what to do in wooster?
November 15, 2006 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Worcester, Massachusetts: can this weekend be saved?

I'll have a blast visiting a friend at Clark University this weekend, but the surrounding city of Worcester has all the charm of an old mill ghost town. Help! How can we amuse ourselves here? Doesn't help that the townies have figured out the students are an easy target... muggings on campus aren't uncommon after dark.

Does anyone have inside info on things to do in the local area? Cafes, bookstores, restaurants, pumpkin patches, music venues, anything! It can be cool and hip, but I don't mind corny/seasonal/regional either -- New England excels at cozy autumn holiday stuff, and I can take a break from anything I'd find in NYC (where I'm visiting from).

We don't have a car, but could take taxis within reason. Northampton/Amherst and Boston are a short bus ride away, if it comes to that -- and if you have better suggestions for those areas, especially for this weekend, please send along! We were trying to redeem Worcester as a place worthy of "hanging out" for an entire weekend... but we're not trying too hard to assert that claim ;)
posted by milkdropcoronet to Travel & Transportation around Worcester, MA (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't been in town for 6 years (went to school at WPI) but if you like museums there is the Worcester Art Museum only a few miles away from you. The Higgins Armory is a museum full of antique weapons and armor.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 1:02 PM on November 15, 2006

During the day, head over the Highland Street. The Bean Counter is a rather charming coffeeshop with lots of great desserts. The couple other restaurants there are alright (Tortilla Sam's, The Boynton, etc.) Nothing too exciting, just plain hanging out and catching up with your friend. Walk around over there and stick to the WPI area if safety is a concern.

In the evening, head over to Shrewsbury Street. It would be a pretty short taxi ride from Clark and back. The Flying Rhino has great food and funky drinks. You can hang out there or head over to any of the dessert places or restaurants/bars on Shrewsbury Street.

If you want this to be about Woosta, check out the Armory Museum or The Worcester Art Museum.
posted by copperbleu at 1:08 PM on November 15, 2006

Old Sturbridge Village?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:29 PM on November 15, 2006

I'm a recent Clark grad (class of '02) and I dispute your "muggings on campus" comment - I lived there, on campus, for four years and the only incidents that I was aware of involved non-students, or occurred when irate Clark first-year men would kick sleezy WPI frat kids out of the first-year dorms...

As far as things to do, there are a lot of good and cheap eats right near Clark, and a few of the bars around there have music once in awhile, but I second copperbleu's comment on focusing on catching up with your friend. The Worcester Art Museum is really good, actually.

You can catch the commuter rail into Boston for not too much money (though the schedule isn't great) if you want to get out of town. Without a car you probably won't be able to hit up too much of the New England autumn holiday stuff.

If you can make it out to Shrewsbury, go to Spags for the experience. Also, downtown does have some character... don't underestimate it.

Go to a local diner for breakfast. If Annie's Clark Brunch is still kicking it's worth it to see the clock with pigs humping. Otherwise, there's a million of them and all are more or less tasty.
posted by sablazo at 1:34 PM on November 15, 2006

sablazo, I was going to recommend Spag's too, but it seems to be a memory.
posted by saffry at 2:16 PM on November 15, 2006

Best answer: Hit some diners, check out the Higgins Armory, take a walk in Elm Park (small, but quaint), browse books and have lunch at the Tatnuck Bookseller, gaze at Bancroft Tower, and visit the Worcester Art Museum.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:17 PM on November 15, 2006

Best answer: I've only been to Worcester two times, and found it exactly as you've described -- except that my band played a show at Ralph's Diner, which was an awesome place! You could check out who's playing there, and eat a really good burger. And it's completely and totally the real life Porky's.
posted by pazazygeek at 2:42 PM on November 15, 2006

You may want to check out Wormtown Nightlife a site about what's going on in Worcester.

Tatnuck Bookseller is also worth checking out. And I second eating at some diners.
posted by jdl at 3:23 PM on November 15, 2006

Here's a website that basically functions as a day-to-day calendar for Worcester. It has some events outside of the area, but it is mostly local to Worcester, MA.

