Central Massachusetts, locally referred to as “Central Mass”, is often overlooked as eyes turn to the eastern shores or to the western Berkshires. But this area offers up a whole lot and is very much worth exploring. It’s a mix of old mill towns, farmland and orchards, forested hills, with the primary city of Worcester (pronounced Wooster) at its heart.
Worcester is no slouch as a city – it’s second in size only to Boston, with a growing population of over 200,000. Boasting 10 colleges and universities, including The College of the Holy Cross and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, there’s a young vibe that keeps the city hopping. In fact, in 2020 US News & World Report put Worcester in the top 100 cities to live in America. With its interesting mill-era architecture, beloved diners, great restaurants along Shrewsbury Street (known as Restaurant Row), the art scene dominated by the Worcester Art Museum, performing arts venues, numerous parks and the picturesque Lake Quinsigamond, you might not want to leave.
Beyond Worcester, Wachusett mountain offers great skiing, snowboarding and hiking trails. Old Sturbridge Village living history museum is a great day out to explore the past. Stroll around the Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston with its 17 gardens. Drive the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and learn about America’s industrial revolution.
Get out on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (also known thankfully as Webster Lake), famous for having the longest name of any geographical feature in America. Translated from Nipmuck, it means a neutral place, but everyone prefers the myth that it means “you fish on your side, I’ll fish on my side, and nobody fishes in the middle.” And that is neutral after all.
This is only scratching the surface – there is so much more to do in the region. If you stop, you might never make it to the Berkshires or the coast.