Saturday, September 24, 2011

Things to Do Around Worcester

"With me, a change of trouble is as good as a vacation."
-David Lloyd George

I'm on vacation this week, and my parents came to Worcester to see me.  We've been visiting some of the local attractions, so I thought I would start a brief list of things to do in the area.

Apple Picking: I've never done this before, but it was a lot of fun.  We decided to go off the beaten path and visit Carver Hill Orchard in Stow.  It's a small orchard that doesn't have all the dog-and-pony shows that the large, popular orchards typically have.  It was a beautiful day when we were there, and we filled a bag with several pounds of apples.  The only thing I didn't like about it was that the trees were not labeled, and it was impossible to know which kinds of apples were which.  But otherwise, it was a great experience, and I highly recommend it.

Science Museum: The Ecotarium is the local Worcester science museum, and a great choice if you have kids.  But it's still fun even for adults.  There are outdoor exhibits with animals like bald eagles, owls and foxes, as well as indoor exhibits on local habitats, water, and other things.  During the summer, they have a tree canopy walk.  There is also a planetarium with movies and special events throughout the year.  It's not a huge, elaborate museum like the Museum of Science in Boston, but I liked that I could get through all of the exhibits in half a day without going through sensory overload like what happens to me in larger museums.

Other Museum: The Higgins Armory Museum has to be one of the weirdest museums I've ever seen, and at the same time, one of the coolest.  It boasts of being the only museum in the entire Western hemisphere that is completely devoted to arms and armor.  It is also still housed in its original building, which adds a kind of old-fashioned feel to the place.  The armor and weapons come from all over the world, including Asia and Africa, although most of the collection is European.  My favorite exhibit was the curiosities, which had a bunch of fake but interesting "collections," like centaur skeletons and Bigfoot footprints.  Apparently they're taking it down though, which is too bad.

Restaurant: Ok, this is actually in Framingham, but I really enjoyed Legal Sea Foods, which is a local chain.  There are several locations in Boston, too.  Well, you can't come visit this area without sampling some New England clam chowder, right?  Plus, Framingham is cool because it's the home of the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed three generations of Framingham residents longitudinally over time since 1948.  Much of what we know about risk factors for heart disease came from this study.

State Park: Purgatory Chasm in Sutton is a really cool place to visit if you like interesting landscapes.  It has a bunch of rocks of all sizes and shapes that were left behind by the glaciers that used to cover this region.  There are no restrictions against climbing on the rocks, so you can get some good exercise while you're at it.  Just be careful.

That's all I have for now.  I'll add other attractions later when I have time to do some more exploring.

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