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Alice’s Restaurant is a Real Road Trip Destination

Alice’s Restaurant is a Real Road Trip Destination

Alice’s Restaurant is a Real Road Trip Destination

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.

If you’re familiar with the lyrics from this song, you’ve likely wondered if Alice’s Restaurant is a real place. And whether the story described is based on actual events. 

Wonder no more because we’re about to uncover some of the truths about this song. You just might be inspired to plan a road trip to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, after reading about it.

Let’s get started!

About the Song Alice’s Restaurant

American folk singer, Arlo Guthrie wrote this 18-minute song 1966. It describes a good deed gone wrong, a subsequent arrest, and an issue with the military draft. Guthrie humorously describes a Thanksgiving Day incident and the sequence of events that followed. 

Guthrie officially titled the song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” and it’s a tradition for many to listen to on Thanksgiving Day. 

Is the Story of Alice’s Restaurant True?

It’s mostly true, with some embellishments.

As a favor for their friend Alice, Guthrie and another friend packed up their VW bus with her garbage. They intended to bring it to the city dump the day after Thanksgiving.

As Guthrie and his friend found out, the dump was closed for the holiday. 

All the characters involved in the first part of the song about the littering incident are real people, including Alice. 

The last part is what people call the protest portion of the story, and it isn’t an actual event. However, it does reflect Guthrie’s personal anti-war stance.

Inside of Alice's Restaurant
Alice’s Restaurant is a real place, but it is known as Theresa’s Stockbridge Cafe nowadays.

Is Alice’s Restaurant Real?

Yes, it’s a real restaurant. However, it was never called Alice’s Restaurant. When he wrote the song, it was called The Back Room. And Alice Brock, Guthrie’s friend, owned the restaurant. 

Today, the place is Theresa’s Stockbridge Cafe, located at 40 Main Street in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. A sign outside the cafe lets you know it was formerly known as Alice’s Restaurant. 

Pro Tip: After visiting Alice’s Restaurant while exploring Massachusetts, make sure to Visit the ‘Hocus Pocus’ House.

Where Is Arlo Guthrie’s Church?

Trinity Church, Alice’s former home, is now The Guthrie Center in Stockbridge. In 1991, Arlo Guthrie purchased the 160-year-old church to provide an interfaith spiritual center for the community. He bought it to honor his parents, Woody and Marjorie Guthrie. 

The Center also supports cultural preservation and educational achievement among community members. Music fans will also enjoy the Musical Instrument Library, where you can check out a variety of instruments for free. 

The church offers meals at no charge every Wednesday and provides a Thanksgiving meal to anyone who shows up. 

Inside of the Norman Rockwell Museum.
After visiting Alice’s Restaurant, make sure to check out the Norman Rockwell Museum.

What Else is There To Do Near Alice’s Restaurant?

Stockbridge is a small town in western Massachusetts rich in history and culture. 

There are historic houses, like the 1886 Naumkeag Estate and the grand 2,100-acre Castle Hill. Both of these attractions are known for their impressive gardens and beautiful architecture. Castle Hill offers guided tours, while Naumkeag is open to the public for self-guided tours. 

For art lovers, the Norman Rockwell Museum displays original paintings from the famed artist. They even relocated a section of his studio, formerly located behind his Stockbridge home on South Street, to the museum grounds. 

The Berkshire Botanical Gardens, one of New England’s oldest public gardens, is a great place to spend a few hours. You’ll see over 3,000 plant species, many of which are indigenous to the area.

The garden grounds are open from May through October. However, there are numerous indoor exhibits and programs offered year-round. 

Train enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Lenox Station Museum. Volunteers helped restore this 1903 train station to its original glory through the help of volunteers.

You can even take a short train ride on the Lenox Jitney around the museum grounds. It’s open on Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

Best Hikes Near Alice’s Restaurant

Hickey and Peeskawso Peak Trail

Located a few miles south of Stockbridge, this 2.4-mile loop trail offers beautiful views and waterfalls along the path. It’s a moderately strenuous hike with some rock scrambling and uphill sections.

Leaf colors are stunning if visiting in the Fall. 

Laura’s Tower Trail

This 1.8-mile trail crosses the Housatonic River before steadily climbing uphill to an observation tower. The view of the Berkshire Mountains is worth the heart-pumping hike to the top! 

Both trails are accessible year-round, but bring snowshoes or cross-country skis if visiting during the winter. Leashed dogs are welcome to join you on the hiking paths. 

Best Camping Near Alice’s Restaurant

October Mountain State Forest

Tent and RV camping are available at this state forest. However, the sites do not offer hookups. An on-site dump is available, as is potable water. This campground works best for RVs 35 feet or shorter. 

The state forest offers many family-friendly activities here year-round. You can enjoy hiking, fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, and winter sports like snowshoeing and snowmobiling. 

Pro Tip: Finding quality camping on a road trip can be time consuming so we put together a list of The Best Free Camping Spot in all 50 States.

Is a Trip to Alice’s Restaurant Worth It? 

Visiting the sites described in Arlo Guthrie’s song Alice’s Restaurant is sure to please fans of his music.

The added benefit of other attractions in the area makes a visit to Stockbridge worthy of a special road trip.

As long as you follow the rules in town, you likely won’t have any run-ins with “Officer Obie!”

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

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You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

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Michael Hobbes

Thursday 25th of November 2021

As someone who lived 1/2 mile from the Church / Guthrie Center, it is NOT in Stockbridge. The address is 2 Van Deusenville Rd, Great Barrington, MA 01230 (actually the village of Housatonic, but it is part of GB, though it does have it's own post office.)

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