The Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council (HCRTC) invited us up to the Hampshire County area of Massachusetts to visit some of the different attractions and we wanted to share our experience so you can “get to know Hampshire County.” HCRTC is a destination marketing partnership of the Amherst Area, Greater Easthampton, and Greater Northampton Chambers of Commerce. One of 16 Regional Tourism Councils in Massachusetts, the HCRTC works in close partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.
Our first stop of the weekend was the Emily Dickinson Museum, located at 280 Main Street, Amherst, Massachusetts, where we took a 45-minute “This Was a Poet” guided tour. The museum is actually Emily’s real childhood home. It has been passed through a few families but eventually was sold to Amherst College and is being fully restored. The tours started approximately every half hour, if you are a little early, one can browse the gift shop and first floor exhibits.
The Emily Dickinson Museum includes The Homestead, where poet Emily Dickinson was born and lived most of her life, and The Evergreens, home of the poet’s brother and his family. The two houses share three acres of the original Dickinson property in the center of Amherst. The Museum is dedicated to educating diverse audiences about the poet’s life, family, creative work, times, and enduring relevance, and to preserving and interpreting the Homestead and The Evergreens as historical resources for public and academic enrichment.
Amherst College is just a short walk from the Emily Dickinson Museum, and the campus is home to two additional world-class museums: The Beneski Museum of Natural History and the Mead Art Museum. The Beneski is one of New England’s largest natural history museums, housing more than 1,700 specimens. The Mead’s newly renovated main gallery and additional installations offer a fresh perspective on the Amherst College art collection spanning 5,000 years.
In addition to the Emily Dickinson Museum, Beneski and Mead, Hampshire County is home to several other world-class museums, making up the Museums10 group. These include: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Yiddish Book Center, Smith College Museum of Art, Hampshire College Art Gallery, University Museum of Contemporary Art, and Historic Deerfield. Collectively these museums hold over 1.3 million objects, host over 500 programs and produce over 100 exhibitions every year – that’s like having the Louvre, the Met and the MFA Boston combined!
After are visit at the museum, out host knew we would need nourishment, so they arranged for us to stopped for drinks at 30Boltwood restaurant within the Lord Jeffery Inn at 30 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA. If your visit is during the warmer time of the year, enjoy your drink and/or meal under the covered porch or on the patio, while enjoying the tranquil views of the lush, maple-lined lawn of Amherst Common.
The historic Lord Jeffery Inn, situated between Amherst Common and the campus of Amherst College, is a treasured landmark hotel since opening in 1926. It has been recognized as a Silver LEED Certified hotel and member of Historic Hotels of America, The Lord Jeffery Inn’s goal is to maintain both its environmental sustainability and historic preservation.
At 30Boltwood not only did we enjoy amazing and well balanced cocktails, but also a delicious cheese and Charcuterie platter. They offer an unparalleled and distinct dining experience with delightful cuisine prepared by Chef Kevin using locally-sourced ingredients.
For dinner we had the pleasure of partaking in the cuisine of Osteria Vespa located at 28 Amity Street, Amherst, MA, just a short stroll directly across Amherst Common from 30Boltwood. Tiring of the Bay Area, Osteria Vespa’s owner Jonathan Welch and his wife adventured back to the quieter lifestyle of New England. Osteria Vespa’s menu takes its inspiration from areas of northern Italy, primarily Tuscany and the Mediterranean region. The pasta is made fresh daily and the sauces and more are made from scratch in-house using high quality ingredients.
A couple after dinner possibilities in downtown Amherst, include catching the latest independent movie at Amherst Cinema. The Cinema is an independent owned, nonprofit arts and education center, presenting over 240 films a year on four screens in more than 20 languages, plus a stunning array of international theater, dance and music performances in high definition.
Or one could visit Amherst Coffee & Whisk(e)y Bar. They serve a complete menu of coffee and espresso drinks alongside a full bar stocked with carefully chosen wines, whiskeys, and spirits that opens every day at 3 p.m. for a late night cocktail.
Our rest was achieved at the recently renovated Courtyard Marriott located at 423 Russell Street in Hadley. Every one of the 96 guestrooms were refurnished to include new luxurious beds and relaxing furniture. Added was a new Bistro offering breakfast and dinner options, as well as beer, wine, cocktails, and Starbucks coffee. Even the Ballroom has a brand new sophisticated look. Additional amenities include indoor pool, fitness center, business library, outdoor fire pit and free fiber optic Wi-Fi.
After a peaceful night of sleep, we satisfied our hunger with brunch at Esselon Café located at 99 Russell Street, Hadley, MA. This independently owned and operated cafe was founded in June 2006 and has grown from an award winning cafe, to a retail and wholesale provider of fresh-roasted artisan coffees, fine teas, and coffee equipment, coffee and accessories. The food was delicious, prepared exceptional well and bountiful. If you are in the area, be sure to stop in and enjoy brunch, but come early and expect a little wait, as it gets busy.
After brunch we drove a few minutes down the road to Northampton to take in the Smith College Spring Bulb Show. This annual tradition is a very popular event, as attested to the fact that parking was limited and the greenhouses were crowded. Or park anywhere downtown and walk up to campus; parking in Northampton is free on Sundays except for the parking garage.
Depending upon your time schedule, here are some other places in Northampton that you may want to visit:
The Academy of Music Theatre located at 274 Main Street.
Pulaski Park, which is adjacent to Academy of Music. It features, in season, a movable café reminiscent of any major city public plaza; a stage for performances, and unique environmental progressive features like a storm-water garden.
Provisions, 30 Crafts Avenue, offering specialty food, craft beer or wine.
Thornes Marketplace, 150 Main Street, a cornerstone of downtown Northampton for over 30 years with over 25 shops and restaurants on four floors.
Silverscape Designs, 1 King Street, located in a 1928 Art Deco bank building featureing jewelry and crafts from some of the finest artisans.
Hampshire County has plenty to offer for either a one day or weekend get away. Just strolling around the picturesque towns on a beautiful day can be relaxing, then finishing off the day with a remarkable meal at one the locate restaurants makes for an enjoyable time. We can hardly wait for late spring or early summer to arrival as we plan on taking another trip there to enjoy the sights we missed and the color of summer.