A rural suburban town of almost 12,000, Norfolk is on the southwestern edge of the Boston metropolitan area, in an upper valley of the Charles River.
The early history of Norfolk circles around a religious dispute in the 18th century, causing congregation members to leave Wrentham and settle in North Wrentham.
By the Civil War, North Wrentham had enough infrastructure to be incorporated as its own town, becoming Norfolk.
As it was then, Town Hill is the municipal heart of Norfolk, and is also the setting for Norfolk’s MBTA commuter rail station.
Norfolk is within shouting distance of Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots, and is noteworthy for its many acres of conservation land, for hikes over rolling hills and past beautiful millponds impounded hundreds of years ago.
1. Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
Norfolk is home to one of the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s favorite sanctuaries. Surrounding a beautiful millpond, Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is a mix of forest, open fields and an extensive wetland system.
This is crossed by a raised boardwalk, more than 500 feet in length, giving you an excellent opportunity to observe the rich wildlife supported by the marshes.
Also here is a universally accessible post-and-rope All Persons Trail, with guides available in audio, braille and large print.
Children will adore the Nature Play Area, while there’s a gift shop, natural history exhibits, and a variety of programs at the sanctuary’s Nature Center.
2. Norfolk Farmers’ Market
There has been a summer farmers’ market on Town Hill since 2016. A vibrant community of vendors and customers has evolved over the last few years, and there’s a bigger choice with each new season.
On a normal week you can hope to find seasonal fruit and vegetables, pasture-raised meats, eggs, honey, cut flowers, fresh breads, pastries, and a wide range of handmade crafts.
There are at least a couple of live music performances during the season, along with family activities and an ice cream truck when the weather hots up.
The market runs from the start of June to the end of September, and normally takes place on Wednesday afternoons.
3. Lind Farm Conservation Area
This attractive wooded conservation property straddles the Norfolk-Wrentham town line. Setting off from the parking area on North St, you might be surprised just how far the web of singletrack trails goes, even with the addition of a new housing development.
The main loop, bending around the outer edges of the Lind Farm Conservation Area, is more than four miles long, and is popular with mountain bikers.
One of the highlights is an unusually large vernal pool, providing a habitat for amphibians including green frogs, wood frogs and spring peepers.
4. The Tramp House
On Town Hill, next to the library, there’s an interesting holdover from the second half of the 19th century.
In the years following the Civil War thousands of itinerant men traveled north along the railroads in search of work.
For a time, local residents would give them temporary shelter, but eventually towns took it upon themselves to construct “Tramp Houses”.
Only a handful of these buildings survive in Massachusetts, and the Norfolk Tramp House, raised in 1886, is in a beautiful state of preservation and surrounded by pretty landscaping.
5. Jane & Paul’s Farm
Scaled back in recent years as the owners were in semi-retirement when we wrote this article, Jane & Paul’s Farm is one of Norfolk’s last fruit and vegetable farms. In June, July and August you can come by to pick your own fruit.
The blueberries are especially popular, and grow far larger than the ones you might find in a supermarket—to the size of grapes.
At the farm stand you’ll find a variety of other freshly picked fruits and vegetables, as well as herb plants for sale.
6. Gillette Stadium
In case you needed reminding, the magnificent home of the New England Patriots is within ten minutes of Norfolk’s center.
Completed in 2002, Gillette Stadium has coincided with an incredible period in The Pats’ history, in which they landed nine conference championships and six Super Bowls.
The 65,878-seat stadium was going through its first major renovation project when we compiled this list, resulting in the largest outdoor video board in the United States.
The New England Revolution of the MLS also play their home games at Gillette Stadium, which will be one of the venues for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
7. Patriots Hall of Fame
A few years after Gillette Stadium was completed, the Patriots Hall of Fame opened as part of the Patriot Place development.
Combining video, audio and tons of hands-on exhibits, this high-tech interactive museum has also received a multimillion-dollar update in the last few years.
Most of all, you’ll relive the moments that defined The Pats extraordinary dynasty under Belichick and Tom Brady.
You’ll get to know every one of team’s 19 (at the time of writing) inductees, recall historical wins and defeats, get the inside track on Belichick’s playbook, and marvel at a glittering array of trophies, including those six Super Bowls.
8. Patriot Place
The shopping center next to Gillette Stadium opened in two phases in the late 00s, and is partly on the site of the demolished Foxboro Stadium, The Pats’ previous home.
