Massachusetts Travel >>> Things to do in Walpole MA
Walpole, Mass.: A Quintessential Small New England Town Close to Boston
Article and photos by Eric H.
the great aspects about Boston is that you don't have to drive terribly
far to find some classic, New England small towns.
Walpole, Mass., about 18 miles southwest of downtown Boston,
is surely one of those
towns with its downtown seemingly stuck in another time. With
three town commons, churches with tall white steeples, tree-lined side
locally-owned shops (in the center), Walpole might not share the
rampant commercial and
industrial growth of nearby towns, but it does have an appeal to those
who like a quiet, quaint historical town with plenty of community spirit
open spaces. It's
really an underrated gem of a town -- a nice place to raise a family,
take a nice evening walk and attend seasonal community
events (which seem to happen one after another). One thing is for sure:
the Cedar Junction prison, Route 1 and parts of Route 1A are in
no way representative of this beautiful small New England town. When
Walpole is at its best, the town conjures up images of Norman Rockwell,
Currier and Ives, "It's a Wonderful Life," an HGTV visit and a Hallmark
movie with a friendly, small town setting. Leafy Common St.,
right off Main St. in downtown Walpole, is especially stunning with its
grand old homes with diverse architectural styles and big front
Downtown Walpole is not overly quaint, although just a few years ago the proverbial "sidewalk rolled up" look was well intact. However, with a recently evolving commercial base that doesn't encroach upon the innate classic New England feel, Walpole now has seven full-service restaurants, The Coffee Perch coffeehouse, the Farmer in the Dell farm-to-table restaurant and the seasonal Red Cherry Frozen Yogurt Shop. You'll find three terrific Irish Pubs within a few hundred yards of each other -- The Raven's Nest, Finnegan's Wake (scroll down page for review) and Napper Tandy's (which also features an amazing pool hall). That's very impressive for a downtown that barely goes beyond two blocks. You'll also see old standbys that have been around for decades like Betro Pharmacy, Joe's Barber Shop, First Sandwich Shop, Mimi's Variety, Walpole Music and the 100-plus-year-old Gilmore's that sells coal, grain, hay and cement. Additionally, a new, beautifully built, "green" public library has turned out to be incredibly popular -- noteworthy, given our Kindle/Nook oriented society.
Each section of town has its own distinct personality with elements that almost look like a travel destination but with no ambitions of being that. East Walpole has a pleasant mill village feel and the scenic 89 acre Bird Park -- perfect for walking, picnicking and communing with nature. Semi-rural North Walpole is home to the Norfolk County Agricultural School, the 365 acre publicly accessible Adams Farm, scenic Willett Pond and some beautiful farms and open land. West Walpole still has remnants of rural Walpole on Lincoln St., and features Turner Pond for winter skating ice skating. South Walpole has a small rural US Post Office, the Rodman Arena for ice skating, a nice shop for beading called the Bead Addiction, and its own village green surrounded by well-kept older homes.
involvement in Walpole is off the charts, particularly
at the Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances, May's Walpole Town
Day, Epiphany Church of Walpole's June Village Fair and
December's tree lighting ceremony.
Common Street Area
Pumpkins in the Park is an extremely popular October event that takes places at Bird Park
South Walpole US Post Office
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