The Woo: A Basic Guide to Worcester

It can be easy to read about faraway places and fantasize about the next cool place you get to visit. But what about the places that don’t always get a great rap yet still have some cool places to visit and eat at? Growing up in Westborough, there’s another city that’s even closer to visit than Boston, so today I will be talking about Worcester.

Affectionately called the Woo by those who know it well, Worcester is located in Central Mass about 45 minutes from Providence and 50 from Boston. Worcester is home to a few colleges, like Holy Cross, WPI, Assumption, Clark, and Worcester State. Nearby Quinsigamond River (or the Quinsig) is home to a few regattas, and it’s always been funny to hear friends from Bowdoin’s crew team talking about going to Worcester for races. If you’re looking for food or entertainment, you can find it in Worcester. With some help from my sister who knows Worcester better than I do, I hope to give you a good sampling of what to do in this city.

1.) Shrewsbury Street–This street is lined with restaurants and has really been developing over the past few years. A family favorite is Via. This is the only Italian restaurant I’ve been to in the city, and it’s really good. One Eleven Chop House is another Worcester Restaurant Group venue, along with Via and The Sole Proprietor, and it offers more traditional American food. I liked the food there and remember it most for being the place where I first tried duck. Flying Rhino catered a handful of graduation parties and serves up good sandwiches and more American food. Finally, Mezcal‘s guac gets really high marks.

O’Kane Hall at Holy Cross

2.) Holy Cross– Between its gorgeous campus and ivy-covered buildings, Holy Cross is a wonderful, albeit hilly, place to walk around. The school is bursting at the seams with school pride, and their games are a great, not to mention cheap, way to spend a night or afternoon. I’ve always enjoyed their basketball games in particular. If you’re looking for other games to watch, The Worcester Sharks and Tornadoes are hockey and baseball teams, respectively, and their games can also be a good time. Also, if you spend some time at Holy Cross, go to their cafe Cool Beans in Hogan, their student union. Next to that there’s also On the Rock, a Cold Stone Creamery style ice cream stand.

3.) Other eating– Besides restaurants on Shrewsbury Street, Worcester boasts a lot of other great dining options. Smokestack Urban Barbecue sometimes has live music at night, Ciao Bella is another great Italian place (their pasta primavera comes recommended), The Corner Grille has a great chicken caesar salad pizza, and Wholly Cannoli has some good desserts.

4.) Frozen yogurt– Worcester (and next-door Shrewsbury) has a bit of a frozen yogurt scene which is worth trying. I’ve only been to ICraze in Shrewsbury, but there’s also YoWay. Wooberry takes the cake with my sister and her friends, though. On another note, it might not be frozen yogurt, but Madluka’s Ice Cream is incredible and serves the same ice cream as Uhlman’s in Westborough, so it earns high marks in my book.

5.) For the Whovians– Although I’m not a Doctor Who fan, I have a couple of friends who are, and Annie’s Book Stop is a must for anybody who’s looking for some memorabilia. The wall behind the register is lined with action figures, books, and everything Doctor Who you could imagine. The store also has a lot of great books, both new and used, and is home to some Worcester Writers Collaborative events (shameless plug).

Worcester has a lot to offer, and it can be easy to overlook that. The Worcester Art Museum has been on my to-do list for ages, and I’ve never gotten to it. Talking to my sister about Worcester’s restaurants, I’ve also realized that there so many places I’ve been wanting to go but still have yet to try. So if you find yourself in the Central Mass area looking for something to do, why not give Worcester a try?

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