15 Best Things to Do in Lawrence, MA

Lawrence, MA

Living in Lawrence, Massachusetts, has offered me the unique opportunity to explore a cornucopia of activities and experiences this charming city offers.

Along the Merrimack River, Lawrence is a melting pot of vibrant culture, rich history, and scenic beauty that never fails to captivate residents and visitors alike.

As I venture through the city, every nook and cranny seems to hold a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, transforming my routine living into an exciting journey.

I invite you to join me on my journey along the best things to do in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Get a Glimpse of Time at Ayer Mill Clock Tower

Exterior of the Ayer Mill Clock Tower
Heidi Besen / Shutterstock.com

Growing up under the watchful gaze of the Ayer Mill Clock Tower, you could say that time has always played a significant role in my life.

With its giant glass faces, I often marveled at the tall architectural beauty, like a sentinel in the heart of my hometown, Lawrence, Massachusetts.

The grandeur of the tower, only 6 inches smaller than London's Big Ben, has always been a source of pride for us locals.

Moreover, the tower atop the old Ayer Mill, initially built for spinning and dyeing yarn, has a unique charm that has remained since its opening on October 3, 1910.

Its impressive stature, especially when bathed in the soft glow of the evening lights, makes the Ayer Mill Clock Tower the undisputed icon of the Merrimack Valley.

Saturdays are my favorite.

I often sit in the park opposite the tower, watching the hands of the clock move unhurriedly, reminding everyone of the beautiful transition of time.

Top part of the Ayer Mill Clock Tower
Heidi Besen / Shutterstock.com

You can't help but feel a sense of calm and nostalgia, a connection to the past, as you listen to the rhythmic ticking that seems to echo the heartbeat of our city.

One thing that always fascinates me is how the clock tower becomes a canvas for the sky's changing hues during sunset.

The evenings are always a spectacle, with the tower's silhouette perfectly framed against the vibrant backdrop of the setting sun.

If you're ever in Lawrence, visit the Ayer Mill Clock Tower, the world's largest mill clock and our cherished landmark.

Take a Journey Through Time at the Lawrence History Center

It's funny, I've been a Lawrence resident for over a decade, yet I'd never set foot in the Lawrence History Center, an institution otherwise known as the Immigrant City Archives.

I was slightly apprehensive about what I may find inside and whether it came with an entrance fee.

But, one day, I decided to step in and discover the historical treasures lurking within.

The decision to visit the center was one of my best.

I brought along my high schooler, and together we embarked on an enriching journey through the city's past.

The center is packed with historical items and records that offer fascinating insights into Lawrence's history and the factors contributing to its establishment.

I was particularly captivated by the artifacts from the olden days.

Reading about history in books is one thing, but experiencing it through tangible relics is a whole different ball game.

Each item seemed to whisper stories from the past, filling me with awe and wonder.

Discovering aspects about Lawrence that I'd been oblivious to all these years was a pleasure.

In a single trip to the Lawrence History Center, I learned about this marvelous mill city.

Now, I'm the one my friends and family turn to for tidbits about Lawrence's history.

I strongly recommend this place to anyone keen on unraveling the rich tapestry of Lawrence's past. It's a must-visit location.

Enjoy a Tranquil Getaway at Riverfront State Park

The grounds of Riverfront State Park
JosueCom / Shutterstock.com

There's something quite magical about Riverfront State Park; it's my haven in the heart of Lawrence.

As you stroll along the neighborhood trail, the breathtaking views of the Merrimack River momentarily transport you far away from the urban bustle.

I often find my courage tested by the alluring call of the river, but the well-organized access points provide just the safe interaction I crave.

Children's laughter often punctuates the serenity as they explore the adjacent playground, a colorful paradise that keeps them engaged for hours on end.

A duck on the waters of Riverfront State Park
Sandratorres28, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But don't be mistaken. This park isn't just for the little ones.

With a basketball court, tennis, and more, there's a little something for everyone, not to mention the lush grass area that is simply perfect for picnics.

I am drawn back time and time again for a dose of fresh air, stunning river views, and the calming embrace of nature.

Get A Glimpse into Art at the Essex Art Center

Exploring art's undeniably magical, especially when it's right in your backyard.

I still recall the day I stepped into the Essex Art Center to witness the vibrant exhibition of the Dominican Carnival.

The explosion of colors, the intricate designs, and the cultural essence captured in each piece were breathtaking!

Another visit etched in my memory is when I got to immerse myself in the collection of Marla McLeod.

The center has a way of creating a personal connection between the visitor and the artwork. Marla's pieces were no exception.

Moreover, the comprehensive explanation accompanying each piece showcased her vision and thought process, giving a new dimension to the viewing experience.

Getting to the Essex Art Center is a breeze.

Nestled in the heart of our town, the center is conveniently located and offers ample parking, so you never have to worry about finding a spot.

The center's layout is smartly designed to accommodate a substantial display without ever feeling crowded.

And if you're in the mood to dive deeper into a specific style or theme, the second showroom makes for a perfect setting with its dynamic display of portraits.

