40 Highland Street but originally in Lincoln Square, Salisbury Mansion is open to visitors Thursday through Saturday from 1 PM to 4 PM. It’s managed by the Worcester Historical Museum. 

The Georgian-style mansion is restored to how it appeared in the 1830s when it was home to Elizabeth Tuckerman Salisbury. In addition to seeing the architecture and furnishings of this historic home, visitors will also learn about the Salisbury family and its significance and influence on the city. The Salisbury Mansion is the city’s only historic house museum.

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Visit a war memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial in Worcester MA
The Vietnam War Memorial, photo credit: Daderot / Creative Commons

Worcester is home to six war memorials honoring those who served in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Southeast Asia War.

The Civil War Memorial is on the Worcester Common, behind City Hall, and consists of four statues representing the infantry, artillery, cavalry, and navy. 

The city commemorated World War I by building the Worcester Memorial Auditorium, a multi-purpose space at Lincoln Square. Additionally, ten years after the war, a grove of maple trees representing the hundreds of residents who died during the war was planted. In 2018, when the grove and stonework were in disrepair, a new Memorial Grove was rededicated at Green Hill Park.

Visitors can find the city’s World War II memorial on Worcester Common. It consists of a granite fountain engraved with the names of the 518 residents who were killed or missing in action. At Lincoln Square, you can find the Citizens of Color Honor Roll displaying the 145 enlisted men and women of color during the war. A subsequent WWII memorial can also be found at the corner of Hamilton Street and Lake Avenue, paying tribute to the city’s 253 veterans. 

The Korean War Memorial commemorates the 191 fallen soldiers from Worcester County. It also features statues of an American GI and a Korean child, symbolizing the 100,000 orphans saved by American soldiers during the war. The memorial also includes the names of fallen soldiers from the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars. (on the corner of Foster and Front Streets)

Located at Green Hill Park and dedicated in 2002, the city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial commemorates all the Commonwealth citizens who served their country from 1955 to 1975. It has 4 acres, including a pond, fountain, walking paths, and benches.

The Southwest Asia War (also known as Desert Shield and Desert Storm) is located on Worcester Common and was dedicated in 1993.

See related:

Top 15 Best Things to Do in Lowell Massachusetts

Top 9 Best Things to Do in Hudson Massachusetts

Top 17 Things to Do in Northampton Massachusetts

Top 31 Things to Do in Amherst Massachusetts

What is Massachusetts Known for?

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A photo of Kerry Flatley leaning against a wall

About Kerry Flatley

Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.

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