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The SECRET About Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts

Old Sturbridge Village, MA
Did you know Old Sturbridge Village is this awesome?

A Living History Museum and Working Farm in MA!

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…

Old Sturbridge Village cows
Bovines in the sun.

Largest Living Museum in New England

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!

Old Sturbridge Village beautiful in autumn
Lose yourself in the beauty.

One of the Best Sturbridge, MA Kids’ Activities

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?

Old Sturbridge Village Tinsmith costumed living museum interpreter
The Tinsmith at work making ornate lamps.

Old Sturbridge Village: Fun for Adults, Too

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.

Old Sturbridge Village, MA is a FUN living history museum and 1800s New England working farm: Costumed interpreters, kids' activities, and antique buildings! Red leaves in autumn look beautiful.
Zowie, those are gorgeous red leaves!

Costumed Interpreters: Knowledgeable and Enjoyable

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!

Sturbridge Village buggy ride with the horses
Fancy a buggy ride with the horsies?

Animals on Sturbridge Village Working Farm

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!”

Do not miss the boat ride.
Do not miss the boat ride.

Sturbridge Boat Ride and Covered Bridge

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.

Devi was well-dressed for the water.
Devi was well-dressed for the water.

A New England Poetry Reading

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 English teacher.

Old Sturbridge village Dying wool yarn in cauldrons.
Dying wool yarn in cauldrons.

Historical Reenactments at OSV

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.

Covered bridge Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts autumn
Feel your cares melt away.

Hands-On Crafting Activities at Sturbridge Village

The great thing about a living museum is that you are completely on your own schedule to wander towards what interests you: from the sheep to the blacksmith. 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.”

Sheep hugging Sturbridge, MA
Not really sure what animal activity is going on here…

Beautiful Photos of Old Sturbridge Village in Autumn

Let me halt my typing here so you can meander through Old Sturbridge Village during the glory of fall, yourself. Stunning, no?

Ahh, autumn in New England!
Ahh, autumn in New England!
Old Sturbridge Village Blacksmith getting ready to hammer on an anvil.
The Blacksmith getting ready to hammer on an anvil.
The waterways make Old Sturbridge Village sparkle.
The waterways make Old Sturbridge Village sparkle.
The horse and buggy ride goes through this awesome covered bridge.
The horse and buggy ride goes through this fabulous covered bridge.
An outer view of the covered bridge, Old Sturbridge Village
An outer view of the covered bridge.

Love that Covered Bridge? Here’s a Tip

If you’re a fan of covered bridges and want a suggestion for another one to visit in New England, don’t miss the Woodstock, Vermont covered bridge set at that link!

Don't let the sheep get you!
Don’t let the sheep get you!
Sun, rustic buildings, and blue sky.
Sun, rustic buildings, and blue sky.
Very serious about this apple processing machine.
Very serious about this apple processing machine.
Remember to look up!
Remember to look up!
Old-fashioned stagecoach, Old Sturbridge Village
Baby and me, snuggling by the old-fashioned stagecoach.

Stagecoach and Horse Buggy Rides at OSV

One of the coolest parts of Old Sturbridge Village were the many forms of transportation to take you around the expansive grounds. The horse and flat-bed buggy were even big enough for our stroller!

Golden leaves in the sun.
Golden leaves in the sun.
Antique buildings, Sturbridge Village. Do you feel like you've traveled back in time?
Do you feel like you’ve traveled back in time?
Two ladies in costume bonnets, taking in the lake.
Two ladies in costume bonnets, taking in the lake.
The horse-drawn buggy even fits a stroller! Old Sturbridge Village
The horse-drawn buggy even fits a stroller!
Town Square Sturbridge Village Massachusetts
Another view of the Town Square.

Other Fun Things to Do With Kids Near Central Mass

I can’t resist inserting here a few other options around Sturbridge, MA for weekend getaways or even day trips. Right nearby is Southbridge, MA (check out that article for a tip on a delicious BBQ restaurant right by Old Sturbridge Village, plus a nearby hike in Connecticut — closer than you think).

Covered bridge Sturbridge, MA
A perfect place for family.

Less than an hour further west in Hampshire County, there’s the excellent Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA, an indoor playground in Easthampton, MA called Mill 180 Park, and the artsy and welcoming town of Northampton, MA.

The welcoming church.
The welcoming church.

If you’re willing to venture two hours west of Old Sturbridge Village into the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Mount Greylock is an easy summit by car to the highest mountain in New England. If you like the “tallest” of our fine state, check out Bash Bish Falls for a short hike.

MASS MoCA in North Adams is a fabulously kid-friendly modern art museum, and in nearby Williamstown, MA there is an alpaca farm!

Working farm Sturbridge, MA
The sun was a dream the day we visited.

Visiting Old Sturbridge Village: Hours, Events, Tickets

Convinced that OSV is a place you want to go? Check out their official website for hours, tickets, special events, tips, facts, and more. You can even schedule a wedding at Sturbridge Village!

A burst of autumnal red.
A burst of autumnal red.

What are YOUR Sturbridge Village Thoughts?

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!

Want more museum fun? See “21 Cool Museums in the USA.”

I could have spent days at this place.
I could have spent days at this place.

We were guests of OSV and the conveniently-located (affiliate link) Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center (click to see hotel rates and availability), but all opinions and passion for autumn leaves are my own.


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Tuesday 25th of June 2019

I love your pictures, especially the one of the goat putting his head under the fence. I've been to Sturbridge Village a few times, but I had no idea about the boat ride! I'm definitely putting that on my bucket list for the next time I'm in Western Mass.

Lillie Marshall

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

Thanks, Bob!

Keith O

Thursday 13th of June 2019

I love absolutely love OSV. Loved it so much that I became a member for many, many years. I lived in Boston, the Fenway, and used to make the trek out on the Pike on a regular basis.

You hit the nail on the head when you described how it took you back to nature. I would go during the week, when the crowds were for the most part, nonexistent. Often I would just walk the grounds and not even go into the buildings themselves. The lush trees, crystal clear skies, or sometimes gray and pouring down with heavy rain-all held and created a special mood. Going to the Village at different times throughout the year provided a unique experience each time.

I was such a frequent visitor that I actually knew some of the actors and staff members. It was such a joy to get away from my normal high tech environment, to as you put it, a much simpler time.

Like you, I highly recommend visiting the Village at least once, and for an entire day. The only reason I do not go now is that I live in Texas and the drive would be a bit too much :) I truly miss it, but luckily have many pictures from my various visits. If you are fortunate enough to live within 100 miles of the Village, GO! You will not be disappointed.

Thank you so much for posting your story and the pictures. They did a homesick heart good!

Lillie Marshall

Thursday 13th of June 2019

Keith, What a BEAUTIFUL comment! Thank you for sharing your experience and for taking the time to write it. Wonderful. Sending good vibes to you down in Texas!


Thursday 23rd of August 2018

It made such an impression on me, 60 years ago, that I still remember the name of the horse that was pulling one of the wagons. (Among other memories - like the shoes that I was wearing).

It is a very special place and worth visiting - even if you have to go 100 miles out of the way.

Thank you so much for reminding me of this place.

B. Tran

Tuesday 17th of November 2015

Wow! Ms. Marshall, I have got to say you are a great photographer. These photos really make me feel like I'm actually there! Of course, they make me want to go there, and the serene place really does make you feel calm and relax though huh? But if you had to stay at an old fashion place like that, with no electricity, little help and to thrive on your own, do you think you could make it for a month?


Monday 26th of October 2015

What fabulous photos!! The autumn colours are incredible. Reminds me of our recent trip to Upstate New York. Thanks for sharing.

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