By The HOWL Street Team
Think you know the area? Well, get excited because our list of favorite hidden gems and unusual attractions is sure to have some new haunts for you to explore.
Bodega hidden in plain sight
232 High St., Lowell
Step inside the no-frills Los Amigo Market and beyond the convenience store you’ll discover a back kitchen that serves heaping plates of Spanish food including mouth- watering fried chicken, rice and beans for around $6.
1 Elm St., Nashua
The storefront of Codex Bar looks like a bookstore. A secret panel — you have to find it first — opens to a retro glam bar circa 1920s with creative cocktails and vintage décor. Sorry, we won’t tell you where the secret panel is because half the fun of Codex is in finding out how to get in. Hint: Peruse the bookcase on your quest for great cocktails and beer.
Honey Sriracha wings and macarons
478 Merrimack St., Lowell
While Sizzling Kitchen serves a world-class mix of Asian-fusion, Italian with a twist and house baked pastries, the chef knocks it out of the park with his sweet and savory honey-sriracha wings drizzled in sesame seeds. Follow up with the handcrafted macarons — we highly recommend the pistachio but there’s around 20 tasty flavors to choose from.
Riverwalk & North Canalway
Behind Boarding House Park (40 French St.), Lowell
Beyond Boarding House Park, slip through the iron gate and you’ll meet the river and a long, snaking pathway that stretches a few miles past scenic bridges and canalways. A cool urban path for jogging, biking or walking.
150 Middle St., Lowell
During the holidays, toys are front and center but for the rest of the year, they take a back seat to Rogers Pool & Patio business. But make no mistake, this is one of the best places (dare we say, on earth) for finding nostalgic and classic toys and board games.
Ride the rapids
Adventure seekers take note: An urban whitewater gem plunging over class III-IV rapids lies in the heart of Lowell from April 2 to May 22. The Concord River trip by Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust and Zoar Ourdoor is the closest white water rafting river to Boston and includes passage through an 1850s lock chamber that puts you smack in the center of downtown. Minimum age: 14. $83 per person. 50 Warren St. at the UMass Inn and Conference Center.
See ‘ducks’ fly
22 Vinal Square, North Chelmsford
One of the last remaining duckpin bowling lanes in the country, the underground alley known as North Chelmsford lanes is a cool step backward in time.
Best fresh seafood nowhere near a beach
333 Westford St., Lowell
Captain John’s is a lower Highlands dive bar that was spotlighted by Hollywood in The Fighter, the 2010 blockbuster about Lowell boxer Micky Ward’s epic rise to fame. But besides being the spot where Ward met his wife, Charlene, this unlikely working-class hero’s joint has been long known to have the best fried seafood plate north of Boston. Owners Nick and Maria Kozombolis keep a clean kitchen and have seafood arrive fresh from Gloucester and Ipswitch every few days.
Gulp wine fireside
160 Pawtucket Blvd., Tyngsboro
Close to everything yet worlds away, the NOLO lounge inside Stonehedge Inn has an impressive four sided stone fireplace surrounded by leather couches — a great place to bring a friend or significant other and test drive the bar’s extensive wine and cocktail selection.
A garden oasis in the middle of the city
243 Worthen St., Lowell
The historic birthplace of painter James McNeil Whistler, The Whistler House Museum also happens to have a beautifully landscaped park. Many may not know this Lowell landmark also offers a variety of super affordable wedding and private function packages ranging from about $600 to $1,200 for use of the grounds.
Best burger after midnight
145 Dutton St., Lowell
If you’ve found yourself at the bar until the bitter end, the historic Club Diner is most likely your next stop to refuel. From homecooked meals like meatloaf and mashed potatoes to juicy burgers and of course, breakfast, this is the place for late night food action and people watching.
Oldest working phone booth in Lowell
245 Central St., Lowell
When was the last time you used a public phone booth to make a call or change into your superhero clothes? You can still find one of the near-extinct four-walled variety soldiering on inside Cappy’s Copper Kettle.
Wines from around the world
58 Prescott St. (rear), Lowell
Off the beaten path, Tutto Bene is a wine and cheese cellar accessed through a Prescott Street alleyway and has an impressive selection of wine and beer.
Ed McMahon’s bench
33 Kearney Square, Lowell
“Heeeeeeeeeer’s Johnny.” Lowell native and comedian Ed McMahon is most famous for the line he used to intro Johnny Carson for years on the Tonight Show. In 1996, he was honored with a bench in front of Middlesex Community College, marked with a star.
Jane Toppan’s House
182 Third St., Lowell
In 1902, nurse Jane Toppan (aka Jolly Jane), confessed to killing 31 people with poison, some of whom she crawled into bed with and held while they died. She also killed her foster sister with a cocktail of mineral water and strychnine. It is believed that over 10 years, Toppan killed as many as 100 people. The house on Third is where she grew up.
