15 Best Things to Do in Leominster (MA)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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In hilly North Central Massachusetts, Leominster emerged in the early 19th century as an important manufacturing center.

Much of this industry was along the Monoosnoc Brook, which wriggles through downtown Leominster and will soon become part of a growing trail network linking this city with Fitchburg to the north.

Leominster is the birthplace of the pioneer nurseryman, John Chapman (1774-1845), remembered as Johnny Appleseed, who introduced apple trees to large swaths of the United States and Canada.

There’s a festival in Johnny Appleseed’s honor every September, and you can pick your own produce at local orchards with more than 30+ apple varieties in late summer and fall.

1. Doyle Community Park

Doyle Community ParkSource: Daderot / Wikimedia | CC0
Doyle Community Park

In the very north of Leominster there’s a stunning urban park on 157 acres. At the turn of the 20th century this land was the lavish estate of industrialist, Harry W. Pierce, with a 29-room mansion, stable, paddocks and a network of bridleways.

The property was gifted to Leominster by Louise I. Doyle in 1981, and today is a green oasis, little more than five minutes from downtown Leominster.

In a tapestry of historic formal gardens, woods, meadows, wetlands and landscaped parkland there are over three miles of trails, half of which are designed to be accessible.

A carefree afternoon can be spent at Pierce Meadow, site of the old mansion, with ten acres of open space and mature trees, ideal for picnics and outdoor games.

2. Downtown Leominster

Downtown LeominsterSource: Dougtone / Flickr | CC BY-SA
Downtown Leominster

Take some to wander around the center of Leominster, which has some impressive late 19th-century commercial buildings, especially along Main Street.

At the south end, Monument Square is the anchor for an historic district, and is the logical venue for community events from spring to fall.

The square is littered with memorials, including a marker for the town’s second meeting house, set here from 1775 to 1824.

Close by you can continue your stroll along the Monoosnoc Brook Walk. During the 19th century the brook was the power source of several mills, making products as diverse as paper, shirts, baby carriages, combs and pianos.

If you work up an appetite, downtown Leominster has a multicultural dining scene, with diner food, pizza, tapas, steak, Chinese and kabob all on the menu.

For shopping you’ll find local businesses for handmade gifts, craft supplies, cheese, flowers and locally quarried granite countertops.

3. Johnny Appleseed Festival

Johnny Appleseed FestivalSource: Johnny Appleseed Arts and Cutural Festival / Facebook
Johnny Appleseed Festival

Downtown Leominster’s Monument Square is a fitting place for an annual day-long celebration to honor the city’s local hero, Johnny Appleseed.

This event was inaugurated in 1994, and heralds the arrival of fall each year, at the end of September.

With a lot of support from the community and local businesses, the Johnny Appleseed Festival has a parade, more than a hundred craft and food booths, ample live entertainment and a lot of activities for children, including a petting zoo, pony rides and a giant inflatable slide.

4. Monoosnoc Ridge Trail

HikingSource: Maridav / shutterstock

Rising to the west of Leominster are two prominent granite peaks, the North and South Monoosnoc Hills, at 985 and 1132 feet respectively.

If you’re feeling energetic you can walk the ridge between these two summits on a trail running down Leominster’s west flank, within a couple of miles of downtown.

The Monoosnoc Ridge Trail is around eight miles long, requiring about four hours and giving you some fabulous views over Leominster as you go.

Near the south end, on the way to Fall Brook Reservoir and Sholan Farms, the trail skirts the summit of Bayberry Hill (1068 ft), which can be reached via a side trail.

If you’re pushed for time you can always walk portions of the main trail, broken down into north, middle and south sections, with plenty of places to park, either by the main trail or its spurs.

5. Leominster State Forest

Leominster State ForestSource: Tania Nicoalu / shutterstock
Leominster State Forest

This 4,246-acre state forest makes up much of western Leominster, and spills into several neighboring communities.

Within the boundaries of Leominster State Forest are the Crow Hills, which is actually a single monadnock with a twin summit at 1,234 feet and 1,220 feet, and a soaring eastern cliff.

Traversing the Crow Hills is the 92-mile Midstate Trail, traveling through Worcester County from the Rhode Island state line to the border with New Hampshire.

The massive trail system at Leominster State Forest connects with Leominster’s Monoosnoc Ridge Trail, for an unbroken venture into the wilderness.

Hiding in the woods are several ponds and reservoirs, like Crow Hill Pond, which has a swimming area, and Paradise Pond, which is a memorable spot for a kayaking trip.

6. Wachusett Mountain State Reservation

Wachusett Mountain State ReservationSource: Monika Salvan / shutterstock
Wachusett Mountain State Reservation

If you’re willing to travel a little further there’s 3,000 acres of protected mountain scenery just beyond the Leominster State Forest.

The Wachusett Mountain State Reservation is great for hiking and mountain biking, spring through fall, and the Wachusett Mountain ski area offers 26 runs in winter.

The biggest draw is of course the eponymous peak. At 2,006 feet, this is the highest in the state, east of the Connecticut River.

Rocky ledges just beneath the summit support the largest stands of old growth forest in the region, with many trees dating back almost 400 years.

The view from the summit, accessible via a roadway spring to fall, is awe-inspiring, reaching out to Boston (east), Vermont (northwest), Mount Greylock (west) and Mount Monadnock, some 30 miles to the north in New Hampshire.

7. Leominster Historical Society

Leominster Historical SocietySource: Daderot / Wikimedia | CC0
Leominster Historical Society

On a handsome plot, between Leominster City Hall and the Leominster District Court you’ll find the city’s historical society.

This is in the old Field School building, constructed in 1870. On Tuesdays and Saturdays mornings you can call in to view museum exhibits or make use of the society’s large library, archives and photographic records for research.

