Southbridge & Surrounding Towns- New England's Hidden Gem
By the time 5pm rolls around Friday afternoon, we're looking for quick escape out of the concrete jungle. And as much as we would love to travel the world every weekend, a budget-friendly excursion tends to be a more doable option. So when we got a call from Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center inviting us to come down for the weekend, we were more than excited to explore a new and lesser known part of New England.
Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center is only about a 1-2 hour drive (depending on traffic) just southwest of Boston. The property itself is strikingly large; situated on its own peaceful and scenic oasis away from the surrounding city. With a beautiful indoor pool, racquetball and basketball courts, billiards, a bar serving local brews, on-site restaurant (where we highly recommend you order the steak and vegetable medley), as well as hiking trails throughout the property, we had way more than enough activities to keep us occupied upon our arrival Friday evening.
To jump-start our event filled Saturday, we stopped in at New England's soon-to-be #1 place for coffee- Sturbridge Coffee Roasters. Since they roast their beans on-site, the coffee's always fresh. We highly recommend the caramel apple latte; if one wasn't filling enough, we probably would have order another 5 more! And of course we couldn't leave without meeting and greeting the ever so friendly and entertaining Elvis Dyer, co-owner of Sturbridge Coffee Roasters with his wife Karen Dyer. Elvis' passion for coffee is admirable and easily shown by the amount of time, thought and love that is dedicated to each cup of coffee he brews.
|Elvis Dyer, Co-owner of Sturbridge Coffee Roasters, Demonstrating the Roasting Process|
|Apple Dumplings with Cheese & Ice Cream|
Our next stop was Old Sturbridge Village; we weren't kidding when we said event filled Saturday. For those non-homegrown Massachusetts folks, that didn't go on school field trips here, Old Sturbridge Village is an outdoor reenactment of a colonial New England town in the 1800's. It's a time warp into America's history. During our visit, the village was also hosting its first Craft Beer and Trade Festival. There was a huge range of regional brewers from the Northeast region along with a live folk band. We had a great time trying different beers and ciders, as well as making friends with some of the locals.
|Craft Beer & Trade Festival at Old Sturbridge Village|
|Cedric Daniel, Co-owner of Rapscallion Brewery|
|MA's Oldest Lager- Harvard Brewing Co. 1898|
To cap off the night we watched a local cover band at The Cannery Music Hall. The Cannery hosts a variety of live music shows every weekend with tickets prices as low as $10 or less. It was a great atmosphere and fun time. Since the hall only holds around 260 people, you're close enough to the band yet still get that concert-like experience.
There is clearly so much explore and tons of history in Southbridge and its surrounding towns. One of the places we wish we had time to visit was the Optical Heritage Museum, which houses artifacts from the optical industry dating back to the 19th century.
Discovering this hidden New England gem landed us a weekend full of fun and adventures. With so much to do and see, we definitely look forward to visiting again!