Sturbridge is probably most famous for the Old Sturbridge Village living history museum. Sturbridge offers an exciting shopping, dining, and recreation destination. Located in southern central Massachusetts, Sturbridge is easily accessible via major routes from all directions and is a major stopping point for people traveling between Boston and Hartford, Connecticut, and further on to New York City.
Sturbridge has maintained a unique blend of modern convenience and historical charm. There are many lakes and outdoor activities in Sturbridge and the surrounding area. This is a small town with great small town charm. The buildings and people are unique and enchanting.
Sturbridge and surrounding areas are easily accessible. There are two major highways that meet in Sturbridge. Interstate Route 90, also known as the Massachusetts Turnpike, is a toll road running east to west through Massachusetts. Sturbridge is Exit 9 off of the Mass Pike. Connecting Sturbridge to Hartford, CT and beyond is Route 84. Although designated as running east to west, it actually runs more or less a northeast to southwest route.
In addition to the major routes, several secondary highways offer additional routes into town. Running from Boston in the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west, Route 20 bisects Sturbridge. Route 131 connects Sturbridge to Southbridge and on further south to Route 395 in Connecticut. Route 49 connects Sturbridge to Spencer and Route 9, another busy east-west route across the state.
Many people find Sturbridge a convenient stopping point on their way either further north or south. There are many restaurants and accommodations within a very short distance of all the main roads.
- From Boston: Head west on Route I-90, the Mass Pike, and get off at Exit 9 (the Route 84 West exit).
- From New York City: Take Route 95 North to Route 91 North to Route 84 East. Exit before reaching the Mass Pike.
- From Worcester: Take Route 290 West to Route 90 West, get off at Exit 9. Alternate route (generally better on busy travel days): Route 290 West to Route 20 West.
- From Springfield, Massachusetts: From Springfield take Route 90 East (Mass Pike), get off at Exit 9.
- From Providence, Rhode Island: Route 146 North to Route 90 West (Mass Pike), get off at Exit 9.
Approximately 5 mi (8 km) from Sturbridge is the Southbridge Municipal Airport. It is a small regional airport.
Most people will find using a car the easiest way to get around town. There are a lot of small back roads that lead to hidden treasures and historic buildings. A lot of the best shopping in town is on Main St (Rt 20), and is very walkable. The sidewalks are easy to travel on and there are benches to rest on looking at the trees and flowers and stores. There is a well maintained bicycle and hiking path accessible from the Westville Recreation area on the border of Sturbridge and Southbridge that has a connecting bridge at the dam area. An easy walk about a 2-mile loop.
A different way to travel around town is also by kayaking and boating. There are numerous rivers and ponds that will allow you to travel from one section to another by water. This is very scenic and shows off the wildlife and environment of the countryside.
Driving also allows you to see the damage from the tornado that hit (June 2011). You are able to see the direct path that it took.
- Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, ☎ , toll-free: . (See Learn). Sturbridge's biggest draw, this living history museum promotes learning about the early 1800s through fun, hands-on activities. Great interpretive programs. Special and seasonal programs help people experience historical New England. There are reenactments of previous time period wars, as well as activities that were going on around the early 1800s. It is a great way to get the visitors involved as well as just allowing for a great show.
Fall is an excellent time to visit Sturbridge. The New England autumn foliage is nothing short of legendary.
- Carpenter Rock at Wells State Park offers a sweeping panorama for those who are willing to trek up the trail. Wells State Park offers camping from late spring to early fall, with camp sites for tents and trailers. The pond, Walker Pond, is great for swimming, boating, and fishing. There are multiple trails that are color coded for easy access through the park. Pets are welcome.
