Things to Do in Western Massachusetts—A Perfect Day Trip + Options

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Looking for the top things to do in western Massachusetts? You’re in the right place!

Western Massachusetts often gets the cold shoulder from tourists. The eastern part of the state has so many amazing areas like Boston, the Cape, Salem, and many of the quaint and beautiful sea towns like Gloucester and Rockport.

The western part of the state is quite beautiful, too, and worth visiting. I lived there for almost ten years, between college at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and then in a town near Springfield, MA.

I enjoyed my experience there but didn’t appreciate how incredible this area was at the time. There are so many fun things to do and see in Western Massachusetts, and I really enjoy going back to visit!

I recently got to the area to see some friends, and we went on a really fun day trip! So, I wanted to write this up to share our experience and recommendations. Don’t miss these fun things to do in Western Massachusetts.

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Top Things to Do in Western Massachusetts

If you’re looking for a quick list of the top things to do in Western Massachusetts, here are five that consistently rank with tourists that I can personally recommend.

In this post, I’ll suggest a great day packed full of some of the quaint and unique things to do in Western Mass. I’ll also include a list of other fun things so you can swap out based on your interests.

One Day in Western Massachusetts Itinerary

If you only have one day to explore Western Mass, you can see an assortment of fun and interesting things in the area that make it unique and special. You may just fall in love!

I have explored many areas of this state over the years and have done several day trips over the past few years when visiting friends. This itinerary was from my last trip there, and I loved every minute of it. Here is what we did:

  1. Shopped and had breakfast at Atkins Farm.
  2. Visited the massive and fun Yankee Candle Shop.
  3. Enjoyed the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens.
  4. Explored historic Shelburne.

Some of these activities were new to me, and I haven’t seen them included in the top things to do in the area. If you enjoy stepping a little off the beaten path, this may be a great itinerary for you!

1. Atkins Farms Country Market

Yes, my friend did bring me to a grocery store—but not any old store. This is associated with an actual farm, and it’s a country-style farm store with lots of local goodness.

And Atkins Farms is a small business and locally owned, in case you want to support it.

There’s everything you’d expect in a grocery store, and most of the items are made locally.

In addition to the produce, deli counter, meat section, and typical fare, you can get jams from Stonewall Kitchen, Atkins Farms products, country staples, and more. If you’re looking for a quaint gift for a friend, it’s a nice spot to try.

They also have a bakery with great muffins, scones, and killer cider donuts. And there’s some great coffee, flavored and locally roasted. Yum.

It’s a yummy spot for a quick breakfast. There are tables where you can sit and enjoy your meal.

Atkins Farms Country Market is located at 1150 West St, Amherst, MA 01002. It’s open daily from 7 to 7.

2. Yankee Candle

I’m dating myself, but when I was in college, Yankee Candle was a country store with one big room. Now, it’s a mega-polis of candle goodness. I’m still in awe!

Yankee Candle is simply huge, and it’s so impressive. It’s almost like the Disney of candles! You can find almost any scent you can imagine in a wide array of options, from various candle sizes and shapes to scented melting tarts, diffusers, and more.

Whoever is responsible for the layout of this shop is an artist. They masterfully display candles, gift items, and more in such a way that it’s simply stunning. Whether you want to buy or not, you’ll want to take some time to wander.

Wander through the Christmas village (all year round!) and check out Santa’s toy factory with the elves hard at work. It’s sure to be a place kids will love, and even the adult kind!

Yankee Candle is located on 16 Yankee Candle Way, South Deerfield, MA 01373. It’s open daily from 10 to 6.

3. Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens

What a delightful surprise this place was! Visitors enter the gift shop with everything butterflies. Purchase a ticket and make your way to the conservatory.

First, you’ll find a room full of interesting critters, from lizards to beetles. It’s fun walking around and trying to find them in their little habitats! Some are quite crafty at hiding.

Then, you’ll enter the steamy and tropical conservatory, which houses close to 4,000 butterflies. Some are native to the area, and some are from tropical areas.

You’ll find a beautiful garden that delights visitors and the butterflies and a pond with a small waterfall with Japanese koi fish. It’s almost like you stepped into a different world and can explore the beauty while relaxing as butterflies dreamily float around you.

If you go during the late spring, summer, and early fall, you can also enjoy the beautiful outdoor garden.

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens is located at 281 Greenfield Rd, South Deerfield, MA 01373. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 to 5, and costs $16 for adults.

4. Shelburne Falls

Shelburne, including Shelburne Falls, is one of those small Western Mass towns that really showcases the historic charm of this area. People are friendly and helpful.

The center of town is really a main street with some smaller roads off of it. You’ll find cute, small, independently-owned shops and restaurants.

In all my years of living in Western Mass, I never visited Shelburne. I’m happy to say that I’m glad I finally did!

There are some great reasons to visit Shelburne, Ma. We spent a few hours exploring this quaint small town and taking in what it had to offer.

It was very early spring when we went, so we didn’t get the full benefit of the flowers and gardens. It was still lovely, and you’ll enjoy it even more if you go a little later in the spring.

The Shelburne center is located here on a map.

Bridge of Flowers

This seasonal footbridge was built in 1908 as a trolley bridge by the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway to deliver goods to the area. It was built as the Iron Bridge nearby had a weight limit that wouldn’t allow for train cars.

The company went bankrupt in 1927, given the increase in using trucks for freight transportation, and the bridge was closed.

Two years later, a local housewife spearheaded a project with the Shelburne Woman’s Club to create a garden on the bridge. It couldn’t be taken down as it was required for its role as a water main for the area.

It’s lovingly maintained today as a beautiful garden, including the maintenance and restoration that has been required over the years.

The Bridge of Flowers is located here on a map. It’s open annually from April 1st to October 31st. There is no cost to visit, but donations are appreciated. Don’t forget to sign the guest books!

Shelburne Falls and the Shelburne Falls Potholes

A Deerfield River dam created Salmon Falls (now often known as Shelburne Falls). At the base of these falls is one of the largest collections of glacial potholes in the world, including the largest pothole recorded.

There are over 50 glacial potholes making up this natural wonder, formed during an ice age around 14,000 years ago. It’s such an interesting spot to see, showing evidence of the erosive power of water over time.

You can walk along the grass overlooking the area, or you can even climb down to hang out on the potholes. You’ll see people climbing, napping, and picnicking during the summer when the weather is nice.

The Shelburne Falls Potholes are located here on a map. They are free to visit and accessible anytime.

Historic Shelburne Falls

The cute small town center of Shelburne Falls is worth wandering. You’ll find small shops that are locally owned and lots of small-town locals looking to strike up a conversation.

If you’re hungry, there are some good spots here. This town is straight out of an old small-town picture book. The Foxtown Diner is a good choice. It’s a totally old-school small-town diner with the typical far.

We certainly found the local entertainment when we sat down at the counter bar. An older woman who quickly announced that she was a local and regular intruded into our conversation.

Maybe not everyone would be so brazen, but we decided to go with it and had fun anyway.

Salmon Falls Gallery

Don’t miss this incredible artist enclave up the hill just off the center of town. Named for the original name of the falls, this gallery features between 70 and 90 local and regional artists.

There are some artists that maintain permanent exhibits and rotating exhibits that last for a couple of months with two or three artists each. One of my favorites is a permanent fixture, Josh Simpson. I’m a huge fan of glass, and his creations are like nothing I’ve ever seen before!

The building is incredible as well. It’s a historic building that pays homage to the grain company that was operating here. You’ll see an old elevator above the register and train tracks leading to the building.

We got to meet the director and curator, Summer Litchfield. In fact, the gallery wasn’t open yet when we visited, and she opened it for us to explore. She is a fascinating person, passionate about the history and incredible artists showcased.

Salmon Falls Gallery is located at 1 Ashfield St #10, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370.

Shelburne Museum Railroad Station and Freight Shed

Behind the Salmon Falls Gallery is a real treat—the old Shelburne Train Station. It’s now a museum and part of the Shelburne Museum.

The station was built in 1890. Exhibits include the stationmaster’s office, waiting rooms for women and men, maps, and other late 19th-century and early 20th-century items.

The museum was closed when we visited, but you can see two old train cars in stages of renovation. The train was instrumental in building this small town, so seeing the train cars was really interesting.

Other Day Trips in Massachusetts

There are a lot of really fun things to do in Western Mass. If you have more time than a day, consider some of these other great options. Or, feel free to swap some of the places above if these call to you.

  1. Get your nostalgia on at the Norman Rockwell Museum—Who can forget the incredible artwork of times past portrayed in Norman Rockwell’s paintings? This museum is an incredible place to walk around, and the grounds are almost as impressive as his collection of art. My friend took me here on a prior Western Massachusetts day trip. I hadn’t been here for decades, and it has expanded, making it even more impressive than the first time I saw it.
  2. Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame—If you’re a fan of the game, check out this non-profit organization. It got a huge facelift from the days I lived in Western Massachusetts, and it’s a must-see for many who visit the area.
  3. Visit Northampton—This used to be the fun hangout when I was in college, and it still is! It’s a vibrant area with incredible restaurants, galleries, and music venues. Don’t miss the historic Thornes Marketplace, which has been there forever, or the Northampton Brewery! Go during the day or at night, and you’ll have an incredible time.
  4. Wander around Amherst—If Northampton is a little big for your tastes, no worries! Amherst may be more your speed. It’s a bit more quaint but has some great spots to visit. Antonios still has the best slices EVER. Check out the Emily Dickinson Museum, and make sure you buy a ticket in advance.
  5. Wonder at the Amazing World of Dr. Suess Museum—If you’re traveling with kids or even if you’re a kid at heart, you won’t want to skip this museum. It’s dedicated to the works of Theodor Geisel, known to the world as Dr. Suess. It’s a fun, interactive museum designed for play, learning, or even a walk down memory lane.
  6. Scream your heart out at Six Flags New England—If you love a good roller coaster ride or even a Ferris wheel and all the fair food you can imagine, don’t miss this amusement park!

Another great day trip is visiting the historic towns of Lennox and Lee and enjoying live music at the Tanglewood Music Center. You can add on something like visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum as well.

Which of These Top Things to Do in Western Massachusetts Will You Choose?

Hopefully, some or most of these great Western Mass activities have tempted you to plan a trip there. There are so many different itineraries you can create that showcase how amazing this area is.

The towns in Western Massachusetts all have a different feel to them, but they are consistently charming. See some of the top Western Mass attractions, then step a little off the tourist path to see what the region is really about.

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