A residential community in Plymouth County, East Bridgewater has many of the signatures of a Southeastern Massachusetts Town, with cranberry bogs and dairy and fruit farms.
In 1649, Sachem Rock in East Bridgewater was the site of a meeting between the settlers from the Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag sachem Massasoit.
The land around this granite outcropping is owned by the town, and there are historical markers recounting this crucial event in the European settlement of Southeastern Massachusetts.
In between residential neighborhoods, East Bridgewater and neighboring towns have a lot of farms open to the public for pick-your-own fruit, pony rides, homemade ice cream and all kinds of seasonal activities.
1. Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area
On the east side of the town there’s more than 2,000 acres of public land in the care of the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
What you’ll encounter at the Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area is a water-rich environment, made up of ponds, reservoirs, Atlantic white cedar and red maple swamp, and a network of former cranberry bogs.
This is all an oasis for birdlife, in particular ospreys, wood ducks, and Virginia rails, while there’s a colony of night herons on this land.
In upland areas you can wander in pine, oak and birch forest, while the main marked trail is a section of the 230-mile Bay Circuit Trail.
2. C. N. Smith Farm
Starting out as a potato farm in the 1920s, C. N. Smith Farm has become a U-Pick destination for miles around, growing more than 90 acres of fruit and vegetable crops.
The pick-your-own season begins with strawberries in June, and then you’ve got blueberries, peaches, apples and pumpkins.
The farm is open as early as April, when you can visit the garden center for vegetable plants, annuals, fruit trees, perennials, and a wealth of other gardening supplies.
The farmstand is open April through December, and features the farm’s own preserves, honey, and fresh and hard cider, while there’s even a dedicated donut barn for apple cider donuts.
Whenever you come, you’ll also get to visit with the farm’s barnyard animals, including goats, chickens, rabbits and horses.
3. Sachem Rock Farm
You can’t underestimate the historical importance of this 30-acre property on the Satucket River, owned by the town of East Bridgewater.
Sachem Rock, a granite outcropping at the farm’s highest point, was significant to the Wampanoag people, at the meeting point of two ancient trails over land, and next to a key canoe route on the Satucket River.
It was at this exact place in 1649 that a meeting took place between the Wampanoag sachem Massasoit and English settlers from the Plymouth Colony, among them Myles Standish.
In this meeting the colonists purchased the rights to a big chunk of the South Shore’s interior, from Brockton to Bridgewater.
The house on the farm, accompanied by 19th-century outbuildings, is newer than it looks, and was built in the late 1920s after its predecessor burned in 1926.
4. Satucket River Frontage
The Bay Circuit Trail makes its way east to west through East Bridgewater, mostly running along quiet sidewalks but also traveling through a few town-owned conservation areas.
The largest of these is on the Satucket River, where you can walk for about ¾ of a mile through quiet riparian woods, with occasional views of the cranberry bogs on adjoining properties.
There are multiple spurs at the Satucket River Frontage, as well as little wooden bridges to cross, and a few scenic spots by the river where you can take a seat on a bench and appreciate the peace for a minute.
5. Ashland Farm Dairy
One of the joys of rural Massachusetts is ice cream, with dairy farms and lone ice cream stands in pretty much every town.
This is the case in East Bridgewater, where Ashland Farm Dairy, which offers a big menu of hard ice cream, with sugar-free varieties, and dairy-free sorbets.
But the star here is the soft serve, which comes in coffee, vanilla, chocolate, and vanilla/chocolate twist flavors, along with a roster of flavor burst options, from tropical orange to watermelon.
You can pick any hard or soft ice cream flavor to make a frappe, while the soft serve McFlurry-style Tornadoes are a real specialty, with toppings like Reeses Pieces, Snickers, Oreo and cookie dough.
6. Pony Town Parties
The Ford Farm in East Bridgewater has been in the family for more than a century, and in 2016 started to offer a wide range of equestrian services.
These include pony rentals, and pony-themed parties for kids in the Party Barn, with pony rides and craft activities. But there doesn’t need to be a special occasion to visit the farm.
You can book a private trail ride in the neighboring Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area, and these can involve a picnic or a trip at sunset when the scenery is magical.
7. East Bridgewater Cinemas
There’s a first-run movie theater in East Bridgewater, and it has a different feel to big theater chains. At Carriage Crossing Shopping Center, East Bridgewater Cinemas is a five-screen multiplex owned by the small South Shore Cinemas chain.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the prices are a lot lower, with tickets costing $8 for matinees, and just $6.50 all day on Tuesday.
