Staycation 2018: Food, fun, hiking and a whole lot of summer fun in the Pioneer Valley

Welcome to summer, the season for much needed respite from the tiresome routines of daily life. Planning an elaborate vacation, however, can be just as stressful as a day on the job. So why not slow your roll and keep it local? Staycations are all the rage and there’s so much to do and see in Western Mass. We’ve pulled together a load of worthy places and events you’ll want to check out on your summer staycation.

Biking

Western Mass is a mecca for bike paths and trails. No matter how many wheels you’re pedaling, there’s more than enough road for you and your crew.

Mountainbiking - downhill - Mountainbike - Dolomites-image | iStockphoto

Mountainbiking

Robinson State Park: Agawam has 25 miles of smooth biking when trekking through the lower Pioneer Valley. 428 North St, Feeding Hills.

The Norwottuck Rail Trail: This trail is eleven miles of pedestrian and family friendly cycling from dawn till dusk. Cross the Connecticut River and take a delightful journey from Northampton to Belchertown. 446 Damon Rd., Northampton.

The Valley Beer Trail: The Valley Beer Trail allows you to cycle your way through Brattleboro and Western Mass, while breaking to sample an assortment of brews. For more information visit: http://www.valleybeertrail.com.

The Canalside Rail Trail: A 3.8-mile family friendly trail that takes you over old railroad beds and past old mills, from Turners Falls to East Deerfield. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls.

The Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway: Ranging 3.7 miles in Springfield, this scenic tour includes the Connecticut River, the Springfield city skyline, and the Memorial Bridge.

 

Hiking

Take a hike. No, really, it’s terrific exercise and a great way to enjoy the natural bounty of Western Mass.

Mahican-Mohawk Trail: From North Adams to Deerfield, this 30-mile, long-distance trail follows the corridor of the historic Native American path. Parts are still under construction, but there’s plenty of hiking to be had.

Mount Sugarloaf – South Deerfield: Known for its picturesque view of the Connecticut River and its observation deck, Mount Sugarloaf is easy to find and fun to hike. 300 Sugarloaf St., South Deerfield.

Mount Tom – Holyoke: Located across the river from Mount Holyoke, Mount Tom’s many trails feature views of the Pioneer Valley, a playground, an observation tower, and more. 125 Reservation Rd., Holyoke.

Mount Holyoke – Hadley: The historic Summit House at Skinner State Park awaits you at the top of Mount Holyoke. Sit, relax, and take in the view. 1500 West St., Amherst.

October Mountain State Forest- Washington, Beckett, Lee: You’ll find trails for every level of hiking experience. Enchanting wildlife in the beautiful Berkshires. 317 Woodland Rd., Lee.

 

Swimming

Chances are you won’t get to the shore as much as you’d like this summer, so cool off in one of these freshwater swimming holes here in the west

The DAR State Forest: The pride of Goshen allows for all manner of fun. You can go swimming and camping and make this a weekend affair with friends or family. 78 Cape St., Goshen.

The Mill River: Behind Smith college in Northampton, this wonderful swimming spot is a beautiful place to cool off and tube down the calm rapids. The Connecticut River Conservancy tests the water weekly, and sometimes it is not safe for swimming. Check here. Results are posted weekly.

Glendale Falls: Nestled in the Berkshires in Middlefield this beautiful waterfall offers secluded refuge on a hot day. Clark Wright Rd., Middlefield.

Chapel Brook Falls: Don’t blink or you’ll blow right by this gorgeous cascade off Rte. 112. The falls glide over a large rock bed and into a picture-perfect pool for a refreshingly chilly dip. Rte. 112, Ashfield.

Puffers Pond: A Five College favorite in Amherst, this is a great place for everyone of any age.

Pick Your Own

Eating the fruits of your labor is a New England rite of passage, and local farms throughout the area are ready to provide you the sweet and tart fillings for your next pie.

Redfire Farm – Granby and Montague: Redfire Farm is a pick your own heaven. Organic strawberries, peas, and herbs ready for summer. 7 Carver St., Granby. 7 Carver St, Granby.

Blue Heaven Blueberry and Raspberry Farm – Middlefield: You supply the labor and they supply the picking buckets and containers. 246 Skyline Trail, Middlefield.

Upinngil Farm – Gill: June is strawberry month and Upinngil Farm has plenty of them–2 -3 acres worth. The picking begins at 8 a.m. every morning. 411 Main Rd., Gil.

Kosinski Farms– Westfield: Eighty years of family owned fields. PYO strawberries, blueberries, and apples (when the time is right). 420 Russellville Rd., Westfield.

 

 

Outdoor picnic spots

There’s nothing like dining in the great outdoors. A breeze and a blanket makes the simplest of meals an occasion to remember.

Lake Onota, Pittsfield: Head west for crystal clear water and peaceful surroundings. Bring your dog for a true family outing. Lakeway Drive, Pittsfield.

Look Park – Florence: Right in the heart of Florence. Get away from the hustle and bustle and dine al fresco, then go check out the adorableness at the zoo. 300 North Main St., Florence.

