Old Sturbridge Village
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, Mass.
Ages 3-17: $7
Hours vary seasonally.
Please visit website for details
website and reviews
Boston is steeped in American history and you can’t walk a few feet without stumbling over some sort of historical landmark. But if you want to really experience history first hand, you’ll need to get a bit further from the city.
There are actually quite a few historical recreations in New England, but Old Sturbridge Village is the largest with more than 40 original buildings, plus farms, nature walks and gardens. The more than 200 acres of land portray a New England village from 1790 to 1840 and costumed interpreters help you understand how the villages would have worked, prayed and played. It’s a site that’s educational and fun.
- By Christy Matte
Old Sturbridge Village Buildings and Activities
As you roam throughout Old Sturbridge Village, you’ll come across a variety of buildings, carefully relocated and restored to their original state. Buildings like the shoe shop, cooper, sawmill, potter and blacksmith have artisans to demo the craft and answer questions. The houses, school, and country store also have interpreters playing out appropriate roles. They are all knowledgeable and patient, easily handling questions from young children to adults. Make sure to time your visit to enjoy demonstrations at the sawmill, blacksmith, tin shop, and pottery shop. They are particularly fascinating to watch.
You’ll find plenty of animals during your Sturbridge Village experience, including sheep, pigs, oxen, chickens, and cows. Learn how they train the oxen to work on the farm, or visit on “wool days” to see how they shear sheep. Kids will especially love a visit in the springtime when there is a steady parade of baby animals to visit.
There are also some seasonably available rides in the Village. During the winter months, you may find a 16-person horse-drawn sleigh to enjoy. Make sure to bundle up! The rest of the year, there’s a free horse-drawn carriage ride that’s always a hit with kids. These are generally available on weekends, holidays and school vacations. There’s also a boat ride on the river in warmer months. The ride has a small per person fee, but it’s a nice way to sit for a few minutes and relax, especially on hot days.
Sturbridge Village hosts themed events throughout the year, so keep your eye out if there’s an area that holds specific interest to you. There’s Muster Day in the early summer, where you’ll see militia members practicing their techniques. There are Apple Days in October, which focus on the harvesting and preservation of apples. Special Christmas programming in December teaches you all about holiday traditions and where they come from. Other days focus on wool, ice cream, music, antique cars, and textiles.
From kids to adults, there are lots of educational opportunities above and beyond what you’ll discover as you wander through the Village. Kids have the option of day camps, plus plenty of school-based activities. There are also activities for scouts, birthday parties, and home schoolers. Adults have plenty choices, too, including blacksmithing, hearth cooking, quilting, knitting, gardening, basket making, and tinsmithing. And if you’re inspired by your experience, you can return as a volunteer.
It’s easy to spend multiples days at Sturbridge Village and still not see everything. If you’re on vacation in the area, you may want to take advantage of their free second-day entry program. When you
purchase an admission ticket, you can return for a second day any time within a 10-day window.
There are a few different dining options, but you’re also welcome to bring along a picnic lunch. There
are picnic tables available both inside and outside of the Museum.
Christy Matte is a local freelance writer and blogger, as well as co-founder of Boston Parent Bloggers. She blogs about parenting, travel, tech, and philanthropy at QuirkyFusion.com.