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Plan the Perfect Winter Weekend: 5 Tips for Family-Friendly Holiday Fun

Photo credit: Discover Central Massachusetts

With wintry weather in full swing and holidays on the way, you deserve a vacation. But how can you pack up and take off without breaking the bank?

We bring you tidings of great joy! You don’t have to go far for peace of mind; you actually don’t even have to leave the state. Here are a few reasons why Central Massachusetts is ideal for a last-minute (and much needed) mini-vacation for the whole family.

Photo credit: Discover Central Massachusetts

Unique Christmas celebrations

If your family wants a historic spin on the classic Christmas routine, check out Old Sturbridge Village, offering a glance into the past with New England holiday traditions from the 19th century. Cozy up by the roaring bonfire, enjoy live musical performances, or take a romantic sleigh ride through the decorated Village Common. Be sure to bring the kids to North Pole Village where they can see Santa and his elves, snag something scrumptious from the Mrs. Claus’ Bake Shop, pay a visit to the magical talking Christmas tree, and take in the incredible train display. Don’t miss the nightly tree lighting and gingerbread house contest as part of Christmas by Candlelight.

For a more rustic feel, stop by Heifer Farm for hayrides, hot cocoa or cider, and homemade soup. Decorate your own gingerbread cookies or make international crafts at the farm’s Holiday Open House. (Don’t miss your chance before the farm closes its doors for good on January 1.) Take your family for Christmas card pictures at the gorgeous, 160-year-old Oakwood Christmas Barn with its decorated gazebo and sip a steaming mug of hot homemade cider.

Photo credit: Discover Central Massachusetts

Holiday shows and concerts

A Christmas Carol is a timeless holiday staple; catch a production of the story at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester. Enjoy a performance by the Worcester Chorus and Music Worcester at the beautiful Mechanics Hall. 

Holiday music fanatics will rejoice at the region’s star-studded lineup. The Hanover Theatre will play host to the Boston Pops, The Nutcracker, and A Christmas Story, The Musical this season.

Comfortable and idyllic lodging

Stay at the festive Laurel Ridge Bed and Breakfast and enjoy a Fireplace Feast at the historic Salem Cross Inn, complete with prime rib roasted on an antique 1700s-era roasting jack in a fieldstone fireplace. Enjoy a sleigh ride over the snowy hills of 600-plus acres of farmland; for a theatrical taste, the inn also hosts plays like Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Photo credit: Discover Central Massachusetts

Crafty stops

Artsy havens include the Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton (the oldest manufacturers of Christmas ornaments) and the Worcester Art Museum, home to special exhibitions like displays of William Bullard’s photography or Japanese Meiji metalwork.

Delicious dining

Grab comfort food classics at Kummerspeck Restaurant and Delicatessen. The spot has its own butcher shop, specializing in house-made charcuterie and sausages. Try any of the deli meats, steaks, chops, pate, and rotisserie chicken before sipping an amaro cocktail at the bar.

Small plates of porchetta and crispy mustard spätzle accompany pasta and meat entrées with a raw bar of scallops and oysters at Deadhorse Hill on Worcester’s Main Street. The restaurant and café are located in the former Bay State House hotel, the headquarters for the Worcester Automobile Club and Dead Horse Hill Climb from 1905 to 1911.

Photo credit: Brian Hale Photography

Dazzling holiday light displays

The Tower Hill Botanic Garden will be making Boylston spirits bright with their spectacular light display. Opening this month, Winter Reimagined 2017 will decorate the acres of formal gardens with glittering lights. Walk along illuminated paths next to bright fountains and sculptures that seem to come to life in the evening glow. Inside the greenhouse, guests can see handmade, nature-inspired ornaments, a wishing tree forest, an up-cycled igloo, ad two towering conservatories adorned with subtropical plants. Listen to seasonal music while shopping for plant-centric gifts in the Garden Shop.

Surround yourself with twinkling-lit trees in downtown Worcester by lacing up your skates and forming a figure eight on The Oval at Worcester Common. The 12,000-square-foot rink pipes in holiday music for your winter wonderland experience.

Photo credit: Discover Central Massachusetts

For even more reasons to travel to Central Massachusetts this season, visit discovercentralma.org.