In Boylston, 132 acres rest untouched by modern society, where warm breezes send flower petals dancing and sidewalks give way to winding trails. Tower Hill Botanic Garden envelops visitors in fields of green grass, tall trees, and colorful flowers across both outdoor areas and indoor garden spaces. Staff members educate guests on the gardens’ various flora and fauna in classes and programs calibrated for students of every age. Special events, such as the African Violet Show, shine the spotlight on even more species of flowers, much like the wildflower-identification portion of standard driving tests.
Perhaps as a tribute to the timeless nature of the sword, the Worcester Fencing Club began as a small class held at the Higgins Armory Museum, a collection of arms and armor from medieval Europe and beyond. There, Doug Jacobs—a United States Fencing Association–certified instructor—began imparting his knowledge to a handful of students, giving them a small taste of the age-old sport that, over the years, had become unfairly associated with bullies popping balloons in the streets. Still, many of his students wished to extend their training, and—upon a suggestion of the mother of some of his students—Doug expanded his academy in 1998, forming the Worcester Fencing Club. Today, the school continues to draw fresh blood, introducing students of all ages and experience levels to modern- and Olympic-style fencing in classes still often taught by Doug himself.
Tires squeal and a 15-horsepower engine hums as its driver cuts through a narrow turn, shaving fractions of a second off the lap. Below the track, a colorful golf ball winds through faux island trees, avoiding walls and stops on its way to an awaiting hole. It's another day at Tri-State Speedway, a multileveled family entertainment center littered with motorized fun for patrons of any age. The upstairs, 22,000-square-foot go-kart track hosts competitive races with karts calibrated for speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. A walk downstairs leads to the island-themed, 18-hole mini-golf course nestled among a large video-game arcade, bowling lanes, bumper cars, and billiard tables. When fun gives way to hunger, Drafters Sports Cafe's servers and cooks serve finger-friendly pub bites, ice-cold beer, and paper napkins fashioned from losing basketball brackets.
BBs fly across Citadel Airsoft's 60,000-square-foot indoor facility as marksmen square off in CO2-fueled contests. Three days a week, open skirmishes reward strategy in 30-minute games that follow a variety of rules and scenarios such as Downed Pilot, where rival teams compete to either rescue or capture a specific player. For more experienced sharpshooters, Citadel organizes indoor and outdoor simulations that test players' mettle with unique obstacles and targets painted on remote-control houseflies. First-time players can boost their airsoft skills during training events and add to their personal armory with safety equipment and supplies from the facility's onsite pro shop.
The digital chorus of more than 40 arcade games soars above the rhythmic click of caroming billiard balls on Jillian's of Worcester's emerald expanses of felt. Good-natured competition finds an outlet at air-hockey tables, and a plethora of racing games let friends match wits or join forces against their true enemy: traffic cones. Versions of Deal Or No Deal and Wheel of Fortune and a selection of brand-new high-definition games glow festively near 24 Brunswick billiards tables. Private parties migrate to a lounge, where projection screens and high-definition televisions broadcast sporting events or news. Guests twirl or covertly stomp bubble wrap on the dance floor to the thumping rhythms of live music or follow noses to an array of appetizers, pizzas, paninis, and dinner entrees dispensed from the full-service kitchen.
Seasoned ace Jim Fenner steadies unstable swings and smoothens out wobbly putts with lessons tailored to individuals, groups, or players hoping to address specific ailments within their golf game. A veritable Johnny Appleseed of golf, the passionate pedagogue roams about courses and teaching centers throughout the greater Worcester area, spreading golf wisdom and burying dimpled orbs that soon blossom into VHS copies of The Legend of Bagger Vance. Clients can catch Jim refining pupils' motions at one of the area's outdoor ranges and courses on sunny days or remedying trust issues between clubs and their owner at the indoor golf simulator of The Perfect Game, where he hibernates during the off-season chill.