Weir on the Charles River and fall sunshine reflecting in the water at South Natick Dam Park (Natick Massachusetts)
South Natick Dam Park in Natick, Massachusetts (iStock Photo)

I’m often asked if we’re happy with our choice to move to the suburbs after a decade of living a car-free, kid-free life in the city. I was incredibly sad when we knew it was time to move. I knew I would miss the Boston skyline I had come to love so much, the daily commute through Copley Square, the multitude of restaurants within feet of our home, and the salty ocean breeze.

While I do still miss Boston, I have continued to be surprised and delighted by the finds in and around our new neighborhood of Natick, Massachusetts. Here are my 10 favorites so far — because, as the unofficial tagline goes, “Natick — there’s more to us than the mall…”

Park Street Ice Cream Shoppe

Family owned for more than 40 years, this adorable ice cream shop right in the center of town has been a staple on our family evening walks since day one. Our daughter would drift off to sleep in the stroller, and it was a time my husband and I could wind down after the work day while enjoying a cone and the beautiful golden hour. Now that she’s figured out we’re eating the good stuff, she gets her own!

Natick Farmers Market

I never knew how much I would love a year-round farmers market! Farmers markets in the city were so hard to get to because they were in the middle of the week and only for a short season. In Natick, vendors come every Saturday from all over bringing fresh produce, meats and fish, flowers, baked goods, crafts, and some form of entertainment. I’ve picked up teachers’ gifts, delicious fresh bread, fresh flowers as host gifts, and a variety of produce to try. I love simply walking around and sharing in the vibe of the community.

Casey’s Diner

Located in downtown Natick since 1927, Casey’s Diner is a true blast from the past. Come for the structure — a 10-stool diner car — and stay for the steamed hot dogs and classic diner menu. Casey’s is on the National Register of Historic Places and is filled to the brim with old photos of Natick. I love looking at them and envisioning what the town felt like back in the day. With outdoor seating, everyone in our family (dog included) has something to enjoy!

Lookout Farm

A farm that brews its own beer and has amazing food? Lookout Farm has it all, no matter the time of year. In the winter, the tap room is a great place to stay warm and have enough space for kids to run around. We’ve celebrated random Saturdays and my birthday in March there. During the summer we enjoy pick-your-own fruit, live music, and delicious beer and cider. As a born-and-bred New England girl, I know a good cider donut when I see one, and Lookout Farm is absolutely near the top.

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary and Pegan Hill Reservation

One of the “must haves” on our suburban hunt was to find a town that had green space close by. For Christmas we were gifted memberships to both Mass Audubon and The Trustees, and we have taken advantage of both as much as we can. I love that we have two hiking spots right in town, making it super easy to pop over for a quick nature bath without having to make a full day of it. 

Cochituate Rail Trail

My husband and daughter use the Cochituate Rail Trail (or CRT for short) almost daily to get to and from daycare. The beautiful four-mile path is consistently filled with walkers, runners, bikers, rollerbladers, wheelchairs, and even adaptive cycling programs. This tree-lined path that connects Natick and Framingham is the perfect place to unwind to the sound of birds or a podcast. The CRT is even a hit in the wintertime, ringing in the new year with local business-sponsored fire pits and Christmas lights dotting the rail trail.

The Center for Arts in Natick

Lovingly referred to by locals as TCAN, The Center for Arts in Natick is truly a one-of-a-kind regional community arts organization. The 290-seat performance space was built in 1875, and its mission is to provide community access and appreciation for diverse arts programs and education! TCAN has a calendar chock full of various celebrations of the arts, like indie artists, comedians, tribute bands, open mic nights, and screenings of classic movies from the 1920s.

Bacon Free Library

Located in beautiful South Natick next to the South Natick Dam, the Bacon Free Library is truly one of the smallest, most architecturally beautiful libraries I’ve ever visited. Built in 1880, this library has unbelievable children’s programming, including weekly story times, “read to a dog,” poetry workshops, and concerts on their beautiful lawn. For history buffs, the Natick Historical Society is located in the basement of the Bacon Free Library.

Cheering for the Boston Marathon

Downtown Natick is one of the best spots to watch the Boston Marathon. No matter the weather, mile 10 hosts the biggest celebration along the marathon route — we look forward to it every spring! There are at least three bands set up within half a mile of downtown, including an Elvis impersonator who sings from the back of his pickup truck. The best part about Natick as a pitstop along the marathon route is jumping on the commuter rail and heading directly to Back Bay to find friends and family at the finish line.

The Natick Community Organic Farm

The Natick Community Organic Farm is a free and open-to-the-public working farm filled with organic produce and farm animals. It’s the perfect place to visit when my daughter has a random day off from school. You can walk around and get up close to chickens, pigs, bunnies, goats, and other farm animals. The farm also offers dozens of educational programs for children of all ages and workshops for adults.

 
Sarah Aspinwall
Sarah grew up in Connecticut, but Massachusetts has always felt like a second home with extended family across the state. With a master's in public health and a lifelong passion for healthcare, Sarah moved to Boston after graduation. She is a fierce advocate for better access and reducing the complexities of the healthcare system. Sarah met her husband covered in sweat and lifting weights at a local CrossFit gym (talk about first impressions!). They adopted a rescue pup from Mississippi and welcomed their daughter in 2021. After nearly a decade of city living, Sarah and her family headed to the Metro West area to start a new adventure in the suburbs. Sarah has volunteered for Community Consulting Teams of Boston (CCT), offering pro bono management consulting to Boston-area nonprofits, and she served a three-year term on the board. She is an alumna member of the Kappa Delta sorority and has served as an advisor to the Northeastern chapter since 2014.

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