Last Updated on September 2, 2015 by Jody Halsted
Old Sturbridge Village, often called OSV, is located on Route 20 in west/central Massachusetts, about an hour west of Boston. It’s very easy to get to by taking I-90 (Mass Pike) to exit 9.
OSV is what I call a “living history” museum. As soon as you walk through the visitor’s center – which houses Kidstory, a clock gallery, a movie theater and ever changing demonstrations- and have your photo taken in the family portrait, you are transported back to rural New England circa 1790-1840.
OSV is a large village filled with costumed actors portraying life during our country’s early days. The map you receive upon entering lays the village before you: Friends Meetinghouse, Center Meetinghouse, small cottages, large houses, law offices, bank, general store, school house, farm houses and barns, mills for carding, sawing, grinding; the pottery and kiln, shops for the cooper and blacksmith and many more buildings and people necessary for a village to function.
To explore the entire village and take in the always changing daily events, well, that could take a couple of days. Which may be why the price of admission includes a free return visit within 10 days (remember to have your receipt validated before you leave). We spent the majority of a day there are didn’t come close to seeing everything.
OSV is a wonderful family outing because everyone will learn something. While Doug & I loved exploring the homes, reading the history and talking with the villagers the girls had great fun sweeping with straw brooms, playing with simple toys, carding wool and chasing chickens. There is even a hand-on crafts center. Brenna dipped candles (for a fee) while Caelan decorated a tray.
Because the events change with the season you are sure to see something different every time you visit. When we went spring was teasing and the sap was running through the trees so we got to see how maple syrup is made- from tapping the trees to boiling the sap. We saw a woman spinning wool, the cooper making buckets, the potter making pots and the blacksmiths working with iron. Depending on the season you can also catch a ride on a sleigh, a wagon or a stagecoach.
We explored homes, barns, churches, a bank, the general store (where we made a few purchases which may or may not have been influenced by the aroma of fresh baked cookies) and mills. We strolled along the miles of paths; through pastures and along the river. (If all this doesn’t wear the kids out there is also a playground.)
Things to Know for Your Visit
OSV is open daily, except Christmas and Mondays during the winter. Hours are 9:30 am to 5 pm (4 in the winter). Admission rates can be found here and include a second visit free within 10 days. OVS offers a 50% discount for active military members and a 20% discount for all members of their party.
There are a few options for dining while at OSV. Bullard Tavern in the village serves hot entrees as well as sandwiches and beverages, the general store has cookies, candies, coffee and cold drinks and the Village Cafe in the Oliver Wright Tavern- just before you enter the visitor’s center- has hot & cold beverages and snacks. Note: when we visited the Bullard Tavern was not serving food but hot entrees and soups were available in the Oliver Wright Tavern. If you choose to bring a picnic there is a picnic area near the parking lot.
Restrooms are spread throughout the grounds and all are handicapped accessible. Many, but not all, buildings are also handicapped accessible.
Planning to make a weekend out of it? Here’s a list of area hotels, campgrounds and B&Bs.