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Central Massachusetts Loves Families

by Barbara Rogers

Sep 18, 2018

© Stillman Rogers

Destinations / North America

With the attractions of Boston and the beaches of Cape Cod calling tourists to the east and the beauties of the Berkshires beckoning them west, Central Massachusetts is too often overlooked. That’s a shame, especially for families who will find plenty to do here all seasons of the year.


Old Sturbridge Village

A good place to start is Old Sturbridge Village, where kids won’t realize they’re getting a history lesson as they ride in the horse-drawn wagon to visit an authentic mid-19th-century farm complete with animals and a kitchen fragrant with the day’s baking. In the adjacent cooper’s shop they can watch as wood slats are bent into barrels and tubs, and in the potter’s shop they can try their own hand at working in clay. Old-time games are often in progress, where they can try walking on stilts or rolling a hoop. The costumed interpreters are especially good at bringing the past to life in the houses and workshops, and most families spend an entire day here.

Ox cart rides for kids at Old Sturbridge Village

Ox cart rides for kids at Old Sturbridge Village © Stillman Rogers


Southwick’s Zoo

You could also easily spend a full day visiting all the animals and enjoying the activities and the fun park at Southwick’s Zoo, in Mendon. The whole family will love soaring above the African Plains habitat, where cheetahs, giraffes and rare white Rhinos roam free, and spotting more animals while riding the Woodland Express through a deep forest habitat. Regular programs bring some of the zoo’s 850 animals up close and kids can ride on camels and meet more animals in the petting zoo. In the fun park are animal-themed rides and thrills.


Animal Adventures Family Zoo & Rescue Center

Injured and orphaned wild animals find a home in Bolton, at the Animal Adventures Family Zoo & Rescue Center. Along with local wildlife — porcupines, foxes, raccoons and turtles — the animals recovering here may include exotics like alligators or Spiny Tailed Iguanas. Live animal shows at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. may introduce these or a chinchilla, ferret, hedgehog or snake.


Worcester’s Kid-Friendly Museums

Hands-on experiences and discoveries are what the EcoTarium is all about, with daily science programs, indoor and outdoor exhibits, and planetarium shows. Take a little train to the nature play area on the EcoTarium’s large grounds. Few museums of art are as well prepared for children as the Worcester Art Museum, where regular programs on the first Saturday of the month at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. may feature demonstrations of Roman or Medieval armor, using period clothing, armor and weaponry from the museum’s vast armor collections and presented by local living history groups. Between 10:30 and 11 a.m. on the same Saturdays, the museum presents 30-minute family tours of the museum galleries designed to engage children in art. The ART Cart is a regular feature that invites closer exploration of exhibits, with artifacts to touch and art supplies to encourage kids’ own creativity.


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