By Beth Sobiloff
Normally, I don’t really like to shop. So having a blast visiting 19 shops and restaurants was a bit unexpected!
When I do shop, I really like to support local businesses as much as possible. So the Country Roads Tour in North Central Massachusetts was the perfect excuse to do some Christmas shopping and give some great local shops the attention they deserve.
We had one weekend to get it all done. Our friends at Plain View Farm were kind enough to let us stay at their alpaca farm. Since they are one of the stops on the tour, it was the perfect starting point. We had just about every minute planned so that we could get from one stop to the next, film and shop at each location, and head back to the south shore before it got too late on Sunday afternoon.
Our schedule worked perfectly, except for some little hiccups when we couldn’t get GPS. Note to self, when traveling country roads, bring a good old fashioned map!
The biggest surprise for us was that each stop was completely unique. From an “antique” store that was so much more, to an apple farm; a maple sugar shack to a handmade leather shop. A dairy farm with their own cheeses to a country store with the biggest cinnamon rolls we had ever seen. There was something for everyone.
So here are some details of what we found on our tour.
Plain View Farm, 130 Gardner Road (Rt. 68), Hubbardston, 774-258-1194
A beautiful little shop filled with mittens, hats, slippers, sweaters, and other alpaca items, stuffed animals, etc. Pet the alpacas and llamas. They are super sweet.
A Thyme and a Place, 52 Gardner Road, Hubbardston, 978-928-1300
Many unique gift items, tons of really fund signs, some with a little sarcastic sense of humor. Great Christmas decorations. Don’t miss the shed outside.
Giacomo’s Gourmet Foods, 32 Main St, Hubbardston, 978-820-1353
Catering and prepared foods, fresh bread and baked goods. Some gift items such as handmade gloves, spice blends, and other gourmet items. Specializing in amazing comfort food.
Dandelions, 34 Fruitland Road, Barre | 978-257-8064
This is a beautiful little shop with lots of handmade jewelry, personal items, hand painted glassware, pottery and other treasures.
Sheldon Farm Baskets, 587 Sheldon Road, Barre, 978-355-6832
Beautiful hand made baskets of all shapes and sizes, some hand made boxes, and hand made soaps and beeswax ornaments.
Hartman’s Herb Farm B & B, 1026 Old Dana Road, Barre, 978-355-2015
This is not a spot that you would run across unless you were given the address. It’s truly on a small country road, but what a great spot. They are an event venue as well, with a chapel and a hall for weddings and other events. Their shop includes all kinds of herbs and dried flowers, many grown on the grounds. They specialize in beautiful wreaths for all occasions, not just Christmas.
Petersham Leathers, 202 Popple Camp Road, Petersham, 978-724-3541
Owner Sylvia Brown has been working with leather from a very young age. Her purses, clothing and other items are just beautiful.
Red Apple Farm, 455 Highland Ave, Phillipston, 978-249-6763
With a farm stand, orchard, outdoor barbecue pit, animals, and a brewery, this place has it all. Well-known for their cider donuts.
Valcourt Sugar Shack, 67 New Salem Road, Petersham, 508-479-6635
This is a small roadside shack next to their sugar house. With 1,000 trees being tapped each year, there’s plenty of great maple syrup. They also make some beautiful Christmas wreaths.
Petersham Art Center, 8 North Street, Petersham, 978-724-3415
There are so many talented artists whose work is on display and for sale here, it’s impossible to list them all. You must stop by to see everything they have to offer, and don’t forget to check out the classes.
The Country Store, 2 North Main St., Petersham, 978-724-0000
Josie just bought the store a few short months ago and she looks right at home. Maybe because she has worked there for years. Like most country stores, there’s a little of everything. But she has a great coffee corner with excellent coffee and cinnamon rolls as big as your head. The small kitchen turns out great breakfasts, sandwiches, soups and baked goods. There ‘s a cozy back room with a wood stove. It’s a quiet spot to have lunch or read a book with a great section of children’s toys.
Back in Thyme Antiques, 58 Rice Road, Templeton, 508-733-4600
Not your average antique shop, by any stretch. Many hand made or hand painted items, restored furniture, decorations, from floor to ceiling!
Smith’s Country Cheese, 20 Otter River Road, Winchendon, 978-939-5738
The cheese produced at Smith’s Country Cheese is outstanding. The store is fun, with all kinds of items that go well with cheese, but also some other items, many from local artisans.
The Kitchen Garden, 268 Baldwinville Rd., Templeton, 978-939-8558
Known for their Finnish Coffee Bread, they have many items from Finland and other Scandinavian countries, some local products, both food and gift items, and a wonderful bakery.
Country Bumpkin’ Antiques, 36 Baldwinville Rd., Templeton, 978-652-5429
We could have spent half a day here a probably not see everything. Two huge floors of antiques, Christmas decorations, and even a plant room! They literally have everything but the kitchen sink!
KRO’s on the Common, 10 Baldwinville Rd., Templeton, 978-652-5780
This delightful breakfast and lunch spot has wonderful food and a great atmosphere. Marcia was very impressed with the Vegetable Eggs Benedict, as was I with the Ham and Cheese Stuffed French Toast. Yum!
Valley View Farm, 179 Barre Road, Templeton, 978-939-1066
This is a local butchery. They have the biggest ham steaks I’ve ever seen! But they also make prepared foods in the their kitchen, such as pot pies, steak teriyaki, baked beans, chocolate peanut butter bacon, and more. Also some items such as jams and jellies from local vendors.
Valley Florist, 1Valley Drive (Rt. 101) Templeton | 978-632-2950
Very cute floral shop with some wonderful Christmas decorations. They make wreaths and kissing balls! But a great place to visit during the spring and summer when the greenhouse is open.
The Good Earth, 633 West Broadway (Route 2A), Gardner, 978-632-0991
This is a garden and feed store with a twist. They have some really unique hand made gift items. There was an entire room devoted to Christmas with a popcorn maker, an oil tank dressed up as a train, and a place to sit for a photo op.
The Country Tour goes through December 10, 2023 but don’t let that stop you from visiting one of these great places any time!