Short Stops

  • Visit North Central

Of course you love exploring the Great Outdoors… and when you’ve had enough fresh air, or the weather isn’t right for a foray into the forest, there are still lots of great things to enjoy in North Central Massachusetts! Here are a few spots, both indoors and out, to explore — and you can find even more places to visit in the “Places to Visit” section in this Guide!

fitchburg-art-museum-africaA World of Art

You can view art from around the world—or from right here in Johnny Appleseed’s back yard—at the Fitchburg Art Museum!

Visiting any time of the year, you might tour the African art gallery, discover the secrets of ancient Egypt (yes, there’s a mummy!), or explore the art, life, and legacy of FAM Founder Eleanor Norcross. The Museum explains that Eleanor Norcross “was a charming, graceful, fiercely intelligent artist and patron passionate about improving the lives of others through cultural enrichment…her vision for an arts center in this city remains the driving force behind FAM’s mission today.”

Part of that mission is providing local artists—who live or work in a 30-mile radius of the city—with an opportunity to exhibit their works in a juried show, the annual Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft, one of the longest-running juried exhibitions in New England. The 88th Regional Exhibition runs from June 21 through September 8 this year. Stop in, and vote for your favorite work!

flea-market-in-massachusettsWhat’s Your Treasure?

If it’s Sunday, you can bet local residents are headed to Rietta Ranch on Route 68 in Hubbardston.

The sprawling flea market has been a mecca for bargain hunters, antique lovers, and folks searching for unique treasures. Baseball trading cards. Vintage magazines. Coins. Stamps. Toys. Computers. Assorted bric-a-brac. Whatever you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.

Thousands of shoppers flock to Rietta’s acres of vendors on Sundays from April through the fall. Billed as at one of the most popular flea markets in the Northeastern U.S., Rietta Ranch has been a weekend adventure for more than 50 years.

Spending the day? Keep your energy up with a stop at the concession stand or Long Ranch Bar.

But keep a few tips in mind: Pets are not allowed on the property. Much of the flea market is an open area, so on a sunny day, be sure to slather on some sun-block. And wear comfortable shoes, because you’re likely to do a lot of walking!

Fit for a King?

bancroft's-castle-in-massachusettsYou’ve hiked through fields and forests, enjoyed concerts, and munched your way through food truck festivals.

Still looking for something different to do in North Central Massachusetts? How about visiting a castle? Well, it’s not a complete castle—but there’s enough of it standing to set your imagination loose (and let your stretch your travel-weary legs a bit).

Bancroft’s castle was built by General William Bancroft atop Gibbet Hill in Groton in 1906. Built as a gift for his wife, Bancroft intended it as a bungalow to accompany a larger castle-like house. Unfortunately, he ran out of funds before the additions became reality.

In 1918, physician Harold Ayres bought the bungalow and converted it into a sanitarium. Then it took on another life in the 1930s, when the Groton Hunt Club used it for entertainment. Tragically, a July 4 fireworks celebration in 1932, led to a fire, leaving only the exterior stone walls of the bungalow intact.

Today, Bancroft’s Castle, located on Lowell Road, is a protected open space with trails available for walking. You can take a fairly easy hike uphill to the ruins, and enjoy beautiful views.