Fall in Love With the Pioneer Valley

The Editorial Board offers suggestions on fun fall-themed activities and places to visit in the Pioneer Valley.

With fall just a day away, the Editorial Board is practically bursting in anticipation of fire-red trees and a nippier breeze. The excitement is so great, in fact, that we spent an entire editorial meeting discussing our favorite places to go and things to do this season. We’ve starred with a little asterisk (*) places that are accessible by walking (and often biking) or the PVTA, and we hope that you all get a chance to get off campus this fall and enjoy the crisp air!

Hiking ’n’ the Great Outdoors

Amethyst Brook* is incredibly close to campus, with the Robert Frost trail starting right off the bus stop. Our very own wildlife sanctuary* is even closer, but other popular hiking and walking spots in the area include Mt. Sugarloaf, Mt. Tom, and Puffers Pond,* among many others. Amherst Outing Club conducts many free hiking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, mountain biking and other outdoor activities this season, so be sure to sign up! And the bike path, always classic, is especially beautiful this time of year.

Farms ’n’ Harvests

Don’t forget to take advantage of the many, many farms nearby! Aside from our own Book and Plow, Atkins Farms Country Market*, with its cider donuts and cheesecake stuffed apples, is a certified cultural heritage site in Hampshire County, and New Salem Cider is worth traveling to for their picturesque orchards and lovely cider garden.

Speaking of orchards, Hampshire County has a ton of picking possibilities! For apple picking, be sure to check out Kielbasa Orchards* or Park Hill Orchard. Park Hill also has “Art in the Orchard,” a walking sculpture trail winding through the fruit gardens. Fletcher Farm has a ton of activities in their pumpkin patches, including scavenger hunts and pumpkin picking, and Mike’s Maze has corn mazes, pedal cars, and hay rides.

Fests ’n’ Events

Our very own Fall Fest takes place yearly on campus and features festive snacks alongside such autumnal events as pumpkin carving and (last year, at least) ferris-wheel riding. Belchertown Fair & Parade runs Sept. 23-25, Northampton’s Jazz Festival* starts on September 30 and ends the following day, the North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival (a farm favorite!) runs Oct. 1-2, and the Farmers’ Market* on the town common runs every Saturday morning until 1:30 p.m. until November. Also in town is the Apple Harvest Festival, taking place on Sept. 28.

Cozy Places

As the weather gets chillier, here are a few cozy places to spend an afternoon (or full day!) at. The Montague Bookmill & Cafe has excellent sandwiches, Share coffee, and snug couches overlooking an incredible view — though it is arguable that both the Unnameable Books* in town and Raven Used Books* in Northampton have better used book selections. It has been said that the Pie Bar in Florence has the best (and possibly the most expensive) pie in New England,  and cozy spots abound in the area, from the famous Esselon Cafe* in Hadley to Haymarket Cafe* and Wood Star Cafe* in Northampton to the menagerie of coffee shops and delis in town.

Cooler Desserts

While the temperatures are dropping, it isn’t too late to grab a scoopbite of ice cream, especially as the many ice cream places in the area offer new autumnal flavors.! Grab some fancy grocery items along with the best ice cream in the Valley at Hadley Scoop at the Silos*, though it is a bit of a walk from the rail trail or the nearest bus stop. Or, if you prefer a more difficult commute, you can always go to Flayvors. Both have a chalkboard offering discounts based on your name (a list which changes frequently), and Herrell’s,* in Northampton, will give you a free sundae on your birthday. For those venturing farther away, Mt. Tom’s,* in Easthampton, has a lovely selection of candies as well as some of the best specials in the valley.

Spooky Attractions

As Halloween peeks over the horizon, it's worth checking out Fear on the Farm’s haunted hayrides at McCray’s Farm,  DementedFX’s* haunted house experience in Holyoke, or Salem’s own Ghost Tours and Witch Walks for some extra historical horror. Be sure to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show* at Amherst Cinema on Halloween (and any other horror movies they have – Amherst students have free screenings after 9 p.m.PM). Visit Emily Dickinson’s Grave* (and check out the museum!) right in town or Mary Lyon’s grave* at Mount Holyoke. Make a costume (and if you have an ESA, dress it up!), go trick or treating, carve pumpkins and enjoy Pioneer Valley Fall!

Unsigned editorials represent the views of the majority of the Editorial Board — (assenting: 18; dissenting: 0; abstaining: 0).