15 Best Things to Do in Sturbridge, MA

Sturbridge, Massachusetts, is a picturesque town located in Worcester County, in the heart of New England. Known for its rich history that dates back to its early settlement in the 18th century, Sturbridge offers a delightful blend of small-town charm and cultural attractions.

The history of the city of Sturbridge started around the year 1738 and it had a vast farming community. Its location and the proximity of water sources made it an important agricultural place.

Later on, in the 19th century, Sturbridge underwent a period of industrial expansion that brought economic prosperity to the city and help it develop. During this time, the city’s population increased with immigrants seeking opportunities in the growing industry.

With so much history, the city makes it a great weekend trip destination offering a taste of authentic New England charm.

Let’s have a look together at what to do in Sturbridge, Massachusetts if you are planning a visit here:

Things to Do in Sturbridge, MA

1. Visit Old Sturbridge Village

Visit Old Sturbridge Village
Image source: tripadvisor.com

Established in 1946 with the vision of preserving and showcasing the rural New England heritage of the early 19th century. A visit to Old Sturbridge Village promises to be a memorable journey into the past.

If you have kids this will be a great activity for them as they can interact with heritage breed animals and learn about agricultural practices of the time.

What is also great is that you can watch as farmers plow the fields with oxen, and milk cows, and tend to the crops. Again, this activity is the most fun, especially for kids growing up in big cities.

The admission fee for an adult is $30.00 and children with the age of 3 and under can enter for free.

2. Explore the beautiful gardens at the Publick House Historic Inn and Country Lodge

Publick House Historic Inn and Country Lodge
Image source: publickhouse.com

The Publick House Historic Inn and Country Lodge in Sturbridge has a rich history dating back to the 18th century. It was established in 1771 by Colonel Ebenezer Crafts as a tavern and gathering place for travelers along the Boston Post Road, a major transportation route at the time.

During the Revolutionary War, the Publick House served as a meeting place for local militia and a hub of activity. It also provided lodging and provisions for soldiers passing through the area.

The inn’s central location made it a strategic gathering place and a site for important discussions and planning.

What you can do here during your visit is enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area, eat homemade tasty food, and even spend your night there.

3. Take a scenic boat ride on the Quinebaug River

Quinebaug River

Embarking on a scenic excursion along the Quinebaug River in Sturbridge promises a captivating experience immersed in the wonders of nature.

A journey along the Quinebaug River invites you to embrace the tranquility and splendor of this natural sanctuary.

One way of taking this trip is actually from Old Sturbridge Village. The ride cost $3 while children under 3 can go for free. The ride takes about 15 minutes and you can buy the tickets from the visitor’s office in the village.

4. Attend a live performance at the Stageloft Repertory Theater


Update: This is currently closed.

The theater has a rich history that dates back to its establishment in 1992. At Stageloft Repertory Theater, you can expect a diverse range of productions, including plays, musicals, comedies, dramas, and even original works.

This is the only community theater in Central Massachusetts that performs all year round and stages a new production every month of the year. Make sure you check their calendar in advance.

5. Visit the Sturbridge Host Hotel and enjoy its amenities

Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge
Image source: booking.com

The Sturbridge Host Hotel is an attraction in itself! The hotel is situated in a scenic area near Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum that offers a glimpse into New England life during the 1830s. The hotel’s location is often convenient for guests exploring local historical sites, museums, and attractions.

The history might trace back to its establishment as a place for travelers to stay while exploring the historic town and its attractions.

The prices are different based on the day you book and the period, but on average a double room starts from $160 per night.

6. Discover the world of glassblowing at the Glass House


This is an experience like no other! Step into a world of creativity and craftsmanship as skilled artisans transform molten glass into exquisite works of art.

The Glass House has a rich history that spans centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the ancient art of glassblowing, which has been practiced for thousands of years. The technique of shaping molten glass into various forms dates back to the Roman Empire and has evolved and spread throughout the world over time.

Watching them as they carefully shape and manipulate the glowing material, using various tools and techniques to create intricate designs and stunning sculptures. If you feel creative you can even take one day class.

7. Attend the annual Sturbridge Summer Concert Series

people playing jazz

From rock and pop to jazz, country, and classical, there is something for everyone. Held during the summer months, this concert series takes place in a picturesque outdoor setting, allowing attendees to enjoy the warm weather and vibrant atmosphere.

Make sure you plan your visit during the period of festive days not to miss them. Check the events calendar on their website in order to make the best of your trip.

8. Learn about the history of firearms at the Firearms Museum of Industry and Innovation

Firearms Museum of Industry and Innovation

Like most of the attractions in Sturbridge, the Firearms Museum of Industry is located in the Old Sturbridge Village as well.

Having a rich history that dates back to its founding in 1978, it has become renowned for its comprehensive assortment of firearms from various periods, including examples from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars, and beyond.

