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Best things to do in Amherst, Massachusetts | LookupTrips

by Rita Oliver
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Things to do in Amherst

Amherst | Photo Credit – Brian Lauer

Amherst was home to the prolific American writer, Emily Dickinson. This city is cloaked in history, full of many exciting you can visit. It is a gorgeous tourist town, located in close proximity to the Connecticut River Valley of the United States of America. Hampshire County of Amherst attracts students and artists from all over the world. 

This city has a great climate. Moderate temperatures and humid weather make it ideal for a visit any time of the year. Amherst is also home to some of the best educational institutions in the world. You cannot miss the opportunity to explore its many historical sites during your visit to Massachusetts, United States of America. 

Visit the surreal Emily Dickinson Museum

Emily Dickinson Museum | Photo Credit – Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

A trip to Amherst is incomplete without a visit to the Emily Dickinson Museum. She was one of the greatest poets of America and lived in Amherst all her life. The Emily Dickinson Museum consists of two historical houses previously owned by Emily Dickinson’s family. 

Fans of Dickinson and her exquisite writing should definitely visit this place. This was her birthplace, the house where she wrote all her legendary poems in. Today, this museum has become a National Historic Landmark, attracting literature enthusiasts from all across the country. 

The Emily Dickinson Museum is emblematic of nineteenth-century architecture. The buildings of the houses are built in the federal style. Visitors are allowed to enter and explore the premises of the houses at leisure. You can opt for a guided tour of the premises to learn more about the architecture and history of the houses. 

If you want to take it one step further, bring along your friends and opt for a theme tour. Literary seminars and events are also hosted at the Emily Dickinson Museum throughout the year. Interiors of the house can be viewed through a guided tour of the premises as well. 

To visit more such unique historical marvels in the area, please read about the best things to do in Massachusetts.

Biking across the Norwottuck Rail Trail

Norwottuck Rail Trail  | Photo Credit – Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos

Amherst is a spectacular area to explore on a bike. The Norwottuck Trail is especially beautiful, spanning across 11 miles. It will take you from Northhampton to Belcher town within Massachusetts. During the biking trail, you can see many exquisite sights of Amherst.

In addition to the Norwottuck Trail, another pathway, known as the Mass Central Rail Trail, also passes through Amherst. It is perfect for an evening stroll with your friends and family. You will see many sports and fitness enthusiasts biking along the trail. If you enjoy rollerblading, this is the place to be!

You can take a pause from the cycling and stop by the beaver pond. It is located towards the eastern end of the trail, Bird watchers enjoy spotting unique bird species like the great blue heron, woodpeckers, and even ducks.

Visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Eric carle museum | Photo Credit – amy gizienski

If you are traveling to Massachusetts with kids, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is just the place to be. They have an adorable collection of art from picture books and children’s books. This museum is a part of the Museums10, making it one of the most popularly visited museums in Amherst.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is located in close proximity to the Hampshire College of Amherst. Eric Carle and his wife put together this unique museum for children. They wrote and illustrated many books together. Over the years, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has become one of the most prominent museums in the United States of America. 

When at the museum, do not miss a chance to explore their exhibitions. There are three galleries within the museum premises that you must visit. West Gallery of the museum is dedicated to the works of Eric Carle. This museum hosts many annual exhibitions, literary festivals, and award shows. 

Go fishing at the Puffers Pond

Puffer Pond | Photo Credit – DocBrownX

Outdoor excursions make vacations a lot more exciting. Do not miss the chance to visit the Puffers Pond during your stay in Amherst. It is the largest water body in Amherst, Massachusetts. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life and explore the fresh waters of Puffers Pond.

You will see locals and tourists fishing at the Puffers Pond. Bring along your picnic baskets and enjoy a fresh meal at the banks of the pond. It is the perfect place to go swimming after a long day as well. There are hiking trails near the pond for more adventures. 

If you enjoy exploring architectural sites, you might want to stop by the Puffers Dam during your visit to Puffers Pond. It is a water conservation site that is essential for the local community of Amherst. 

