Our Day Trip Guide to Worcester
Where you can peruse an antique market, inspect specimen plantings, and enjoy a cold can of Polar.
We all need a break from city life sometimes, if even just for a few hours. Our day trip guides highlight all of the gems within a short drive from Boston. Here, we explore Worcester.
Distance from Boston: 45 miles
Driving time: 1 hour
Set out for your first stop of the day bright and early, and pack some Claritin just in case. The sights and smells at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, where you should plan to arrive around 10 a.m., are stunning (and for some of us, sneeze-inducing). While it’s not technically in Worcester, this idyllic spot in Boylston is well worth the short detour. From a stunning courtyard and fields of daffodils to an indoor limonaia and orangerie (read: greenhouses for really pretty citrus trees), the 171-acre property is filled with exquisite shrubs, trees, flowers, and other specimen plantings.
After meandering through Tower Hill’s 17 one-of-a-kind gardens, you’ve likely worked up an appetite. Hop in the car and don’t stop driving until you get to Birchtree Bread Company in Worcester’s Canal District. (Birchtree has a handy map that lists out nearby parking lots here.) The bakery in the former loom-making factory cranks out fluffy brioche and flaky croissants daily. Call us traditional, but we love the grilled cheese on coriander raisin bread for lunch. When you’ve sopped up every last crumb, check out the market that anchors the building: Crompton Collective. Part antique shop, part local maker bazaar, you’ll find everything from vintage clothes and cookware to handmade jewelry and gifts. If you’re the type to inspect each booth top to bottom, set aside more than an hour here.
Don’t exit the mill building just yet. Seed to Stem, another charming retail space, is just upstairs. A self-described “plant and lifestyle boutique,” the shop is the stuff of Instagrammers’ dreams. It sells a carefully curated assortment of succulents, taxidermy, and crystals, and other goods.
Drop your finds off at the car, then walk to The Queen’s Cups. (Yes, two bakeries in one day.) The six-year-old cupcake shop moved from the small town of Millbury to Worcester last year, and is now a fixture on Water Street. The Queen’s flavors are all made from scratch and change every day—if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get the chance to try a mermaid-inspired confection. You should be able to leave with your sweet tooth satisfied, but in case it isn’t, Table Talk Pies is around the corner.
There are two options when it comes to killing a few hours before dinnertime. You could cruise over to the Worcester Art Museum, which is free during the month of August. The museum has a particularly impressive American collection with works from Childe Hassam, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, and Winslow Homer. Or, if beer sounds more up your alley, you could head to Wormtown Brewery. The Be Hoppy IPA is a classic choice—the signature yellow doodle on the bottle proudly touts Worcester’s invention of the smiley face.
Next, prepare to be delighted by dinner at Deadhorse Hill. Helmed by Jared Forman and Sean Woods, both alumni of Strip T’s, the place serves up creative, shareable plates made with ingredients sourced from New England. Sea scallops with buttered stone fruits, anyone?
Of course, Deadhorse Hill isn’t your only dining option. Worcester’s restaurant scene is exploding, and there’s a lot to explore. But if a full meal isn’t in the cards after a day of carbs, there’s always George’s Coney Island. Grab a dog with the works, a cold Polar Orange Dry, and *chef kiss,* your Worcester trip is complete. On to the Mass Pike.