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5 Day Trips From Boston That Will Let You Reconnect with The Outdoors This Spring  

If you know Boston, you know the city reawakens when spring comes back around—the last patch of snow defrosts, the first pitch is thrown from Fenway Park, and the outdoors have a certain allure that they didn’t quite have throughout the winter. And the people? They’re ready to get outside.

While outdoor dining and walks on the Charles River Esplanade can do a lot for spring fever, they likely won’t cure it—what can, however, is immersing yourself in nature outside the city and discovering the energizing forces it can have.  

Just ask Jenn Madson, central regional director of Mass Audubon. “I think after a winter of cold and snow and ice and rain and lots of gray, going out into the spring it can feel like a renewal,” she says. Here are some outdoorsy picks just outside Boston in the stunning region of North Central Massachusetts where you can make a short drive, feel that healing power of fresh air and the outdoors, and be back in the city in time to witness sunset over the skyline.

Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary 

For those looking to breathe in the spring air and explore a serene landscape dotted with wildlife and teeming with lush vegetation, Wachusett Meadow is your place. It’s over 1200 acres, 12 miles of trails that connect to Wachusett Mountain and the MidState Trail, and offers peaceful sitting areas for all visitors — including a rainy-day-friendly gift shop and indoor program room, rain gear on loan, and an ADA-accessible trail with an audio overlay.

“One of the things I love the most about Wachusett meadow is the diverse types of ways that people can interact with nature,” says Madson. “It’s really go-at-your-own-pace and challenge-by-choice.” She says not to miss the sanctuary’s flock of sheep and to keep an eye out for otters, porcupines, and monarch butterflies.

While you’re here: Stop for a locally brewed (and delicious!) beer at Wachusett Brewing Company  

Mountain Biking in Leominster

Although Madson warns that conservation areas like Wachusett Meadow won’t allow mountain biking (or any form of treading besides walking), she says Leominster has some gorgeous spaces where you can live out your mountain biking visions. Specifically, head to Leominster State Forest for a number of trails of varied difficulty. Check out trail rankings so you know what to expect on the trail — but no matter what you choose, expect epic views and plenty of adrenaline.

While you’re here: Visit Drake House, a historic Underground Railroad stop

2024 River Rat Race

Every year in Athol, MA, the Athol Lions Club and the Orange Lions Club throw a party called the Athol-Orange River Rat Race, where more than 200 canoes race in a 5.2 mile sprint on the Millers River from the Alan E. Rich Environmental Park in Athol to Riverfront Park in Orange. The race attracts large crowds each year, with locals and people from across the country coming to the region to spectate. Plus, the day before the Rat Race, there’s a family-friendly road race named the Big Cheese 5K and a parade immediately thereafter.

While you’re here: Take a stab at a new sport at Tully Lake Disc Golf Course  

In the Meadow Alpaca Farm

Since 2014, Lunenburg’s In the Meadow Farm owners Jackie and Gerard Chabot have gone from having a few chickens to having 12 alpacas, 20 chickens, two fiber bunnies, and two cats. As you might expect, having 12 alpacas means having an excess of alpaca fiber. So, in addition to visiting the animals and enjoying the laid back farm atmosphere, you can also check out In the Meadow’s fiber studio and shop. There, you can take fiber arts classes, browse for gifts, and learn more about alpaca fur and its uses.

While you’re here: Continue the family fun at Great Wolf Lodge, located just 15 minutes from the farm  

Wachusett Mountain State Reservation

Home to some of the most iconic hiking trails in Massachusetts, Wachusett Mountain in Princeton is the perfect day trip for hikers of all abilities, and if you don’t want to climb, the auto road gives you access to the spectacular 360-degree, four-state scenic views from the 2,006-foot summit (the summit road is open from late May to mid October). Starting from the Visitor’s Center in Princeton, you’ll have access to 17 miles of trails within the 3,000 acre reservation. Routes highlight the forest, meadows, and ponds on the mountain.

While you’re here: Pay a visit to the Davis Farmland in Sterling or Red Apple Farm in Phillipston for a fun day of family activities, just two of the many farms and orchards in the North Central MA region. 

Funded in part by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.