A growing suburban town about 15 miles north of Boston, Wilmington was founded in 1730 and became renowned as a hop-growing center over the next century.
On the agricultural theme, the Baldwin apple was discovered in Wilmington around 1740, and a monument to this fruit was erected near the site of the first known tree in 1895.
There’s Revolutionary history in Wilmington, as minutemen from the town fought at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, and one patriot’s house and tavern today serves as the Town Museum.
In typical New England style, Wilmington has a dignified town green, where community events like the summer farmers’ market, outdoor concert series and signature Fourth of July Celebration are all held.
1. Silver Lake
Wilmington owns this lovely 30-acre kettle hole pond, formed naturally more than 10,000 years ago by glacial activity.
What makes Silver Lake so appealing is the sandy beach that lines the southern shoreline. This stands as Wilmington’s premier natural leisure resource, and people from across Greater Boston come to visit in the summer season.
The Town Beach has lifeguards on duty throughout the school summer break. Outside this period the bathhouse is closed but you can swim at your own risk.
There are two boat ramps, on the east shore at Landry Park, and just next to the beach. Fullerton Park is also on the shore next to the beach and has a dock, manicured lawns, a trail and benches with ample tree cover.
2. Wilmington Town Museum (Harnden Tavern)
Acquired by the town in 1973, the Col. Joshua Harnden Tavern at 430 Salem Street was built in 1770.
The eponymous occupant was the great-grandson of the first English settler in Wilmington and served in Capt. Timothy Walker’s Militia Co., attaining the rank of colonel in the Revolutionary War.
After the conflict Joshua Harnden opened the house up to the public as a tavern, and there are credible rumors that it was a station on the Underground Railroad later in the 19th century.
The interior of this Late Georgian building has a rare amount of preserved 18th-century workmanship, and you can visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays all year round. Also on the property is a late 19th-century carriage house, containing town history exhibits.
3. Wilmington Farmers’ Market
On Swain Green next to the Town Common, Wilmington has a thriving farmers’ market that is now deep into its second decade.
This is held on Sundays, mid-June through September, and is a whole community get-together, with events throughout the season like a pet parade, cornhole tournament and celebrations for holidays like Father’s Day.
There’s a long list of vendors each week, for local fruit and vegetables, farm-raised meat, fresh seafood, breads, baked treats, artisanal wines and a range of prepared foods.
Craft/artisan vendors are at the core of the market’s success, and you can shop for soy wax candles, vegan soaps, handcrafted jewelry, botanical skincare, and more besides.
4. Wilmington Town Forest
The largest piece of conservation land in Wilmington is 150 acres of upland hardwood forest in the town’s northern nook. Wilmington Town Forest came about in 1975 and was transferred to the Conservation Commission a decade later.
On almost three miles of trails you can make your way through boulder-strewn woods to the highest point in the town.
From this hilltop, popular as a bird watching location, there’s a satisfying view of Wilmington, surrounding communities and the Boston skyline.
5. Wilmington Memorial Library
The town has had a public library since 1871, and the rapid population growth after WWII meant a new building was needed.
With Georgian Revival lines, this was eventually built in the late 1960s on the site of the old St. Thomas Church at 175 Middlesex Avenue, in honor of four local men killed in the Vietnam War.
The Wilmington Memorial Library was given a big update in the 00s, and one of the newer amenities is an outdoor area looking over a big sweep of wetlands.
This is a fantastic place to bring children, as there’s a large dedicated section that doubles as a mini play area, along with dozens of programs, from storytellers to puppeteers, musicians and craft workshops
6. Baldwin Apple Monument
If you’re a fan of obscure curiosities, there’s a monument to an apple in Wilmington. Once the most popular apple variety in the United States, the Baldwin was discovered in this town in the 18th century.
This high-quality, bright red winter fruit has fallen out of fashion since the 20th century, and is now hard to find in stores.
Likely created by a chance seedling, the first documented tree grew on the property of William Butters (1711-1784), who was the grandson of an early English settler.
Butters named the apple “Woodpecker” as it attracted this bird, and the fruit eventually took on the name Baldwin, for Woburn’s famous engineer, soldier and politician, Loammi Baldwin (1744-1807), who propagated it and introduced it to orchards across eastern Massachusetts.
Capped by an oversized sculpture of the apple, the Baldwin Apple Monument (1895) is near the site of that first tree, next to the Butters House, built in 1682.
7. K1 Speed Boston
The Boston location for K1 Speed, a national chain of karting tracks is right here in Wilmington.
K1 Speed is an indoor facility, which means there’s karting action all year and the karts are electric, which is safer, while losing nothing in terms of performance.
