44 miles W of Boston; 52 miles NE of Springfield

Massachusetts's second-largest city, Worcester (pronounced Wuss-ter, or Woos-tah locally) has its dilapidated edges, but so, too, do many of the region's urban areas, most of which reached their apogees in the late 19th century. Still, local benefactors have invested in a surprising number of museums, historic buildings, and theatrical venues, and Worcester has enough attractions to justify a stopover or fill an overnight.

The student population draws from over a dozen schools, including Clark University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and College of the Holy Cross. Worcester's citizens support frequent bootstrapping efforts, especially downtown around the Romanesque City Hall.

The city was the site of the first National Women's Rights Convention, in 1850. The history of that event is online at the National Park Service website, at www.nps.gov.