In and Around Fitchburg, Massachusetts

This blog was created to discuss some of the positive aspects of living in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, that are often overlooked by outsiders and residents alike.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ten Free Things To Do In Fitchburg

I noticed that a number of people have ended up on this blog as a result of running a web search for “free things to do in Fitchburg.” Many have also added the qualifier “for kids.” So as the summer draws to a close, I wanted to post some examples of free things to do in our city. I should also add that another inspiration for this post came because I learned of the Fitchburg Summer Playground Program. I’m not including it in the list below because this year’s session wraps up soon (August 17th), but I was definitely impressed to learn that from Monday through Friday in the summer months, seven playgrounds in Fitchburg offer recreational programming, first aid-certified instructors, and even a complete lunch at no cost for children under 18!

Next time you and/or your children are looking for something free to do, here are some ideas that will cost you absolutely nothing:

1) Have a picnic in Coggshall Park. Settle down at a picnic table overlooking Mirror Lake or hike along one of the many trails to find a more secluded spot in the 250 acres of woods.

2) Visit the Fitchburg Public Library. Take your kids to story hour, join a book club, or simply check out a book or movie to enjoy at home.

3) Admire classic cars at one of several weekly car shows held in the city. The city website maintains a list of nights and locations.

4) Take advantage of concert series held in multiple locations around the city. There are several to choose from: Wednesday night Concerts on the Commons, the Saturday River Jam series at Riverfront Park, and Sunday concerts in Coggshall Park (with this summer’s last concert featuring Irish music from Erin’s Melody to be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on September 9).

5) Go for a hike at the West Fitchburg Steamline Trail Park (scroll to bottom of link page for info). The trail takes you along a beautiful stretch of the Nashua River.

6) Check out an event at Fitchburg State College. FSC opens many of their events to the public (for an example, read my earlier post). The college’s event schedule can be found here. The posted schedule generally does a good job of specifying what events are open to the public versus those that are for students only, but if you have any questions, I’ve found the staff to be VERY responsive to email or phone call inquiries.

7) Go for a swim at the J. Robert Crowley Pool. If swimming isn’t your thing, cool off at the Parkhill Splash Park instead.

8) Enjoy a Friday night movie at Riverfront Park. Remaining shows this summer are Charlotte’s Web on August 17 and Happy Feet on August 24.

9) Try out your skating abilities at the Ryan C. Joubert Memorial Skate Park, which is the largest public outdoor skate park in New England. As an added bonus, if you visit the Parkhill branch of the IC Federal Credit Union (at 72 Electric Avenue) on August 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., you can even pick up one of 100 free skate boarding helmets!

10) Take advantage of one of Fitchburg’s many festivals. I’ve talked about a number of past community festivals and the Longsjo Classic/Civic Days events in earlier posts, but keep an eye on the Fitchburg Pride events calendar to find out about other upcoming events, like the Autumn Festival on October 19.

Those are just a few ideas regarding free activities in Fitchburg - I’d love to hear others. Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Kayaking the Nashua River

New England in general is a fabulous place for kayaking. I’ve been very happy with the many options available in the Fitchburg area, with one great river, the Nashua River, running right through our city. Unfortunately, my kayak’s built for calmer waters rather than whitewater, so I’m not able to make use of the Nashua River here in Fitchburg. Anyone out there have any firsthand experience with that? Detailed hydrologic info can be found through the National Weather service at this site.

I instead typically launch from the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. You can get to the boat launch site by taking Route 2 to Exit 38 (Route 110/111) south toward Harvard; bear right to stay on Route 110 at Harvard Center; and, turn right onto Still River Depot Road at the Still River Post Office. The refuge parking area is at the end of Still River Depot Road, past the railroad tracks.

If you go left (under the bridge) from the launch, you’ll head upstream toward the Bolton flats. There are a number of shallow areas and downed timber as well as some occasional decent current on this route. But the payoff is some great quiet and privacy. If you go right from the launch through former Fort Devens territory toward route 2, you’ll encounter fewer obstacles but more people (certainly not crowds though) and increasing road noise as you approach the highway. There are some nice little coves to explore along the way.

For other trip ideas in the Fitchburg area and also throughout southern New England, I would highly recommend the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Quiet Water publication for our region. Through this book, I learned about other good nearby kayaking spots, such as Paradise Pond in the Leominster State Forest, where efforts are in progress to reintroduce loon to the pond.

Have fun, and let us all know of any kayaking opportunities in the area that you’d recommend!