A residential western suburb of Boston, Weston is loved for its rural character, with more than 2,000 acres set aside as conservation land and public parks.
The town’s civic center grew up in the 18th century on the Boston Post Road, with businesses providing services to travelers.
One of these, the Golden Ball Tavern has been preserved as a museum, while the Josiah Smith Tavern was being turned into a restaurant at the time of writing.
Weston is on both the Bay Circuit Trail, arcing around Boston’s outer suburbs, and a section of the Mass Central Rail Trail, which continues into Wayland next door.
Out in Weston’s countryside you can go cross-country skiing at the Weston Ski Track, visit an educational farm, climb the scenic slopes of a former ski resort, and hike the unspoiled shores of the Weston Reservoir.
1. Golden Ball Tavern Museum
On the Boston Post Road, close to Weston’s center, this Georgian tavern was built in 1768, and remained in the same family for the next two centuries.
The most compelling period at the Golden Ball Tavern was the first decade, as the tavern keeper Captain Isaac Jones was a Loyalist, before finally backing the Revolutionary cause when the war broke out.
Until then, he would open the tavern up to British soldiers conducting reconnaissance around Weston, and this led to the tavern being raided by local Patriots following the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
The building was restored in the 1970s, and has rich collections, much of which belonged to the Jones family. You can visit for free Second Sunday Open House Tours to check out the preserved interiors and find out more about the tavern’s 18th-century history.
2. Spellman Museum
Weston is home to Regis College, a private Roman Catholic University founded in 1927 and with up to 2,000 students enrolled when we wrote this article.
In the late 1950s the Archbishop of New York, Francis Spellman (1889-1967) donated his extraordinary collection of stamps and other philatelic objects to the museum, and the Spellman Museum opened to the public in 1960.
The immense museum’s holdings has been expanded since then, with collections gathered by figures such as Dwight D. Eisenhauer, General Matthew Ridgeway, and musician Jascha Heifetz.
The museum’s display cases are filled with stamps from all over the world, and dating back deep into the 19th century, accompanied by exhibits documenting the mail as a means of communication and connection.
3. Cat Rock Park
This cherished town-owned space is 130 acres of woods, fields and wetlands encompassing one of the highest points in the town.
Cat Rock Hill was the site of a ski area from the 1950s to the 1970s, and is thought to be named for the bobcats, which were once numerous in the area.
The summit is on the southwestern corner of the park, while further north is 80-acre field, previously agrarian land that became hunting grounds for deer and quail in the 1950s.
This is bordered by the gorgeous Hobbs Pond, also dammed in the 1950s for trout fishing. With 5.5 miles of trails, Cat Rock Park is a popular off-leash space for dog walkers.
4. Town Green District
The oval green space at the intersection of the Boston Post Road, School Street, and Church Street, has been the civic and religious center of Weston for more than 300 years. This is also where the town’s postcard sights can be seen.
The big one is the distinctive First Parish, built from fieldstone in a Gothic Revival style in 1888, but with a history reaching back to the end of the 17th century.
Close by, next to the elegant old public library building (1899) stands the gambrel-roofed Josiah Smith Tavern, an important stagecoach stop on the Boston Post Road for almost a century following its construction in 1757.
5. Rose Art Museum
The Brandeis University campus is right on the other side of I-95 from Weston, and merits a visit above all for its stellar art museum.
Established in 1961, the Rose Art Museum maintains one of the largest collections of contemporary and modern art in the region, with more than 9,000 pieces.
This includes works by the likes of Picasso, Warhol, Mona Hatoum, Yayoi Kusama, Gauguin, Matisse, and Roy Lichtenstein, among many others.
The museum is also renowned for its major temporary exhibitions, and when we put this list together there were shows for Peter Sacks and Frida Kahlo, along with permanent installations by Chris Burden (outside) and Mark Dion.
6. Mass Central Rail Trail
When we went to press, the Mass Central Railroad was a collection of intermittent sections, one of which crosses Weston in its entirety and is paved.
Roughly parallel to the Boston Post Road, this passes Weston’s Town Green to the north, and will soon be part of an unbroken 25-mile section from Berlin to Waltham.
To access the trail, you’ve got parking areas at Church Street, Town House Road and Concord Road, and you can travel west as far as Wayland center, or take a detour into Weston’s sublime Jericho Town Forest.
7. Bay Circuit Trail
Weston is on the route of a 230-mile trail skirting Greater Boston and using a mix of conservation lands, public parks, and quiet rural roads.
The town is also on an interesting part of the trail where it splits briefly into two arms, through Sudbury to the west and Weston to the east.
