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…
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!
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: 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.
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!
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?
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!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!