15 Best Things to Do in Leicester (MA)

West of Worcester, Leicester is a city at the northern tip of the Blackstone Valley with an impressive industrial history. Since the early days of the American Industrial Revolution, Leicester has been a center of card manufacturing. A card was a tool used to loosen cotton fibers before spinning them into yarn. By the early 19th century, Lester was responsible for one-third of all hand and mechanical charts made in North America.

Today, Leicester is a rural suburb of Worcester, home to several family farms and an elegant old center, part of Becker University. In the disc golf community, Leicester is known for its two great 18-hole courses located on the same road along Maple Street.  

1. Hot Dog Annie’s

Hot Dog Annie’s

At the time of this writing, this hot dog stand at 244 Paxton Street was 70 years old.

The hallmark of a good fast-food restaurant is the simplicity of its menu. Hot Dog Annie’s does just that. Your choices are simply hot dogs, burgers, old-fashioned cream sodas and root beer, and chocolate milk.

You must order the BBQ sauce made from our secret recipe for your dog. At the end of the parking lot is a cozy outdoor dining area with picnic tables, flowers in planters, and ample shade. Come on Wednesday and get 4 hot dogs at a special price. 

2. Disc Golf

Disc Golf

Leicester has two acclaimed disc golf courses along Marshall Street.

Maple Hill (132 Marshall St) is open year-round, except when it’s snowing. This is a technical championship course designed over a variety of habitats including open fields, forests, and ponds.

This truck dates back to his 2002 and features 4 sets of baskets. Nearby is the Pyramid (103 Marshall St), with 18 holes mostly in the woods, although the fairways are relatively open.

Founded in 1988 with his two sets of baskets, Pyramid is known for its excellent store, also known as the Marshall Street Disc Golf Pro Shop.  

3. Cooper’s Hilltop Farm

Dating back to 1918, this fourth-generation dairy farm is located in the lush hillsides of Leicester’s Rochdale area. Cooper’s Hilltop Farm spent his early decades in wholesale and supply, and he finally opened his shop to the public in the 1950s.

The facility is housed in a play-roofed barn built in the 1930s as a facility to pasteurize the farm’s milk. Milk is still a staple here, pasteurized and homogenized right behind the shop.

Whole milk, low-fat milk, and skim milk are available, as well as flavored milk, light cream, and heavy cream. The farm also sells homemade bread, eggs, and pasture-raised meats like beef, pork, and chicken, as well as a range of locally made artisanal products, from pastries to gourmet cheeses.  

4. Leicester Country Club

Leicester Country Club

Known as one of the best public courses in the Worcester area, Leicester Country Club has made many improvements in recent years, including better drainage to ensure better playing conditions.

The challenges on this track are quite varied and require you to use every club in your bag. A notable hole is his 8th, a short dogleg right par 4 with flow and a difficult uphill approach on his shot.

The distinctive par 3 17th slopes uphill along a narrow tree-lined fairway to a bunker-guarded green. After the game, head to Grill 19 to recharge and enjoy sandwiches, wraps, burgers, salads, and shareable entrees like chicken wings and chicken fillets. 

5. Sargent Pond

Sargent Pond

Just east of Leicester Country Club is a beautiful pond, which can be reached from the city center downhill.

A feature of Sargent Pond is that the coastline is largely undeveloped. The southern shore is lined with lakeside homes, while the northern half is all pristine forest.

He has two places where he can row a boat on the pond. The north end of Lake Avenue and behind Castle Cantina on Main Street.

Nearby on the south bank is Lawson Broom Cemetery, the final resting place of Colonel William Henshaw (1735-1820). At a meeting of the Safety Committee in 1774, he called for “human companions ready to act at any moment”, hence the term “Minutemen”. 

6. Leicester Harvest Fair

Leicester Harvest Fair

This heartwarming annual event is traditionally held on Town Common on the third Saturday in September.

Held in early fall, the Leicester Harvest Fair is a free event with live music, family games, district walking tours, and a wide range of exhibitors and protesters.

There are stalls for everything from baked goods to textiles, eggs, craft beer, photography, flower arrangements, and home-grown vegetables. In previous editions, the Swan Tavern hosted an open house with an art exhibition inside.  

7. Burncoat Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Burncoat Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

On the Spencer city boundary lies Burncote Pond, once Leicester’s city beach. The western part of the lake is now part of the Audubon Society of Massachusetts protected area.

The site is about 250 acres, but it’s part of a group of reserves, so you can spend a few hours exploring the countryside or continuing the Midstate Trail through Spencer.

Around Bangkot Pond, enter pine and oak forests, cross rivers, and walk along wild marsh edges. In late spring, the laurel trees are in full bloom, creating beautiful scenery. Another great view of the pond is from Richards Overlook, a huge boulder on the Flat Rock Trail.  

