Break Out of the Amherst Bubble

The temptation for students to stay on or near Amherst’s picturesque campus can be great, especially for first-years who are not yet accustomed to the school and surrounding town. However, the areas surrounding Amherst include many fun destinations that are prime spots for students to explore. Next time you have a free weekend, try going to these places.

Puffer’s Pond
A scenic hangout for students looking to relax and enjoy nature away from campus, Puffer’s Pond offers a picturesque, bucolic setting for swimming, birding, canoeing, picnicking and more. As a part of a conservation area, the pond is also surrounded by trails for those who like walking in the woods. It is beautiful in every season. To find this beautiful location, head north up E. Pleasant Street, past UMass to Sand Hill Rd.

Hampshire Mall
Go to Hampshire Mall to meet your shopping needs. Although not great for clothes shopping, you can find necessities for your dorm and lifestyle at Target, Best Buy, JCPenney, Game Stop, Trader Joe’s and other chain stores that are located in or near the mall. Take Bus 43 from the bus stop in front of Converse)

Atkins Farm
Atkins Farm is a locally-owned and -operated apple orchard and country food market. It’s a must-visit for those looking to stock up their fridge with fresh veggies, cider and (of course) apples! The fresh donuts they sell in their bakery in the fall are also not to be missed. To get there, head over to the corner of Route 116 and Bay Road just south of Amherst. Luckily, Atkins Farm also has a stand at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday on the Town Common for those who are too lazy to make the trek down the road for produce.

The Montague Bookmill
A cozy used bookstore housed in a 19th-century gristmill, the Montague Bookstore is a great place to visit for students who want to spend the afternoon poring over old, well-loved pages of literary favorites. In addition to thousands of half-priced books, the bookstore also offers a collection of cute t-shirts, mugs, bookbags and bumper stickers. Also situated in the Mill is an antique shop, an art studio, the Lady Killigrew Café, the Night Kitchen Restaurant (absurdly good but very expensive) and the Turn it Up! independent music store.

Northampton features a bevy of restaurants, shops and musical venues, and is definitely worth exploring. Try Sylvester’s and Jake’s for breakfast! Other recommended places to eat include: Haymarket Café, Joy Burger, Herrells, Zen, Spoleto and La Fiorentina. For musical acts, go to Pearl Street Nightclub or the Iron Horse Music Hall. Take Bus 43 to get there.