When I think of Mansfield, I think of Snow Trails Ski Resort, and it takes me back to the long bus ride for middle school ski club. What up, BPMS?
Just about one hour north of downtown, Mansfield is a quick and easy trip up 71N. And despite its well known reputation as the backdrop for the 1994 film, Shawshank Redemption (more on that later), there’s so much more to do and see. The historic downtown area has a Mayberry feel, with modern revival, of course. And there’s plenty of outdoor adventure to be had. So, as Shawshank’s favorite inmate Red would say, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
Pictured above is the “salted honey” pie. Did I know that was a thing? Nope, but now I know it’s the only thing. Okay, of course it’s not, the rest of their pastries rival it, but it is so. damn. good. Blackbird is a small-batch bakery and everything is made fresh. The attention to detail is evident, and if you don’t order some lemon blueberry cake, then I don’t know you. The bakery shares a space with Relax, It’s Just Coffee, so you can enjoy a pour over with your sweet treat. How’s that for killing two birds with one stone…get it?
All wood, hand carved, indoor carousel. Perfect to stop by any time of year, plus it’s super affordable to boot. It costs just $1 per ride. There’s an adjacent gift shop as well, but the highlight for our family was the different animals to choose from. The “outside” animals do not go up and down, if that might matter to an opinionated child, not like that happened to us or anything. I recommend going as it gets closer to Halloween, as the menagerie will be decked out with masks!
Whether or not you are a fan of Andy Dufresne and his redemption at Shawshank, the Reformatory is a must see destination in Mansfield. The architecture is amazing, and some parts of the building have been restored (and are available to rent) to their original character. There are a few different guided tour options, it’s recommended that you book ahead, or you can do a self-guided audio tour. Allow yourself plenty of time either way, the grounds are massive. It’s also really hard to believe that it was an operational penitentiary until the 1970’s. Oh also, it’s like super haunted. No big deal.
Cozy atmosphere inside a converted house. It’s a classic deli with hot soup, pasta salads, and delicious, fresh sandwiches. All the of the sandwiches have fun names, and unexpected combinations on the toppings, like baba ganoush. The staff is friendly and accommodating, and you can order a sandwich “off menu” if something listed doesn’t suite your fancy.
This is an imaginative play-based museum, and there are several different “themed” rooms for children to explore. While their website touts that it’s for children aged 2-12, I’d say maybe closer to 6 or 7 for the maximum age. Lots of cool things to check out, like a dinosaur fossil dig and a creative play “bank.” Everything is spread out over two floors, so it’s a perfect activity to entertain your kids for a few hours. Heads up, they are closed Monday/Tuesday.
Maybe you’re traveling without children and you need a different afternoon activity? Or you’re traveling with kids and just want to be outside? Malabar Farm is perfect for either scenario. It’s a state park, but also an operational farm with a storied history. In fact, Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall in the main house back in 1945. Tractor rides are available for touring the property, hiking trails for exploring, and the barn is host to a Maple Syrup Festival each September, this year’s is coming up on the 29th/30th, so there’s still time to plan your trip.
Wood-fired pizza and tapas with a great atmosphere, especially the patio, which has ambient lighting and a cozy vibe. They source their meat locally, and the cheese plate is perfection. Also perfection? The drinks of course. Each drink is artfully crafted and beautifully presented. Get the Gin Basil or the Purple Rain and let me know what you think.
The theatre was built in the 1920’s and opened as a movie “palace.” It’s been thoughtfully restored and merged with the Mansfield Symphony in 1997, creating the organization it’s known as today. While you’ll definitely want to plan ahead by checking out their events calendar here, most weekends have different shows, tribute bands, or concerts. In fact, the more I talk about this “day trip” the more convinced I am that Halloween is the perfect time to visit Mansfield. The Renaissance will be playing cinematic classic Hocus Pocus and Carrie in the month of October.
Of course you can’t head home without stopping at the brewery for one drink (or more, with your designated driver). This place is the coolest. It’s located in an old funeral home, and there are food trucks outside on a rotating schedule. Phoenix has twelve of their own brews on tap, plus a selection from other local breweries. Wine is available as well, and there’s live music Thursday-Saturday. If the weather is nice, check out their outside space as well. If you wouldn’t mind picking me up a growler of the Tipped Tombstone, I’d sure appreciate it.
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