A killer cup and cannoli
1300 Main St., Tewksbury
Café Sicilia is small in size but big on charm. You can grab a cappuccino and a deliciously crispy ricotta stuffed shell, close your eyes and pretend you’re in Italy. Their Italian subs, big bowls of pasta with meatball and gelato are also worth your time.
510 Lowell St., Methuen
The Chicken “Bahb” is a Northeast classic. And if you want the best, head down to Norm’s White Horse. A bit suspicious looking on the outside, the inside of the building is your typical neighborhood bar with comfort-style pub food including homemade scotch eggs, seafood chowder and burgers. Although it isn’t barbecued, the chicken is simmered in a pressure cooker with seasonings then pulled off the bone, shredded and simmered again in the broth from the pressure cooker. The tender meat is served on a toasted role with lettuce and a smattering of mayo.
357 Pawtucket St. (rear), Lowell
Tucked behind the Franco American school, this hidden gem is mentioned in Kerouac’s Dr. Sax and was also paid a visit by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan in the 1975 documentary Renaldo and Clara. The 108-year-old school is closing its doors in June 2016 and the fate of the property is still up in the air so you may want to check out this unique landmark while you can.
Doughnuts from heaven
487 Westford St., Lowell
We’ve mentioned the Donut Shack many times, but we’re still surprised by how many people we meet who have yet to discover this small bakery with the most amazing marshmallow-filled doughnuts.
Dragon fruit, jackfruit and duck heads
179 Chelmsford St., Lowell
If it’s exotic fruit you’re looking for, you can’t beat the selection at Bangkok Market. But if you’re a bit squeamish, you may want to avoid the packaged duck heads on display.
Famous hot dogs spelled two different ways
37 Elliott St., Lowell
Speaking of Ed McMahon, the snappy Kayem dogs at Elliot’s were his favorite. Pay a visit and you’ll notice the name is spelled both with one “T” and two in various spots around the lunch cart.
The Lew House
89 Mount Hope St., Lowell
The former home of Adrastus and Elizabeth Lew (married in 1844) was a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves making their way to Canada. The Lew’s grandson, Harry “Bucky” Lew became the first black professional basketball player in 1902.
Vintage turntables, video games and records
54 Middlesex St., Lowell
A cool throwback to the days of jukeboxes and classic turntables, Garnick’s is one of the oldest businesses still standing in downtown and has a great garage sale vibe.
Most artistic wash closet
61 Market St., Lowell
The loo inside Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus is covered floor to ceiling in original artwork by Michael Dailey Jr. and Rick Stec.
Drink with ghosts
141 Worthen St., Lowell
Built in 1834, The Worthen House is the city’s oldest tavern and is rumored to have more than patrons walking about in the attic during the wee hours of the morning. It’s also said that Edgar Allen Poe liked to have a cold one here when he visited Lowell (the macabre author allegedly had an affair with a married Lowell woman). Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, you will catch a glimpse of one of the last antique belt-driven ceiling fan systems in the country at this neighborhood watering hole.
Drink at an art gallery
103 Market St., Lowell
You can’t beat the craft beers on tap or the tasty pizza, sandwich and soup menu at UnchARTed. Did we mention the great live music on weekends?
Great date spot
Mill No. 5, 250 Jackson St., 4th flr., Lowell
Step inside this indoor streetscape lined with boutique shops including a record store, café, and indie theater that sells beer and wine. The red velvet couches by the fireplace in the Victorian Lounge (next door to the café) is a cozy space for conversation over coffee.
British candy and used books
Mill No. 5, 250 Jackson St., 4th flr., Lowell
Speaking of Mill No. 5, you’ll find a multitude of treats to satisfy every expat and Anglophile’s sweet tooth at Serpentine Books, where shop owner Ken Welch visits the U.K. to pile up on confections like Lion, Crunchie, Yorkie bars, Smarties and more.
A lion and a ‘witch’
77 Knapp Ave., Lowell
More than a Century old, the garden-style Lowell Cemetery has rows of elaborate monuments, like the 25-ton Italian marble carved Ayer lion, and the legendary “Witch Bonney.” Despite supernatural rumors, the statue is actually in memory of Clara Bonney Lilley who died in the 19th Century. This is a tranquil spot to walk and explore.
Obscure antiques and oddities
297-321 East St., Tewksbury
Tucked inside the Tewksbury State Hospital, you’ll find the Public Health Museum filled with some interesting artifacts documenting medical history in the U.S. Open Wed. and Thurs. 10am-2pm, and the first Saturday of every month, 10am-2pm. $5 admission.