I was looking for a cheap getaway and discovered that the single cheapest flight out of New York was to Worcester, Massachusetts (pronounced wush-ter). I cobbled together an itinerary where I would then take a once-daily Amtrak to Springfield and then a bus back to New York City.
When telling people about this trip, the overwhelming reaction was…why? Worcester is not known to have any tourist attractions. Even my dad told me that I would be the first tourist to ever visit Worcester. My belief is that every place has something to see and set out to prove the haters wrong.
February 25, 2022: A Massachusetts Welcome
The JetBlue flight from New York´s JFK airport took just 40 minutes. A blizzard during the day cancelled all the earlier flights to both Worcester and Boston. As a result, my plane was completely full. I sat next to a lady from the Virgin Islands who was off to meet her girlfriend who just moved to Boston. I felt for her, as she had never experienced snow before.
After landing at the airport around midnight, I soon discovered that getting to my AirBNB was not going to be an easy task. The snow had hit Worcester badly and not all the roads had been plowed. There were also no taxis at the airport.
I found a payphone and called the taxi companies listed. The first company said they will send a cab when they felt like it. I asked what that means, and the response was “Between 10 minutes and 2 hours okay?”. The other company did not even guarantee that a cab would show. Yikes!
Eventually I got an Uber – a minivan with $600 snow tires. The driver said he took someone to New York earlier in the day because his flight was cancelled due to the blizzard.
I checked into the surprisingly expensive AirBNB and quickly fell asleep.
February 26, 2022: Woostah
After waking up, I walked over to a nearby French restaurant for breakfast. I ordered the crepes. When I told the waitress that I was in Worcester as a tourist, she was so shocked she convened the staff. “There’s nothing to do except eat”, she told me.
It was still early in the morning, so I set out to wander the town. Worcester is known for having a lot of colleges. Seemingly everyone I know has a parent who attended college in Worcester. The closest college to me was Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The academic buildings seemed nice, although everything was covered in snow so it was hard to tell if the grounds were nice.
The main attraction in Worcester is the art museum. The building takes up an entire city block. Inside, there is a diverse collection of art from every region of the world and every era. The collection was extraordinary and can go toe-to-toe with any big city art museum. Highlights included a Roman mosaic, a Manet, and the special exhibit of “portraits of love” on loan from London´s National Portrait Gallery. I spent 90 minutes in there.
I then walked through the busy city center. On the suggestion of a client at work, I stopped at Armsby Abbey, a restaurant supposedly rated the top craft beer bar in the entire state. As I drank my flight of Hill Farmstead beers, I chatted with a prominent lawyer. He told me that money from Boston is flooding into Worcester and that the city center is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. He also broke some major gossip, that a prominent judge was using his influence to reduce the sentencing of his daughter for a DUI. The story, which is going to run in tomorrow´s local paper, will probably ruin the judge´s career.
For lunch, I visited Worcester´s landmark George´s Coney Island. This iconic hot dog shop opened in 1918 and is known for its enormous neon sign. Inside, I waited in line for my $2.50 chili dog. It was good, but I admittedly am not an expert on chili dogs so its hard to say if this is a good one.
With that, it was time to catch my train to Springfield. I walked over to the shockingly beautiful train station and boarded my Amtrak train.
Worcester can occupy a half-day of your time, but probably not much more. The art museum is spectacular and there are numerous good food options around town.
I ended up meeting some very nice and interesting people during my stay in Worcester. Everyone was fascinated that I came here as a tourist and that started some fun conversations.
I cannot recommend Worcester as a tourist destination, but if you come through here for a little bit, you will not regret it.