The society also organizes a host of free events and activities, like history talks, guided tours and Q&As with history authors.

At Christmas there’s a special tour of the Frances H. and Jonathan Drake House (21 Franklin Street), which was built in 1848 and is remembered as an important local stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1850s.

8. Sholan Farms

Sholan FarmsSource: doug m / shutterstock
Sholan Farms

This community-owned orchard is in the very south of Leominster, opening to the public in summer and fall for pick-your-own fruit.

Earlier in the season there are blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, but, appropriate for Leominster, the apples are the stars here.

Ready to pick from mid-August to the end of October, Sholan Farms produces more than 30 varieties, ranging in flavor from tart to sweet.

The farm has a detailed guide for each variety on its website. Everything builds up to the annual Harvest Festival in mid-October, with a craft fair, cider pressing, barnyard animals, wagon rides, food trucks, a bounce house, mascots from local sports teams and much more.

9. Twin Cities Rail Trail

Twin Cities Rail TrailSource: John Phelan / Wikimedia | CC BY-SA 4.0
Twin Cities Rail Trail

When we compiled this list, the first section of the Twin Cities Rail Trail had just been opened. The trail is on a former section of the Fitchburg and Worcester Railroad (1850), which ran from Fitchburg through Leominster and Sterling, joining these cities to the Worcester and Nashua Railroad.

A rail trail has been in the pipeline since 2004, and the first phase runs from First Street in Fitchburg to Carter Park, a small public space on the Monoosnoc Brook, close to downtown Leominster. The next phase will connect the trail with downtown and the Monoosnoc Brook Greenway.

10. George Hill Orchards

Picking PeachesSource: Africa Studio / shutterstock
Picking Peaches

A short way southwest of Leominster, George Hill Orchards is a family-run farm with a story that goes back half a century.

In summer and fall you can come by to pick your own blueberries, peaches and apples. The latter is especially plentiful, in more than 15 varieties, from ginger gold in late August to red delicious, macoun, empire and mutsu deep into October.

There’s also a fun-packed pumpkin patch in fall, with homemade treats like apple cider donuts and freshly baked pies on sale.

11. Great Wolf Lodge Water Park

PoolSource: Zurijeta / shutterstock

There’s a branch of the Great Wolf Lodge resort chain close by at the north end of Leominster State Forest. You don’t need to stay overnight to use the excellent indoor water park here, which can be accessed with a day pass.

Open year-round, this enormous facility has a small world of rides and attractions for all ages. For thrills you’ve got water slides like the signature Howlin’ Tornado, dropping six stories into a dizzying vortex.

The park has three areas for smaller children and toddlers, including the awesome, four-story playground, Fort Mackenzie. And if you need some time to unwind there’s the long lazy river, Crooked Creek, and the restful North Hot Springs hot tub area.

12. Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center

Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ CenterSource: Brad Wyatt / Facebook
Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center

If you’re traveling into Leominster along Route 2 there’s a renovated visitor center for North Central Massachusetts, on the westbound side of the highway, just east of the city.

This modern, 2,000-square-foot facility is the perfect primer for your stay in the area, with knowledgeable and friendly staff, volumes of brochures and up-to-date information about upcoming events.

The gift shop here is stocked with local merchandise and typical local products, including maple syrup and a lot of apple-related treats. There are also restrooms, vending machines and a 24/7 interactive information kiosk.

13. The Gate Escape

Escape RoomSource: Jerome.Romme / shutterstock
Escape Room

At a shopping center not far from the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center there’s an interactive live adventure games attraction with three challenging and humorous escape rooms to choose from.

The puzzles are smartly put together, the props are immersive, and the game masters are friendly and helpful.

In The Observatory you help a brilliant scientist find his notes in time for a press conference; in The Assistant 2.0 he needs your help again to rescue his thumb drive from a wormhole, while D.J. Death involves putting together a party playlist for the grim reaper.

The rooms have a limit of between 45 and 90 minutes, and are suitable for teams of up to six players.

14. The Mall at Whitney Field

Mall at Whitney FieldSource: jjbers / Flickr | CC BY
Mall at Whitney Field

In a process reflected across the country, this mall by the intersection of Route 2 and I-190 had a few vacancies when we made this list.

The Mall at Whitney Field has been around in some form since 1967, and came through a redevelopment in 2004.

The owners have changed several times in recent years, with Hull Property Group taking over in 2020.

Despite the obvious contraction, there’s still a worthwhile assortment of national retailers here, like JCPenney, Burlington, rue21, Torrid, Old Navy, American, Eagle, Claire’s, Bath & Body Works, and Hot Topic, with a Sephora in JCPenney.

In terms of food there’s an Auntie Anne’s, a Panera Bread, and a number of chains outside, like Dairy Queen, Chipotle, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Popeyes.

15. Entertainment Cinemas

Movie TheaterSource: photastic / shutterstock
Movie Theater

The only luxury movie theater in the region is in the lot next to The Mall at Whitney Field. This cinema has been here almost as long as the mall, opening as a twin in 1969.

Over the last 50+ years this has been turned into a ten-screen multiplex. Today you’ve got digital projection, cozy recliners, big screens and a cafe on site serving beer and wine.

For savings, you could catch a matinee, or come on Tuesdays when movies were $6.75 all day and night at the time of writing.


15 Best Things to Do in Leominster (MA):

  • Doyle Community Park
  • Downtown Leominster
  • Johnny Appleseed Festival
  • Monoosnoc Ridge Trail
  • Leominster State Forest
  • Wachusett Mountain State Reservation
  • Leominster Historical Society
  • Sholan Farms
  • Twin Cities Rail Trail
  • George Hill Orchards
  • Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
  • Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center
  • The Gate Escape
  • The Mall at Whitney Field
  • Entertainment Cinemas