The slightly hilly topography of this central swath of Massachusetts is the home of farms, orchards, and small towns. The major town is Worcester, an attractive smaller city with an excellent art museum.
Just north of Worcester, in Boylston, is a wonderful botanical garden with special areas and features that invite visitors even for winter time enjoyment. Families with kids enjoy Old Sturbridge Village, where life of the 1830s fascinates visitors in all seasons.
Places for outdoors sports are abundant at this region’s many lakes and state parks. Wachusett Mountain ski area is hospitable to skiers of all abilities.
Worcester, the region’s biggest town, teaches about the natural world and entertains visitors at its Ecotarium, New England's leading museum of science and nature. Worcester also prides itself on the Worcester Art Museum. Southwick’s Zoo in the town of Mendon offers plenty of fun among its animals, like its Woodlands Express train and Skyfari Sky rides.
Fruitlands, a collection of four museums near the town of Harvard, was founded in 1843 by Bronson Alcott, father of the writer Louisa May Alcott, as an experiment in utopian living. Today, the 210-acre landscape includes a Shaker Museum, a Native American museum, a fine art gallery of Hudson River landscapes, and trails through woodlands and meadows. Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, just north of Worcester, blooms all year, and hosts a nice annual artwork-and-flower show.
A fun attraction for kids and adults is Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum that invites visitors to explore daily life in a New England farming town in the mid-1800s. Old Sturbridge Village offers lots of seasonal programs about cookery, farming, animal husbandry, home crafts and more from the 19th century. The area is Johnny Appleseed country, named for its native son, the arborist John Chapman. Route 2, from Lancaster on the east end to Turner’s Falls on the west end, travels through beautiful countryside typical of mid-Massachusetts. Great for a fall foliage drive.
Outdoor fun carries through at Quabbin Reservoir, an 85,000-acre property that contains one of the largest public drinking water supplies in the country. Visitors may fish from the shore or small boats, hike on 250 miles of discontinued roads, and hunt, bird watch, snowshoe, bicycle, and picnic (no swimming or dogs). For skiing and winter sports, hike yourself over to Wachusett Mountain ski area in the town of Princeton.