Last Updated on February 10, 2023 by Sammie
Need to Know What to do in Worcester, Massachusetts?
No worries, I got this. I found myself in this not-so-tiny city (second largest in MA to be exact) for one week. So naturally, I made a guide of what to do in Worcester Massachusetts. By the way, it’s WUH-stir.
Never heard of WUH-stir? Me either. But my boyfriend is currently touring with Cirque Du Soleil’s Corteo, and because I love the guy…I ended up hanging out with him in Worcester Massachusetts and having a lot of time on my hands.
First time seeing my boyfriend perform with Cirque Du Soleil’s Corteo :D!
Table of Contents
Things to Drink
Worcester might not have as big of a reputation as its big brother Boston, but I wouldn’t discount this city so fast. I grew to really enjoy this place after my week here. It might be a tad sleepy on first impression but don’t be fooled. It has a killer music scene, great theatres, and all the lager and lattés one would ever need. So here we go! My lovely guide for What to do in Worcester, Massachusetts. Gotta love WUH-stir. Or is it WUH-sta? Either way, it’s definitely not WAR-CHEST-ER.
What to Do in Worcester Massachusetts:
Things to Do
1. Worcester Art Museum (WAM)
This museum surprised me. I’m not a huge museum person but I can appreciate one when the timing is right. And when the rain came and the cafés closed, it was my time to appreciate. For those of us who aren’t museum aficionados, WAM houses a collection of art from all over the world. Some things that are super duper old and others that are deemed “modern”. The coolest part might be the collection of medieval armor & weaponry that they have on display. It’s a wonderful little daytime trip in Worcester.
2. The Hanover Theatre
I wish I had stayed the following week because ANNIE was playing! I was genuinely surprised to find out that this theatre (originally holding residency for burlesque shows) captures some major Broadway nationally touring shows. Check the schedule while in town to see if you can manage to see a show while you’re there. Also worthy of note, the Hanover Theatre Conservatory offers acting and vocal training as well as a space for education on theater production. To think, another few weeks and I could’ve been the next Beyoncé from Worcester.
I told you there were great theatres in Worcester, didn’t I?? Located in the heart of the city, The Palladium opened in 1928. What I find special is that everyone who is employed by this theatre is a true music industry professional. They know what’s good and want you to enjoy it just as much as they do. Most shows are for all ages and the majority are general admission; meaning first come first serve. Once again, if you’re interested in a fun night out, check the calendar for upcoming concerts. Someone tell me if My Chemical Romance comes back to perform!
Though I did not personally get to visit the Ecotarium, it was on my list so I am adding it! Do you guys remember science center visits as a child?? They were my favorite school trips. One time we made ice cream! Well, lucky Worcester has one of these magical places. Though touted as a wonderful spot to bring the kiddos, it’s a great afternoon activity for people of all ages. They have many indoor and outdoor interactive exhibits to explore the natural world. Have lunch with their resident otters or quiz yourself on the constellations in their planetarium. Personally, I’d come back to WUH-STA to feed some otters.
5. Salisbury Mansion
Take a quick step back in history and visit the only historical home in Worcester. Though built in 1772, this house was restored to reflect life in Worcester from the 1830s. It’s a quick tour (about 30 minutes) but the docents are friendly and very knowledgeable. You might need to knock a few times before someone answers the door but it’s a fun little excursion to get out of the house. An even better excursion if you’re curious about what type of carpet choices were made a few hundred years ago.
6. Worcester Center for Crafts
This is a great option for those of you who are living in Worcester or will be here for a while. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend a class because they are all program based. But I was very impressed by their online schedule including; ceramics, photography, metals, glass, and even healing arts (such as yoga and reiki). If you have the chance, why not learn how to make some pottery? I took a class once in high school. Making bowls is surprisingly soothing.
7. Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center & Wildlife Sanctuary
For the nature lovers out there, this one’s for you! This is the second largest urban wildlife sanctuary in New England and it’s in Worcester! Beautiful year round, it offers easy to moderate well marked trails, perfect to do with friends and fam. Over 400 acres of marsh, streams, fields, and outdoorsy goodness. It’s so easy to get to, it’d be a shame not to check it out.
8. Listen to Live Music
Live music is the bread and butter of Worcester. When I was walking around in the middle of the afternoon I was slightly convinced nobody lived in this city. Then I came back in the evening and the town was alive! It’s hard NOT to find live music. But to give you a head start, check out Birchtree Bread Co, Vincent’s, Off the Rails, or Husky’s Pub.
