I spent a week finding family friendly things to do in Worcester, Massachusetts. Typically, I stay near downtown and go to one of my favorite Worcester restaurants such as the Boynton, Mare E Monti, or Deadhorse Hill, and then at night hit up bars like Leitrim’s, Ralph’s, or Vincent’s (check out a few of these favorite bars & restaurants in Worcester here).
But this time I stayed in Holden and explored fun things to do and places to go outside of Worcester in the suburbs. My travels took me to breweries in Rutland and Barre, a hot dog stand in Leicester, and Seven Saws Brewing became almost like a second home and office for the week. I learned there are lots of places to go in Worcester County.
Here are four family friendly places near Worcester that you should visit and well worth the drive out of the city.
Hot Dog Annie's
I was raised as a fan of George’s Coney Island Hot Dogs in downtown Worcester. My dad used to go there when he was in college, he took me there when I was looking at colleges, and then I went there often during college. But if you find yourself in Leicester then Hot Dog Annie’s is the place to go.
Hot Dog Annie’s is a roadside hot dog shack that’s pretty much in the woods out in the middle of nowhere. Yet somehow cars are constantly cycling thru for a quick and inexpensive lunch during the lunchtime rush. I guess in reality, it’s just 15-minute drive from Worcester. It just feels further.
Seating is all outdoors, so you might want to leave your car running when you stop by in the middle of winter because it will serve as your dining area. But for the warmer months, there are plenty of outside tables. The BBQ dog is one of the more popular choices (BBQ sauce and onions, although I leave off the onions). And they use toasted Sunbeam New England style buns here, which is the style generally used for lobster rolls and are split on the top, so they stand up. These are different from the side loader style hot dog rolls that are common in NY and other parts of the country.
Which is Better? Hot Dog Annie's vs George's Coney Island
Hot Dog Annie’s: The pros here are the New England style buns, the BBQ dog, and that they bottle their own root beer. But the location is little far out.
George’s Coney Island: The location is right in downtown Worcester, it’s been open for over 100 years with a classic interior and has the best chili dogs around (a meat sauce such as chili is what makes them “Coney Dog”). Just be aware they are closed on Tuesdays.
Verdict: I always have been and still am a George’s Coney Island guy. It’s a Worcester institution and even if competitors pop up with a fancier or more unique menu, this place is hard to beat.
Lilac Hedge Farm
Lilac Hedge Farm is a 400 acre “pasture raised meats farm” in Rutland. They sell their own meats and other local products on location in their farm stand, and they also have a bar with food, local Worcester area beers, and sometimes live music.
Those alone are enough to make it a worthwhile place to visit. But they also have farm animals, lots of outdoor space for the kids to run around, and even had an inflatable water slide set up when we stopped by. This is simply a great place to bring the kids and spend a day with the entire family.
Seven Saws Brewing
Seven Saws Brewing opened a new brewing facility and taphouse in 2021, and man was I excited. It’s located right off Main St in Holden so it’s convenient for anyone living in town and only a quick drive from Worcester. The previous taproom on Main Street is still open, but this new location is huge by comparison. Plus, there is a huge outside area (notice the theme that every place I’m mentioning has great outdoor space?). If the Anzio’s pizza truck is there, they make pretty good pizza.
Finally, Seven Saws has fast Wifi and opens at noon, so it was a great place for me to work remotely a couple times. I came here four times in 7 days…. that’s how great this place is. It is now one of my favorite Worcester area breweries.
Stone Cow Brewery
Every place on this list is located outside of Worcester. But Stone Cow Brewery in Barre is located the furthest away. But I’m glad I made the drive.
The taproom is located inside the barn, with plenty of tables and live music the Saturday we were there. The food menu includes things like pizza, paninis, and burgers. But in the summer, they have an outside BBQ stand that is an even better lunch. Add in the cornhole and a kid’s playground and Stone Cow was a great place to spend the day with the family.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that there were goats. Or maybe they were llamas. Or maybe they had both goats and llamas. Whatever they were, we stopped and my toddler loved them.