Train rides through the woods are closer than you might think thanks to the EcoTarium in Worcester. This hidden gem of a museum is a perfect place to spend the day with young kids, exploring all things science and nature.

If you have never been to this science and nature museum in Massachusetts' second most populated city, then add this amazing place to your summer bucket list.

The nearly 200-year-old museum sits on over 60 acres with both indoor and outdoor exhibits that includes live animals, a planetarium and a scale model 1860s steam engine that actually takes guests around the property.

Get our free mobile app

Known as the Explorer Express Train, this 12-minute train ride around the beautiful EcoTarium grounds has been enjoyed by museum guests for decades. Yet somehow people (like myself) are still discovering it season after season.

Typically trains run several times per day April through December, with themed rides around Halloween and Christmas. But I think spring is the best time to ride.

EcoTarium via Facebook
EcoTarium via Facebook

The temperatures are warm, the sun is shining and the flowers around the EcoTarium grounds are blooming. Add that to the spring energy their outdoor animals get this time of year and you are probably getting the best train ride experience.

But even if you skip the train, there is so much to do at this science center.

Kids can get hands on with bubbles, climb into a hurricane simulator and build in the engineering lab. There's also an otter encounter, wild cat station and dinosaur displays. Plus you can tire the kids out with hours of entertainment in the Nature Explore outdoor exhibit or keep it peaceful with scenic walking trails around the property's two ponds.

It's part children's museum, part science museum and part playground, but the EcoTarium is all fun.

Families have been raving about this hidden gem in Worcester for literally decades and it's not the only underrated spot in town.

Calling All Plant Lovers: Enchanting Worcester Shop Is Worth the Trip

Take a peek inside one of New England's coolest plant shops. Seed to Stem in Worcester is covered from front to back, from floor to ceiling, in beautiful greenery, and also offers a wide variety of other neat items for sale. A visit to Seed to Stem is a whole experience, and one that every New England plant mom or dad should have at least once in their life.

LOOK: 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the US

From secret gardens to underground caves, Stacker compiled a list of 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the United States using travel guides, news articles, and company websites.

More From WFHN-FM/FUN 107