8. Tatnuck Driving Range

Tatnuck Driving Range

Nearby these disc golf courses on Marshall Street are golf attractions with numerous practice facilities.

The focal point is a driving range of over 250 yards with a mix of grass and man-made hitting stations and sand traps surrounding the greens. There is also a short range with flags 30-60 yards away, perfect for approach play practice.

Designed to test your putting skills on holes up to 50 feet long, the 18-hole miniature golf course is perfect for the whole family.

Finally, there’s an ice cream stand that serves over 30 flavors of Gifford’s ice cream and giant Kaiem hot dogs.  

9. Cotyledon Farm

Cotyledon Farm

A mosaic of forests, meadows, marshes, pastures, and farmlands, Cotyledon Farm is a small organic vegetable and herb farm.

This is a progressive, community-oriented place that offers job sharing, work jobs, internships, regular volunteer days, and a variety of special project days.

In addition to offering a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, Cotyledon Farm maintains roadside refrigerators.

Call ahead to check availability, including seasonal produce, local ice cream, local meats, farm chicken eggs, and other delicious local produce. 

10. Rochdale Park

Rochdale Park

This beautiful public park is located south of Rochdale in Leicester. What makes Rochdale Park so special is its location on the banks of a pond that offers beautiful views and a glimpse of wildlife such as waterfowl, herons, turtles, and muskrats.

The park is also a site for active recreation, including a fenced skate park, basketball and volleyball courts, and a baseball diamond used in competitive leagues. Activities such as swimming and fishing are prohibited in this pond.  

11. Washburn Square–Leicester Common Historic District

Washburn Square–Leicester Common Historic District

Dating back to the early 1800s, Leicester’s old center is a quintessential New England city center centered around a rectangular community plaza (Washburn Square).

The space is shaded by beautiful mature trees and features a bandstand that has hosted a weekly summer concert series for over 30 years.

To the north are many public buildings, including the unusual Gothic Revival Colonial Revival City Hall (1939), the Leicester Unitarian Church (1834), and the First Congregational Church (1901).

The south side is lined with elegant 18th-century mansions. Many of these belong to Becker College, including the home of Massachusetts governor and abolitionist Emory Washburn (1800-1877) from Leicester, for whom the borough is named. It contains. On the west side stands the stately Swan Tavern (built in 1768), the oldest building in the parish. This local icon is open to the public during special events and has long-term plans to become a Leicester history museum. 

12. Breezy Gardens

Breezy Gardens

This family farm has been around for about 50 years and has a cozy store and greenhouse.

Breezy Gardens produces a wide range of plants, fruits, and vegetables using sustainable and responsible farming practices such as integrated crop management and non-GMO.

With that in mind, the assortment at the farmer’s market is entirely seasonal, so there’s always something new between spring and fall.

Pumpkin season is undoubtedly the highlight of the year for families. In addition to pumpkin fields, there are hay wagon rides, friendly goats to feed, rustic playground rides, pumpkin bouncy castles, corn pits, and more.  

13. Southwick Pond

Southwick Pond

Picturesque land near the Cascades on the Leicester-Paxton line is also managed by the Greater Worcester Land Trust (GWLT).

Southwick Pond covers 118 acres and has winding paths through a variety of landscapes on both the north and west banks.

In addition to the mixed forests, there are also beautiful meadows with wildflowers in spring and summer and extensive wetlands with cucurbits and dense ferns.

Keep an eye out for amphibians such as red puffins and salamanders as you cross the wooden bridges of the damper section. June is a wonderful time of year when the laurel trees are in full bloom and fall is always a foliage season. 

14. Worcester

Worcester

Leicester is just minutes away from New England’s second-largest city, known for its greenery, youth population, and social progress.

Worcester is home to vast expanses of natural spaces and parks, dotted with nine university campuses and scattered population centers.

Downtown Worcester has rebounded significantly in recent decades and is home to cultural and entertainment venues such as the world-class Worcester Art Museum and the Hanover Theater for the Performing Arts.

The city’s most popular spot is undoubtedly Shrewsbury Street on the East Side. Ranked among New England’s finest dining destinations, his calendar of live entertainment and vibrant events adds to that.

Nightlife abounds in the Canal District at the head of the Blackstone Canal, which fueled Worcester’s development in the 19th century.  

15. The Cascades

Leicester sits at the end of a vast green corridor made up of a series of reserves managed by the Greater Worcester Land Trust (GWLT).

The Cascade has five adjacent properties that span parts of Paxton, Holden, and Worcester. If you prefer, start just outside Boynton Park and walk for miles through the woods, almost forgetting you’re in the suburbs.

There are also streams and springs teeming with life, and beautiful meadows. The main attraction is the Cascade Waters at the eastern end, where Cascade Brook cascades down a steep rocky slope 60 feet high. The falls are most beautiful after the rainy season but are worth a visit any time of the year.  

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