15 Best Things to Do in Ashland (MA)

Originally developed on the Boston and Worcester Railroad, Ashland is a rapidly growing city whose population has more than doubled since the 1980s. There are two major bodies of water in the city, built as a reservoir for Boston in the 19th century, but converted into a state park in 1947. Both Ashland State Park and Hopkinton State Park are great outdoor centers, with miles of trails, beaches for swimming in the summer, and perfect conditions for kayaking and canoeing. Recently renovated, downtown Ashland is bustling with life, with a thriving farmers market, a calendar of community events, and a popular pub that opened near the railroad nearly 200 years ago. Ashland was participating in the Boston Marathon, but that was the starting point for the early years until the track was lengthened in the mid-1920s to accommodate the new standard marathon length.   1. Bay Circuit Trail Ashland is set amid an epic system of trails that wind through Boston’s remote suburbs for 230 miles, from Newburyport in the north to Duxbury in the south. There’s no better way to experience the true beauty of Eastern Massachusetts than by walking, biking, horseback riding, or skiing through these tree-lined communities with vast natural spaces. For added convenience, you’ll never have to leave the MBTA station and the same is true for Ashland. Crossing the city forest, the trail connects several undeveloped spaces in Ashland, including the beautiful Mill Pond Park, which we’ll talk about in more detail below.   2. Stone‚Äôs Public House This Irish-American pub is located next to the railroad tracks in one of the most beautiful and historic old buildings in downtown Ashland. Then known as the Railroad House, the inn was built in 1832, when the Boston & Worcester Railroad arrived in Ashland. The owner was shrewd businessman John Stone, who later leased the property to many innkeepers until his death in 1858. Over time, the building fell into disrepair before it was revived as a pub in the 1970s and was continuously known for its spooky activities. There’s a large courtyard, a roaring fireplace, regional craft beers, and a menu of traditional pub fares like shepherd’s pie, fish & chips, grilled mac and cheese, steak and potato fries as well as half-roasted chicken.   3. Sri Lakshmi Temple The first and largest place of worship of its kind in New England, this temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Sri Lakshmi was consecrated in 1990. Sri Lakshmi Temple was expanded in 2005 and again in 2018, providing the complex with a commercial kitchen, dining room, library, hall, and a new auditorium. Whatever your religious beliefs, this is a sight to behold, especially given the rich decoration of the main tower. The temple is open to the public seven days a week and offers simple but delicious prasad (vegetarian food) at the canteen.   4. Ashland Town Forest As if two state parks weren’t enough, north Ashland is a sprawling natural landscape that covers more than 660 acres and is open to the public. Purchased in 1942, the Ashland Town Forest is adjacent to the smaller Cowasock Wood, which spills over into neighboring Framingham. In this tranquil setting, you will encounter areas of upland and lowland marshes, mixed hardwood forests, spring pools, historic open pits, and numerous granite outcrops. Ashland Town Forest is traversed by a section of the Bay Circuit Trail, part of a six-mile trail system on the site. In spring and summer, the bush is embroidered with wildflowers, while some wildlife includes red foxes, red-headed vultures, red-tailed hawks, and the rare blue-spotted salamander in spring pools.   5. Warren Woods On the east side of Ashland State Park, you can enjoy 120 acres of formerly farmland and woodland, managed by the Ashland Open Space and Recreation Commission. Warren Woods was formerly owned by Henry E. Warren (1872-1957), an inventor with many patents, the most famous of which was the first synchronous electric clock. The land was donated to Northeastern University after his death and was later acquired by the city in 2012 following a grassroots campaign by locals. There are a series of trails through open fields and deep into ancient forests, while the Old Stone Trail loops around the town limits with Holliston to the south.   6. Modelville Hobby Sure to inspire a sense of childlike wonder, you’ll find a sprawling hub of slot racing at Modelville Hobby (28 Eliot St). There are five 1/24 scale tracks here, some of which are decades old. The store has been in existence in one form or another since 1965 and first moved to Ashland in 1978, where it was based at 58 Union St. for 32 years. Modelville Hobby moved into its current 70′ x 100′ space in 2010. One of the tracks here was the first Sovereign track (220-foot track) ever built. More than half a century old, it was shipped from Texas and restored to running condition. Check out the Modelville website for regularly scheduled races, as well as two regional racing series that visit the facility. 7. Boston Paintball Ashland In eastern Ashland, this year-round paintball facility appears on the map at the Apocalypse City arena. Built like the set of a blockbuster movie, Apocalypse City is unlike some East Coast sets and features no fewer than 23 buildings, including a city hall, an apartment building, a two-story hospital as well as as scattered vehicles such as ambulances. , a tank, a police car, and a plane were shot down. To accompany this you have a curling court with a bridge and moat, as well as an indoor court with inflatable obstacles, perfect for evening matches and small groups. 8. Puzzle Escape Ashland Ashland’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Building is home to an intriguing escape room. Designed with great attention to detail, Puzzle Escape Ashland is the antidote to gimmicky corporate escape rooms. There’s only one room here with a theme that changes every few months, so you can