- Publick House, 277 Main St, ☎ . (Rt 131). One of the main attractions in Sturbridge. Right across the street from the common, located near the library and town hall. George Washington was even said to have stayed and eaten here. Built in 1771, there is a graveyard next to it with graves dating back to the early 1800. The historic building has a bake shoppe which offers everything from cookies and cakes to teas and coffee, and you can also call in an order and pick it up there, a 17-room inn, meeting rooms, and a tavern/bar. The unique history and the beauty of the building attract the young and old alike. There are special events throughout the year, including weddings, Breakfast with Santa, and Easter Breakfast. The large white building still has the decorations of the earlier centuries.
The Publick House restaurant on Main St. (Rt 131), across from the Sturbridge Town Commons, hosts an annual Scarecrow contest in October. The festival also has besides the scarecrow's great food from local vendors and restaurants, as well as burgers and deserts from the Sturbridge Lions Club. There are tents all along the common with arts and crafts and unique things to buy. There is a local band that plays, as well as face painting, henna tattoos, and more. Great experience for antique lovers and families with small children. There is also a section for wine tasting for the adults. Scenery shows off the beauty of New England with the small town charm of a local fair.
Around Christmas time, there is the annual Tree Lighting, which has the local high school chorus singing on the gazebo, Santa talking to little kids, and also the local firemen and police officers handing out hot chocolate and cookies. Warm atmosphere with friendly people.
- Hemlock Ridge Golf Course, 220 Holland Rd, ☎ . Sturbridge. 9 holes, semi-private.
Hiking, bicycling, and outdoor activities
Sturbridge is full of outdoor activity options: fishing, hiking, cycling, boating, and camping. Check with Bill and crew at Wild Bird Crossing for their schedule of outdoor birdwatching hikes and activities.
Sturbridge has many lakes which offer great fishing. East Brimfield Lake and Long Pond, accessible via boat ramps off of Route 20, and also via the East Brimfield Dam, are great fishing spots. Cedar Lake is another fishing option. There are some good fishing spots along the Quinebaug River. The Quinebaug has small and large mouth bass, trout, northern pike, and panfish.
Canoeing and kayaking are popular outdoor activities as well. Experienced river rafters will enjoy paddling the Quinebaug, starting at the East Brimfield Dam and ending up at the Westville Dam recreation area. Of particular interest, this riverway runs directly through Old Sturbridge Village. There are small sections that require portage. Also, this is the route used by the annual Sturbridge Lions All American River Race (typically in late April).
Fall is an awesome time to visit area apple orchards for apple picking and hayrides.
- Hyland Brewery & Orchard, 199 Arnold Rd, ☎ . Frequently has music and various festivals in their outdoor pavilion starting in spring and running through late fall. Kids enjoy the feeding the farm animals and taking a ride on the pickle barrel train.
- East Brimfield Dam. Off of Route 20, border of Sturbridge and Brimfield.
- Wells State Park. Off of Route 49 (Podunk Pike). Camping, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, interpretive programs, and more. Make the half an hour climb to the top of Carpenter Rock for a fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and lakes.
- Westville Dam Recreation Area. Border of Southbridge and Sturbridge. Kayaking is very popular here. Great spot for a picnic, multiple fields with the river and trees surrounding you. There are a couple of trails leading around the Dam, with views of the river and woods. Very relaxing.
- Robinson Crusoe Land, Back side of Old Sturbridge Village. Park on the side of the road. This is not well known to a lot of people, but the land is beautiful. Once used as a boys' and girls' summer camp in the 1950s, this is a nice place to take a hike. The old buildings are all gone now, but you can see where they once stood. There is a trail that leads you around the whole camp, with a couple of man-made ponds leading from a river. The ponds are a unique color of light blue and greens from the algae. It is told that sometimes the river contains salmon. The path also brings you to an old barn on a field in the back of Old Sturbridge Village. It is a beautiful spot for a picnic and just a nice hike with you dogs. There is a field, plenty of trees, and in the summer the water from the river is shallow enough to just rest a raft in and relax.
Music and nightlife
- Admiral T. J. O'Brien's, 407 Main St, ☎ . (Rt 20). Music Th-Sa.