Even though it's been a while since my last visit, the memories are as fresh as ever.

The Essex Art Center nurtures creativity and inspires everyone who walks through its doors.

Whether you're an art connoisseur or looking to explore a new perspective, stop by for an experience you won't want to miss.

Take A Stroll Through Campagnone Common

Signage of Campagnone Common
Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Living near Campagnone Common means I get to enjoy its 17.5 acres of open space right in the heart of the city.

My favorite entry point is on Common Street, where you're greeted by the Robert Frost Fountain — an eye-catching piece that adds charm to the common.

As you would expect from an urban park, Campagnone Common teems with trees, grass, and flowers.

It's perfect for an afternoon stroll or a quick morning jog, with walking paths winding through the area.

Benches are scattered around, ideal for resting or simply enjoying the day.

Water fountains are conveniently placed when you need a quick drink, and a modern playground is always full of life.

Fixed seating and tables are also available for those interested in a game of dominoes or other games.

In the middle of the common, you'll find a baseball field often utilized by local teams and an outdoor stage hosting various events throughout the year.

The common is also home to several historical monuments.

One that stands out is The Strikers' Monument, dedicated to the Lawrence Textile Mill workers who won better wages and working conditions during the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike.

Spend the Day in Den Rock Park

When I wake up with the urge to immerse myself in nature, I feel blessed to have Den Rock Park just a stone's throw away.

Nestled in the heart of our city, this 120-acre nature preserve has become a second home to me.

The countless trails that wind through the park offer a fantastic assortment of walks.

Some days, I head for the more challenging routes, my muscles straining as I navigate steep inclines and rocky paths.

On weekends, I often opt for the family-friendly routes, strolling with my children, their laughter ringing out as they race each other to the next trail marker.

The highlight of any hike in Den Rock Park is, of course, Den Rock itself.

This colossal granite face looms over the park, a constant reminder of nature's raw, untamed beauty.

I make it a point to climb up there now and then.

The view from atop Den Rock is genuinely something to behold; it's like standing on the world's edge.

Aside from rock climbing and trekking, the park has several other hidden gems. A personal favorite of mine is the expansive marsh housing a giant beaver dam.

Watching these industrious creatures at work is a sight that never ceases to amaze me.

You'll find a calm stretch of the Shawsheen River along the Blue Trail, an ideal spot for quiet contemplation.

Not to forget, the park also offers a haven for our canine companions.

As a dog owner, I find seeing my furry friend off the leash, bounding along the trails, his nose twitching at every new scent incredibly rewarding.

And once you've worked up a sweat from all the walking, climbing, or biking, the dark swamp at the back of the park offers a relaxed, secluded spot to catch your breath.

Yes, I am lucky to have Den Rock Park as my backyard.

Whether you're into rock climbing, dog walking, or simply enjoying the tranquility of nature, this is a fantastic place to explore.

Enjoy a Serene Retreat at the High Service Water Tower and Reservoir

Aerial view of the High Service Water Tower and Reservoir
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

My walks around the old Reservoir and the High Service Water Tower are indescribably calming.

I have been admiring this tower from a distance for many years, and it is even more impressive up close.

To see it standing tall against the sky, with its unique architectural style, is truly a sight to behold.

The High-Service Water Tower and Reservoir is my go-to spot when I need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Exterior of the High Service Water Tower and Reservoir
Daderot at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There's tranquility in being surrounded by nature, with the gentle water lapping against the reservoir's banks.

When winter arrives, and the first snowfall dusts the ground white, the place transforms into a winter wonderland.

It becomes a hub for toboggan rides, sled bikes, and sledding - making it the ideal spot for fun snowy adventures.

The High Service Water Tower and Reservoir is a haven for peace and leisure, a testament to the beauty of architecture, and an integral part of our local landscape.

Take a Sweet Stop at Fisichelli's Pastry Shop

What's not to love about a family-owned business creating sweet delights for over a century?

If you've ever dreamed of authentic Italian desserts, Fisichelli's Pastry Shop is the place to be.

I stumbled upon it while I was searching for a last-minute Italian rum cake.

To my surprise, they could bake one for me in less than two hours and even threw in two complimentary cookies - one almond and one coconut.

They were two of the best cookies I've ever tasted!

The warm and welcoming staff was the icing on the cake (no pun intended!). The woman serving us is a third-generation member of the Fisichelli family.

It’s heartening to see such businesses thriving, especially after celebrating their 108th anniversary at the exact location.

They make some incredible rum cake parfaits and cannolis that can compete with those from Boston’s North End.

We've made it a point to stop by more often, picking up different treats each time.

And each time, we've been equally delighted by the taste and the service.

Oh, and did I mention that they also ship anywhere?

So, even if you're not in the area, you can still enjoy the delicious treats from Fisichelli's.

Take a Stroll through Time at Lawrence Heritage State Park

Visitor center of Lawrence Heritage State Park
John Phelan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I've always been a bit of a history buff, so when I found myself with a free afternoon, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and visit the Lawrence Heritage State Park.

