The city of Lowell is located in Massachusetts and is the perfect example of scenic New England. Over the years Lowell has gained a reputation as a great holiday destination, thanks to its mix of interesting museums, relaxing parks, and lively attractions including ball parks and concert arenas.
For those who love literature, Lowell is also the birthplace of the famous writer Jack Kerouac, who is honored in the city in Kerouac Park. Lowell is also famous thanks to its industrial past and particularly for its textile production, so history buffs will find historical and cultural gems here in the form of original cotton mills, museums, and buildings from the period when this city was central to the industrial revolution sweeping the United States.
Lets explore the best things to do in Lowell:
1. Boott Cotton Mills Museum
Boott Cotton Mills was open for one hundred and twenty years before finally closing for good in 1955. After this time, it was lovingly restored and is now operated by the Lowell National Historical Park. The museum is dedicated to showcasing the mill and educating visitors about this fascinating tradition in Lowell. At the museum you will find period mill equipment on display and much of this is still in working order, so you will be able to get a feel for how this machinery would have operated in the days of old. The museum is also part of a wider area of parkland and you can take a tour of other buildings on the property. These include the original boardinghouse where the women who worked at the mill would have lived, as well as antique storehouses and a walkway next to the scenic Merrimack River.
2. Lowell National Historical Park
Lowell is often said to be one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, and the Lowell National Historical Park is the place to come to learn all about this amazing period of history. The park has a range of museums, exhibits, and events held throughout the year, and you can also check out the canal system and other architectural features here that would have made Lowell such a powerhouse in the days of old. You can walk around the leafy park and take in the scenery and there are lectures in the held here as well as other live events such as musical nights that are a great way to educate yourself on the historical and cultural significance of Lowell.
3. Mogan Cultural Center
Part of the Lowell National Historical Park, the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center works in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The center runs a selection of exhibits that are shown all over Lowell that showcase the history and culture of the area. The center is run by local volunteers and historians, so you can drop in here to see the current exhibits on display and learn more about the history of this area.
4. National Streetcar Museum
If you want to learn about how public transport has evolved in Lowell over the years then look no further than the National Streetcar Museum. Here you will find period examples of transportation vehicles and the jewel in the crown of this museum is the working streetcar on show here. The streetcar is, of course, named Desire, and visitors can even ride on it as it operates in the downtown Lowell area from May to October every year. The streetcar was restored in 1984 and you can learn all about its historical and political significance at the National Streetcar Museum, as well as seeing other exhibits likes old carriages on display.
5. The Lowell Devils
If you want to catch an all-American sports game then look no further than Lowell’s resident ice hockey team, the Lowell Devils. The Devils have their home stadium in the downtown area of Lowell at the Tsongas Arena, and games attract large crowds of adoring fans. Visitors to Lowell can check local listings to find out when the Devils will be playing next, and you can expect high octane and fast paced matches by talented athletes should you get the chance to take in a game.
6. New England Quilt Museum
The New England Quilt Museum is known for its dedication to the preservation of quilts and the traditional methods of quilt making. As a result, if you come here you can expect galleries that showcase antique quilts as well as seminars and talks that will introduce you to the ancient art of quilt making. Not only does the museum have a range of quilt themed exhibits, but there also a Quilt Library on site which has a range of literature on the subject of quilt making. You can even try your hand at using quilt making software here on one of the computers available for use for a completely interactive experience.
7. Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest
The Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest is so large that is sprawls across three cities, namely Lowell, Dracut, and neighboring Tyngsboro. The forest is over 1,000 acres and boasts six miles of trails that are known for offering great hiking opportunities in the area. If you prefer not to travel on foot then you can also bike in the forest and horseback riding is also available here. In the winter months skiing and snowmobiling are popular in the park and it is also a haven for wildlife lovers. Many of the trees here are over one hundred years old and are known for sheltering a variety of rare avian life, so if you like bird watching then this is the place to come.
8. UMass Lowell Kayak Center
The UMass Lowell Kayak Center is known for running summer kayaking trips that are open not only to UMass students but also to the general public. Whether you are a novice kayaker or an old hand, the UMass Lowell Kayak Center has courses to suit all different levels of ability and fitness. There are also classes for children and adults, so younger visitors can also join in the fun. If you don’t fancy a class, you can also just rent a kayak and take off on your own. The center is open over the summer season from May to August, and the kayaks are sold off when each season is completed, so you can also grab a piece of kayaking history if you happen to be here at the end of August and into September.
9. Kerouac Park
Depending on your literary trivia knowledge, you may or may not realize that Lowell is actually the location for five of Jack Kerouac’s novels. A resident of the town, prolific writer Jack Kerouac came to embody the voice of the beat generation, and a park was erected in his honor in downtown Lowell. Depending on how much of a fan you are, you can search out monuments to Kerouac all over the park, many of which feature excerpts of his work, and this is also a great place to come and spend an afternoon reading or working on your own masterpiece. The park has a relaxed feel with plenty of green open spaces that make picnicking a perfect pastime here, and many residents say that this is one of the most inspirational parts of the city.
10. Whistler House Museum of Art
Whistler House Museum of Art is famous for being the birthplace of the artist James McNeill Whistler and was first founded back in 1908. The site is also the base of the Lowell Art Association and you can find period and local artwork on display here as well as admire the home itself which is an important historical landmark in its own right. Visitors to the museum can enjoy many works of art by Whistler as well as other important American artists such as William Morris Hunt and Frank Weston Benson.
11. Tsongas Arena
For some entertainment in Lowell, look no further than the Tsongas Arena where some of the biggest artists in the United States have performed over the years. Many big names come here to perform live, and you can expect anything from classical music performances to rock, hip hop, or jazz concerts. If you are looking for something other than music, then the arena also hosts events such as sporting matches, conventions, and exhibitions. Check the local listings to see what’s on when you are in town.
12. Boarding House Park
If you happen to be visiting Lowell in the summer months then you may want to head to Boarding House Park, where you will find a range of events such as the Lowell Summer Music Series and the Lowell Folk Festival. The park is known for its verdant landscaping and grassy knolls that make it the perfect place to take in a concert, and guests can bring blankets or beach chairs in order to enjoy in greater comfort.
13. LeLacheur Park
Sitting on the Merrimack River, the Edward A. LeLacheur Park is the home of Lowell’s baseball stadium and is the place to come if you fancy taking in a game here. The park is the resident stadium of the Lowell Spinners who are a minor league team affiliated with the famous Boston Red Sox, and you can also catch the UMass Lowell River Hawks here as well.
14. Rogers Fort Hill Park
Stretching over 30 acres, Rogers Fort Hill Park is known for its beautiful fountains, grassy paths, and idyllic flower gardens. An impressive 23 acres of the park is made up of woodland and a variety of ancient heritage trees here that date back decades. Some of these include species such as Japanese and Sugar Maples as well as Elms, so if you want to check out the local Massachusetts flora and fauna then this is the place to do it. The surrounding area of the park is also well known for its heritage buildings and Victorian architecture.
15. Merrimack River
The Merrimack River is said to be one of the great reasons that industry originally boomed in Lowell, so with that in mind head to this magnificent waterway to see what all the fuss is about. As you walk along the river you can see a turbine that dates from the turn of the century and which was once used to power the famous Suffolk Mill, and there are guided tours offered here by rangers. As you move on to the Lower Locks, you can find a gatehouse and original lock features including a dam and sluiceway which will also give you an insight into how the river would have operated in days gone by. Much of the river can now be accessed by the newly constructed Riverwalk, which skirts along the banks of the Merrimack River passing local places of interest such as Boott Mills and Tsongas Arena on the way.