- Stageloft Theater, 450A Main Street, Southbridge, ☎ . Volunteer-run community theater that offers educational internships as well as entertainment for the Sturbridge area.
- The Duck, 502 Main St (upstairs at the Whistling Swan), ☎ . Tu-F 11:30AM-9PM; Sa 11:30AM-10PM; Su 11:30AM-8PM;. (Rt 20). Live music in the evening, varies. Typically on the weekend.
Sturbridge has dozens of interesting shops. There are many antique stores, factory outlets, and gift and craft stores in town. Below is a partial list.
- Country Curtain, Main St. (Rt. 20). Curtains.
- Millyard Market Place, Main St. (Rt. 20). Lots of different stores located in a renovated mill building.
- Susan's Secret Garden, Main St. (Rt. 20). Very unique gifts. Highly recommended.
- Village Music, Arnold Rd (near corner of Main St (Rt. 20) and Arnold Rd). Musical instruments and related items.
- The Bird Store and More, 4 Cedar St (at Main St.), ☎ . Backyard birding products, birdfeeders, birdfeed, outdoor products and gifts. Stop by and see Minnies the dove and Marley the cockatiel.
- Wright's Ribbon, Main St. (Rt. 20).
- Yankee Candle and Outlet Store, Main St. (Rt. 20).
Many, many dining options, ranging from the every day to the extraordinary. There are quite a few excellent restaurants in and around Sturbridge.
- Annie's Country Kitchen, 140 Main St, ☎ . (Rt 131). Located after the Shaws plaza and next to Paoletti's fruit store. Possibly the best place to eat in town for breakfast. It is very popular with the locals, and rightly so. The meals are large and at a great price. There are a good amount of specials, from fun ideas with pancakes and waffles, to huge portions ofalmost everything on the menu on one plate. The atmosphere is cozy and feels like you are sitting in grandma's kitchen. It is not very large, with a small bar in the middle with tables on either side. The walls are covered in artwork from local artists, as well as photos of people in town, and the local Little League teams that the restaurant sponsors over the years. There is a kids menu as well as a lunch menu. Good food for lunch, but more popular with breakfast.
- Sturbridge Coffee House, 455 Main St, ☎ . (Rt.20). (See Nightlife). Great local business that serves quality coffee and pastries. Serving breakfast foods as well as soups and sandwiches. Plenty of seating with tables and over sized couches/chairs. There is also a fireplace and internet access. It is a great place to go and meet up with friends and do your homework or just get work done.
- Sunburst Restaurant, Corner of Main St. (Rt 20) and Arnold Rd., +1 508-347-3097.
- Churchill's, 450 Main Street. (Rt 20) Simple food, good quality, friendly service. The size of the meals are fairly large, with the muffins double what you would get at a fast food establishment. There are not a lot of tables, so getting there early is ideal, around 9AM or earlier. There is a variety of meals, from cereal, oatmeal, eggs, French toast, pancakes, waffles, and more. Great meeting place for a casual hangout in the morning. Typical small-town diner, what more could you want?
- Cedar Street Grille, 12 Cedar St, ☎ . M-Sa 5PM-9PM.
- Rovezzi's Ristorante, ☎ . Rt 20 Fiskdale (near Brookfield Rd).
- Enrico's Brick Oven Pizzeria, 500 Main St, ☎ . (Route 20). Great brick oven pizzas, and selection of Italian fare. Great bar, good ambiance. Best seats are either at the bar or sitting right at the kitchen, watching them create your food front and center. A family favorite.
- Admiral T. J. O'Brien's, 407 Main St, ☎ . (Rt 20). Irish pub serving good food at a great price. Music Th-Sa.
- Publick House, ☎ , toll-free: . Route 131 On the Common. National Register of Historic places. True colonial feel and great food. $18-30.
- Thai Place Restaurant, 371 Main St, ☎ . Thai food. Near entrance to Old Sturbridge Village. Great food and good prices. Food is spicy, no children's menu. Serving sizes are large, and very filling. The atmosphere is relaxing and cozy. Staff if very friendly and from the area. The decorations resemble a foreign land, and the smells remind you of being in a different country.
