Western Massachusetts is a cultural mecca of art, music, poetry, and food. Surrounded by the foothills of the Berkshires, it’s the perfect blend of city and country. You may likely be tempted to stay after graduation.
"I like Flayvors, the local ice cream shop and dairy right down the road where you can eat ice cream and play with baby cows at the same time!"
"I love the mountains and Holyoke range that has lots of hikes and walks that are very relaxing and a nice escape from doing work."
"Amherst Books, an amazing local bookstore with one of the best philosophy sections ever."
"One restaurant I am very fond of is The Lone Wolf. It is the best breakfast and brunch place I have found probably in my life, and is also incredibly accommodating. They have gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian options."
"Noho reminds me of New York City in a way because there's always so many people there along with so many places to eat and shop around."
"Smith is really beautiful, and the botanical gardens are a great refuge in the winter."
"One of my favorite spots in the Pioneer Valley is Raven Used Books in Northampton. I love all of the nooks and crannies, and how such a small space is stuffed with a variety of interesting and eclectic books. You never know what you’re going to find, and can easily loose track of time amongst the shelves!"
"Most likely Haymarket Café in Northampton. I still consider it the best place to get smoothies, even after living in the area for 20 years."
Fun Facts and Legends
During the Triassic period, the Pioneer Valley was an arm of the ocean, leaving the area with amazing dinosaur tracks. You can see them on display at the Beneski Museum at Amherst College or along Route 10 between Northampton and Holyoke. At the base of Bare Mountain, Hampshire’s campus would have been beachfront property!
Mount Tom, on the western edge of the Holyoke mountain range, may have been Dr. Seuss’ inspiration for Mount Krumpit in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The town of Easthampton at its base plays Whoville every year, singing Christmas carols at their town gazebo.
Emily Dickinson was born and raised in downtown Amherst. Not only can you visit her house, The Emily Dickinson Museum, but you can also visit her grave- it’s located just behind Pleasant Street in Amherst Center. Her coffin was carried, not driven, “through fields of buttercups,” to the family plot.
Both basketball and volleyball were invented here! In 1891, Dr. James Naismith of what is now Springfield College started basketball with a peach basket as a net; four years later, William G. Morgan would create an indoor sport for senior citizens that combined tennis and handball, the first iteration of “volleyball.”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird met in Northampton, Massachusetts. Their company, Mirage Studios, still publishes in the Valley. The Turtles were so popular among Valley children that schools had to ban “Turtle play,” aka students karate-chopping each other.
Yes, we love it here, but don't just take our word for it. Amherst was recently voted as one of the "best college towns" by two independent surveys.