Patriot Place has turned the stadium and its vicinity into a year-round destination, especially for dining and entertainment.
As well as a massive choice of restaurants for every cuisine from New England-style seafood to hibachi, there’s a branch of Showcase Cinemas’ high-end De Lux theaters.
You’ve also got a comedy club, a “paint and sip” studio, and locations for the likes of Bass Pro Shops, Trader Joe’s, Ulta Beauty, and Victoria’s Secret.
9. The Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog
Something you might not expect to find at Patriot Place is Foxborough’s last remaining active cranberry bog. This is tucked away behind Bass Pro Shops, and produces berries as part of the Ocean Spray cooperative.
Traced by a half-mile nature trail, the bog is on 16 acres and has a stretch of raised boardwalk and interpretive signs explaining the unique process of planting and harvesting cranberries.
The trail is surprisingly varied, curling into woods and crossing the brook that drains the bog. If you happen to visit in fall you may be in time to see the harvest underway.
10. Norfolk Public Library
A fine building on Town Hill is Norfolk’s recently expanded public library, with its clapboard facades, gables, a lantern and a cupola.
This is the site of the old North School House, built around the 1870s and relocated to this site in 1898 when it became a firehouse.
The building was then used as a school once more from 1926 until the 1950s, when the current library was built around it. The 19th-century schoolhouse has been incorporated into the structure, surviving today as the Jeanne D. Hill Room, used for meetings and exhibits.
As well as providing a wealth of services and programs for Norfolk’s residents, the library is the venue for events like the town’s farmers’ market, as we’ve seen, and the annual Cactus and Succulent Festival in September.
The Friends of the Norfolk Public Library also host one of the top book sales in the state, every April.
11. Fore Kicks Sports Complex and Golf Course
The Fore Kicks chain of sports megaplexes has three locations in Massachusetts, one of which can be found in the southeast of Norfolk.
Inside there’s 85,000 square feet of space for sports such as soccer, basketball, pickleball, field hockey, lacrosse, volleyball, and much more.
The complex is a hub for competitive leagues, but is also open for drop-ins, rentals and birthday parties. Golfers will be especially pleased, as there’s an indoor driving range ($12 for a large bucket), and a lighted outdoor par 3 golf course.
12. Campbell Forest
This tract of lush deciduous woodlands can be reached on foot from Norfolk’s MBTA station. Established in 1972, Campbell Forest has a small parking area off North St, and from there you can get onto a loop, just over a mile in length.
As you head east, you’ll come to a wetland area in the watershed of a brook that eventually feeds into the Stop River.
There are sections of boardwalk over damper areas, and you can combine a visit to Campbell Forest with the Stone Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, which is just a little further south along North St.
13. Norfolk Ice Arena
Serving Norfolk and a number of surrounding communities since 1995, this ice rink is open all year round. Norfolk Arena is family owned and operated, and offers a ton of programs for all.
The Norfolk Frost Skating School has lessons for a wide range of ages and levels, while there are all kinds of leagues, programs and public sessions for youth and adult hockey.
For skaters learning more advanced skills, there are also freestyle sessions several times a week.
Finally, if you’re just looking for a laid-back place to spend some time on the ice, you can check the website for details of regular public skate sessions.
14. Norfolk Community Park
Families in search of activities for younger children will love this superb playground, which opened near the center of Norfolk in the 2010s.
Norfolk Community Park was officially designed for children aged 2 to 12, but is perhaps more appropriate for younger age ranges.
With a circular layout, the playground is fully fenced and is framed by coniferous woodland. There’s a range of swings, climbing structures and slides, as well as a large sandbox.
Also surrounded by fencing is a bike path, winding over a series of humps. There’s plenty of shading for parents, as well as picnic tables, all with easy access to the parking lot.
15. Noon Hill Reservation
A stone’s throw away in Medfield there’s a cluster of properties maintained by the Trustees of Reservations.
The most essential of these is the Noon Hill Reservation, centered on the eponymous 370-foot hill, which you can scale for far-reaching views to the south, taking in Gillette Stadium.
The slopes are covered with pine, hemlock, birch, and beech woods, with delightful wildflowers in the spring months.
At one point, the land was cleared for farming, but has since been reclaimed by the woods, with stone walls serving as a reminder of what came before.
The Bay Circuit Trail passes through the reservation on its 230-mile route through Greater Boston, leading around the shore of Holt Pond, impounded to power a mill in the 1760s.