NATICK - The part of this town that is spread along Route 9 can give the mistaken impression that this suburb has the soul of a cash register, as the busy divided highway is lined by malls, strip shopping centers, and smallish office buildings.
But, "we are much more than that," said town administrator Martha White. Off Route 9 are leafy streets and well-kept homes.
"It really is a beautiful community," she said. "And we have a really strong sense of community."
Its beauty includes the more rural side, South Natick along the Charles River, where the parkland at the dam is a popular and picturesque site.
Other green space includes the town-owned nine-hole Sassamon Trace Golf Course and Cochituate State Park centered around Lake Cochituate.
Natick is anchored by its school system, where students scored in the top 100 districts on recent MCAS testing, according to a Globe analysis of results.
White also talks up an artists community that is taking hold in Natick Center. The town rezoned the center to allow for increased residential development as a means of supporting businesses.
Natick was settled by Europeans and the so-called Praying Indians with missionary John Eliot in 1651, according to the Natick Historical Society.
On a recent week, Realtor.com listed 103 single-family homes, ranging from $168,888 for a two-bed, one-bath, 550-square-foot home to $3.1 million for a six-bed, 5.5-bath, 7,014-square-foot home. Median price of a single-family home in January was $510,000, according to Warren Group, which publishes real estate information.