Stuck in Central Mass for the summer with not a lot of cash? Don’t feel like you have to splurge on a commuter rail ticket to trek to Boston. There’s lots of ways to keep cool and have fun without breaking the bank or leaving the area.
1 . Worcester Art Museum
The Worcester Art Museum far outclasses the city in which it resides. They’ve also embarked on some efforts to make the museum more accessible to the general public. If you are a student at any college in Worcester, you can get in for free! Just present your school ID at the desk. Do you not attend at Worcester consortium college but live in the area? You can reserve a pass to many local museums through your library. Reserve the pass online, pick it up at the library that day, and show the pass at the desk. In addition, if you receive benefits through SNAP or WIC, present your card and you get in for just $2. Spend a couple hours enjoying air conditioning and art (there’s also free parking!). This summer in particular the WAM has a very strange exhibit featuring live cats that I highly encourage everyone to check out.
2. Out to Lunch
Last summer I worked at City Hall in Worcester and my favorite part of the week was the Thursday Out to Lunch concert series. Once a week the Worcester Common hosts an outdoor concert with a small farmer’s market, some local food trucks, and local craft vendors. You can get food from the Wooberry froyo truck, the Dogfather (they’ll make you a hot dog you can’t refuse), and the Loving Hut. In addition, the REC Mobile Farmer’s Market is always there with high quality produce, and if you pay with SNAP/WIC you get 50% off. The music varies throughout the summer, though my favorites are the 80’s cover bands and the salsa groups. These two hours on Thursdays are a nice way to see people flock to downtown and to have the Common filled with positive energy. 3. Regatta Point State Park
3. I started going to Regatta Point to take a sailing class a few summers ago and I fell in love with this little spot on Lake Quinsigamond. Park of the state park’s system, there’s a small beach for swimming as well as a community sailing organization where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats. There’s also a nice spot for fishing by the Worcester Boathouse and from the beach you can watch sailboats and crew shells go up and down the lake. It gets pretty crowded on the weekends with people having barbecues, so I like to go in the late afternoon on weekdays (if you arrive after the guard leaves you don’t have to pay for parking). Bring a beach chair, put your feet in the water, and enjoy the breeze off the lake.
4. West Boylston Movie Theater
My house doesn’t have air conditioning so I’m always looking for some place nice and cool and cheap to spend a few hours. The discount movie theater in West Boylston shows second-run movies at a cheap price, so if you missed a film when it was in regular theaters this is your chance to see it on a big screen. The best deal is on Tuesdays, when all movies are just $4 all day. The popcorn is pretty cheap too, and there’s a Walmart in the same plaza if you want to buy snacks there as well. The theater is usually pretty empty, especially on a weekday matinee, so if you and your friends might get a whole theater to yourselves.
5. Purgatory Chasm
If you want to get out and explore a little bit, Purgatory Chasm in Sutton is a great option. The park is based around a deep chasm between granite walls, with cool rocks and tunnels throughout. It’s also easy to get to, just off of Rt. 146, and there are a variety of hikes for different fitness levels. If you grew up in the area, you probably know some stoners from your high school who reached enlightenment on a Purgatory hike and then talked about it for months on end, though in the summer there will be more of a camp kid crowd. Regardless, this state park offers a chance to get outside, have a picnic, and climb around on some rocks.