"Shades of the 'Little House' books..." Top 5 Page for this destination Sturbridge by leics

Sturbridge Travel Guide: 28 reviews and 79 photos

I went to Sturbridge, Mass, with my son's fiancee specifically to see Old Sturbridge Village...a 'living' museum, with original buildings brought in from the surrounding area, re-erected and set out as they would have been in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Modern Sturbridge is fairly small, set in rural Massachusetts and surrounded by woodland. There's a lot to enjoy in the area and it's very pretty.

But Old Sturbridge Village must be the highlight. It's an extensive site, with schoolhouse, shops, farm buildings, workshops, meeting-house, bank, carding mill and more. We spent 3 hours there but did not manage to see all of it..it's definitely a whole-day trip, with food and drinks available if you don't want to take your own picnic (the site is set in woodland, with a rather lovely lake and covered bridge).

As with all 'living' museums, it is the costumed 'interpreters' who really make the difference. I know a little American history but much more about UK history, so it was very helpful for me to have people who could explain things...and they were almost all keen enthusiasts, more than willing to answer questions and talk about their 'work'.

As the museum website says:

>Authentically costumed staff, called history interpreters, carry out the daily activities of an early 19th-century community. Here you may wander country roads and visit with a farmer plowing fields, listen to the blacksmith's rhythmic hammering, or smell the aroma of bread baking in a fireplace oven. With four unique seasons and more than 200 acres to explore, there is always something new to see at Old Sturbridge Village.<

I especially enjoyed the farms. As a child I loved the 'Little House on the Prairie' series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (the TV series was rubbish in comparison with the books) and, although I know none were set in New England, this museum did very much take me back into Laura's childhood.

And the animals were fascinating too....two breeds of cattle, Linebacks (I'd never heard of them) and beautiful glossy chestnut Devons (a 'rare breed' I know of from the UK), sheep, turkeys...and (although not part of the museum) chipmunks! It may seem a bit weird to those from the US that I found seeing wild chipmunks exciting, but I really did! :-)

My daughter's fiancee told me that a most-unusual tornado had recently whipped through the Sturbridge area but it wasn't until we drove through its path (see photo below) that we realised how much damage it had done. Nor did we realise how near it had actually come to Old Sturbridge Village until we were exploring there: the tornado's path was barely 500 yards from one of the farm buildings. The museum could so easily have been totally destroyed.

We had an excellent visit and I wish we could have spent longer there (and explored Sturbridge and the surrounding area), but we had to return the car and wanted to be back in time (we made the right decision because there was a huge traffic jam on the interstate which slowed us down substantially).

I'll make a specific tip about Old Sturbridge Village...it is a most definite 'must-see' if you are in the area.

Stagecoach rides around the village.

The path of the tornado.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fascinating historical site.
  • Cons:None that I came across.
  • Last visit to Sturbridge: Jul 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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  • Gillybob's Profile Photo
    Jul 6, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    That's a mighty fine rock selection! I hope I'll get to some of the country communities on my visit this year. Gillybob greetings


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