Hiking the trail in Weston you’ll cross the picturesque Jericho Town Forest, composed of 550 acres of woods, open fields and wetlands.
Further north is Ogilvie Town Forest, where wetlands and vernal pools are interspersed with impressive bedrock ledges. From there you’ll enter Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm, containing one of the highest points in Greater Boston.
8. Weston Friendly Society of the Performing Arts
Weston lays claim to the second-oldest community theater in the country, founded as long ago as 1885.
This began as a forum for group readings of poetry, classic books and bible passages for members of the First Parish Unitarian Church.
The society has evolved into a theater group, open to all, and performing a season of cabaret-style shows. These take place in the stately old auditorium at Weston Town Hall, built in the Georgian Revival style in 1917.
Selections from recent seasons include A Chorus Line, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Beauty and the Beast, Annie, and Sweet Charity.
9. Weston Reservoir
One of the best places for a peaceful hike in Weston is on the shores of this reservoir, built at the turn of the 20th century as part of a sophisticated water supply system for Boston.
Since the 1960s Weston Reservoir has served as a backup distribution reservoir, and is still maintained by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
As this is MWRA land there are restrictions to what you can do, but from the west side at Ash St this is a gorgeous spot for a hike in the surrounding coniferous woods.
Passing along the south shore is the Weston Aqueduct trail, following the route of the grass-covered underground aqueduct that has linked this reservoir with the Sudbury Reservoir in Framingham since 1903.
10. Weston Ski Track
Established in 1974, this cross-country area in the very southeast of the town is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
Weston Ski Track has snowmaking facilities along its lighted 2.5 km ski area, together with another 13 km of groomed trails that depend on natural snowfall.
Rentals and group and private lessons are available throughout the season, which lasts from around mid-December to mid-March. In the warmer months the Weston Ski Track becomes the public Leo J. Martin Golf Course, one of two state-owned courses in Massachusetts.
11. Land’s Sake Farm
The Case family first moved to Weston in 1863 and established a large estate close to the center.
Beginning with Marion Case in the early 20th century, this land has a history of experimental agriculture, and from the 1940s until recently was the location for the nursery for Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.
The Case family mansion, meanwhile, has become offices for the local public school district. In 1985 the town purchased 40 acres from Harvard to establish a working town farm to provide educational programming for children and adults.
Casual visitors can swing by the farmstand, selling a wealth of organic fruits and vegetables harvested on the farm, along with local items, from honey and maple syrup to handmade crafts.
12. Norumbega Tower
Remembered for developing double-acting baking powder, the Harvard scientist Eben Norton Horsford (1818-1893) was also fascinated by the notion of Viking settlements in New England, despite the absence of archeological evidence.
He was sure that the Eastern Algonquian word, Norumbega—generally thought to mean the coastal New England region—came from Norvega, meaning Norway.
In 1889 at what he believed to be the site of a Norse fort and city, he erected a 38-foot fieldstone tower, with a spiral staircase to the top.
The view over the Charles River to the east is best in the winter when the encroaching trees are bare.
13. Weston Art & Innovation Center
Also on the town green is the building that previously served as the town’s public library. Constructed in 1899, this Romanesque Revival structure was the home of the library right up to 1996 when it moved into modern premises.
Since then the old library has been used as temporary town offices, as recreation offices, and for recreation programs, before finally reopening as the Weston Art & Innovation Center in 2021.
A branch of the public library, the center serves as a studio and maker space, while hosting a slew of cultural events, and providing classes in a wide range of skills, from fine arts to floral design, culinary arts, pottery and textiles.
14. Weston Public Library (WPL)
The town’s public library was founded in 1857, and before it moved into the Old Library building was located in a room in Weston’s old town hall.
The WPL today deserves special mention for having one of the highest per-capita circulation rates of all libraries in the state, with close to 6,700 items checked out each week.
This is a vibrant community resource for other reasons, thanks to the work of the Friends of the Weston Public Library.
This organization helps to fund the library’s History Room, but also presents exhibitions by local artists, and organizes regular live performances in the Community Room.
15. Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary
Nearby Lincoln is home to the headquarters of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. A sanctuary since the 1950s, Drumlin Farm combines a working farm with extensive woodland, crossed by the Bay Circuit Trail.
Children will have a great time seeing the farmyard animals, including goats, cows, chickens, sheep and pigs, but you’ll also learn a little about sustainable farming practices and pick up seasonal produce at the farm stand.
There are four miles of trails, winding into the wilder parts of the sanctuary, up to the top of the glacial drumlin, which is one of the highest points in Greater Boston.