Outdoor Activities for Families in Worcester & Beyond

By Noelle Monaghan - Worcester Macaroni Kid Publisher October 4, 2021

It seems everyone in Worcester is looking for ways to get out of the house! Fresh air is good for the soul — not to mention it helps to get the wiggles out of the kids. If you are looking for more great places to enjoy the outdoors in Worcester, check out our guide to outdoor fun for families in the Greater Worcester area.

Worcester is the second-most populous city in New England after Boston.  It has so many wonderful things to do outdoors. Scroll through our list of outdoor attractions to visit with your family:

Worcester Area Walking Trails

We compiled a list of almost 30 walking trails for families in the Worcester area.

Community Boating & Sailing

Regatta Point Community Sailing & Rowing (Seasonal) - Rowing for youth and adults, paddleboard yoga classes, sailing.

Hadwen Arboretum

The Hadwen Arboretum, willed to Clark University in 1907 by Worcester resident and noted horticulturist Obadiah Hadwen, is located at the intersection of Lovell and May Streets on ancestral land of the Nipmuc Nation. It contains 6.4 acres of unspoiled woodland green space in the heart of Worcester. The Arboretum lies at the midpoint of the East-West Trail, a 14-mile trek through many of Worcester’s parks and green spaces. By following this trail you can visit Coes Reservoir, with water-front access for swimming and enjoying the natural setting. is one of the area's truly great places to get away during the spring, summer and fall.  The two-mile-long main walking trail is paved and allows for leisurely stroller walks. Plant, flower and woodland life is labeled according to species. 950 Main St, Worcester, MA

photo courtesy of Clark University

Webster Lake

Webster Lake - Webster Lake, also known as Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg has a beach area, fishing, and boating is allowed for a fee. 

Tantiusques in Sturbridge, The Trustees

Tantiusques (“tan-te-us-quays”)—a Nipmuc word meaning “to a black deposit between two hills”—was the site of one of New England’s first mines. Follow a loop trail through quiet woodlands, then visit the site of a former lead mine used by indigenous peoples and, later, European settlers.  A short loop trail leads you through quiet woods; a spur trail passes through the Leadmine Wildlife Management Area and ends at the Robert Crowd Site. Watch for the foundations of the house and barn of the African American and indigenous man who worked at the mine in the 1850s. Further evidence of the site’s past rewards the careful observer: the mine cut along the top of the ridge is the partially filled-in remainder of what was once a several thousand foot-long trench—20 to 50 feet in depth and roughly 6 feet in width, which followed the vein of graphite. Free to all. Leadmine Road, Sturbridge, MA

Swift River Reservation in Petersham

Swift River Reservation is 439 acres on a landscape that once supported Colonial-era farming has returned to a natural environment of forest, swamp, fields, and uplands, laced by seven miles of trails and old roads. Start your journey on the Nichewaug Tract, which includes extensive rocky ledges, a moist ravine, open fields, a beaver-dammed swamp, vernal pools, riverside habitat, and forest edges along woods roads. Get a glimpse of butterflies, birds, and dragonflies as you walk a grassy path through pasture brimming with seasonal wildflowers. At the forest edge, the path gives way to a woodland hike leading to a beautiful view of the surrounding valley. At the Slab City Tract, you’ll find a series of open grass paths leading through cellar holes. At the woods line, separate trails abut Harvard Forest land and traverse the Swift River. A third trail takes you uphill from the reservation with views of granite outcroppings that were quarried for use in local structures—thus the name Slab City for the stones once gathered from here. The trail map is here.  Free to all. Nichewaug Tract: Nichewaug Road; Slab City Tract: Route 122; Davis Tract: Glen Valley Road, Petersham, MA 01366

Quinebaug Woods in Holland

Quinebaug Woods is 36 acres.  Trek the one-mile loop trail north along the Quinebaug River before turning west and heading up and over a “hogback”—an exposed, rocky ridge where oak, hickory, white ash, and white pine comprise the open canopy while dense stands of hemlock appear below. You’ll find a stone chimney and foundation steps, the last being the remains of a cabin built in 1932. The trail map is here. Free to all. Dug Hill Road, Holland, MA 01521

