In Norfolk County, Wrentham is a town of 12,200 near the halfway point between Boston and Providence.
Wrentham is an easy drive from both cities, but is also crossed by I-495 for convenient access to Cape Cod, while Gillette Stadium is less than ten minutes away by car.
Touching the border with Rhode Island, Wrentham comprises large areas of hilly woodland, protected by a mosaic of conservation lands, and the likes of Wrentham State Forest and the F. Gilbert Hills State Forest.
In the very center of the town are two large lakes, and the largest, Lake Pearl, is open to visitors with a beach area and trails that lead into the woods and bird-rich wetlands to the west.
1. Wrentham Village Premium Outlets
At the intersection of I-495 and Route 1A there’s a regional upscale outlet mall with more than 170 retailers when we wrote this article.
Opened in 1997, Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is laid out like a small town, with the parking lot on one side and a grid of walkable alleys on the other.
Here, quaintly designed storefronts are home to outlets for premium brands like Karl Lagerfeld, Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Guess, Hugo Boss, Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren, and many more.
Also present are numerous sports and active apparel brands, from Timberland to Columbia, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Reebok and Puma, to name a few.
You can expect discounts of anything from 10% to 75%, and while dining options are limited there are always food trucks, as well as a playground for kids, and little plazas where you can take a break.
2. The Big Apple Farm
There’s pastoral scenery across Wrentham, but the southwest side of the town is gorgeous, with gentle rolling hills cradling orchards and vegetable patches.
This is where you’ll find the Big Apple Farm, set on 200 acres and using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and organic farming methods.
In the summer and fall you can drop by to pick your own blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and apples, while the farm stand here is not to be missed.
As well as offering a wealth of fruit and vegetables harvested on the farm, the stand has its own bakery, making delectable pies, donuts, turnovers, cookies, and muffins. The shelves are also packed with locally made delights, from maple syrup to honey, jams and jellies.
3. Supercharged Entertainment
Definitely a change of pace from Wrentham’s rural idylls, Supercharged Entertainment has a host of action-packed activities in a cavernous 125,000-square-foot venue.
The highlight here has to be the largest indoor multi-level karting track in the world, composed of two uniquely designed courses that can be combined into one spectacular “supertrack”.
The karts have zero-emissions electric engines, and you can sign up for single races or save money with multi-race bundles.
There’s a choice of other attractions to check out, like a state-of-the-art Ninja Wipeout arena, an indoor trampoline park, “Bionic” bumper cars, and a large gaming lounge with upwards of 90 player stations.
4. Lake Pearl
One of two large lakes in the heart of Wrentham is Lake Pearl, a 245- acre Great Pond, fronted by seasonal homes and serene conservation land.
From the mid 19th century, the eastern shore was developed for tourism. Initially known as George’s Park, this space has evolved over time from a mini resort at the turn of the 20th century to an events venue today, popular for weddings most of all.
On the northwest shore, Lake Pearl is also the site of Wrentham’s main public beach. This is Sweatt Beach, open for residents and non-residents from Memorial Day Weekend.
There’s a small but well maintained patch of sand, a picnic grove in the woods, and a boating center offering kayak/paddleboard rentals and lessons.
5. F. Gilbert Hills State Forest
In the east of Wrentham you can set off on an adventure into more than 1,000 acres of pine and oak forest, overlapping into Foxborough.
There are 23 miles of trails at the F. Gilbert Hills State Forest, and the park is also on the course of the Warner Trail, so you can combine it with Wrentham State Forest for an extended walk in the woods.
For casual walkers there’s a system of wide fire roads leading you past numerous granite rock formations that demand some extra exploration. The forest is also a mecca for mountain bikers, thanks to a warren of tight and technical singletracks.
6. Wrentham State Forest
Straddling I-495, a large swath of Wrentham is taken up by more than 1,000 acres of moderately hilly woodlands sprinkled with interesting granite formations.
One of the best things you can do in Wrentham State Forest is to hike the Pinnacle Trail, which carries you along a ridge with several summits, and occasional views of the Boston skyline, the Blue Hills and Gillette Stadium.
For vistas, it’s a good idea to make this trip in early spring before there’s too much leaf cover. The forest is also crossed by the Warner Trail, running for 30 miles from Sharon, MA, to Diamond Hill State Park in Cumberland, RI.
There’s much for mountain bikers to enjoy, including a long singletrack trail that connects both parts of the forest, running under I-495.
7. Gillette Stadium
The 65,900-seat home of the New England Patriots is little more than five minutes from Wrentham.
Gillette Stadium was completed in 2002 and coincided with an amazing period in the team’s history, landing Six Super Bowls with Bill Belichick at the helm, and Tom Brady breaking records on the field.
Since 2007 the stadium has been surrounded by the outdoor shopping center, Patriot Place, with a wide range of dining choices, some stores, and entertainment hotspots like a Showcase Cinema de Lux.
When we compiled this list the stadium was going through a $225 million renovation project. One of the new additions is a 218-foot lighthouse affording views of the stadium, the surrounding Patriot Place and a big sweep of the region.
Early spring through fall, Gillette Stadium is also home field for the New England Revolution of the MLS.
8. Joe’s Rock
This 60-acre conservation area in the southwest of Wrentham is set on the shores of a former cranberry bog, edged by tall sheer cliffs rising 150 feet above the water. At 490 feet, Joe’s Rock is the highest point in the town.
From the parking lot, the trail leads through freshwater marsh, passing a beaver dam and crossing a footbridge. A fork in the path allows you to explore the shores of the pond/bog, or make your way to the top of the cliffs.
The climb is well worth the effort, as you’ll be compensated with distant views, towards Boston or down into Rhode Island.
9. Wollomonopoag Conservation Area
Another special thing about Lake Pearl is that the woods on the west shore belong to another town-owned conservation area, so this can be the starting point for a hike in a very quiet corner of the town.
The meandering trails at the Wollomonopoag Conservation Area lead you to a hidden pond, traced by wetlands that you’ll cross on footbridges and boardwalks.
This is an important habitat for birdlife in particular, with great blue herons nesting high in the pond’s dead trees.
The woods are fabulous in spring and early summer, when there’s a colorful display of wildflowers, including pink lady’s slippers.
10. Cook’s Valley Farm
A common sight at farmers’ markets across the area, Cook’s Valley Farm is a produce farm in breathtaking scenery in the southwest of Wrentham.
Housed in a beautiful old barn, this is a no-nonsense operation, focusing on sensational fruit and vegetables straight from the fields.
The farm stand is open from mid-June to Thanksgiving, and depending on when you visit you might find fresh cut flowers, corn, apples, blueberries, tomatoes, zucchini, squashes, garlic, or pumpkins, along with local honey and preserves.
11. Birchwold Farm
A decent partner for a hike at Joe’s Rock, this conservation property is practically across the road to the south.
On a hilly landscape, the 129-acre Birchwold Farm is crisscrossed by informal trails, marked with colored arrows and furnished with some interesting interpretive signs.
There’s an assortment of habitats on the property, including woodlands, large open meadows, and swamp, with some impressive rock formations like glacial erratics and ledges.
At the heart of the largest field you’ll come across a big stand of hardwood trees, concealing a little stream, for a beautiful scene, especially in spring.
12. The Patriots Hall of Fame
You don’t need to be a Pats fan to be fascinated by the Brady-Belichick era, which is remembered as one of the greatest dynasties in professional sports.
You can relive the defining moments in the team’s history and pay homage to the many protagonists, at the high-tech Patriots Hall of Fame, which opened at Patriots Place in 2008.
On show are uniforms worn by greats like Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, Randy Moss and Ty Law, along with a trove of other memorabilia.
This attraction is also the home of the Patriots’ six Super Bowl trophies and slew of Lamar Hunt trophies.
13. Knuckup Hill (Sweatt Hill)
Not far south of Wrentham Center there’s a prominent hill, with spectacular panoramas from its summit.
From the 1960s to the early 1980s, Knuckup Hill was a ski area, and even today you can work out where the ski runs used to be.
The path to the top is relatively easy as it’s on an old fire road with a steady incline, so you can take it easy and enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of the woods.
Try to pick a clear day for this hike, because if the conditions are right you can see the Boston skyline, some 30 miles to the northeast.
14. Cracker Barrel Fair
A local tradition for more than 40 years now, the Cracker Barrel Fair takes place on the grounds of the Wrentham Developmental Center in mid-September.
This is a chance for 4-H members from across Norfolk County to show off their skills, with animal exhibits, flower arranging, a dog show and much more.
For the public there’s tons going on across the weekend, from hay rides to games, pony rides for kids, demonstrations by clubs, carnival rides, food trucks and a wealth of other vendors. The Cracker Barrel Fair takes place rain or shine, and has free parking.
15. Wrentham Artisan Market
The American Legion post at 592 South St is the location for a monthly outdoor market in the summer.
Held on the fourth Sunday of the month, May through October, the Wrentham Artisan Market features more than 70 talented makers from across the region. The lineup changes by the month, but typically you can expect to find candles, jewelry, fashion accessories, organic soaps, ethical cosmetics, home decor, pet accessories, and a lot more besides.
The market is also attended by several produce farms, and there are always exciting prepared food options.