Separated from Worcester by Lake Quinsigamond, Shrewsbury is a city of almost 40,000, noted for its large Asian American population.
The city was incorporated as long ago as 1727, the same year its most famous son, General Artemas Ward, was born. In summer you can visit Ward’s home, now a museum owned by Harvard University.
Lake Quinsigamond made Shrewsbury a summer escape for the wealthy, and at Prospect Park you can explore grounds of one of those residences, laid out on the city’s highest point.
There’s a small but well-appointed ski area at Ward Hill in winter, and in summer you can tour wineries, visit compelling local museums and catch regatas on the lake, famed as a rowing course.
1. General Artemas Ward Museum
During the summer you can step inside the restored home of Artemas Ward (1727-1800), who was a successful major general in the Revolutionary War, and later a Congressman.
Originally a small salt box, the house was built by Ward’s father for tenants on his farm and it wasn’t until 1763 that Artemas resided here.
The main structure’s Federal appearance dates from a significant expansion by Ward in 1785, while an ell was added by his son in the early 19th century.
The Ward House belongs to Harvard University, where Ward graduated in 1748, and can be visited free of charge. Also on the property is an unusual four-story barn, created by combining two separate barn buildings in 1848.
2. Dean Park
Over Main St from the General Artemas Ward Museum is Shrewsbury’s favorite public park, on 79 acres around the namesake pond.
Dean Park is just the place for an easy walk or bike ride, with almost two miles of trails, including a paved and shaded loop around the pond.
The bandstand at Dean Park stages Shrewsbury’s summer concert series, with performances normally on Thursdays.
The playground may well be the best in the city, with sandboxes, separate equipment for older and younger children, all enclosed by a chain link fence.
Other amenities include baseball/softball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts and a hill that is perfect for sledding in winter.
3. Ski Ward Ski Area
Ward Hill in the east of Shrewsbury has a ski area that has been open every winter since 1939. This compact mountain has a vertical drop of 220 feet, and offers nine trails with 100% snowmaking coverage.
The nine trails are equally weighted between beginner, intermediate and expert levels, and are used by several schools in the area.
Every new season brings improvements and upgrades, and one popular addition has been the snow tubing facility, with five lanes and two designated lifts ensuring fun for all ages and abilities.
There’s also tubing in the summer, thanks to a six-lane, 220-foot Tubaslide served by a carpet lift.
4. Prospect Park
Moments from Shrewsbury Center there’s a 71-acre park on what used to be a summer estate for the local rug and carpet manufacturer Matthew John Whitall (1843-1922).
The mansion was completed in 1912 and named Juniper Hall. It was set at the highest point in town, with commanding views of Central Massachusetts. One esteemed visitor in those years was then vice-president Calvin Cooldige.
After Whitall died the property was deeded to Grand Lodge of Masons of Massachusetts who set up a masonic hospital in the mansion, which was eventually pulled down after the city acquired the property in the 1970s.
At Prospect Park you can still see the footprint of the mansion on the hilltop, as well as ghostly reminders of the formal gardens such a semi-ruined pergola.
The kiosk at the entrance has information about the history of the estate, and the main trail is on the mansion’s old paved driveway.
5. Hebert Candies
In 1946 Frederick Hebert, the founder of Hebert Candies, purchased this Tudor stone mansion on the Hartford Turnpike in the south of Shrewsbury.
More than 75 years later, this remains the HQ and main retail outlet for the company, famed for introducing white chocolate to America after WWII.
Hebert Candies goes back to 1917 when Frederick purchased chocolate-making equipment for the humble price of $11, and over the next few decades demand skyrocketed for the chocolates and caramels that he crafted in his kitchen.
The mansion stands as America’s first roadside confectionery store, ever popular for its white chocolates, genevas, boxed assortments, seasonal chocolates, bars and sundaes.
6. Secret Garden
Hidden in a residential zone in the south of Shrewsbury is a private wooded garden open to the public and sure to delight younger children.
The Secret Garden is the work of the dedicated resident, Chief Joseph, and consists of a 0.4-mile pondside trail and side trail.
These are furnished with whimsical sculptures, interactive installations, carved benches and inspiring messages for grownups.
There’s so much to see, from a cute little waterfall to a giant, climbable bear, that it’s worth slowing down and making the most of the peace.
7. Willard House & Clock Museum
A short way south of Shrewsbury you can visit the farmstead of the clockmaking Willard Brothers, Aaron, Benjamin, Ephraim and Simon.
The house dates to 1718, and the brothers made clocks at this place in the late 18th century before moving their enterprise to Roxbury, now part of Boston.