The museum’s commitment to historical accuracy and preservation has led to collaborations with renowned experts and scholars, ensuring that each firearm is properly researched, documented, and displayed.

9. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride with Cornerstone Ranch

Horse riding

Located about 15 miles from Sturbridge, here you can enjoy a carriage ride. Cornerstone Ranch offers year-round horseback riding for beginners through advanced. 

It is recommended to make a reservation in advance. Contact Cornerstone Ranch directly via phone or their website to inquire about availability and specific details. Prices start from $45 for a 1-hour ride for an adult.

Cornerstone Ranch can accommodate both small and large groups, making it an excellent activity for individuals, couples, families, or even special occasions like weddings or anniversary celebrations.

10. Attend the popular Brimfield Antique Show

Brimfield Antique Show
Image source: sheholdsdearly.com

If you are into antiques, Brimfield Antique Show is located in Brimfield, Massachusetts, approximately 7 miles west of Sturbridge city. The Brimfield Antique Show is one of the largest and most renowned antique shows in the United States.

It is a multi-day event that attracts antique enthusiasts, collectors, and dealers from all over the country. The show takes place in the small town of Brimfield, Massachusetts, and has a long-standing history dating back to the 1950s.

11. Discover local art and pottery at the Brush It Off studio and gallery

Paint brushes

If you want to get creative for a couple of hours, Brush It Off studio is a wonderful opportunity to explore your creativity and learn the art of pottery in a supportive and inspiring environment.

If you are a beginner don’t worry about it as people come here mostly as a hobby. The classes are designed to accommodate various skill levels and interests.

The price starts from $45 per person but make sure you check their website ahead of your visit and book your slot.

12. Take a leisurely bike ride along the scenic paths of the Quinebaug River Rail Trail

Go on a bike ride on the New River Trail

9 miles away from Sturbridgem you can go in the nature for some meditation if you are in the mood to connect with nature.

Quinebaug River Rail Trail is a recreational trail located in northeastern Connecticut, USA. It spans approximately 5.3 miles, offering a scenic pathway for walking, running, cycling, and other non-motorized activities.

The trail is relatively flat and well-maintained, making it suitable for both leisurely rides and more active biking experiences, so you won’t have to worry about too much physical effort.

You can rent a local bike from rental shops or outdoor recreation providers in the Sturbridge area. Just make sure you ask around and locals will guide you.

13. Explore the Joshua Hyde Library


The Joshua Hyde Library in Sturbridge holds a significant place in the community as a hub of knowledge, learning, and community engagement. With a rich history and a commitment to serving its patrons, the library offers a wealth of resources and experiences for visitors of all ages.

The library’s history dates back to 1883 when Joshua Hyde, a prominent local resident and businessman, generously donated funds to establish the library. Since its inception, the library has undergone various transformations and expansions to meet the growing needs of the community.

These days, Joshua Hyde Library continues to be a vital center for education, exploration, and connection.

14. Learn about blacksmithing at the Blacksmith Shop at Old Sturbridge Village

blacksmith shop sturbridge village
Image source: osv.org

As one of the many skilled trades practiced in the 19th century, blacksmithing played a vital role in shaping communities and supporting local economies.

At the Blacksmith Shop, visitors have the opportunity to witness the artistry, skill, and physicality involved in the blacksmithing trade. Knowledgeable interpreters and skilled blacksmiths guide visitors through the process of shaping raw metal into functional and decorative objects using traditional techniques.

You can purchase tickets online in advance from their website to make sure you wait in queue.

15. Attend the Sturbridge Farmers Market

People talking at the farmers market

This is a delightful destination for locals and visitors seeking fresh, locally sourced produce, artisanal goods, and a vibrant community atmosphere.

Held from June 4th through October 8th from 9 AM to 1 PM each Sunday, the market showcases the best of the region’s agricultural offerings and fosters a connection between consumers and local farmers, producers, and artisans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Sturbridge famous?

Sturbridge is famous for being home to Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum that recreates a rural New England village from the early 19th century. It offers an immersive experience of the past through authentic buildings, costumed interpreters, and historical demonstrations.

Does Sturbridge MA have a downtown?

Yes, Sturbridge has a small downtown area that offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and services. It’s a charming area that complements the historical and cultural attractions of the region.

Can you walk around Old Sturbridge Village?

Yes, visitors can walk around Old Sturbridge Village. The village is designed to be explored on foot, allowing guests to interact with historic buildings, artisans, and exhibits that showcase daily life in the 1830s.

How long does it take to go through Old Sturbridge Village?

The time it takes to explore Old Sturbridge Village can vary depending on individual preferences. Most visitors spend around 3 to 4 hours to fully experience the village, including demonstrations, exhibits, and interacting with interpreters. However, some people may choose to spend more time immersing themselves in the historical atmosphere.

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