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Pumpkins, Picnics, and Pale Ales: This Perfect Weekend Trip to Central Mass Has It All

Covered Bridge In Sturbridge

/ Joann Vitali

In case you missed it, it’s officially time for cool weather, crisp leaves, and fall fun. Autumn is here, and there’s no better way to spend it then on a weekend getaway in Central Massachusetts. Just an hour’s drive west of Boston, the scenic Blackstone Valley offers picturesque pick-your-own farms, foliage-filled hikes, and outdoor dining galore. Book an overnight stay (per CDC and state guidelines, of course), follow this suggested itinerary, and head off on a quick trip that combines the best parts of the season.


carbonara at UxLocale

/ The UxLocale

7 p.m.: Kick off the weekend in West Uxbridge with an outdoor dinner and live music at The UXLocale. The farm-to-table joint serves up gourmet pizzas, pasta, and small plates on its lit-up patio as well as a long list of local craft beers.

Publick House in Sturbridge

/ Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

9 p.m.: Check in for the weekend at Publick House, a historic inn located in nearby Sturbridge. Established in 1771, the bed-and-breakfast features two charming on-site restaurants decorated in period antique furniture. Prefer to camp? Indian Ranch in Webster offers space and amenities for more than 180 RVs, trailers, and motor homes on the shores of Lake Chaubunagungamaug.


10 a.m.: Dig into a plate of oversized pancakes at Picket Fence in Douglas. The outdoor brunch spot also dishes out breakfast burritos, omelets and a “Hungry Man” special for those who really brought their appetites.

Douglas Orchard and Farm

/ Snowscapes Photography

12 p.m.: Head off to nearby Douglas Orchard & Farm for an afternoon of apple picking. The local farm is home to a plethora of barnyard animals and a produce stand packed with fresh fruit, cider, and apple chips as well as eggs, honey, and mushrooms.

lookout rock

/ Michael Underwood

3 p.m.: Go for a short walk at Purgatory Chasm in Sutton, where you’ll find imaginatively named rock formations like “The Coffin” and “Lovers’ Leap” spread across two miles of trails. If you’re itching for more scenic photo ops, stop by Lockout Rock in Northbridge on your way to dinner. You’ll catch a glimpse of the Blackstone River snaking its way through farmlands and forest from this gorgeous overlook.

6 p.m.: Dine al fresco at Red Rock Grill & Bar in Upton. The “rustic chic” eatery specializes in comfort food—like lobster mac-and-cheese, slow-braised pot roast, and a sweet potato poutine burger—as well as local Massachusetts brews from Springfield and Westminister.


9 a.m.: Grab breakfast to go from Sturbridge’s farmers’ market. Every Sunday morning, more than a dozen local vendors gather on the town common with a seasonal selection of goodies. Order some cold brew from Sturbridge Coffee Roasters, pick up a pastry from The Center Bakery, and browse artisan soaps, honey, and other wares.

old sturbridge village

/ Old Sturbridge Village

10 a.m.: Visit the big attraction of the day, Old Sturbridge Village. As New England’s largest living history museum, the 19th-century village features more than 40 buildings as they would have operated in the 1830s. Check out an authentic blacksmith shop, explore a water-powered carding mill, and get questions answered by trained costumed historians at every exhibit.

2 p.m.: Pick up beer to take home at Tree House Brewing Company, an independent Charlton-based brewery renowned for its American-style IPAs like King Julius and Very Hazy. Note: You’ll have to preorder your cans earlier that day, but it’s well worth it for beers regularly ranked among the best in the world.

3 p.m.: Go for a nature walk or picnic at Moore State Park, a beautifully landscaped, 400-acre expanse in Paxton. Follow the networks of wooded paths past waterfalls, historic stone mill foundations, and a restored sawmill.

Worcester Public Market

/ Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

6 p.m.: Stop for dinner at Worcester Public Market, a bustling hub within Worcester’s Canal District. Order Jamaican, Venezuelan, African Fusion, or another cuisine from the stalls on the market floor and then enjoy your meal in the newly opened outdoor dining area. Take home foodie delights like handmade pasta, herbed vinegar, hot sauces, olive oils, and more from the on-site specialty store. Plus, you’ll find plenty of locally made souvenirs such as handmade soaps, candles, honey, leather goods, fresh flowers, and more—all from central and western Massachusetts.

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