Sturbridge Village, MA

On my roadtrip from CT to Salem, MA I wanted to see as much of New England as I could. Thus, I took one route up north then east (I-91 to the Mass Pike), and another south then west (through Rhode Island). The latter route is chronicle in my post about Mystic Seaport, a bit longer but I saw a lot more scenery. My first route went directly north to Sturbridge, MA in central MA. I stopped at the historic village called Sturbridge Village to cut my trip in two equal pieces.

Sturbridge Village, similar to the Mystic Seaport, is compared to Colonial Williamsburg because it is the self-guided village of New England. It has farms, animals, houses, and meeting centers that were restored from the time of the American Revolution up until the Civil War.  I was very lucky to go on a day that was bright and sunny but wasn’t too hot, which made the experience really enjoyable. The town is quite large with a huge green in the center of town, pictured below:

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The Village also is set along the coast of a river and spans a sort of forest. If you go, wear comfortable and hiking-suitable shoes. The roads around the houses and buildings are 100% rock, and some of the village is up a hill through dirt and routes with embedded tree roots. Each house has a designated tour guide, and even though everything is self-guided, the tour guides are very knowledgeable. All houses are opened to the public and you can access most corners of each building. The house below that was built in the 17th century, allowed you to go throughout the first AND second floor, with each room decorated in period pieces. It was really lovely.

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The village also had live renditions of a soldier shooting his rifle (it was SO loud). There was also a huge museum of clocks, anywhere from large grandfather clocks to small wall clocks. The entire collection was quite impressive, too bad they wouldn’t allow photography. I could have spent a few more hours on the grounds, but because I was in a hurry to continue my road-trip I had to cut my visit short. If I was younger, I would have loved visiting this place. It’s off the beaten path, and not too easy to get to, but neither is Colonial Williamsburg, so if you’re in the neighborhood, I would definitely go.

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Mystic Seaport, CT

In my travels returning from Salem, MA to CT I thought I would stop by the little town of Mystic, CT. It’s right over the border from RI (again, coming back from MA) so it was a rather quick drive (about 1hr from New Haven, CT).

Mystic, CT, is known for its Aquarium, its seaport, and the film “Mystic Pizza,” you know, the one that made Julia Roberts a star. Anyway, returning to the city: it’s off the beaten path. You exit I-95 into a forest, drive past a gas station, a little more forest, then the coastline. About 5 minutes away is the Mystic Seaport which is one of the main selling points for the city.

Mystic Seaport is compared to Sturbridge Village and Colonial Williamsburg. There’s a rather large charge to gain access to the facility ($26), but it is rather large with a lot of property and places to visit. I think the neatest aspect of the seaport in comparison to the other two sites almost everyone compares it to, is that it IS right on the coast so you can have access to ships. Ships such as this one:

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Fortunately, I went on a beautiful clear day (as you can see in the photo). I can’t imagine this place in the cold, or even worse, in the blistering heat. There’s not very many places to sit and shading to enjoy outside without scalding. Another downside, is that in the comparison to Williamsburg and Sturbridge, the seaport doesn’t have as many activities for families and things to see as the other places. I went to the Drugstore and spoke to the representative there, and that was really enjoyable and she was quite knowledgeable on the material, however, that’s the only thing I was interested in. There’s also only three places to eat, one for “quick food” and that didn’t have the best selection. I DID eat BOMB New Enlgand Clam Chowder here that was made in house and it was amazing! The other two places were sit-down, which for a family or a single person is not optimal.

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If you are taking the I-95 from NYC to Boston (even though I would partly not recommend this route for that trip), I think mystic is a quaint place to stop. I want to go back and enjoy the Mystic Village for its shopping is supposed to be eclectic. Also the Mystic Aquarium is supposed to be very cool (even though I’m not a huge fan of aquariums). Anyway, if you are in the neighborhood, stop on by!