History, craft beer, and one terrific state park are all a part of the Sturbridge travel itinerary. Learn our favorite things to do in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, plus our top picks for Sturbridge hotels and restaurants.
By Ian Aldrich
May 02 2019
History runs deep in the central Massachusetts town of Sturbridge. Settled in 1729 and officially incorporated nine years later, Sturbridge is best known today for Old Sturbridge Village, a living history destination that re-creates what New England life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries. But wait, there’s more: Public lands, orchards, locally made beers, and a growing arts scene give Sturbridge the kinds of destination bona fides that go behind just history. Then, there’s what’s nearby. A Sturbridge stay puts you within easy distance of all that this part of the Commonwealth has to offer — the Brimfield Antique Show, Six Flags New England, and the Worcester Art Museum, for example. Ready for a visit? Read on to learn our favorite things to do in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, plus our favorite Sturbridge hotels and restaurants.
It’s not all gingham dresses and straw hats at OSV, but the calendar is definitely stuck in the 1830s at this living history museum. OSV’s cluster of historic buildings creates a time capsule of life in a New England village back when the country was young. Visiting is a lesson in how the “good old days” had their own joys and difficulties. Named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Historical Community.”
SEE MORE: Old Sturbridge Village | Finding 1830s New England in 21st-Century Massachusetts
Hikers, bikers, and general outdoors addicts will find much to explore at this 60-site campground, which is located within easy distance of downtown Sturbridge. The state park also features yurt and group camping, while Walker Pond is a popular refresher for swimmers, as well as a nice landing spot for boaters and fishing fans.
Run by the husband-and-wife team of Gary and Ann Malone, Sturbridge Pottery has been a staple of the region’s tourist scene since 1976. Watch these veteran potters make their wares, which are collected throughout the country, and take a gift home for yourself. The lineup includes platters, pie plates, vases, and bowls, to name just a few. Open April to December.
Visit the village, stay at the village. History fans make a weekend of their visit to the town’s iconic museum by staying at the inn next door. Visitors can choose to bed down in either the 1789 Oliver Wight House, which is listed on the National Historic Register, or the more modern Reeder property. Proceeds from visitor stays benefit the nonprofit museum.
Versatility is the key at the Publick House. Rooms in the 1771 inn, furnished in antique style, offer a wealth of colonial ambience for travelers coming to town for the Brimfield antiques shows. The motel out back, on the other hand, provides more space at lower cost for families visiting Old Sturbridge Village. Named a 2012 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Choice of Old & New.”
This roadhouse on Route 20, not far from Old Sturbridge Village, is the brainchild of Brian Treitman, a Culinary Institute of America alum who started B.T.’s in a trailer in 2007. The hardwood-smoked barbecue here is among the best in western New England. Pulled pork is the most popular item, derived from smoked pork butt that’s been dry-rubbed and smoked for up to 14 hours. The lengthy menu is posted on a chalkboard hanging over the order counter and next to the four-stool counter, which has a commanding view of the kitchen and carving station. In addition to the barbecue, be sure to try some of the fun sides and snacks, which have included cornmeal-battered chunks of andouille sausage, “sexy” grits, and Cheezy Bawlz of Love (oh, behave!). This tasty joint made our list of top barbecue restaurants in New England and was named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Barbecue.”
Burger sliders, lobster gnocchi, buttermilk fried chicken, and a healthy selection of small-batch beers (including several favorites from nearby Berkshire Brewing Company) are all on the menu at this popular American bistro. The Sunday brunch slot is deliciously stuffed with offerings like lobster Benedict, oyster, and double bacon and egg sliders.
This longtime family-owned orchard was founded in 1945 by F. James Hyland and today is run by his grandson, Christopher Damon. Visitors can pluck Macs, Cortlands, Galas, and many others from the more than 2,400 apple trees that are spread across the 150-acre property. For those with, ahem, different tastes, there’s the brewery to explore and sample.
Let us know your favorite Sturbridge hotels, restaurants, and things to do in the comments below.
This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated.