New England is a truly majestic place. From the lush outdoors to the truly exquisite arts and entertainment experiences, it’s no wonder why so many folks have found their homes here or have chosen to travel here for their education. In distanced times, it’s easy to lose sight of what makes any area special. The International Language Institute of Massachusetts is proud to call New England home. We wanted to share some of our favorite summer activities that can still be enjoyed even during a Pandemic! Take a break from your Language courses and refresh your mind with the magic that can be found all around you in this area.
1. Mt. Tom (Holyoke/Easthampton)
Hiking Mt. Tom is a right of passage for a local. Considered a moderate hike, it’s an ideal outdoor activity to get your blood pumping with the ultimate payoff of being able to take in the gorgeous view of the valley once you reach the top. Did you know that Dr. Seuss based The Grinch Who Stole Christmas on Mt.Tom and Easthampton? Whoville is a fictionalized version of Easthampton and Mt.Tom is the mountain that The Grinch’s home was based on! While this mountain is a thrill to hike up, it’s hard to imagine lugging a Christmas tree and a town’s entire sack of gifts up it!
(Photo: Springfield Museums/Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, Credit: WBUR)
2. Springfield Museums (Springfield, MA)
Speaking of Dr.Seuss, visit his home city of Springfield, MA and grab a day pass and visit all FIVE museums as well as the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden! The museums include the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and the Springfield Science Museum. Adults pay $25 for a day pass and college students (with a college ID) pay only $16.50! Visit Springfield Museums to make your time reservation, the museums are doing their part to keep guests safe and distanced during the pandemic.
(Photo:Green River Festival, Credit: Amherst Bulliten)
3. LIVE MUSIC
Missing live music and the chance to gather over a shared love for the arts? Recently, local entertainment organizations have been getting creative with how they can produce quality concert experiences while honoring the safety of their guests. Organizations like Signature Sounds have been bringing renowned musicians to Black Birch Vineyard on Tuesday evenings for socially distanced, extremely limited ticketed events. On the weekends, head up to Greenfield for a Roll On In show, similar to a drive in movie but with LIVE MUSIC. Feeling unsure about large scale gatherings? Check out Signature Sounds, Quarantunes, Watermelon Wednesdays, or BOM on Facebook for some of their upcoming livestream events that can be viewed from that safety of your own home!
(Photo:Valley Bikes, Credit: UMASS.edu)
4. Rent a ValleyBike and hit the trails!
If you are in the area temporarily for your studies, you may not have a personal bike available to you. The Massachusetts bike trails are calling for you and you have the ability to answer! There are countless ways to experience the beautiful scenery that surrounds you, but there is something special about riding through intimate trails on a bike. You might end up right next to a farm and just feet away from wildlife, biking along a beautiful river, or in a boundless field on a glorious hilltop that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise! If you’re looking to stay somewhat local and travel between Northampton, Easthampton, and Amherst rent a ValleyBike and get moving! A day pass will cost you $6 and a month pass is only $20!
(Photo: Deerfield River, Credit: https://www.greatoutdoors-deerfieldriver.com/)
5. Tubing down the Deerfield River
Need to cool down? Grab a tube and some friends and float on down the Deerfield River. It’s no problem to keep your distance from land-folks while you’re immersed in the elements of New England this way. The most popular part of the river to float is from the Fife Brook Dam in Florida, MA to the Shunpike Parking Area in Charlemont. This is just downstream of where Rt. crosses the Deerfield River. Click HERE to learn more about the different sections of the river and which spots are recommended for safe travel.
6. Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA
As previously mentioned, while Massachusetts is rich with cultural diversity and loaded history, it is also home of eclectic and immersive arts experiences. Mass MoCA has been called “One of the most hopeful things” by The Boston Globe- and as you enter under trees growing upside down above you, it’s no secret why! Their website boasts, “MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest centers for making and enjoying today’s most evocative art. With vast galleries and a stunning collection of indoor and outdoor performing arts venues, MASS MoCA is able to embrace all forms of art: music, sculpture, dance, film, painting, photography, theater, and new, boundary-crossing works of art that defy easy classification.” Take the winding roads to North Adams and see for yourself why this is one of our absolute favorite things to do in New England.
7. Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams
Marked by a natural bridge of white marble, the ONLY arch of its kind in North America, this site has attracted hikers and tourists for years- including Nathanial Hawtorne! Located on McAuley Road in North Adams, this is one of MANY gorgeous state parks and natural wonders to be discovered in the outdoors of New England. According to mass.gov’s listing of Natural Bridge State Park, “the park’s namesake natural bridge, made of 550 million year-old bedrock marble, was carved into its iconic arch by the forces of glacial melt water over 13,000 years ago. Today, the bridge spans the bubbling Hudson Brook as it twists and tumbles through a steep 60-foot gorge–one of the best demonstrations of glacial erosion in New England.”
8. The Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA
Part history museum, part hall of fame; take a trip to the city where basketball was born- Springfield, MA! The Basketball Hall of Fame’s website names itself as an, “independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and celebrating the game of basketball at every level – men and women, amateur and professional players, coaches and contributors, both domestically and internationally. The Hall of Fame museum is home to more than 400 inductees and over 40,000 square feet of basketball history.” The giant basketball shaped space is more than just your average encyclopedia of the sport- it also houses interactive exhibits that bring an understanding of the game to the next level.Another fun piece of trivia is that Holyoke, MA is the birthplace of volleyball! You can round out your weekend full of sports history by checking out the International Volleyball Hall of Fame located on Dwight Street in Holyoke.
9. Salem, MA – home of The Salem Witch Trials!
Though their yearly “Haunted Happenings” programming won’t be taking place this year due to the pandemic, Salem, MA is full of history and spooky tales at every turn. Salem was one of the most important seaports in all of American history, but it is generally remembered for a different reason. The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 laid the foundation for much of the associations people have when discussing this coastal city. The city has reclaimed this history, and now proudly adorns itself with witch-themed logos, team names, and activities. Though many of the expo-sized events won’t be kicking off this fall- you can still walk through one of the oldest cemeteries in US history- The Burying Point. Judge John Hathorne, who you may remember from ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller, is buried here. You can also walk down to the coast, or go off on an adventure to find the filming locations from the movie “Hocus Pocus”. While much of this city’s history is wrapped up in unfair tragedies, it remains a beautiful place that has filled itself with joy in the time since.
10. Hike Mt. Sugarloaf (Deerfield, MA)
The arkose sandstone cliffs of Mount Sugarloaf (or Sugarloaf Mountain) are recognizable for miles surrounding the mountain. The mountain, which resides on Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation in Deerfield, MA is known for its two summits. The North Sugarloaf Mountain summit stands at 791 ft. and the South Sugarloaf Mountain stands at 652 ft. The views of Mt. Sugarloaf can be enjoyed by hike, but there are also roads accessed by car open seasonally that climb parts of the mountain. Pack up your favorite granola bar and be sure to make a stop at the small seasonal observation tower located on the South Sugarloaf summit.
If you are still looking for GREAT entertainment and activities happening in Northampton and Western Mass, be sure to follow Northampton DNA and The Northampton Chamber. We hope to see you out there- from a distance!