Too often, small town bucolic Hadley gets confused for what’s on Route 9.
Yes, the congested commercial stretch is the town’s main artery, but not its heart. There’s a lot more going on in Hadley than waiting to get over the Coolidge Bridge at rush hour.
Hadley is an agricultural powerhouse featuring some of the more fertile earth around. The area is known internationally for its “grass,” aka asparagus. And while other communities in California and Michigan might claim their grass the tops, people with savvy taste buds know Hadley is The Grass Capital. No where else can you find such tender, sweet, brushy green stalks.
But, there’s more!
•Esselon Maple Lattes: It’s almost fall and they’re delicious.
•Donut Man: The best little mom and pop donut shop north of the tofu curtain.
•Mi Tierra: We love Mexican food, and Mi Tierra’s authentic cuisine is the stuff banquet dreams are made of.
• Barstow’s Longview Farm: We’ve highlighted Longview Farm before, but it’s worth giving them another nod here. The farm has been in the Barstow family for six generations and they’ve become a model of modern sustainable farming, with automated robotic milkers and a 600,000-gallon anaerobic digester that turns waste into electricity and thermal energy, not to mention compost. Oh, did I mention there’s ice cream?
Skinner State Park
The park preserves over 400 acres at the southern end of the Holyoke Range. Hikers undertaking the climb are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Valley from the Mount Holyoke Summit House. There’s even some good climbing there for those that know where to look.
Rocky Hill Road
The only option for locals who want to get down Route 9 between the hours of 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. without actually having to drive on Route 9.
This place is your inner child’s dream come true. There’s always something delightfully nerdy happening here, whether it’s Saturday morning cartoons and sugary cereal buffets, Star Wars trivia night. It’s a fun place to stop in and just play some vintage arcade games, too. This place takes bar food to the next level (see what I did there?). Check it out and see how many kimchi pups you can fit in your face. Drink recommendation: Ocarina of Thyme.
Route 9 stands in stark contrast to the rest of Hadley with its big box stores and chain restaurants. But — wow! — is it ever convenient. The strip boasts multiple grocery stores, department stores, restaurants, hotels, auto service providers, and a mall. If you need or want anything you can probably get it on Route 9 in Hadley. The town’s leaders have done a great job of keeping development to that one road and allowing the rest of Hadley to remain agriculturally free and gorgeous.