- BT's Smokehouse, 392 Main St, Sturbridge, MA 01566, ☎ . Award-winning BBQ joint right on the main drag. Incredibly popular, hard to find a parking space sometimes. They don't serve alcohol, but it is BYOB and there is a liquor store next door. BT's is that rare place that does all different meats justice AND has a big selection: chicken, pork, two kinds of ribs, and brisket. Despite the crowds, its usually not hard to find a seat and there are also a few tables outside.
- Admiral T. J. O'Brien's, Main St (Rt 20). Irish pub & restaurant. Live music most Thu, Fri, & Sat.
- Ebeneezer's Tavern, Route 131 On the Common, +1 508-347-3313 or 800-PUBLICK. Upscale in historic Publick House.
- Rapscallion Brewery/Barrel and Tap Room, 199 Arnold Rd, Fiskdale, ☎ . Visit this small brewery co-located on an orchard in the rural Fiskdale neighborhood of Sturbridge. Rapscallion brews a wide range of styles, but tends to focus more heavily on darker beers like stouts, porters, and black IPAs although they are best known for their very light Honey Ale. Samplers and full pints are available in the homey taproom which looks like the inside of a barn because that's exactly what it used to be. Rapscallion hosts frequent live music and occasionally a festival which will have multiple bands and sometimes a food truck. They give impromptu tours on weekends.
- Econo Lodge, 400 Haynes Rd, ☎ .
- [dead link] Quality Inn & Conference Center, 400 Haynes Rd, ☎ . (Old Rt 15). Hotel and conference center. Easy access to Rt 84 & I-90 (Mass Pike).
- Green Acres Motel, 2 Shepard Rd, ☎ .
- Rodeway Inn, 172 Main St, ☎ . (Rt. 131).
- Scottish Inn, 142 Main St, ☎ .
- Sturbridge Heritage Motel, 499 Main St, ☎ .
- [dead link] Super 8 Motel, 358 Main St, ☎ . Check-in: After 3PM, check-out: Before 11AM. Handicapped-accessible, smoking and non-smoking rooms are available.
- Comfort Inn & Suites,, 215 Charlton Rd, ☎ . Doubles from $128.
- Hampton Inn, 328 Main St, ☎ , fax: .
- Holiday Inn Express, 478 Main St, ☎ .
- Publick House Historic Inn, ☎ , toll-free: . Route 131 On the Common.
- Sturbridge Host Hotel, 366 Main St, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Hotel and conference center. Indoor courtyard and pool, restaurant and bar. Adjacent to Cedar Lake, with beach activities in the summer. $157.40.
Bed and Breakfast
- Sturbridge Country Inn, 530 Main St, ☎ . $80-190.
- Joshua Hyde Library, 308 Main St (Rt 131), 508-347-2500, Fax: 508-347-5886. Historical and genealogical collections about Sturbridge. A couple of times a year there are book sales, where people can donate their old and used books, and then buy some new ones. There is also deserts that are sold here. Library is open to the general public, but you need a library card to take out a book.
Other nearby attractions
- Roseland Cottage, also known as the Bowen House or the Pink House, Woodstock (Connecticut). Seasonal.
- Brimfield Flea Market, Brimfield, MA, . Touted as the oldest open air flea market. Definitely a huge draw. Worth checking out at least once in your lifetime. Three times yearly.
- Putnam, CT has many antique stores.
- Six Flags New England, Springfield, . Less than an hour from Sturbridge, very good amusement park.
- The Woodstock Fair, Woodstock (Connecticut), . An annual county fair occurring each Labor Day weekend.
|Routes through Sturbridge|
|Springfield ← Palmer ←||W E||→ rest area → Auburn → Worcester via|
|Hartford ← Union ←||W E||→ Merges into|
|Springfield ← Brimfield ←||W E||→ Charlton → Worcester|