Dubbed a 2011 Best Family Fun Destination by Worcester Magazine, EcoTarium’s three floors of exhibits creatively use wildlife, scientific concepts, and the museum’s natural-history collection to help children discover the natural world. A new permanent exhibit, The Arctic Next Door: Mount Washington acquaints explorers with the climate and terrain of New England's highest peak, letting them glimpse the mountain's icy surface during a virtual visit and test mountain-scaling skills on a climbing wall. Another permanent exhibit, Secrets of the Forest whispers deciduous gossip into the ears of explorers, and a minerals exhibit lets tykes appraise gems, ores, and crystals. Many animals, including bald eagles, wood turtles, and otters frolic peaceably within the museum grounds, which also feature 55 acres of nature trails.
The four-story Higgins Armory Museum details the long history of weapons and warfare across the world, delighting imaginations with thousands of historical swords, armor, and early firearms. The Gothic-inspired Great Hall features ancient arms and armor, tools of war from around the world, and an entire section devoted to medieval tournaments, including both jousting and fantasy jousting. Blending the mythology of several world cultures with sci-fi art, Beyond Belief follows the curious journal of Professor Rufus Excalibur Bell, a scientist exploring the weird aspects of time and space with fun, fictional exhibits such as gargoyle skeletons and the Miniscule Winged Specimen Influxator, a vacuum designed for trapping fairies.
For more than 20 years, students of English riding have flocked to Four Winds Farm’s sprawling grounds, which encompass five paddocks, three spacious barns, and both indoor and outdoor riding venues. The licensed coaches impart the fundamentals of English riding during private and group sessions, which can help build confidence in novices perched atop gentle lesson horses or finesse the technique of show riders. Horse owners can also stable their steeds in the farm’s barn, thanks to a boarding program in which horses are fed and turned out daily to ensure that their muscle memories retain rider-friendly motions.
Boasting a giant, new insulated indoor riding arena, two outdoor rings, and 20 pastures, Maplewood Farm has plenty to offer horses and humans alike. The farm offers customized training programs and riding lessons for students of all ages, with a focus on both fun and safety.
With the largest collection of Russian icons in North America, this museum gives its visitors a glimpse into an important part of Russian culture in play since the year 998. It houses more than 500 Russian artifacts, and also encompasses a research library and archive with a collection that spans six centuries. Onsite classes let interested parties delve even more deeply into the artifacts’ context and history, and the three-story building’s elevators and other amenities render it fully accessible to patrons in wheelchairs and on unicycles. Today, the museum spans 16,000 square feet and includes an old mill building, though over the years it has expanded to encompass extra gallery space, a tea room, and a performance area dedicated to cross-cultural understanding.
Founded in 1924 as a vaudeville palace and movie house, The Strand Theatre harks back to the cinematic havens of yore with its homey auditorium space and vintage marquee. Groups enjoy recent releases and classic films while seated at tables, which grant unimpeded legroom and preclude fistfights over whose cup holder is whose. The tables are placed in a staggered and tiered arrangement that ensures every audience member has a clear sightline. The in-house restaurant shares a full-service menu of appetizers and entrees from the grill, as well as craft beer and wine, all of which can be enjoyed inside the theater.