Although I wasn’t born here, my adopted town of Natick MA feels like home to me. This Metrowest town west of Boston not only has a desirable location near the city, but it also offers fun and charming places to visit. If you are visiting Natick either as a visitor to one of the nearby colleges or as a fun stop on the way to Boston, here are the best things to do in Natick MA.
This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you. All opinions are my own.
The Best Things To Do in Natick MA
After growing up in a small Rhode Island town, I knew that I wanted to settle somewhere with more shops, restaurants, and activities. Location, of course, was also very important, as I was working in downtown Boston at the time. I was so impressed with all of the great things to do in town, especially with kids.
Natick is located on the Boston Marathon route, and on Patriot’s Day, you’ll find spectators cheering on the runners all morning. Patriot’s Day is a holiday in Massachusetts, so there’s a festive atmosphere all around town.
Getting To Natick
You’ll need a car for just about every Natick activity, so it’s best to drive. Natick Massachusetts is located off Route 9 and the Massachusetts Turnpike, so it’s very easy to access Boston and areas west of the city. If you are driving from Boston to NYC, Natick is a great stop.
There are two MBTA commuter rail stops in Natick – one in Natick Center and one in West Natick. However, you would still need to drive around to get to the various activities in Natick. Only Natick Center is really walkable from the train stop.
Every weekend, cars filled with eager shoppers and bargain hunters from all over the region drive down the busy Mass Pike and Route 95 to the largest indoor shopping mall in New England – the Natick Mall. In fact, if you mention Natick to most Massachusetts natives, they are likely to reference the mall.
Malls, in general, have suffered over the years, and the Natick Mall is no exception. However, there are still plenty of unique places in the mall that make it worth visiting, especially if you love shopping.
The mall offers a two-story Wegmans store, offering a coffee shop, premade foods, beer, wine, sushi, fresh produce, and more. While it’s unusual to see a grocery store in a mall, it really does work here. If you are visiting the area, it’s a great spot to stop for lunch and/or groceries.
Within the Natick Mall, you’ll also find a Dave and Busters Entertainment Center. This one includes a restaurant/bar along with arcade games. Another entertainment concept, Level 99, is slated to open at the Natick Mall midyear and is bound to be another great indoor location, especially for a rainy day.
Shops at the Natick Mall include Macy’s, Amazon Five-Star, Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom, and Tiffany, among the usual mall retailers like the Gap and Lululemon. Several restaurants, including PF Chang’s, California Pizza Kitchen, the Cheesecake Factory, and Bazille at Nordstrom, are also located in the Natick Mall. There’s also a food court.
Belkin Family Lookout Farm
While many Natick visitors only come to the mall, you’d really be missing out if you didn’t explore further. There’s so much more to see here, and it’s definitely worth going into town to explore.
The Belkin Family Lookout Farm is truly a gem in the Natick community. Originally primarily a you-pick farm for apples and other fruits, the Belkin Family Lookout Farm is now also a dining destination in town. It’s also one of the oldest working farms in the United States.
In the cooler months, their greenhouse concept offers fresh-air dining within a greenhouse. Orders are placed online and the food is delivered to your picnic table. The food is delicious and the farm also serves their own hard ciders and beers.
In the warmer months, outdoor dining is offered on picnic tables. These orders are also placed online, and the whole concept is so easy. Reservations are recommended, as it does get busy – especially on beautiful, sunny days.
There’s also an indoor farm stand at the entrance where you can purchase four-packs of beer and cider as well as fruit and other treats as they are available. Orders can also be placed online for pickup.
Another wonderful gem in town is the Natick Community Organic Farm. While the farm recently suffered a devastating loss with a fire in their beautiful, historic barn, there are other areas to visit on the property.
The farm is a non-profit organization and offers educational camp programs to children throughout the year. It’s free for guests to visit, and you’ll be able to see a variety of animals including goats, chickens, and bunnies. The farm also offers a farm stand with eggs, seedlings, vegetables, flowers, and more. It doesn’t take too long to visit, but is definitely worthwhile, especially if you have younger kids.
Natick’s beautiful and quaint town common has been used as a backdrop for several movies and tv series, including I Care A Lot, Knives Out, and Defending Jacob. On Saturdays, you can visit the year-round Natick Farmers Market, which takes place outdoors on the common in the warm months. In the winter/early spring months, it’s housed indoors in the adjacent Common Street Church.
The farmer’s market includes so much more than produce vendors, including fish, flowers, cookies, wine, meat, jewelry, pottery, artwork, and more. It’s a regular Saturday stop for me, and many guests travel from nearby towns to visit. You’ll often see families visiting the common in the warm months, with their kids playing in the grassy area.
