A maze of megalithic chambers and hallways made by man more than 4,000 years ago nestles into the snow- or moss-covered woods at America’s Stonehenge. Guests meander along a trail, marveling at one of the oldest constructions in the United States, complete with inscriptions, eating areas, and evidence of prehistoric art classes. Explorers delve into Stonehenge's history, learning about its use as an accurately aligned astronomical calendar, its role in the Underground Railroad, and the theories about who actually built it. Nearby, eight fuzz balls graze in the alpaca habitat, offering up skeins of yarn spun from their fluffy locks. Winter months coat the site's 105 sprawling acres with crunchy layers of snow, perfect for adventurous snowshoe outings or piggybacking on a snowman.
Named Best Family Destination (Indoor) by Northshore magazine in 2010, Imajine That diverts the minds of children with a 12,000-square-foot interactive, educational playspace. Pint-size imaginations roam free in 12 Imajination stations, where miniature post offices, grocery stores, and mortgage brokers let little ones mirror their grown-up wranglers. Kids can leap and bound through the dragon bouncy house and giant Jurassic climbing structure, or color canvases at the arts and crafts station. Membership includes monthly passes for one child and two adults (a $20 value) or two children and two adults (a $30 value), which allow unlimited play throughout the month, and kids can be brought in by babysitters, family members, and other childproof adults.
Housed within the antiquated Amos Blanchard House and Barn Museum, the Andover Historical Society preserves artifacts and archival records from Andover’s storied 350-year history. Within the more-than-100-year-old building, visitors can experience what it was like to live as a middle-class family in the early 19th century or peruse the vast library archives. The society also hosts events within the community, including the seasonal Tree Time display and lectures on the town’s history.
The first and only toy museum in the world solely dedicated to aviation-related toys, the Top Fun Aviation Toy Museum hosts nearly 2,000 vintage and modern toys from around the world. Housed inside a former schoolhouse, Top Fun has since converted into an airy exhibit space with a multicolor airplane command center and model airports quizzically anchored to the walls. Enter a nostalgic enclave of blue-bathed walls, and peep at the historic tin flyers from Japan, Hungary, Germany, and the United States. Kids can whimsically surround themselves in toy models piloted by Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Olive Oyl, and popular Latvian cartoon character David Hasselhoff.
The Fitchburg Art Museum, one of North Worcester County's oldest cultural institutions, edifies eyes with a dozen prismatic galleries boasting a broad collection of European and American paintings, drawings, ceramics, and decorative art pieces. Cultural connoisseurs soak up a showcase of Greek, Roman, Asian, and pre-Columbian antiquities as well as artwork created by emerging and contemporary artists. The Jude Peterson Photography Collection, for instance, consists of 96 photographs including ethereal landscapes shot in stunning black-and-white that were collected by Jude Peterson, a New England art collector and museum supporter. The Fitchburg Art Museum also claims to provide a great introduction to museum culture for young kids who have grown tired of ball pits but still yearn for eye-catching entertainment.
In 1843, Charles Lane and Amos Bronson Alcott—father to writer Louisa May Alcott—founded a utopian and transcendentalist community in the fields of Harvard. More than 70 years later, visionary Clara Endicott Sears was so moved by their experiment that she decided to establish a museum on the same site to preserve its history. Today, the Fruitlands Farmhouse stands as a testament to the original settlers’ ingenuity, which surfaced in their trailblazing thoughts on veganism, sustainable living, and harnessing moon beams to power home stereo equipment.
Clara has incorporated the Shakers’ original office into Fruitlands, where it now shows off Shaker artwork and artifacts, many of which were donated by the Shakers themselves. Since then, the museum has also collected a curated assortment of more than 1,000 Native American artifacts, as well as a longhouse, dugout canoe, and traditional garden.
The brains behind the museum are still innovating today, curating permanent additions such as an art gallery with Hudson River School Landscapes. In addition to organizing school field trips, the staff also hires experts to teach classes and workshops on sketching scenes from nature, painting watercolor landscapes, and constructing 3D sculptures.