It's a sprawling piece of land celebrating the rich history of Lawrence, with remnants of the old woolen mill, a canal, a boathouse, parks, and a visitor center.

I embarked on a leisurely walk around the park, soaking in the tranquility and the stories the old mill whispered in the wind.

With the Visitor Center closed due to the pandemic, I was left to my own devices to read and interpret the history of this place through the lens of time.

Entrance of Lawrence Heritage State Park's visitor center
Bernie Ongewe, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I was particularly impressed by the well-crafted exhibitions that offer a peek into the reality of the industrial era of America.

These are not just dull walls of text but interactive exhibits that bring history to life.

They offer a tangible connection to the past, making the history of the mill and the people who worked there so much more real and relatable.

Visiting Lawrence Heritage State Park is not just about enjoying its scenic beauty.

It's also about understanding our past and acknowledging the people and events shaping our city.

And the best part? It's free!

So, this is a must-visit if you're in Lawrence and have a few hours to spare.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take a Walk Through Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens

Exterior of the Stevens-Coolidge House
John Phelan, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It's well-known that I enjoy nothing more than a peaceful afternoon walking among blooming flowers and historical architecture.

Nestled right in our backyard is the Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens, a hidden gem in our town.

As soon as I step onto this beautifully maintained property, I'm immediately surrounded by the scent of various flowers, instantly setting a tranquil scene.

The gardens are meticulously curated with various native and pollinator-friendly plants, a testament to their commitment to preserving biodiversity.

Strolling through the gardens, especially during the spring bloom, is magical.

Each corner is dotted with florals of every hue, creating a kaleidoscope of colors that is a feast for the eyes.

The historic Stevens-Coolidge House is just a stone's throw away from the gardens.

Although one can only access the first floor, the sense of history is palpable.

Walking through the rooms, you can almost hear the echoes of the past, adding an extra layer of interest to your visit.

Garden of the Stevens-Coolidge House
Daderot at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Adding to the charm of this place is the little snack shop tucked away on the premises.

It's the perfect stop after a long stroll or before setting up a picnic on the lush green lawns.

The menu may be small, but the flavors are significant, and the refreshments are truly welcome after a leisurely meander.

But the gardens and house aren't just for the summer.

The Winter Lights event is an experience in itself.

As a lover of all things bright and beautiful, the sight of the gardens illuminated in twinkling lights against the snow is a sight that leaves me eagerly anticipating the following winter.

The Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens is more than just a historic site.

It's a living, breathing testament to the beauty of nature and the richness of our history.

And it always leaves me feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.

This place should definitely be on your list for anyone looking for a moment of serenity amid natural beauty.

Spend a Season at Ski Bradford

Every winter, the chill in the air brings the excitement of skiing season in our quaint little town.

My daughter's school organizes a parks and rec program at Ski Bradford, a compact yet thrilling ski area in our North Shore neighborhood.

Last winter was a joyride for my 10-year-old, who ventured onto the slopes every week.

Not only could she enjoy the crisp winter air and the thrill of speeding down the slopes, but she also discovered newfound independence, honed her skiing skills, and made lasting memories with her friends.

This charming ski area, reminiscent of a Currier and Ives painting, caters to skiers of all skill levels.

It's a comfortable environment for beginners, offering enough challenge for the more experienced young skiers.

Just a quick 45-minute drive from our house, Ski Bradford's accessibility adds to its charm.

It's a sweet spot that I'd recommend to anyone for a day of fun on the slopes.

Discover Greycourt State Park

The grounds of Greycourt State Park
EraserGirl, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every corner of Greycourt State Park brims with a charm that can capture any visitor's heart.

Nestled majestically in the heart of Massachusetts, this 24-acre hilltop park is more than just a green space.

It seems to whisper stories of its rich past through the remnants of an 1890 chateau-style castle that once graced its grounds.

Walking along the well-paved trails leading up to the hilltop, you become part of a beautiful journey through time.

Every step reveals stunning views of Methuen and the Merrimack Valley, making the climb worth it.

The remains of the long-gone estate at the summit serve as a beautiful backdrop for various occasions.

Families and friends gather here for Easter egg hunts, weddings, graduation pictures, and even random photo shoots.

The park's beauty is simply irresistible.

People at Greycourt State Park
EraserGirl, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every visit to the park feels like a mini vacation.

The sprawling grassy picnic lawns are the perfect spot to spread out a blanket, open a picnic basket, and soak in the serene surroundings.

I often bring a paint set along, capturing the picturesque landscape on the canvas.

If you're planning a visit, consider starting at the Methuen Historical Museum, which serves as an entry point to the park.

The museum visit is worth your time as it offers fascinating insights into the area's history.

Greycourt State Park is a hidden gem that deserves to be discovered, enjoyed, and cherished.

A fountain at Greycourt State Park
EraserGirl, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

There is a wealth of richness to discover in Lawrence.

Every visit brings something new and exciting to my experience.

Lawrence, Massachusetts, is truly a city full of surprises, and I'm always amazed at all the hidden gems I continue to discover in my backyard.

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