It also lists many restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.

posted by Jimmie at 4:15 PM on November 15, 2006

It's not Boston (as you note, you can get to Beantown from Worcester) but it's not so bad either.

Second the Art Museum. Also, there's probably hockey (minor league) at the DCU Center if you're so inclined.

For restaurants, I've liked Sole Proprietor (seafood, nice bar) and 111 Chop House (I think both are owned by the same people). There's also a Vinny T's on Shrewsbury Street (I think) if you're up for Italian food.

Several colleges in the area in addition to Clark - check their websites to see if anything interesting is happening on any of the campuses (campi?).
posted by dragonbay at 4:38 PM on November 15, 2006

If you can, get to (George's) Green Island on 162 Millbury Street. It's only open from 11:00PM-11:00AM, if I recall. Hard to get to without a car, but in my expirence at Clark there shouldn't be that much trouble finding someone with a car who knows or wants to know where it is. Best diner in town, period.
posted by Snyder at 4:52 PM on November 15, 2006

cocoagirl has a lot of great suggestions.

Definitely seconding Ralph's. I have such fond blank spaces in my memories of my years at Clark thanks to Ralph's...

The Palladium used to have some good shows, though I'm not up on what they're doing lately. I saw Portishead and Social Distortion there not too too long ago.

Don't leave Worcester without sampling its diners. They're amazing. The Miss Worcester, the Kenmore, the Boulevard... They're all an integral part of the town.

I've also got to dispute the muggings comment. I graduated from Clark in 1996, when the area was a lot less gentrified and the school was a lot less involved in improving the neighborhood, and I never heard of a student being mugged. I lived off-campus for a lot of that time on streets immediately surrounding the campus (like, campus was on one side of the street and there were houses on the other), and I never had any trouble. So unless the neighborhood's gotten a LOT worse and campus police (who are Worcester PD) have stopped caring, I think you'll be fine walking around after dark.
posted by jesourie at 5:28 PM on November 15, 2006

As a WPI alum, I can safely say there is nothing to do in Worcester, except wither away and die.

Well, if you like tepanyaki, there's always Sakura Tokyo. They have good sushi too. Then, with a full stomach, you can proceed to wither.
posted by tastybrains at 5:37 PM on November 15, 2006

seconding The Flying Rhino
posted by exlotuseater at 6:37 PM on November 15, 2006

Lowell is about 50 miles away (I think). You could take a day trip and do the Jack Kerouac walking tour. It's something different, anyway.
posted by Staggering Jack at 6:44 PM on November 15, 2006

Clark is in a rough area but It's only Worcester, not Detroit. Be safe but not paranoid.

I agree, Ralph's.
It was the only reason I got a fake ID as a teen.

There is a terrific restaurant, Tinovo, right downtown.
In a gorgeous old building that the co-owner of Smith and Wesson built for his daughter.
It's a bit upscale but very reasonable for lunch.

Tammany Club downtown is good for live music.

George's Coney Island Hot Dogs is a classic.

Weintraubs Jewish Delicatessen & Restaurant is awesome and in a great little neighborhood that is reviving.
Wonder Bar on Shrewsbury street is awesome little family pizza place that sometimes has music and serves beer.

And a great reasonable place "Coral Seafood" just reopened-- revamped.

El Basha is terrific if you like middle eastern food.
posted by beccaj at 5:27 AM on November 16, 2006

Response by poster: this was a great exercise in prioritizing my weekend -- it's clear now that my goals in worcester are:

1. having friend-time, no matter where we are
2. burgers and alt country at Ralph's
3. loitering at Tatnuck Bookseller

i'll save the fancy restaurants for NYC, but the rest of those crazy and obscure diners are on my hitlist for my next trip to woosta.

thanks everyone!
posted by milkdropcoronet at 6:39 AM on November 16, 2006

Oh no- I think that Tatnuck is closed! I think that would have been on my short list for you.
Double check that there is one open.
posted by beccaj at 9:59 AM on November 16, 2006

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