Despite the prices, you still get more personal service, excellent sound and picture quality, along with stadium seating for clear views.
8. East Bridgewater Common Historic District
Anchored by Central Street, East Bridgewater’s original town center is a short way southeast of the commercial district. In real New England style, the historic district has a picturesque little common, delineated in 1721.
This triangular space has a charming bandstand, and is fringed by historic residences and public buildings going back to the turn of the 18th century.
The main landmark is the First Parish Church, raised in 1794 and gaining its Greek Revival appearance in the mid-19th century.
To the west, the Old Graveyard has burials going back more than 300 years, and sits across from the town hall. This Italianate mansion, constructed in the 1850s, was previously the home of Aaron Hobart (1787-1858), a U.S. Representative in the 1820s.
9. West Bridgewater Country Club
Along the Town River, this well-regarded public golf course is within a couple of miles of East Bridgewater Center.
The 18 holes at West Bridgewater Country Club poses a challenge for even the most accomplished golfers, with plenty of things to keep in mind.
The low-lying front nine is open, with wind and water hazards in play on every hole. Then on the back nine the track has a totally different character, with fairways bending through narrow corridors in the woods.
Precision and smart selection are paramount, but even if you have a tough game you’ll be pleased with the level of maintenance, and the bent-grass tees, fairways and greens.
10. Peaceful Meadows Ice Cream
A couple of minutes up Route 18 in Whitman there’s another popular ice cream stand waiting for a visit.
The dairy farm at Peaceful Meadows dates back to 1920, and the ice cream has been such a hit that there’s a second stand in Plymouth. For one thing, the HQ in Whitman is an idyllic place, with an old silo, and lush fields dotted with cows.
There are more than two dozen flavors of hard ice cream to choose from, all made daily on the farm.
For a pointer, the banana and black raspberry come highly recommended, and you can also create your own sundae, with any flavor and a choice of sauces and toppings from hot butterscotch to marshmallow.
11. C&C Reading Farm
In season you can pay a visit to this farm, just five minutes from East Bridgewater Center. C&C Reading Farm uses traditional and organic methods, and has a superb farmstand to check out.
Here you can get hold of homegrown fresh produce, pasture-raised meat, fresh seafood, eggs, baked treats like apple cider donuts, and a wide range of specialty items, much of which is locally sourced.
As well as offering pre-picked fruits, the farm also welcomes you to pick your own strawberries (around June), blueberries (July), and pumpkins (September & October), with a wide array of U-Pick flowers available throughout the summer months.
12. Lipinski’s Farm Stand
Lipinski’s Farm, on the East Bridgewater/Hanson line, has been in the same family since 1932 and the third generation has worked this land for more than 30 years now.
Open from May, there’s an endearing little farmstand on Franklin St, resting in a lush landscape, with greenhouses and vegetable fields in the background.
During the season you can stop here for plants and flowers, as well as a bounty of fresh produce, from strawberries to zucchini, tomatoes, corn and pumpkins.
13. East Bridgewater Christmas Parade
On the first Saturday in December, rain or shine, there’s a parade through the town center, around the Town Common and then finishing at the Junior/Senior High School.
This event always has a big turnout, with numerous local services, clubs, teams, businesses, and other organizations taking to the streets.
You’ll see marching bands, imaginative floats, an assortment of vehicles, and dancers, all decorated or dressed up according to an annual theme.
The parade starts out at 10am, and there’s family fun throughout the day at the high school, with visits with Santa, a craft fair, pony rides, and performances by school bands and choirs.
Every September, the East Bridgewater Commercial Club also organizes this annual celebration that has been on the local calendar for 30 years now.
The ChiliChowdaFest is a ticketed event, restricted to people over the age of 21. True to its name, the festival is a cookoff, with numerous contestants showcasing their chili or chowder. Prizes are awarded for the best, and runner-up, in each category.
You’re encouraged to arrive early to get your share of the samples, and there’s live music all afternoon, as well as a shine-and-show bike contest.
15. East Bridgewater Commercial Club SummerFest
The Commercial Club has a year-round schedule of ticketed events, most of which are open to the public.
Another to keep in mind is the SummerFest, taking place in late June and bringing an afternoon of live music to the club’s expansive fields.
When we compiled this list, the headline act was blues musician James Montgomery. Along with several hours of great live entertainment there’s a full pavilion bar, great food, and an assortment of other vendors, and raffle tables.