One of the oldest towns in Massachusetts, Rehoboth was founded in 1643 as part of the Plymouth Colony.
The defining events in the final days of King Philip’s War played out in Rehoboth in the 1670s, and at Anwan Rock you can see the place where the Wampanoag war chief was captured, ending the conflict.
Distributed across quite a large area, Rehoboth is a rural community, laced with centuries-old millponds, farmland, conservation areas, sleepy villages and no shortage of private golf courses.
The Rehoboth Antiquarian Society maintains an interesting town museum, as well as the town’s public library, while the local historical commission has labeled a host of sites around the town from sawmills to 17th-century dams and textile factories.
1. Carpenter Museum
To mark America’s bicentennial, the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (founded 1884) constructed a new space to house its impressive collections.
The Carpenter Museum is a Colonial-style house with a gambrel roof, and an accompanying post-and-beam barn in the style of the mid-18th century.
The museum is named for Elsie and E. Winsor Carpenter, who donated the land and seed funds, and came from a family that had been present in the town for centuries.
In the collection are household implements going back 400 years, maps, furniture, items of clothing, and plenty of Carpenter family heirlooms.
When we wrote this article there was an enlightening exhibition about the Rehoboth Milkmaids, a pioneering women’s softball team, formed in the 1930s.
2. Anawan Rock
At this puddingstone rock formation you can visit one of the few surviving sites from King Philip’s War (1675-1676).
It was right here on August 28, 1676 that Anawan, a Wampanoag war chief, was captured by colonial forces led by Captain Benjamin Church.
This event brought the conflict to a close, two weeks after the sachem Metacomet (King Philip) had been captured and killed in Bristol, RI.
King Philip’s War was a devastating conflict for the region, claiming more lives locally than the Civil War almost two centuries later.
The site is easily missed along Winthrop Street, but there’s a small parking lot and a booth at the head of a short trail to the rock.
3. Rehoboth Village & Dam
Developed as a site of small industry from the early 18th century, the rural village center at the intersection of Locust Avenue and Bay State Road is preserved as an historic district, and looks much as it did in the late 19th century.
As well as the Carpenter Museum and the Goff Memorial Hall (more later), there are a few things to check out around this quaint area.
The Rehoboth Historical Commission has produced signs, pointing out the businesses that operated here at the dawn of the American Revolution.
The Village Pond was the site of a gristmill for some 180 years from 1690, and other local businesses in the mid-1800s included a tannery, a slaughterhouse, a sawmill and a fulling mill.
The most eye-catching landmark is the First Congregational Church, built in the Greek Revival style in 1838.
4. Rehoboth State Forest
At the 138-acre Rehoboth State Forest you can discover a habitat that once covered much of eastern Massachusetts.
Here a spur takes you into a stand of Atlantic white cedar swamp, with a boardwalk helping you cross this damp ground.
The remainder of Rehoboth State Forest is mostly pine woodland, littered with some sizable glacial erratics and navigated via a mile-long loop.
Most of the forest can be traversed in under an hour, making this a worthwhile detour if you need a dose of nature.
5. Ephraim Hunt Ministerial Land
You can spend a little more time around Rehoboth’s old village center, ambling around this peaceful landscape of pitch pine forest, wooded wetlands and streams, on a high-yield aquifer.
At just over 60 acres, the Ephraim Hunt Ministerial Land is managed by the Rehoboth Land Trust, which purchased the property from the First Congregational Church, to help it raise funds for repairs.
Not just beautiful, this conservation area is also ecologically significant, as a habitat for the wood turtle, which is a species of special concern in Massachusetts, and also contains an esker, a meandering ridge created by glacial meltwater at the end of the last Ice Age.
6. Anawan Farm
This little family-run farm near Rehoboth State Forest has a stand selling a wide assortment of produce in the summer and fall.
Depending on the season you can call in for fresh onions, kale, peppers, corn, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, summer squash, and pumpkins.
Anawan Farm also sells fresh cut flowers, cultivated without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides, and in late summer you can pick your own sunflowers.
There are special seasonal events at the farm, with hayrides in the fall and the holiday season.
7. Shad Factory Fish Ladder
Also encompassed by town-owned conservation land is the old Shad Factory Pond in the southwest of Rehoboth.
From a parking area on Water Street you can follow an unmarked trail along the Palmer River to the shores of the pond, impounded by a dam that was constructed in 1911.
There are benches by the water, as well as the remnants of the Orleans Mill, going back deep into the 19th century.
Now, the pond is part of the Bristol County Water Authority’s supply system, and there’s a 300-foot fish ladder from 2007, allowing herring and America shad to migrate upstream to spawn.
