30 things to do in Greater Lowell under $30
By The Howl Street Team
Baby, it’s cold outside! But winter doesn’t have to be all about hibernating. There are plenty of free and inexpensive activities to make the season fun. So grab your warmest coat and come out and play.
1. Eat snow (but not the yellow kind)
Whether you’re six or 60, nothing brings out your inner kid in winter like flying down a white fluffy hillside. Some of our favorite sledding spots include: The Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest, accessible from Trotting Park Road in Lowell, has 1,000 acres spread across three towns with plenty of room for free sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and snowball fights; Mount Pleasant Golf Course (141 Staples St., Lowell) provides a large amount of open space free to the public for sledding and cross country skiing; Trull Brook Golf Course (170 River Rd., Tewksbury) boasts prime sledding terrain; Nashoba Valley Ski Area (79 Powers Rd., Westford) is snow tubing paradise. Eighteen lanes are serviced by four lifts and regularly maintained by the park’s grooming fleet. $28 for a two-hour ticket.
2. Watch college hockey
The amazing UMass Lowell River Hawks will give you plenty of reasons to have a blast at the ice rink. Ticket prices start around $9. Visit tsongascenter.com for schedule.
3. Find your sonic bliss
Original music can be found every weekend in downtown Lowell and most places have no cover charge. Our no-fail favorites include The Back Page (15 Kearney Square), a cocktail lounge known for its lineup of sizzling blues and rock bands; and UnchARTed (103 Market St.), the city’s most rockin’ gallery serves live music, pizza and beer with a heaping of local art.
4. Visit a farmer’s market
Winter weather doesn’t mean you have to forfeit farm fresh fare. Every Sunday from 10am to 2pm you’ll find a treasure trove of local greenhouse grown produce, fresh baked goods, organic beauty products and more at The Farm Market (250 Jackson St., 4th flr. At Mill No. 5) millno5.com; and every Saturday from 10am to 2pm until Feb. 25th, the Chelmsford Agway Winter Farmer’s Market (24 Maple Road) will be packed with mouth watering local offerings. Visit chelmsfordagwayfarmersmarket.blogspot.com
5. Channel your inner Lebowski
Whether it’s Buck ‘n Bowl Mondays where games and shoe rentals are $1.50 each from 9 pm to 11pm, or Bowling After Dark Fridays when $10 gets you two hours of cosmic bowling including shoe rental, Brunswick lanes (647 Pawtucket Blvd., Lowell) offers a little something for everyone.
6. See a classic
Grab some popcorn, slide into a cushy lounge chair and settle in for a black and white classic, or even a new indie release at The Luna Theater (250 Jackson St., 4th flr. At Mill No. 5). Visit lunalowell.com
7. Play at Lowell Winterfest
Every February, the famous human dogsled races, hot chocolate and soup competitions, marshmallow roasting, fireworks, and heated tents with live rock bands turn downtown Lowell into one big weekend-long party. Visit cultureiscool.org to learn more.
8. Get a history lesson
Lowell led the charge in America’s industrial revolution. Explore the city’s rich and storied past on one of the many free daily tours. Visit nps.gov/lowe/ for schedules.
Be bold and take center stage at an open mic: Musicians can find some sweet backup on drums, bass, keyboards and more at The Back Page (15 Kearney Sq.) Wednesdays at 9pm, hosted by Steve Clements; or belt out your favorite tunes during Monday night karaoke, 8pm at The Blue Shamrock (105 Market St.); and test out your poetry and original songs on the first and third Tuesday of each month at Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus(61 Market St.) beginning at 6:30 p.m.
10. Score something vintage
On the first Saturday of every month, the marketplace at Mill No. 5 attracts vendors from all over New England offering up new and gently used wares from decades past including clothes, home goods, vinyl records, jewelry, artwork, toys and more.
11. Walk along the Merrimack
Whether you’re on the Pawtucket Boulevard side of the Merrimack or taking in the scenery behind the city’s old mill buildings along the Riverwalk at the foot of John Street behind the Boott Mills, a brisk jaunt by the water at morning or dusk will get your blood pumping and clear your mind.
12. Get your geek on
Test your “smahts” Tuesdays at 8pm with pub trivia at The Old Court (29 Central St.).
13. Warm your belly
Breaking bread with friends is always fun, but it’s even better when you have a bowl of hearty soup to dunk your bread in. We especially love the spicy and cilantro laced Tom Yum from Viet Thai (368 Merrimack St., Lowell); a steaming bowl of ramen from 1981 (129 Merrimack St.); creamy tomato soup with grilled cheeses at Gibbet Hill Grill (61 Lowell Road, Groton); and pretty much everything at the Chowder Factory (101 Phoenix Ave., Lowell).
14. Ski under the full moon
Great Brook Ski Touring in Carlisle (1018 Lowell St.) provides some of the most scenic trails for cross country skiing day or night, but we especially love the after dark skiing by lantern light offered Tuesdays and Thursdays on the one-mile Lantern Loop from sunset until 9pm. Best of all, it’s super affordable, $10 for an adult trail pass and $13 for full adult rental equipment (skis, boots and poles).
