5 things to do when visiting Stow

"Fall is the best time to visit Stow since all the apple orchards and farm stands are open."

Fall decor at Derby Ridge Farm in Stow. Linda Hathaway

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Linda Hathaway knows Stow.

The town clerk for 21 years lives on Pilot Grove Farm, a 1782 Stow farm that’s been in her family for nine generations.

“It’s very much a farm community,” Hathaway said. “There’s a lot of history. There’s historic homes. We have a lot of conservation land. The people are friendly.”


Hathaway’s farm, which sells pork, beef, and lamb, is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ahead, Hathaway offers tips for what to do and where to go in Stow.

Apples at Shelburne Farm in Stow. Kathy Sferra

Pick your own apples

Stow’s farms are brimming with visitors each fall, Hathaway said.

“Fall is the best time to visit Stow since all the apple orchards and farm stands are open,” Hathaway said. “There are many places to see the fall foliage along the rural roads of Stow.”

The town has four orchards: Carver Hill Orchard, Derby Ridge Farm, Honey Pot Hill Orchards, and Shelburne Farm. And they all offer a different vibe, Hathaway said.

Honey Pot Hill Orchards was recently named the best orchard in Massachusetts by readers. The farm offers a petting zoo, maze, farm store with cider doughnuts, hard cider tasting tent, live music, hay rides, and, of course, plenty of apple trees for picking.

Visit the American Heritage Museum

Hathaway called the American Heritage Museum, a military history museum housed inside a 65,000 + square foot building on the grounds of the Collings Foundation, a hidden gem in the town.

“It has a large collection of World War II tanks,” Hathaway said. “They have antique planes, antique cars. There’s some really neat things there. They have different things going on on different weekends.”


The museum features “a staggering variety of rare relics” and more than 15 tanks and artifacts that are the only ones on public display in North America, according to its website.

Eat at one of the town’s six restaurants

Stow has six restaurants and Hathaway said she can’t pick a favorite.

At Nancy’s Air Field Cafe, located at Minute Man Airfield (one of two airports in Stow — the other is Crow Island Airpark), diners eat locally sourced food while watching planes arrive and take off. Indoor dining is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the restaurant is open for take-out.

“Her food brings in the flavors of all the different countries she’s traveled to,” Hathaway said about owner Nancy McPherson.

Hathaway lauded the chicken sandwiches at Nan’s Rustic Kitchen & Market, which opened last year, and the sushi from Red Ginger Asian Cuisine. At Stow House of Pizza, her go-to is a buffalo chicken tender salad or a slice of pizza with mushrooms, onions, and pepperoni. It’s also worth checking out the specials at Stow Cafe, she said. Oh, and Hathaway can’t resist the smoothies at Emma’s Cafe.

Fall foliage in Stow. Kathy Sferra

Walk a golf course, or conservation land

Golfers can choose from three courses in Stow: Butternut Farm Golf Club, Stow Acres Country Club (which has two 18-hole golf courses), and Wedgewood Pines Country Club. Butternut Farm Golf Club boasts the longest hole in the country without a sand trap, according to its website.


There’s plenty of conservation land to explore in Stow, Hathaway said, such as Flagg Hill Conservation Area and Captain Sargent Conservation Area. At the latter, Hathaway said, visitors can “do a hike and then you can have a picnic if you wanted to. There’s some open space areas.”

“I like horseback riding on the trails and cross country skiing through the fields,” Hathaway said.

What readers love about Stow:

“Stow is such a hidden gem!” wrote @leahmproudfoot. “It’s beautiful, like hard to keep your eyes on the road beautiful!”

“Stow has some great apples,” wrote @nance.nurse.

“Beautiful conservation land for walking and boating,” wrote @marlinn30.

“I just love driving through Stow in the fall,” wrote @one.trick.peony.

“We are known as apple country because of all the orchards as well as a Golf Mecca,” wrote @kimseatter. “Come visit…and bring a camera!”

Readers recommended the following Stow spots:

Apple picking — @desjenrob, @marlinn30, @_jtraylor_

Butternut Farm Golf Club@marlinn30

Carver Hill Orchard@sshanoon, @careydaway2

Collings Foundation@kimseatter, @kenhekking

Derby Ridge Farm@sshanoon, @hallieco

Emma’s Cafe@kimseatter

Golf courses — @zdsmith31

Honey Pot Hill Orchard@one.trick.peony, @sshanoon, @careydaway2, @kimseatter, @khauvz

Mistletoe Christmas Tree Farm@kimseatter

Nan’s Rustic Kitchen & Market @sshanoon, @pnazarey, @marlinn30, @careydaway2, @kimseatter, @peters0nbrien, @leahmproudfoot

Shelburne Farm@leahmproudfoot (noting it has the “best cider donuts in MA.”)

Small Farm @careydaway2

Stow Acres Country Club@soup617, @kimseatter

Wedgewood Pines Country Club@marlinn30


Responses lightly edited for clarity.


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