Attend Traditional New England Events
The 31st Annual Harvest Festival
The 31st Annual Harvest Festival on the Sturbridge Town Common and grounds of the Publick House Historic Inn is a family fun tradition. The event includes countless local crafters, artisans, specialty food vendors and farm fresh harvests. The Publick House's Scarecrow Contest is a perennial favorite. Locals enter scarecrows for a chance to win, and visitors are treated to creative and playful seasonal favorites. The festival takes place on October 16, 2021 - October 17, 2021 at 10am-5pm on Saturday, and 11am-4pm on Sunday.
Phantoms & Fire
While every day is an adventure at Old Sturbridge Village, fall is when the living history museum really comes alive. This year’s Phantoms and Fire event runs from Oct. 13 to Oct. 31, during which you can explore the museum after hours, alongside bats and bonfires,candy and cauldrons, plus family and friends of every age (and every spooky interest!). October also brings several Craft Classes to OSV, adult workshops that teach crafts authentic to the times—a historical experience you won’t find elsewhere. During Old Sturbridge Village’s monthly Dog Days, you can even bring your favorite furry friend this fall to explore the grounds.
A month later, OSV welcomes Thanksgiving like no other. Stroll through the museum’s extensive grounds and learn about Thanksgiving traditions, watch as families prepare roasts and pies, and harvest vegetables from the gardens before the bountiful feast that awaits.
Enjoy The Crisp Fall Weather
Give in to the magic of New England in the fall and indulge your eyes with some stunning leaf peeping. One of the more tucked-away spots to view the changing colors is at the top of Hyland Orchards. Families will enjoy a petting zoo for the kids, and the orchard’s property abuts Rapscallion Brewery and an 18 basket disc golf course.
Continue your outdoor activities at one of Sturbridge’s numerous nature reserves. Wells State Park tops the list. A Massachusetts State Park, the site features campgrounds, a boat ramp, restrooms, and multiple hiking paths. A perennial favorite is Carpenter Rocks that provides vista views across miles of south-central Massachusetts.
Peruse the Leadmine Mountain Trails with the whole crew or take a solo stroll if that’s more your speed. The Leadmine Mountain Conservation Area, an 880-acre natural beauty, is open to the public for all sorts of outdoor recreation. From hiking and mountain biking to horseback riding and wildlife viewing, this is the spot to choose your own adventure.
Find a Unique Gift or Souvenir
Indulge your inner ornithologist at The Bird Store & More. Chock full of birdhouses and seed varieties, bird baths and bird watching journals; this shop helps nature enthusiasts find ways to stay outdoors as the leaves turn and beyond. For those with a sweet tooth and a little ingenuity, small-scale bee-keeping supplies are sold in-store.
Lacking color on your table? Sturbridge Pottery sells local, artisan-crafted serving dishes, vases, and even lamps in spectrums that wow. Imagine serving your next Thanksgiving dinner on an elaborate array of platters, bowls, and plates as colorful as the menu itself. Founded in 1976, all Sturbridge Pottery stoneware and porcelain are hand-built by owners Gary and Ann Malone. Each piece is fired in a kiln to 1,800 degrees for 12 hours, followed by glaze and a second firing for 30 hours.
Indulge in Award-Winning BBQ and Fine Cuisine
Award-winning BBQ is right around the corner from Old Sturbridge Village. Known for their dry-rubbed, slow-smoked (up to 14 hours!) meats, 12-year-old B.T.’s Smokehouse is a staple among locals and tourists. Anthony Bourdain even stopped in for the famed BBQ. Read the entire menu and discover whole, marinated chicken wings (a meal unto themselves), chili, and even a chop salad with BBQ chicken. Closed on Mondays, BT’s is BYOB and Tree House Brewing Co. is just across the town line.
Step into a modern take on Japanese cuisine at Baba Sushi’s second location. At 453 Main St., guests are invited to dine on both sushi (everything from nigiri to sashimi to maki) and hot pot. Similar to hibachi, hot pot features raw ingredients cooked at your table, but done so in a flavored broth. Baba Sushi’s Basic Broth consists of beef, chicken, pork, scallion, and ginger. Don’t pass up the bar featuring a creative selection of martinis, cocktails, and sake.
While The Duck and Avellino are both situated in the same building and owned by the same management group (The Duck is upstairs and Avellino is downstairs)—they represent differing cuisines. Avellino’s menu centers on fresh produce paired with seasonally-designed protein mains such as maple-seared scallops and chicken piccata. Fine dining is made accessible at The Duck with its duck l’orange and braised lamb shank. But it’s The Duck’s sunken bar where you can often meet local craft brewers, making it a must-stop. Featuring an open kitchen space, the chef-led cooking classes cover even more ground than the menus.
Tune Out at Brimfield Winery & Cidery
As the weather cools down, the music heats up. To start, Brimfield Winery presents S.O.N.G.STOCK 2021, a music festival supporting orphans nationally and globally. With food, beer and wine, face painting, sack racing, a silent auction and open mic—this one’s a must-visit for both the fun and the cause.
The fall festivities at Brimfield don’t stop there. On Sept. 25, Grammy-nominated blues singer and harpist James Montgomery and his band perform live at the winery. And to follow, Rapscallion Brewery partners with Brimfield Auction Acres to present Ocktoberfest—Oct. 2 and Oct. 3—for live music, food trucks and plenty of autumnal brews.
Try a New Craft Beer Experience
When in Rome … enjoy a New England-style IPA, among additional libations, at one of the town’s many breweries.
- Kids and parents alike will enjoy Rapscallion Brewery. Abutting Hyland Orchard, the brewery has an in-house food truck, offers seasonal on-tap favorites like their flagship honey extra pale ale, seasonal O-Fest German-style marzen and Noble birch ale. They even brew their own root beer!
- Drive around the rear of a former industrial building turned commercial coop to find Altruist Brewing Co. A country-chic spot with frequent live music and weekly trivia contests, be sure to order the locally-inspired Exit 9 and Fiske Ale beers named after regional landmarks.
Brush It Off or Sip It Down
Sturbridge’s Brush It Off Paint & Sip Bar is a 2,700 square foot art studio with three rooms of creativity. Located in “an old mill at the waterfalls,” Brush It Off marries artistry with New England charm.
For more coffee and culture, visit Stone & Sparrow, a quaint eco-conscious art café serving Columbian coffee and full breakfast and lunch menus. The zenful environment stages local art, healing stones and crystals for a tranquil experience like none else.
Stay in a Historic Inn with an Old Fashioned Bake Shoppe
Fancy a step back in time? A bake shop with a seemingly endless menu of cakes, cookies, and desserts? Oh, and a spacious, historically-inspired room? Founded in 1771, the Publick House is an institution in this quaint Massachusetts village. Priding itself on “good old fashioned Yankee hospitality,” the hotel features a pool, reception halls, and two dining options. Located across from the town common, the hotel is steps away from retail and (through Oct. 6) the Sturbridge Farmers Market Sunday mornings from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.