Natick Center also has many gift shops, small businesses, and restaurants to check in. Some favorites include:
- 5 Crows – a gift shop offering handcrafted gifts
- Lemon Tree Boutique – a fun, upscale consignment shop
- Calliope Paperie – stationery, pens, and other gifts
- Paper Fiesta – party goods and gifts
- Natick Outdoor Store – a block from Natick Center – offers Natick-themed apparel and other sporting goods
- Baylee Bee – stylish clothing
- Uni-T – comfortable, unique tee-shirts and gifts
The Natick Center Cultural District also organizes events throughout the year, including an annual ArtWalk, summer concerts on the common in the town center, and Natick Nights on Thursday evenings in the summer. Natick Center really is the cultural center of the town with lots of public art and studios.
Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary
Part of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary offers walking trails, streams, ponds, wildlife areas, and more. It’s one of my favorite places to walk around and explore.
Broadmoor is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from dawn to dust. Guests currently need timed tickets in order to enter. There are also events and other educational programming offered throughout the year, including facility rentals for birthday parties and corporate events.
Members of the Massachusetts Audubon Society get complimentary access to Broadmoor and other properties. The family membership covers the whole family and can be worthwhile if you are planning to visit more than one of the properties.
If you enjoy playing miniature golf, there’s a fun option in Natick. Golf on the Village Green, located on Route 9, offers miniature historic colonial replicas of the Freedom Trail and other United States historic attractions. It’s a small course, and it’s open seasonally starting mid-spring.
The operator of Golf on the Village Green also runs Fun and Games, an arcade in nearby Framingham. Fun and Games is a great place to get out of the sun or rain, and it offers an on-site pizza restaurant.
Cochituate State Park is located on the border of Natick and Wayland MA, with the entrance located in Natick. In season, this state park parking lot fills to capacity early, so it’s best to arrive in the morning. It’s located on Lake Cochituate, made up of three connected ponds.
Parking at Cochituate State Park is $8 for Massachusetts residents and $30 for non-residents. The park offers fun family recreational activities, including a hiking trail, cross-country skiing, canoeing, kayaking, picnic areas, and swimming. There’s also a boat ramp.
Boat rentals are available from the onsite Boating in Boston boathouse for an additional fee. Water sports rental options include sailboats (season pass members only), canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. These can be reserved online for a weekday visit, but you still have to arrive while there are still parking spots available.
The Center for Arts in Natick (or TCAN, as it’s known), is a converted historic firehouse located in Natick Center. It now offers live music, kids’ programming, and other events in the theater space, and movies in the new movie theater.
Visit their website to see and schedule of events, and purchase tickets in advance. It’s a small venue, so tickets are limited.
Hiking and Exploring in Natick
If you want to do some sightseeing in Natick, there are some beautiful outdoor places to explore. Some of the most popular places to visit in Natick are outdoors – even in the winter.
The South Natick Dam is located on Pleasant Street, adjacent to the South Natick Dam Park. This area of town is beautiful to explore, especially as the sun sets over the dam.
Coolidge Hill is another easy walk, with a beautiful view at the top. There’s also the Natick Town Forest, with entrances in several locations. The town forest also offers plenty of hiking and walking trails.
If you are looking for a longer excursion, Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary is definitely a great option. It’s a beautiful location, with a variety of different hiking trails through wetlands, ponds, and more. I’ve spent hours exploring it and I still always love to go back.
Pegan Hill, run by the Trustees, is located on 48 acres in both Natick and Dover. Admission is free, and Pegan Hill offers a hiking trail for guests. It’s also the highest point in Natick.
Looking to swim in Natick? In addition to Cochituate State Park, Natick also has a town beach. Memorial Beach is open in the summer months for swimming at Dug Pond.
Shopping and Dining in Natick
Whether you want to visit a chain store or a unique independent store, Natick offers so many popular places to shop. In the “Golden Triangle” area, which is shared with neighboring Framingham, you’ll find most of the popular chain stores. These include the Container Store, Lowes, Target, Kohl’s, the Christmas Tree Shops, Barnes and Noble, Ulta, World Market, Homesense, Aldi, Total Wine, Home Depot, and all of the shops at the Natick Mall.
For independent shops, you’ll want to visit Natick Center, where you will find resale, stationery, paper, gift, and sporting goods shops. Natick Center also offers some delicious restaurants, including the Dolphin, the Bagel Table, Dates and Olives, Buttercup, and Park Street Ice Cream (recently seen in the TV show Defending Jacob). A few blocks from the town center is Casey’s Diner, an iconic diner serving breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
Other restaurants and cafes in town include Oga’s Japanese Cuisine, the Charles River Coffeehouse, Mexicali Cantina Grill, the Muffin House, Anthony’s Coal Fired Grill, and Square Mft Pizza. Dairy Queen is located on the Wayland line and is open seasonally. There are also several popular chain restaurants in the Natick Mall.
Where To Stay in Natick MA
While some people may stop in Natick as part of a road trip to/from Boston, Cape Cod, or New York City, others may choose to stay in the area. It’s also convenient for many local colleges including Wellesley College and Babson College. Luckily there are several hotels right in Natick if you’d like to stay in town. These include: