This week, our family finally made it to Old Sturbridge Village in central Massachusetts after years of saying we would go. What we encountered took me by surprise!
I admit — I had low expectations for the “largest living museum in New England” which recreates life in the early 1800s. OSV began in 1946, so I pictured hokey actors and boredom in all forms. How wrong I was!
The three hours we had scheduled for the visit flew by, and I honestly wished we had planned for a full day there instead, or even two days. Why?
Here’s the big secret about Old Sturbridge Village: It’s GORGEOUS! The hidden upside of it being a “living museum” for over 60 years is that the land has been preserved and cared for perfectly, meaning that your cares will melt away as you not only get back to the simpler past, but also back to nature.
Further, the actors are not hokey, but rather chat with you if you want to learn more about what real 1800s task they’re working on, and really know their stuff. And any point you desire a change of topic, simply walk to another part of the village!
Meanwhile, the animals happily munch their feed, oblivious to the fact that they are actors in a giant play, themselves. Our traveling toddler, Devi, had a ball pointing at the sheep and saying “Baa!” and waving to the cows with a, “Moo!”
The highlight of our Old Sturbridge Village visit was a boat ride on the tranquil waterway that flows through the property. As autumn leaves drifted by and the sun glinted on the water, we chatted with a whole boatload of fascinating people.
First, there was the boat operator. After giving us the history of the area and some striking anecdotes, he began to read poetry! Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay! ‘Twas New England fall heaven for this teacher.
Meanwhile, next to us on the boat sat, on one side, a family with a child about Devi’s age, and on the other, two distinguished gentlemen who are OSV “regulars,” returning frequently and acting in historical dramatizations at the park. Thus one sees the diversity of visitors to Old Sturbridge Village: from the new to the seasoned! And everyone was happy and friendly.
The great thing about a living museum is that you are completely on your own schedule to wander towards what interests you. I just kept running towards the brightly-colored leaves for photography, but if we’d had more time, I would have loved to try all the hands-on crafting stations like “dip your own candles.”
Let me halt my typing here so you can meander through Old Sturbridge Village, yourself. Stunning, no?
So there you have it. I thought Old Sturbridge Village was only about learning facts about history, but in fact it is also a serene and stunning nature escape. I would go back in a heartbeat! Have you been? Would you like to? Do share!
We were guests of OSV and the conveniently-located Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center (click to see hotel rates and availability), but all opinions and passion for autumn leaves are my own.