9. Visit the Worcester Public Market
If you need to kill an hour to two and can’t decide if you’re hungry, thirsty, or want to browse the local selection of pickles, you’re going to need to make a pit stop at the Worcester Public Market. It’s a compact place but gives a lotta bang for its buck. There’s a brewery, a winestore where you can sample, lots of local eateries, delicious snacks to buy, as well as some artisanal shops with handmade items. It’s cute. Check it out then stop at Birchtree Bread Co. after for some live music.
10. Take yourself for a Street Mural Tour
It won’t take you long to find beautiful and inspiring street murals when taking a stroll through the city. It’s an easy activity to get you outside with your friends and fam and get some amazing shots of street art. Each mural has been commissioned by not only local artists but also nationally and internationally renowned artists who participated in the POW! WOW! Worcester Annual Arts Festival. So grab yourself a latté and enjoy all the pretty colors.
What to Do AROUND Worcester Massachusetts
11. The Big E Fair
Begins: Second Friday after Labor Day
The world’s only multi-state fair. Because I was visiting in January, I was not able to attend but the locals made sure I put this on my list of Things to Do In Worcester. Though not technically IN Worcester it still deserves a spot on the list. They are very proud of this fair and with good reason! There’s a ton local food and products, great live music, and contests galore. The whole affair is humongous. Even the pumpkins. You can find freakish but impressive very large pumpkins at this fair.
12. Mount Wachusett
Also not IN Worcester but it’s only a 30-minute drive from the center of town! This adorable but legit mountain is an easy day escape for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and all things mountain. There are 27 trails, 8 lifts, and a 2,006-foot summit. If you pay attention to their online schedule you’ll be able to plan your visit to see local band performances, magicians, and even themed nights.
13. Day Trip to Boston
Catch a train to Boston and spend the day there. The trip is about an hour and half, one way by train, or a 50-minute drive. We opted for the train route and it’s completely doable. On my way from Worcester Regional Airport (ORH) I found out that the Chicago Bulls were playing at TD Garden (Boston) THAT night. So I arrived, said ‘Bonjour!’ to the boyfriend, quickly got tickets to the game and off we went. It was a long night but absolutely worth it. I just wish I had bought tickets for the correct game… we did end up getting tickets while at the stadium but I’d be lying if I said I was able to sell the mishap tickets. *Insert crying emoji face and that emoji where they are hitting themselves in the face. On the bright side, the game was awesome. But the Bulls lost, shocker.
What to Do in Worcester Massachusetts:
Things to eat
1. Bocado Tapas
I am so happy I found this place. The ambiance was cozy and romantic while also having a nice lounge-y feel. I am in complete agreement with google, which describes it as a fashionable tapas place. We were a party of 4 and indulged in the Bocada experience. Woah, lots of food. But amazing food. My honest opinion? Go with all tapas rather than the mix of tapas and paella. The paella was good but the tapas dishes were lip-smacking delicious. Every single one of them. Nom nom non. As for dessert, the churros I could pass on, but the flan was good enough for me to finish when my jean seams were digging into my happy gut.
2. Café International
It does not look like much, I know. We didn’t even go in originally to eat, we just went in to find a bathroom. But it smelled so good we decided to stop for a second lunch because why not. It’s inside an international, mainly Middle Eastern, grocery store and they sell the most delicious kebab that I’ve had in a long time. The plates also come with your choice of salad and you’’ll see and taste the freshness. You almost wonder what country you’ve landed in. It’s an lowkey atmosphere. Clearly a local joint. The cashier was asking the customer how his family was and the cook came out to chat with another customer once the line died off. The food is pretty cheap too which is always a plus.
3. Miss Worcester Diner
Once voted as the best diner in the USA, but it’s no big deal. Oh, it’s located in Worcester? Who’s impressed really? Definitely a local favorite, but who needs to eat here? A whole menu dedicated to french toast options? Pshhhh pass…But seriously, if you want to be served happiness in the form of diner options like stuffed french toast, egg bennies, burgers & more, you might need to stop here for a bite. Portions are huge. You’ve been warned.
4. Suzette Crêperie and Café
Only open since 2020, this family-owned and operated, Suzette’s is the diamond spot found in this town. The family of the restaurant immigrated to the US from France in 2004 and decided to open a crêpe shop a few years down the road. It got the seal of approval from my french boyfriend so I guess that means it’s legit. They have savory and sweet options, great coffee, and beer and wine available for later in the afternoon. I also overheard a customer absolutely raving about the salted caramel macarons. So do with that info how you’d like.
What to Do in Worcester Massachusetts:
Things to drink
Coffee Shops in Worcester
*NOTE: MANY coffee shops close around 4:00 pm here. Except for Birchtree.
1. Birchtree Bread Co.
It’s a vibe here. I spent a handful of hours browsing the interwebs and reading my book at Birchtree. I originally found this place out of desperation to find a cafe that was open past 4:00 pm. SPOILER ALERT: not many are. But fear not! I found where everyone was hiding and it came with craft beer! The coffee was amazing and I was blown away by the pumpkin cake. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find out they had live music going on around 6:00 PM. I learned that most nights they have local favorites playing for the crowd. This time it was a bluesy harmonica player and a guitar/vocalist. Wish I could’ve stayed the whole night.
Absolutely amazing band, loved the harmonica player.
2. Fuel America
Solid coffee with a really good selection of breakfast and lunch options. They have acai bowls, sandwiches, avo toast, salads, and more. It’s an easy dig with an industrial vibe. A few business meetings were being conducted here and lots of online working going on. It’s also quite big so you won’t have to worry about getting a good seat. I’d suggest this place if you’re looking for something easy; coffee and a quick bite to eat.
3. Brew on the Grid
Cute café with good pastries and sandwiches. Their cozy atmosphere will draw you in. It’s a perfect occasion to treat yourself to a chai latté and one of their delicious cookies. I felt it to be a slightly quieter vibe than the previous two cafés and quite charming. The baristas were wonderfully friendly as well, giving me advice on where to go for the evening and where to find a café open past 4:00 PM. Birchtree was their suggestion!
4. Bedlam Book Café
Such a find! Imagine a tucked-away coffee shop amidst an intimate library. You wouldn’t notice it from a quick glance on the street because you’d be overtaken by the romanticism of slightly used bindings of books piled high in every corner. Bedlam focuses on a curated selection of books including but not limited to; academic presses, arts, humanities, sciences, and esoteric subjects. Even if you aren’t a big reader, it’s worth a pop-in to see. ‘Esoteric’ (ADJECTIVE): intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest. I don’t know. Maybe you knew what that meant, but I was curious.
Bars/Breweries in Worcester
*NOTE: Many breweries and bars play live music and will often post on Facebook or their website about upcoming performances and events.
5. Wormtown Brewery
Committing to local ingredients, their motto is “A piece of Mass in every glass”. They use the finest ingredients they can get their hands on, meaning the more local the more fresh! And with over 180 national and international awards, the quality shows. They have tons of craft beer selections but they are well known for their delicious IPA Be Hoppy. The waitstaff is friendly and the vibe of the brewery is chill and relaxed. It’s a great place to kill an afternoon or watch Sunday’s game. Just remember, they are closed on Mondays!
6. Off the Rails
Live music every night! With good food and good beer on tap, it’s a local favorite and gets quite busy on the weekends. They have multiple “rooms” so if you don’t feel like jamming with the band you can escape to the bar for a slightly quieter vibe, I repeat, slightly. If you’re looking to enjoy some of their scrumptious food with a chiller vibe, come for lunch. And don’t skimp on the fried pickles. It’s a fun spot to catch up with friends or enjoy the bar with the very friendly locals.
7. Redemption Rock Brewery
Not only are the vibes good enough to linger, Redemption is a certified Benefit Corporation, meaning a big chunk of what they are about is giving back to the local community. There are good beers on tap, amazing food options for the hangry, a full coffee selection for the dreary, and you can bring your dog!! They have an outdoor patio (open year round) so if it’s a sunny day you catch some Massachusettes sunshine while enjoying a cold one.
A hole in the wall that is one of the few older bars left in the city. Nothing fancy about it, but that’s part of the charm. Pass under the blinking neon martini glass sign and let your eyes adjust to the dim lighting. You’ll encounter great musical guests so close you’ll think you’ve joined the band. Grab yourself a meatball sandwich, it’s a relic of the bar. Vincent’s is a beloved dive bar and a pillar of Worcester Society.
9. Armsby Abby
A super cute gastropub that I wish I had more time to enjoy. Their dealio is farmhouse fair, handcrafted cocktails, and of course some awesome craft brews. They have a rotating list of 22 world-class draughts that has helped them gain recognition from BEER Advocate, WINE Enthusiast, and DRAFT Magazine. Rest assured that everything from their food to their cocktail selection is seasonally influenced, they want to celebrate local producers! This place is truly worth a visit.
This little city was a wonderful surprise. It’s hip, it’s continually growing, and the locals have so much pride in it, it makes you want to experience everything they have to offer. Hopefully one day I’ll be back to experience Worcester without 2 coats, a hat, a scarf, and mittens.
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