As well as two tracks, this facility has two meeting rooms for parties and corporate events, a cafe, video games and plenty of seating for spectators.
If you’re here on a casual basis you can opt for an Arrive and Drive package, with a Speedpass giving you two races, a t-shirt and annual membership for future savings.
8. Shriners Auditorium
Opened in 1977, this show and exhibition venue was constructed as a headquarters for the Aleppo Shriners, who still own the building.
With 37,000 square feet of exhibit space in the arena, the Shriners Auditorium welcomes a slew of conventions, trade shows, exhibitions, arts and craft shows, concerts, car shows, banquets, antique shows and sports events throughout the year.
The venue also hosts all home games for the Boston Roller Derby, while a popular tradition that predates this facility is the Shriners Circus, first held in 1951, and taking place across several dates in spring.
9. Yentile Farm Recreational Facility
Inaugurated not long ago, Wilmington’s main community park is off Main Street, about a mile from the MBTA station. Yentile Farm stands out for its range of activity areas combined with charming landscaping.
There’s a turf field here for soccer and lacrosse, as well as two basketball courts, one of the best playgrounds in town and a picnic area with a shelter. If you’re here for a walk or some jogging, the sign at the entrance tells you how long the park’s various loops are. .
10. WCTV Tour
For something out of the ordinary, you can take a tour of Wilmington’s own community television studios. WCTV was founded in the 1980s, and has three stations dedicated to community, local government and education.
This is a way of giving the town’s residents and civic organizations a voice on cable TV, providing a forum to celebrate local talent and initiatives, allow residents to raise issues of local concern, and promote cultural, educational and civic resources in the community.
WCTV is headquartered at 10 Waltham Street, and you can schedule a free tour via the website to see what goes into community TV, in front of and behind the camera.
11. As Good as it Gets Cafe
Awaiting you at 35 Lowell Street is the original location for a celebrated breakfast restaurant, which has spawned a mini chain, with branches in Norwood, Burlington and Acton.
At the end of a strip mall off Main Street, As Good As It Gets Cafe is easy to miss, but has won a lot of praise, notably from the Phantom Gourmet, who named it one of their “Great 8” places for breakfast and lunch.
The menu is enormous, but there are a few standouts to keep in mind, like the eggs benedict, French (toast) Riviera, steak tips & eggs, the hickory smoked pulled pork, coconut shrimp salad and the brunch burger.
12. XtremeCraze – Woburn
Just across the town line with Woburn there’s a giant family entertainment center with a choice of attractions for kids and teenagers.
The highlight is the laser tag arena, one of the largest in the region, with multiple levels and a state-of-the-art laser system for a variety of game formats.
To go with this there’s an air park, which is along the same lines as an indoor trampoline park, but using only inflatables, ensuring that every surface is 100% soft and safe.
The arcade at XtremeCraze has a mix of video game cabinets and classic redemption games like skee-ball.
13. Harold Parker State Forest
A few short minutes away on Route 125 is a 3,300-acre expanse of publicly-accessible nature, spreading across four different towns.
Harold Parker State Forest, founded in 1916, is an early example of reforestation efforts by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on previously over-logged land.
Cutting through massive stands of hardwood, hemlock and white pine are broad and straight fire roads, which are primed for family walks and bike rides.
Alternatively, this rolling landscape is etched with dozens of miles of winding singletracks, for exhilarating hikes and technical mountain biking.
There are many clues of what came before, as the forest is scattered with 11 ponds, and remnants of farming and milling operations going back to the 18th century.
The Lorraine Park Campground here has 89 campsites for tents, trailers, or R.V.s, as well as access to swimming beaches. .
14. Fourth of July Celebration
After Wilmington’s successful 250th anniversary celebrations in 1980, the town wanted to preserve the family-friendly atmosphere of that event year-to-year.
This was the origin of the Wilmington Fourth of July Celebration, launched in 1981 and still one of the most anticipated dates in the town’s summer calendar.
Anchored by the picturesque Town Common, this four-day event has a carnival, a 5k fun run, a car show, live music, a food court, a community cookout, and all kinds of contests and tournaments, from cornhole to blueberry pie eating. Everything comes to a head on Sunday night, with a fireworks show to remember.
15. Horribles Parade
Something for families with younger children: On the last Sunday in October there’s a quirky Halloween tradition in Wilmington, organized by the recreation department for more than half a century now.
In the Horribles Parade hundreds of children dress up in Halloween costumes and make their way along Church Street, accompanied by their parents.
The destination is Wilmington High School, about half a mile up the road where there’s a team of volunteers waiting to give them trick or treat goodies.