Massachusetts is best known for a city steeped in American History and beautiful Cape Cod beaches. About 45 minutes west of Boston, Central Massachusetts offers a plethora of activities for families with kids of all ages. Places to explore include farms, sculpture parks, butterfly gardens and more.
Central Massachusetts: A Day Trip from Boston
On a lovely spring weekend, my family had the opportunity to explore some of the best activities that central Massachusetts has to offer. Many of these sites are an easy day trip from Boston and we highly recommend that you check them out.
Massachusetts Audubon Drumlin Farm – Lincoln, MA
Drumlin Farm provides an experience of a working farm and wildlife sanctuary. Animals include sheep, goats, chickens, horses, cows and more. Walk along wonderful nature trails and observe many animals in their natural habitat.
During our visit, we saw owls, vultures, a gray fox. and a brown rabbit. If you have the opportunity, spring is a wonderful time to visit as you’ll often see some of the new baby animals. We saw baby lambs and sheep. We missed the baby piglets this year so we can’t wait to go back.
The property is 206 acres with about 4 miles of trails (weather dependent). A fun hayride will take you for a quick loop around the farm and nature area. The little kids LOVE this!
Drumlin farm also hosts special events like Woolapolooza in March and Tales of the Night in October. Kids can even attend summer camp at Drumlin Farm.
Our Family Favorites:
- Hay Ride
- Solar powered sculpture
- Gray Fox
- Great Horned Owl
- Lambs and Kids
Ecotarium – Worcester, MA
The Ecotarium combines indoor and outdoor activities focused on self-exploration of science and nature. A variety of things to see and do include live animals (we loved the red foxes), science exhibits, and a National Geographic sponsored planetarium ( the first of its kind in New England). The Ecotarium recently completed a large outdoor play area where kids can experience nature in new and different ways. This exhibit in Worcester received National Certification as a “Nature Explore Classroom”.
During the warm weather, families can explore a Tree Canopy Walkway as well. We’ll definitely return to check this out. The museum is working to restore 40-year old Explorer Express train ride that goes around the property. Younger kids really LOVE this one!
Our Family Favorites
- The rescued Red Foxes (Socks and Roxy)
- Playing with air flow
- Exploring the sea life area
- Playing a life size game of Mancala
- Walking the logs in the Nature Explore area
Great Wolf Lodge New England – Fitchburg, MA
We spent an overnight visit at the Great Wolf Lodge New England. We absolutely LOVED it! The main attraction at Great Wolf Lodge is the HUGE water park. They boast the largest indoor water parks in North America. The New England location is one of the newest in the Great World Lodge collection of properties. The water is kept at a comfortable 84 degrees and there are tons of activities to choose from like heart-stopping slides, a wave pool, and zero entry splash parks for the little ones.
In addition to the waterpark, there is a wide selection of other activities. You’ll certainly never get bored there. We’re talking a huge game room, mini-spa for girls, a sweets shop, indoor ropes course, mini-golf and more. An adventure game called “MagicQuest” has kids using wands to find magical clues around the hotel. The main lobby hosts activities like magic shows and bedtime stories for the little ones too.
Our room was well appointed and comfortable for a family of four with two queen beds and a pull our sofa bed. We lucked out with a quiet room at the end of the hall. Some rooms are very close to the water park and other indoor activities. You might want to keep this in mind when you book. The food was decent quality. There is one main restaurant, a pizza place, and a pub restaurant. They also offered nut-free desserts, which was perfect for my nut allergy son. We especially enjoyed the breakfast buffet.
Our family Favorites:
- Howlin’ Tornado slide
- Wolf Tail slide
- River Canyon Run
- Indoor Ropes Course
- Breakfast Buffet
Butterfly Place – Westford, MA
This little gem has been around for 25 years. A bit out of the way, make a loop with some of the other activities in the area, and it’s well worth the detour. My son loves bugs so this was the perfect place for him. The butterflies are just lovely. The garden is smaller than I expected, but really beautiful. Classical music plays and many of the butterflies truly seemed like they were dancing along. Walk along little pathways, and just sit on benches and observe. I felt like I had entered a secret world where a fairy might fly by and say hello.
In addition to the butterflies, enjoy a koi pond, tiny quails walking about and a few other small bird species living there. There was even a baby quail, which was just about the cutest thing I have ever seen. A butterfly expert sits in the atrium to answer questions. We will gladly return to sit amongst these little “fairies” again.
Our Family Favorites:
- Finding hidden butterflies
- Following the baby quail
- Spotting other birds
- Having a butterfly land on my son’s hand
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum – Lincoln, MA
The DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park is another absolute gem in the area. I grew up near New York City, so I had plenty of exposure to art, but nothing like this. Sitting on 30 acres, the sculpture park provides
Sitting on 30 acres, the sculpture park provides a constantly changing landscape of large-scale, outdoor, modern and contemporary sculpture. There are more than 60 works throughout the property. Inside, the Museum features a variety of rotating exhibitions and innovative interpretive programming.
During our tour, the museum director took us to study a few of the sculptures a bit more closely. He did a wonderful job of asking the children about their perspective on each piece. DeCordova offers exciting opportunities to explore Museum exhibitions and the Sculpture Park through specialty tours, and other workshops. Each season offers up-close encounters with exhibiting artists and the curators, as well as special guests.
Our Family Favorites:
- Enjoying the beautiful grounds
- Exploring the interactive sculptures
- The musical sculpture
- Our interpretive tour