By Joshua Lyford
One of the best parts about living in Worcester is that you are always surrounded by fun and interesting things to do. The city was incorporated in 1722 and has been a bustling hub ever since. While some of the great activities are obvious, some of the more intriguing options are a little off the beaten path.
Each neighborhood in Worcester has its own vibe, and each harbors its own hot-spot destinations. Don’t worry; if you get hungry, the city has you covered. There is something for everyone.
The Canal District, which includes Kelley Square, is a bustling hub with a deep history and what could be the most extreme intersection of all time. The area definitely reflects its canal-driven history. There are a ton of great bars and restaurants here, and if you are looking for fun, you should absolutely hop on down and check it out for yourself. As far as food goes, there is a little bit of everything. Definitely check out one of Worcester’s hidden gems, Ole on Water Street, for great, freshly made tacos. If you are trying to get your dance on, the entire area is filled with dance clubs. If you are trying to catch a show, The Lucky Dog can usually help you out. The Dive Bar is great for craft beer aficionados, and the open-air patio is awesome. Hotel Vernon is great for cheap beer and an awesome jukebox. Plus, if you time it right, you can usually catch an unexpectedly rad band or dance party. If you are looking for karaoke, Cafe Neo has you covered seven nights a week. I suggest Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”
The Highland Street area of Worcester is a central location for many of the city’s colleges that offers an excellent variety of restaurants and bars, and it is a great place to walk around and enjoy the area’s unique collegiate appeal. There are enough restaurants to give you plenty of opportunity for edible exploration. Check out The Boynton for great food and staff, as well as a wide variety of beer. If you feel like fueling your artistic side, walk over to the Worcester Art Museum and check out its great collection or sign up for one of the museum’s classes. From there, you can walk to Elm Park and say hi to the ducks and giant squirrels. Elm Park is debatably the oldest public park in the United States, and it borders Park Avenue, which is also great to explore, with tons of fun bars and great restaurants. Like sushi? You’re covered with some of the best: Baba and Haiku are both outstanding, and you’ll want to try them both. Blue Jeans Pizza is great for a unique pie, and That’s Entertainment is the place for anything comic book-, gaming- or collectible-oriented.
Shrewsbury Street is awesome in that you can just enjoy walking around, especially on a sunny day. There are so many great restaurants on this street that you cannot even begin listing them, so your best bet is to check out the annual College Shuffle and get a little bit of everything. If you are into one-of-a-kind gear, check out Grime Clothing and pick up some really unique clothes or trade in some of yours. If you are into skating, BMX or snowboarding, check out Eastern Boarder next door. If you just want somewhere to walk around or take a seat for awhile, Cristoforo Colombo Park is what you need.
Downtown Worcester’s Main Street has a completely different look than the rest of Worcester, and it is also home to some of the city’s coolest offerings. If you are looking for a drink in the downtown area, there is the Citizen or Still & Stir. There is also Armsby Abbey, a local favorite with great craft beer and an all-powerful mac ’n cheese and an unreal Bloody Mary. While you’re there, make sure to go to a show at the historical and beloved Palladium, which plays host to a ton of great tours. Grab a coffee and learn some Worcester history next door at the Paris of the Eighties Cafe. The Hanover Theatre isn’t far off and should be on your must-see list, and the DCU Center is home to a ton of huge shows, events and the Worcester Sharks, so make sure you say hi to Finz. Then, stop by the common and take a picture with the turtle boy statue; no, the statue doesn’t make any sense.
There are a ton of other great things to do in Worcester and the surrounding areas all year. You should definitely check out the Higgins Armory Museum and its incredible collection of ancient weapons and before it closes for good at the end of the year. If you like punk, hardcore or metal music, Worcester has a thriving underground scene with great bands and DIY shows.
If you’re bored in Worcester, you aren’t doing it right, so go out and soak it all in.