WHY GO: Most of the things to do in Foxboro MA revolve in and around Patriot Place – a mixed use shopping and entertainment development, with Gillette Stadium as its centerpiece. You’re probably wondering why the Getaway Mavens recommend such a commercial and sports-oriented locale for a romantic weekend, but we have plenty of reasons.
For starters, Gillette Stadium is the only sports arena located next to a fully operational Cranberry Bog (owned by Ocean Spray). Plus, you can walk out the door of your hotel to find a bounty of shops, eateries, a bowling alley, ax throwing, movie theater, art galleries, and even med-spas.
There’s a state-of-the-art Patriots Hall of Fame Museum, a “lighthouse” from which you can get a drone’s eye view over Gillette Stadium. And of course, should you wish, you can watch an NFL game – or MLS Soccer game (the New England Revolution) – right here.
Best of all, you can stay where the bright lights of Gillette Stadium shine through windows of the Renaissance Patriot Place Hotel lobby. After a game or concert, it’s a mere few steps to your overnight destination. We spell it all out for you here.
Those looking for more weekend ideas in Massachusetts, refer to our Best Romantic Getaways in MA post.
Things to do in Foxboro MA Patriot Place
WATCH: Patriots Game or Concert at Gillette Stadium
Most visitors to Foxboro MA come to Gillette Stadium to see the New England Patriots play a game that might inch the team a bit closer to their 7th Superbowl victory. (Alas, it doesn’t look like this – 2023 – is their year). Still others swarm here for some of the hottest bands and musicians in the world. (Taylor Swift filled the 65,878-seat stadium for three nights in a row in May ’23).
TOUR: Patriots Hall of Fame Museum by Raytheon Technologies
I’m not a big sports fan. I don’t really follow sports. So, just-average sporting museums have a tendency to bore me. But I have to admit, I was quite captivated by the Patriots Hall of Fame at Gillette Stadium.
That Raytheon Technologies acknowledgement? That’s no small thing. The technology company has managed to create a multi-media extravaganza. Maneuvering through the museum, I discovered, is a feast for the senses. (FYI – for those who get overstimulated easily – you might want to limit your time here).
To start, enter the elevator, aglow in electric-blue, that lifts you up to the 3rd floor while a short recording gets you psyched. At the opening of the elevator doors, the roar of the stadium crowd surrounds you as you walk through the “player tunnel” into the main exhibit.
There, find cases containing memorabilia from and imagery of Brady, Gronk, Edelman – all the Pats – and videos of exciting, record-making plays.
American football has its roots in Massachusetts. In 1876, representatives from Harvard, Yale and Princeton met in Springfield MA to write the first rules of football. (A decade later, in 1891, Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball in Springfield, thus establishing the region’s identity as a sports innovator).
Become a Pats Fan
Watch a rousing 18-minute movie in the Raytheon Theater and you might just end up a Patriots fan. The team formed in 1960 as the Boston Patriots, changing its name to the New England Patriots – representing all six New England States – when it moved to Foxboro MA in 1971. The team began to taste success after Robert Kraft bought the NE Patriots in 1994, and then went into overdrive after Bill Belichick was hired as coach in 2000.
The Patriot’s first Superbowl win in 2002 surprised almost everyone. Headlines such as, “Miracle Pats Stun Rams,” blared from newspapers the next day. Between 2002 and 2019, the team won six Superbowls – a top of the leaderboard status shared only with one other football team: the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Interactive exhibits abound. Try to “kick a field-goal.” Walk among life-sized “players”. Test your on-field abilities – virtually of course. It’s an ebullient ride through the history of a team that’s seen its share of wins and losses – but one that ultimately triumphs.
GO: Top of the Gillette Stadium Via a Lighthouse
OK, so it’s a novelty, a defining feature of Gillette Stadium, and prettier than a water tower for sure. Foxboro MA is nowhere near the sea, but it’s got a Lighthouse, because, well, much of New England is on the Atlantic Ocean, and this is home to the only professional New England football team. So, it makes sense?
Regardless of the thinking behind this ironic 22-story tower, it’s a cool addition to Patriot Place, and the perfect staging area for a romantic gesture (like, say, popping the question).
Five bucks gets you an elevator ride to the rooftop viewing platform from which you can photograph an empty 65,878-seat stadium from on high. (Or, with VIP status, a full stadium).
Walk 360-degrees around the balcony for spectacular vistas – the best one the open-air arena itself. You can also arrange a long-shot photo and video of the two of you, taken from a camera across the field. It will be automatically emailed to you for free.
GO: Patriot Place Pedestrian Mall
It’s tough to encapsulate Patriot Place in one sentence. Suffice it to say that Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, took a dusty area of Foxboro MA, leveled the old stadium there in 2002, and in its place, over time, built a pedestrian mall and complex peppered with non-football-oriented establishments, a branch of Mass General Hospital, two hotels, and a brand new, gleaming Gillette Stadium.
The new digs seemed to have had a wildly successful effect on the New England Patriots, catapulting them into NFL history.
While staying in Patriot Place, we recommend doing/visiting the following shops and attractions.
Sweet Treats in Patriot Place
Sweet tooths will jump for joy at It’s Sugar – home to sometimes wacky (giant gummy worm), oft times gimmicky (canned Candy Corn), but always sweet, confections. If that’s not enough, head to the self-explanatory Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt; Crumbl Cookies; or Charlie’s Cupcakes – all within a block of each other.