8. Goff Memorial Hall
The Rehoboth Antiquarian Society also operates the public Blanding Library, which is housed in the society’s former headquarters and museum.
This is the Goff Memorial Hall, named for the prominent textile industrialist, Darius Goff (1809-1891) who funded the original building.
The current Tudor-style hall is from 1915 and was built with bricks after the original wooden structure from 1886 burned down in 1911.
The Rehoboth Antiquarian Society’s collections were relocated from the Goff Memorial Hall to the Carpenter Museum after it was constructed in the 1970s.
This stately building is the venue for the Arts in the Village Concert Series, with regular performances by classical soloists and small ensembles.
9. Hornbine School
At the sleepy junction of Hornbine Road and Baker Road you’ll come across a neatly preserved one-room schoolhouse open seasonally as a history museum.
On grounds bordered by old stone walls, Hornbine School was built in 1862 and has clapboard siding, a front-facing gable roof and a brick chimney at the back.
This is the best preserved one-room schoolhouse in the town, serving as a place of education until 1937 and a museum since the later 1960s.
You can visit on the second and fourth Sundays, June through September for a glimpse of school life in days gone by. The Hornbine School has original 19th-century desks and blackboard, along with antique pictures, learning aids, books and games.
10. Redway Plain
This open space by the Village Cemetery has been owned by the town since 1992, and has a fascinating history.
Redway Plain is known to have been used as agrarian land for many centuries, going back to Native American times, growing timothy hay, alfalfa, corn and other vegetables.
Later the land was used as a training space for Rehoboth’s militia, and at that time was contiguous with the Village Cemetery and neighboring Faxon Field Farm.
Today, Redway Plain continues to be a gathering place for the town, and there’s a season of outdoor concerts at the bandstand, on Sunday evenings from mid-July to the end of August.
11. Perryville Dam
A couple of miles north of Rehoboth’s old village center there’s a tucked-away pond with a history going back to the late 17th century. Perryville Dam, accompanied by Butterworth Falls, was initially erected around the 1680s for a sawmill.
For the next 250 years, this was a hive of activity. One of the factories located here was a turning mill, producing handles for tools, as well as bobbins for the textile industry, until the end of the 19th century.
Sawmill and gristmill operations survived until the 1930s, and now Perryville Pond is a remote spot with faint echoes of what came before.
12. Hazelton Golf Club
Big swaths of Rehoboth’s countryside are covered by exclusive country clubs. If you’re a casual golfer looking for a daily fee course, the place to go is Hazelton Golf Club.
This also used to be a country club, and has just been restored to its original design, by renowned Massachusetts golf architect Geoffrey Cornish (1914-2012).
Other updates have included a new irrigation system, new bunkering, new tee boxes and a complete restoration of all 18 greens.
The course is on a tributary of the Palmer River, which comes into play on nine holes, including the long par 4 18th, a dogleg right.
13. The Ice Cream Barn
This beloved ice cream stand began in 2012 as a collaboration between two creative ice cream makers and a 6th generation dairy farmer.
One of many things to love about the Ice Cream Barn is dedication to sustainability, and in 2020 the business switched all of its packaging to compostable products.
On top of that many of the 20+ flavors are made with products from the region, and there’s even a map at the stand showing where the ingredients like strawberries, maple syrup, apples, cranberries, oats, mint, and even the salt come from.
A few star flavors are Apple Crisp, Kahlua Brownie, S’Mores, Green Tea and Cranberry Jubilee, while the homemade waffle cones are a thing of beauty.
14. Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary
A few minutes away in Norton is a sanctuary, providing a home and care for abandoned, neglected and abused animals.
On a restful wooded campus, Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary opened in 1997 and has close to 200 residents.
In spacious, healthy enclosures and paddocks, along winding footpaths, you’ll see goats, alpacas, peacocks, cats, horses, chickens, donkeys, pigs, and more, all living their best life.
Many of the animals are free to roam as they please, and there’s a small playground for children and a picnic area in the shade.
15. Seekonk Speedway
Also easily reached from Rehoboth is the United States’ oldest family-owned race track in continuous operation.
Seating about 10,000 people, Seekonk Speedway first opened in 1946 and is still a thriving venue for high-speed action.
This ⅓-mile asphalt oval hosts NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series racing, every Saturday throughout the season.
You can catch pro stocks (Division 1), Late Models (Division 2), Sportsmen (Division 3) and Sport Trucks (Division 4), while there’s lower budget racing on Friday nights, for drivers hoping to graduate to the big show on Saturdays.
Check the schedule for one-off events like open-wheel racing, demolition derbies and monster trucks.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Rehoboth, Massachusetts (MA)
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