Sages Ravine –Mount Washington to Sheffield: This is a hidden gem. Share a sandwich to the sound of water rushing through the ravine. Appalachian Trail.

Dunn State Park – Gardner: This spot has over 132 acres of beautiful woods and clearings in which to dine. Lay your blanket waterside at Dunn Pond for a special treat. 289 Pearl St., Gardner.

Bartholomew’s Cobble, Ashley Falls– Sheffield: This beauty boasts 329-acres and breathtaking views. Picnic on Hurlburt’s Hill at an elevation of about 1,000 feet for an unforgettable experience. 105 Weatogue Rd., Sheffield.

 

Camping

Pack up, head for the great outdoors and rough it at one of these fine campsites.

Mt. Greylock Campsite: 15 Scott Rd., Lanesborough.

Beartown State Forest: 69 Blue Hill Rd., Monterey,

Mohawk Trail State Forest: Cold River Rd., Charlemont

White Birch Campground: Whately.

DAR State Forest: 78 Cape St., Goshen.

 

Boating

Boating is more than hopping on a sea worthy vessel and setting sail; it’s rowing, water skiing, kayaking and more. Plan a relaxing day on the water in the Valley this summer at one of these locations.

Oxbow Marina: This popular dock allows access to the Connecticut. North St., (Route 5) Easthampton.

Lake Wyola State Park: Wyola, a Native American word meaning “quiet waters,” is the perfect place to swim, fish, and grill. 94 Lakeview Rd., Shutesbury.

Hampton Ponds State Park.:Spend the day in the lower Pioneer Valley on the water and enjoy a picnic. 1048 North Rd., Westfield.

Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club: PVRC offers sweeping and sculling lessons and recreation for adults and kids. 121 West St., Springfield.

Brunelle’s Marina: No need to play captain on the Lady Bea when she sets sail on the Connecticut River. Just relax and enjoy the ride. Regular runs are scheduled from late May until Columbus Day. 1 Alvord St., South Hadley.

 

Outdoor movies

Cinema Northampton: Every year, Cinema Northampton hosts outdoor movies. You can enjoy free movie screenings in Northampton every month this summer at Maines Field on Riverside Drive. 570 Riverside Dr., Florence.

Mansfield Drive-In Theater: Looking for a nostalgic adventure? Head down to Mansfield to take in a drive-in movie. Drive-ins are rare finds across the Northeast these days, but Mansfield screens double features on a regular basis. 228 Stafford Rd., Mansfield Center, CT.

Chicopee Summer Outdoor Movie Nights: The city of Chicopee is hosting its annual summer outdoor movie nights in July. Expect a free outdoor family friendly movie that everyone can enjoy. Szot Park, 687 Front St., Chicopee.

Northfield Drive-in: This year, the Northfield Drive-in is celebrating its 70th year. Enjoy action-packed adventures in the comfort of your ride. 981 Northfield Rd., Hinsdale, New Hampshire.

Pittsfield Outdoor Movie Nights: There are plenty of outdoor movies to watch in Pittsfield this summer. You can catch features until August. Location TBA.

 

Must-hit food spots

Just because you’re staying close to home doesn’t mean you have to dine at home. Get out and treat yourself and let someone else do the dishes.

Local Burgy: It’s only open during the summer so you’d better hustle for one of the best pulled pork sandwiches around. 93 Main St., Haydenville.

Janine’s Fostee: Dishing up the yum for sixty years, Janine’s offers seafood, salads, wraps and fifty flavors of Gifford’s, Blake’s & Bliss premium ice cream. 149 East St., Ware.

Summer House: This is the place to go if you’re craving a milkshake or a basket of golden fries. 552 College Highway, Southwick.

The Whately Diner: Open 24 hours a day, so whether you’re craving breakfast for dinner or an early start to your day, this is the spot. 372 State Rd., Whately.

The Vermont Country Deli: The perfect road trip destination. Barrels of snacks, mounds of maple, and an unbeatable Green Mountain State vibe! 346 Western Ave., Brattleboro.

 

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

The Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort in Charlemont offers white water rafting on the Deerfield, kayaking, rock climbing, and ziplining. zoaroutdoor.com.

Six Flags has thrill rides galore, but there are also family-friendly amusements. Mingle with Looney Toons characters, catch a magic show, and spend some quality time with the fam. 1623 Main St., Agawam.

Bridge of Flowers in historic Shelburne Falls village boasts hundreds of flowers along the bridge spanning the length of the Deerfield River. In the second half of June, look for mountain bluet, foxglove, honeysuckle, as well as azaleas and Japanese snowball trees. bridgeofflowersmass.org.

Yankee Candle is a must see and it never gets old. Since 1969, they’ve been creating, selling, and helping people fill their homes with the scents they love. The Yankee Candle flagship store opened 14 years later and has become not only a tourist destination but a favorite for locals, as well. 25 Greenfield Rd,, South Deerfield.

Author: Gina Beavers and Isabel Darmon-Weiss

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