Alternative Activities in Patriot Place
Staying right on site allows you time to do fun things together. And there’s a cornucopia of activities very close to each other. Throw axes at Crazy Axes; go bowling at Splitsville (where you’ll also find Top Golf); catch a movie during the day – the ultimate in romantic decadence – at Showcase Cinemas de Lux; or purchase a work of art that calls to you at The Artist’s Studio and Gallery.
Of course, the Big Show takes place in Gillette Stadium – for a New England Patriots football game, a concert, or any planned Big Ticket event. But, there’s plenty for “football widows and widowers” to do while their partners are cheering on their team:
Get a massage at Green Tangerine Spa & Salon, smooth out your body at European Wax Center, firm up those muscles at Pure Barre, spin with rhythm at Rev’d Indoor Cycling, get a bit of work done at Dream Spa Medical, or get creative at Muse Paintbar.
Restaurants in Patriot Place
There are 11 restaurants in Patriot Place N – ranging from Five Guys Burgers, Achilito’s Taqueria, and Axel & Burn BBQ to higher end Tavolino, Barrio, and Bar Louis.
Nightlife in Patriot Place
Crowds spilling out of Gillette Stadium have only to take a few steps to some rockin’ clubs, bars, and attractions open into the wee hours.
Join a country line-dance at Six String Grill and Stage. Warble a song or two on Karaoke Night at Wormtown Brewery. Try for a strike while listening to live music at Splitsville. Watch a local band at Scorpion – a Mexican Cantina slash rock-bar. Catch a late first-run movie at Showcase Cinema de Lux.
WALK: Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog
Walk the half mile Nature Trail around the last remaining active cranberry bog in Foxboro MA. Learn about the “life of a cranberry” from educational panels along the trail. And, if you arrive before harvest, you’ll see a field dense with red berries in a shallow, multi-acre bog. Staff from the Renaissance Hotel, donning waders, happily take part in the harvest.
But even if you come here at other times of year, it’s still lovely to stroll over and around the wetlands on boardwalks, and then on less watery, rooty, and rocky nature trails throughout the 32-acre greenspace. (Park behind Bass Pro Shops).
WALK: F. Gilbert Hills State Forest
Although not in Patriot Place, hiking along 23 miles of trails in the 1,000-acre F. Gilbert Hills State Forest is one of the best things to do Foxboro MA. Especially in fall when the leaves are ablaze with color. There are plenty of parking spaces in a brand-new lot near a bright red barn-like building. Your GPS might overshoot it, but you can’t miss it.
There’s a picnic area, and some wide, flat trails suitable for the not-in-such-great-shape crowd. Other more steep and constricting paths are preferred by very-in-shape bicyclists and runners. So, if you find yourself on one, just watch your back.
Where to Stay in Foxboro MA – Patriot Place
STAY: Renaissance Hotel Patriot Place
The 4-Star Renaissance Hotel Patriot Place is a polished luxury hotel with rooms decked out in the highest quality accoutrements. It abuts the Patriot Place pedestrian mall – just off its back door – and a football’s throw from Gillette Stadium.
First Impressions of Renaissance Hotel Patriot Place
Reception, at two individual desks beneath a constellation of hanging lights, is friendly and swift.
The stylish lobby, according to staff, is “the heart of the hotel,” where guests routinely hang out. There are plenty of seating options – from tufted leather couches to mid-century modern chairs. And, when darkness descends, the room is bathed in the bright lights of Gillette Stadium looming right outside.
Speaking of “outside,” the deck, right off the lobby, offers cushy couches, fire-pits, and tables and chairs – getting you even closer to the Stadium. Practically at its side entrance.
Dining at Renaissance Patriot Place
On-site restaurant, Twenty8 Food & Spirits, commands a good part of the lobby. Its elongated, yet curvy, bar dominates one side of its large space. It’s a convivial place to meet. On a late fall weeknight – the place hummed with groups of mostly guys in for a corporate meeting, and, interestingly, families whose homes were under renovation and needed a local place to stay.
Many were either “pre-gaming” before heading out to another restaurant, picking up food (in the case of families), or enjoying casual-street-food-ish New England Fare.
I can attest to the toothsomeness of the dishes: especially an umami–spicy version of chicken wings – so crispy and flavorful, I was gnawing at the bones wanting more. Although located in a branded hotel, where chefs are generally cautious about tweaking the menu too much, this one takes some chances and scores with most.
Guest rooms are upscale and refined – rather than lavish or edgy. In shades of grey, with a streamlined platform bed topped with a cloudlike white duvet, large flat screen TV, floor to ceiling windows, and subway tile shower in the bath – it’s extreme comfort without ostentatiousness.
The Renaissance Patriot Place features an indoor pool large enough to host a kid’s birthday party. And, athletes who don’t want to miss a workout will appreciate the well-stocked gym – with state of the art machines overlooking the indoor pool.
STAY: Hilton Garden Inn Foxboro at Patriot Place
Alternately, you can stay in deluxe accommodations right on Patriot Place’s pedestrian mall, at the Hilton Garden Inn Foxboro. With 136 deluxe, pet-friendly guest rooms, the hotel features an small indoor pool, fully-equipped fitness room with Peloton exercise bike, and a casual restaurant – the Garden Grille.
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