Cormier Woods in Uxbridge

Cormier Woods is 186 acres.  Five miles of connected loop trails pass through easy-to-moderate terrain, including pastures, woodlands, and a boulder field. Pass beneath evergreens and hardwood species including oaks, maple, and birch. Oaks are dominant: you’ll pass several species, each with distinct leaves and acorns, especially as you venture away from the farmstead. On the one-and-a-half-mile loop trail leading toward the reservation’s northwest border, look for groves of 80-to-100-foot white pines. Listen for bluebirds at field edges, warblers in the thickets, and melodious thrushes, their flute-like song echoing across the woodlands. You’ll also wander through fields of native grasses and flowers, and, deeper into the woods, past brooks and giant boulders, rock outcrops, and cellar holes. Find the trail map here. Free to all. 217 Chapin St. Uxbridge, MA 01569; Telephone: 781.784.0567

Rock House Reservation in West Brookfield

Rock House Reservation - Discover the nooks and crannies of this 296-acre tract via three miles of trails and woods roads. The centerpiece is the 20-to-30-foot-high rock enclosure that stands guard over man-made Carter Pond. Along the way, savor the wildflowers, hardwood forests, and pine groves, and watch for a wide variety of animals, from wild turkeys to painted turtles. Look for a striking example of glacial erratics in Balance Rock, perched atop a large stone outcrop. Take a look at the trail map here before heading out. Free to all. Route 9, West Brookfield, MA 01506; 413.532.1631

Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center & Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester

Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester is the largest urban wildlife sanctuary in New England, with over 400 acres cooperatively managed or owned by Mass Audubon. Interpretive signs will guide you along well-marked trails through woods, fields, streams, and marsh. They offer many youth programs throughout the year and even offer snowshoeing rentals during the winter months. There is a 5 mile trail on the property. There are roughly 80 species of butterflies, 164 bird species, 700 plus plant species, and a diversity of wildlife habitats. Fun annual events including Butterfly Festival, Boo Meadow Brook, and Holiday Nature Crafts. Members: Worcester residents, & GWLT members are Free; Nonmembers: $4 Adults, $3 Seniors (65+), $3 Children (2-12); 414 Massasoit Road, Worcester, MA 01604; 508-753-6087

The Arboretum at Green Hill Park in Worcester

Green Hill Park Farm is Worcester's largest and most diverse park includes a golf course and a lighted field for football, two for softball and five for soccer. There also is a zoo with farm animals, an arboretum, two ponds, playgrounds and a network of drives and parking areas. The State-wide Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located within the core of the park close to Green Hill Pond, a 30-acre "great pond". Multiple gazebos and picnic areas provide areas to relax and take in the view.

Take a look at the map to the Arboretum for a listing of specialty trees that are planted there.

Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston

Tower Hill Botanic Garden is a nonprofit organization located at 11 French Drive in Boylston, Massachusetts. They are operated on 171 acres by the Worcester County Horticultural Society, one of the oldest of its kind in the country, and are open to the public for garden viewing, trail walking and activities. Members: FREE (must reserve ticket), Adults: $16, Seniors (65+): $11 ,Youth (6-18): $6 ,Children 5 and under: Free  (must reserve ticket), Dogs: $7 (Learn more about dog walking at Tower Hill.)


Top 5 Playgrounds and Parks in Greater Worcester

We compiled a list of top 5 parks in the area for families.

State Parks & Reservations

Purgatory Chasm is a unique natural landmark, Purgatory Chasm runs for a quarter of a mile between granite walls rising as high as 70 feet. Popular with picnickers and rock-climbers alike, the Chasm is believed to have its origin in the sudden release of dammed-up glacial meltwater near the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 14,000 years ago. Daily parking fee charged Memorial Day weekend through November. MA resident  $5; Non-MA resident  $20198 Purgatory Rd. Sutton, Massachusetts 01590; Phone: 508-234-3733


Beaches Pools and Splash Pads in Worcester and Beyond

Check out our guide HERE.

We hope that this list of outdoor activities to do in Worcester & Beyond has been helpful to you.  Worcester Macaroni Kid aims to be your most valuable resource in planning your fun-filled, family activities. Be sure to check out our Worcester Events Calendar here!  

If you are looking for family friendly outdoor fun during the winter - visit our article Outdoor Winter Fun in Worcester for our list of can't-miss family fun.

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