Businesses have gradually been opening here in Massachusetts in June and July. You can eat outside on a patio in some restaurants and inside in select ones, do some gift and personal shopping in certain areas, and buy groceries. Let’s be honest Massachusetts has done an amazing job at reducing the spread of covid-19. I want to give a BIG shoutout to my fellow citizens who have taken this seriously and been considerate of the regulations our governor has put in place. We are reaping the rewards of that now. But we must continue to proceed cautiously, which in many ways means to wear a mask and avoid large groups.
So, it’s July, you’re ready to start venturing out again, even if it is just for a weekend somewhere. How do you start your search? Maybe like most people you type “things to do in…….” into the search bar. You might find some informative websites, but you’re also going to find a lot of sites that might not give you the information you want. Conversely, you might base your visit on someone else’s opinions or reviews when you should be making your own. I am here to try to simplify it and give you my take as a bike tour operator on what I feel are noteworthy attractions and activities. This list is not meant to be inclusive of all there is to do, you have to do your due diligence and research as well. However, these can be some good starting points to help plan your visit. You might like these places too!
Western Massachusetts is split into 4 counties; Berkshire country running north-south in the far western part of the state. Hampden county is on the border with Connecticut, Hampshire county is in the middle. And lastly Franklin county is up on the border with Vermont. Today we are starting with Franklin county and some of the treasures that it offers. I even just learned about a place here I have never been to or known about!!
If you do in fact type “things to do in Franklin county Massachusetts”, the first website you’ll see is the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. That is a good place to start, as it lists the business attractions as well as natural landmarks by city in the county. It does not include everything of course, but it is an excellent place to start. Although many large group events are still cancelled at the moment I write this, the chambers homepage still lists a calendar of events. However, you will want to call or check if any specific events are still being held.
Another website of interest is the Mohawk Trail Association website. Although this covers more than just Franklin county, it is artfully designed for ease of use. All of your selections are found up top on the header and are easily accessed and read. This also happens to be the first association website that I joined and advertised with! There are also two places I want to single out as favorites of mine.
Two favorites of mine in particular stand out as worthy of a visit. Both, not surprising enough, are part of my cycling tours. They each offer different and unique points of interest to any visit. First is Historic Deerfield. If you are an armchair historian you will love visiting and touring the historic and recreated homes of Old Deerfield. You can learn about the history between the Pocumtuk native americans and the 17th century settlers to the area. There were also many battles between the two aforementioned groups. One of those being the bloody and horrific battle of 1674 in which several settlers where taken from Deerfield up into Quebec. You can also stay in the quaint and historic Deerfield Inn, right in the center of town while you get into the local vibe.
The other attraction that I recommend was voted “one of the coolest small towns in America”. There was even parts of a film shot in this town. For a small town Americana feel, you must get up to Shelburne Falls. The Bridge of Flowers is an old rail bridge converted into a walking garden tour over the Deerfield River. It is currently closed because of social distancing, but also worth calling to see when it will reopen. Stroll along the sidewalks, visit art and pottery stores, grab a cold beer at Floodwater Brewing and enjoy a day in a beautiful town.
So there you have it, I have listed two websites and two concrete ideas to start your journey to visit Western Massachusetts, and Franklin County in particular. There is much more I can say about the hiking, cycling, historical tours and other outdoor activities as means of exploring and learning about the region. But I feel it best to leave that part up to you to plan your own visit. Or shoot me an email and I will assist you.
I mentioned earlier that I even just learned about something. It’s a short hike to a waterfall called Chapel Brook in the town of Ashfield. I have not been there but it’s on the list. I will probably combine it with a ride to the Three Sisters Sanctuary.
If you are interested in knowing more about the opportunities here, and how to enjoy them on bike, Frontier Cycling Tours is here to make your cycling experience as enjoyable as possible. We craft custom cycling tours throughout this beautiful region for all levels.