As the fall season approaches, our maple lined streets will turn to gold and crimson and the quiet that settles over Amherst during the summer disappears, replaced with the excited sounds of returning students, both old and new. The steady beat of drums and blast of horns will be heard every Saturday, as the UMASS marching band crosses campus in game day preparation. Our fireplaces are regularly warm from continual use, and the library becomes the premium location in town for studying or just curling up in front of the hearth with a book and a cocktail. What is not to love about fall?
Amherst, and Western Massachusetts as a whole is a glorious place to explore during the fall. With festivals, hiking trails and orchards for days, there is something for everyone and one of the most beautiful places to be.
If you are visiting your new student for parent’s weekend, or just planning a fall weekend getaway, we’ve put together some of our favorite activities in the region for you. Have something to add to the list? We want to know your favorite seasonal activity! In the meantime, here’s our top five:
A hike during the fall is a must.
We recommend starting with the Mohawk Trail, which you can pick up right here in Amherst. For a really scenic hike, we think you’d like Mount Sugarloaf, located just 10 minutes away in South Deerfield. You’ll especially love the view from the top – a beautiful panorama of the Connecticut River Valley. After that hike, you’ll want to stop at Atkin’s Farms Country Market. Made to order gourmet sandwiches, homemade fudge, cider doughnuts, and other tasty, one-of-a kind items.
Sip and Savor.
Grab some of your favorite foods, pack a picnic, and head to Hatfield to Black Birch Winery. Take a tour, stop in the tasting room for a full wine tasting, then grab a bottle of your favorite and settle into the patio with your picnic. With abundant Adirondack chairs and cozy sitting areas, you can’t go wrong with the view and atmosphere. They even have live music most weekends. Our current favorite: the 2014 Coret Noir.
Fall is not complete without a quintessential fall activity.
We recommend a trip to Mike’s Maze, in Sunderland, MA. Their corn maze will keep you busy all afternoon – it’s pretty challenging, even for the most clever of individuals. A hayride and cup of apple cider will be your reward if you can make it to the end and solve all the riddles along the way. (Nerves of steel? They even offer a night time version. Who’s afraid of the dark?)
Pumpkin . . . everything.
Go pumpkin picking and find your perfect jack o’lantern worthy gourd. Then reward yourself with a cold Two Roads Roadsmary’s Baby Pumpkin Ale at 30Boltwood. We recommend finding a comfortable spot on our front porch, where you’ll find cushioned lounge furniture and a gas fire pit. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the combination of crisp air and warm sun.
Nothing screams fall in New England like the Big E.
Imagine the most absurd food combinations and you’ll probably find them here. We’ll settle for the Deep-fried Oreos and Maine Baked Potatoes. Live music, handmade goods, livestock, butter carving, and mini pigs that race. You have to go to experience this fair at least once in your life. Be sure to check out the schedule of events, concerts, and vendors.