Simon Willard (1753-1848) is remembered as the most talented member of the family, who at the start of the 19th century invented the banjo clock, America’s first commercially successful wall clock.
What you’ll find at the Willard House is the only extant 18th-century clockmaker’s workshop in the country, while large modern galleries contain the largest collection of Willard timepieces, as well as family possessions including horological tools, ephemera, portraits, furniture and patents.
8. Quinsigamond State Park
This public recreation area is on the Worcester side of Lake Quinsigamond and is one of the few public access points along the lakeshore.
The body of water is renowned in the rowing world for its 2,000-meter course, and has held regattas for more than 165 years.
The state park is a great vantage point for these events, and at other times in summer you can rent your own kayak, paddle boat, SUP or sailboat for a little voyage.
There’s also a swimming beach, pavilion, picnic areas, grills, athletic fields, restrooms, showers and trails that are groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter months.
9. Broken Creek Vineyard and Winery
In the rambling countryside in the south of Shrewsbury there’s a 40-acre vineyard that developed from a winemaking hobby in the 1990s.
The owners purchased this property in 2010 and planted vines for Marquette, Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Vignoles, Cayuga White and Petite Pearl.
These grapes are crafted into a range of varietal wines and blends, and the winery also sources grapes from California, Washington State and Chile, particularly for reds like the Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Carnivore Red blend.
Broken Creek partners with a local charcuterie business so you can enjoy a perfectly paired snack with your glass or bottle.
10. Shrewsbury Farmers’ Market
If you’d like to support some local enterprises there’s a weekly farmers’ market on Wednesday afternoons in Shrewsbury from mid-June to mid-September, at the Senior Center parking lot next to the town hall.
The list of vendors changes by the week but there are normally as many as 20, for locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, grass-fed meats, honey, spice mixes, herbs, maple products, cider, breads, cupcakes, fudge, pet treats, prepared meals, meal kits, teas, organic skincare, handmade soaps, jewelry and more.
11. Carlstrom Memorial Forest
A stone’s throw west of Prospect Park there’s a large tract of publicly accessible demonstration forest managed by the New England Forestry Foundation.
Carlstrom Memorial Forest is much larger than you might guess from the easy-to-miss main entrance and parking area on Gulf Street, and abuts swaths of town property to the south and west.
There are four color-coded trails up to ⅔ of a mile long through secluded woods and wildflower meadows, with kiosks at the entrance providing maps and QR codes.
12. Summer Festival
The Town of Shrewsbury recently launched this annual event as a way to celebrate the return to “normal” life and build community ties.
A free, one-day affair, the Summer Festival takes place in early August at the Scandinavian Athletic Club Park.
There are live performances throughout the day, as well as raffles and numerous local vendors including a contingent of food trucks.
Children can join in all kinds of fun activities, with face painting, a petting zoo, a magician, a dunk tank and much more.
13. Food Truck Thursdays
Another popular summer ritual in Shrewsbury is a weekly food truck festival on Town Hall lawn at 100 Maple Ave.
Food Truck Thursdays runs from mid-April to the end of October, and the trucks are normally parked from 4 pm to 8 pm.
There’s a large rotating assortment of trucks, for hot dogs, New England-style seafood, kabobs, grilled cheese, pizza, Italian-style street food, ice cream, shaved ice and much more.
You can grab food to go, or bring a blanket and have a picnic on the lawn.
14. Davidian’s Farm Market
Just off I-290, over the line in Northborough there’s a multifaceted market for a farm that has been in the same family since 1918.
Much of the seasonal fresh produce at Davidian’s Farm Market comes from fields just a short hop away.
A few of these homegrown fruits and vegetables include tomatoes, peppers, greens, corn, squashes, pumpkins, peaches, cantaloupe and more than a dozen apple varieties.
There’s also a greenhouse here, as well as a bakery, ice cream stand and an acclaimed deli counter for subs.
The apple cider donuts are a real specialty in fall. Outside you’ll find a small play area for kids, and some pens with domestic animals like goats.
15. Bowlero Shrewsbury
The Town & Country AMF bowling alley on the Boston Turnpike in Shrewsbury has recently been modernized and rebranded in a multimillion overhaul.
The 40 lanes now have stylish glow lighting, couches instead of plastic seating, and state-of-the-art HD displays for scoring.
There’s also a fully-staffed kitchen, for pizza, wings, burgers, chicken sandwiches and the like. Equipped with HD TVs, the relocated sports bar pours local craft beer, and mixes a range of signature cocktails.
Weeknights bring a load of specials, like unlimited bowling on Wednesdays and college night on Thursdays.