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Top mention: Chashu Ramen + Izakaya

Serving izakaya (small plates), notable main courses and unbeatable ramen, you'll discover a modern approach to Asian cuisinne at Chashu, plus a chic ambience to boot. Chef Son Vo grew up in Worcester and takes pride in elevating the food scene of Downtown. Each dish is a visual work of art and a fusion of flavors. Two local favorites: salmon kushi and spicy red miso ramen. 

Honorable mentionsAltea's Eatery, The Mercantile Rooftop Bar & RestaurantVolturno Pizza

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Cafés, Bakeries & Dessert Bars

Top mention: Bean Counter Bakery Café

The team at Bean Counter specializes in delicious and beautifully decorated wedding cakes, any-occasion cakes and cupcakes, fine desserts and premium coffee. They source the finest local and international ingredients from Worcester to Madagascar and Belgium, with a menu that also includes gluten-free and vegan options, which are highly recommended by local nominators. 

Honorables: BirchTree Bread Co.

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Breweries, Wineries & Cideries

Top mention: Redemption Rock Brewing Co. 

With a straightforward slogan—“Beer for People”—the crew at Redemption Rock believes craft beer is at its best when it brings people together, and when it's accessible, welcoming and safe for all. Locals' favorite craft creations include: Poms Not Bombs sour ale and Biere de Fête holiday lager.

Honorables: Wachusett Tap Room, Agronomy Farm Vineyard, Altruist Brewing Co., Wormtown Brewery, Rushford & Sons Brewhouse, Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company

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Top mentions: Bedlam Book Cafe, Ed Hyder's Mediterranean MarketplaceThyme Herbal ApothecaryWorcester Public Market

We're fiercely loyal to shopping small—at uniquely curated shops with artisan-crafted collectibles and locally-made goods. And with several highly nominated shops, named above, there's a place for everyone to peruse. Local nominators made special mention of the natural soaps from Shea Luxuria at Worcester Public Market, the Soma Salve from Thyme Herbal Apothecary and the smoothies at Bedlam Book Cafe.

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Cultural Attractions

Top mention: Worcester Art Museum

Internationally known for its display of European and American art, Worcester Art Museum is home to a collection of 37,500 pieces spanning 51 centuries. With art carts, hands-on activities and programs, and with a heavy focus on collaboration with local schools, WAM has stood at the forefront of engaging audiences and offering them a meaningful and personal experience. Tip from a local: Bruce W. of Worcester recommends checking out Jewels of the Nile, an exhibit on display through Jan. 8. 

Honorables: New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill, ArtsWorcester, the Samuel Slater Experience, EcoTarium

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Performance Venues

Top mention: The Hanover Theatre & Conservatory for the Performing Arts

The Hanover Theatre continues to draw over 196,000 patrons annually with its world-class performances and headlining acts like "Les Misérables," "Jersey Boys," "A Christmas Carol," Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Jay Leno, Neil Young, Aretha Franklin, John Legend, Tony Bennett and more, many of which received a shoutout from locals.

Honorables: JMAC BrickBox, Mechanics Hall

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Live Music Venues

Top mentions: Indian Ranch, DCU Center, Mechanics Hall

Live music venues around here range from contemporary arenas to neighborhood stages—and everything in the middle. Whether it's the lakeside Indian Ranch, innovative DCU Center or historic Mechanics Hall, there's a spot for everyone to find their beat. 

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Sports Venues

Top mention: Polar Park

With its 2021 opening, Polar Park brought with it a much-anticipated buzz to the game of baseball and the city surrounding it. The stadium stands as home base for the Worcester Red Sox, a Triple-A affiliate of Boston's beloved team. Between their youth clinics and deep connection to the community, the team is a notable staple to the city, with locals particularly expressing gratitude toward WooSox ushers. 

Honorables: Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field feat. several shoutouts to Bravehearts GM Dave Peterson, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, DCU Center - Arena & Convention Center

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Outdoor Event Venues

Top mention: New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill

Set on 171 acres on top of a drumlin overlooking the Wachusett Reservoir and Mt. Wachusett, New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill features a display of the finest plants for cultivation in New England among carefully planned gardens, as well as a robust program and event schedule. 

HonorablesWachusett Mountain Ski Area, stART on the Street, Indian Ranch, Worcester Common

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Top mention: AC Marriott

With a prime location, AC Hotel by Marriott Worcester warmly welcomes hotel-goers from near and far. Each of their spaces is built from the ground up with a visionary's spirit and a designer's eye. Within the 170 rooms and suites, visitors appreciate that they get everything they need without paying for what they don't. Worcester's Lisa M. shouts out the bartenders at AC Marriott for providing consistently friendly service.

Honorables: Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton Worcester, Beechwood

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Top mention: Indian Ranch

Open from May through mid-October, Indian Ranch sits pretty on Lake Webster, offering a scenic spot for camping, a bustling music venue on site and the nearby Samuel Slater's Restaurant