Greater Lowell is full of amazing original artists. On the first Saturday of every month, Western Avenue Studios — a converted mill building now home to more than 300 artists across all mediums — opens its doors to the public for exploring from noon to 5pm (122 Western Ave.). You’ll also want to add the following galleries and museums to your list: Arts League of Lowell (307 Market St.), Brush Art Gallery (256 Market St.); The Whistler House Museum of Art (243 Worthen St.); American Textile History Museum (491 Dutton St.); Ayer Lofts Gallery (172 Middle St.); and UnchARTed ( 103 Market St.).
16. Imagine you’re in a video game
Ever wonder what it’s like to be in Halo? Give it a whirl at Laser Craze in North Andover (1580 Osgood St.), where live-action laser tag costs about $14 per person. As Barney Stinson would say, “It’s legen — wait for it — dary.”
Take a yoga class. You can try many styles of this ancient mind and body melding exercise, including gentle kripalu yoga for around $15 per class at the Sangha Yoga Collective. or drop into the new, lofty Sutra Studio on the 4th floor of Mill No. 5 and try out a class for $16 sutra studio.com .
18. Catch the big one
When temperatures hit freezing and our local waterways turn to solid ice, head to Lake Mascuppic on the Tyngsboro/Dracut border, where you’ll find some of the area’s best and most plentiful ice fishing.
Catch the future champions of the boxing world — and see where it all began for some of Lowell’s boxing legends, like Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund — at the annual Golden Gloves in Lowell Memorial Auditorium (50 E. Merrimack St.) from Jan.-Feb. Tickets start around $11.
20. Sip single malt whiskey made in New England
Nashoba Winery in Bolton (100 Wattaquadock Hill Rd.) offers daily tastings Mon-Fri from 10am to 4:30 pm and weekends from 11am to 4pm., no reservations required. Blueberries, apples, pears, strawberries, rhubarb and more are all grown and harvested at the winery and used to make their delicious fruit wines. Open year round, there’s a $5 fee for the tasting bar. If wine isn’t your thing, you’ll find plenty of flavorful ales and lagers, as well as spirits on tap from vodka to brandy, and of course, the whiskey.
Take some time out to treat yourself right. Get a spa manicure complete with exfoliation and full arm massage by the professionals at Salon City (173 Market St.) for $25. Also, try Empire Beauty School (231 Central St.) to treat toes and fingers with all the bells and whistles at a fraction of the price — a spa pedicure and manicure combo is $24, or opt for a spa facial, $20. Headed out for a night on the town? Call Eyeful Beauty, 33 Middle St., and book an appointment with a make-up artist who will give you smoldering eyes for $25.
You don’t have to wait for temperatures to dip below freezing to hit the ice. Indoor rinks like Janas Rink (382 Douglas Rd, Lowell) and the Chelmsford Forum (2 Brick Kiln Rd, Chelmsford), offer public skating for around $5.
23. Learn some sweet moves
From hip-hop and modern to old-school, classic and even belly dancing, get into the groove with adult classes at Mill City Dance (1201 Westford St., Lowell) and Donna Micelli’s Dance Studio(649 Lawrence St., Lowell) where you can drop in on individual classes from around $15-$20.
The Lowell Merrimack Repertory Theater recently unveiled a posh, newly renovated performance space. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Tickets start around $15. mrt.org
Take a 20-minute drive via Route 3 South and land at an indoor mountain, sort of. The Boston Rock Gym (78 Olympia Ave., Woburn) serves as a climber’s sanctuary, providing indoor rock walls with a wide variety of well graded climbing trails. Adult day passes $16, kids 11 and under, $12.
Channel your inner Brit and indulge in afternoon tea by a crackling fire every Saturday and Sunday from 1:30pm to 4pm at Tyngsboro’s swanky Stonehedge Inn (160 Pawtucket Blvd.). Click here for more fireside fun.
27. Sip something sweet
Sweet Lydia’s (160 Merrimack St., Lowell) has been the unbeatable crowning champion of Lowell’s annual hot chocolate competition. Experience why by scooping up her signature dark chocolate mix with vanilla and peppermint marshmallows — and share it with some you love, or not.
Catch Boston’s best comics every Friday and Saturday night at Giggles Comedy Club inside Prince Pizzeria (517 Broadway, Rte. 1, Saugus). Enjoy two 23-ounce draft beers for around $10 and prepare to crack up.
29. Forget about winter
The Butterfly Place (120 Tyngsboro Rd., Westford) offers an indoor garden set at summertime temperatures and is filled with hundreds of free flying butterflies. The butterfly sanctuary opens on February 14th. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for kids, free for kids 2 and under.
30. Go from tap to table
When winter finally winds down, take a trip to an authentic sugar shack. The Warren Farm in Brookfield (31 Warren St., North Brookfield) opens its annual Maple Sugaring Tours every weekend in March. Free sap and syrup tastings and hot drinks available while farm hands share stories about the science and nature behind their homemade syrup. Tour is $5. In the meantime, sample the farm fresh syrup at the Chelmsford Agway Winter Farmers’ Market.