Reconnect with nature at the Beneski Museum of Natural History

Things to do in Amherst
Beneski Museum of Natural History | Photo Credit – Richard Haddad

The Beneski Museum of Natural History is also known as the Amherst College Museum of Natural History. Needless to say, it is one of the most important scientific and historical sites of the region, visited by nature enthusiasts from all over the world. 

This museum is part of the Amherst College premises. It consists of three floors that are home to more than 1700 displays of specimens. There are life-sized fossils, skeletons belonging to mammoths, and dinosaurs as well. You must take a tour of the museum to see the footprints of dinosaurs who lived thousands of years ago, right in front of your eyes!

Over the years, the Beneski Museum of Natural History has played a key role in geological and meteorite studies as well. They have brilliantly curated geological objects and meteorites with their team of experts. Some of the specimens on display also include our earliest human ancestors. This is a great place to visit with your children in order to ignite their curiosity and interest in the sciences. 

When in New England, please also read about how to enjoy at New England Aquarium.

Take an educational trip to Amherst College, Massachusetts

Things to do in Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst | Photo Credit – Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

After exploring the natural history of the world at the Beneski Museum of Natural history, you must explore the Amherst College campus. They have been a pioneer of education for the United States of America. Today, they offer unique and essential courses like computer science, anthropology, black studies, neuroscience, architecture, and more. 

In addition to the Beneski Museum of Natural History, the Amherst College premises are home to the Bassett Planetarium and the Mead Art Museum as well. You must shell out a day to tour the entire campus during your stay in Massachusetts. The premises offer a perfect blend of history and nature, ideal for a relaxing tour. 

The Eli Marsh Gallery of Amherst College offers a wide collection of art pieces from all across the world. You can also head to the Russian Center Art Gallery to view fantastic Russian art and history. The college campus is also in close proximity to the Emily Dickinson Museum, what more can you want in one place!

Learn more about Jewish culture at the Yiddish Book Center

Things to do in Amherst
Yiddish Book Center | Photo Credit – Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

Yiddish Book Center is dedicated to preserving and sharing Jewish culture in the United States of America. Books are a window to the world, nothing better than the Yiddish Book Center for book lovers visiting Massachusetts. They have curated a wide collection of essays and books that chronicle the history of Jewish immigrants in America. 

This center is more than what the name suggests. It is not only a book center but also a museum where visitors get the unique opportunity to read as well. Experts will share oral histories detailing the course of Yiddish culture in America. They will also help you pick up books that are in tune with your curiosities and interests. 

If you plan to stay in Massachusetts for long, it would be a good idea to learn the Yiddish language at the Yiddish Book Center. They offer translation workshops, graduate fellowships, and cultural events throughout the year. Plan your visit to the Yiddish Book Center during the Pakn Treger and participate with the local community of Amherst, Massachusetts. 

Visit their official website to know more about their upcoming events.

Explore the scenic landscapes of Mount Holyoke Range State Park

If you are looking for an ideal place to enjoy fresh air, Mount Holyoke Range State Park is perfect for you. This park is home to more than 30 miles of walking and hiking trails in the park. Take a stroll across these gorgeous landscapes with your friends and family.

The Mount Holyoke Range State Park is abundant with wildlife, freshwater streams, and lively flora. Their trail is mountainous and relaxing, perfect for an adrenaline-pumping excursion in Amherst, Massachusetts. You do not have to worry, the park has several restrooms and relaxation areas like the visitor’s center as well. 

Hunting, picnicking, and snowmobiling is other outdoor adventures you can undertake at the Mount Holyoke Range State Park as well. If you enjoy horseriding, head to the stables at the range as well. Bring along your mountain bikes and board games, this state park has something to offer for everyone. 

Visit the sustainable premises of Hampshire College, Amherst

Things to do in Amherst
Hampshire College | Photo Credit – Josh Graciano

Hampshire College belongs to the famous five colleges of Amherst. Like its peers, this campus is historical as well. It spans 800 acres of land, offering courses in several major disciplines. Some of its most famous courses include psychoanalytic studies, queer studies, and game design, among others. 

The campus of Hampshire College is a thing of beauty. It is home to a radio system that is run by the students of the campus. Their entire setup is self-sustainable, operating on fossil fuels. The authorities have taken careful considerations to ensure that the premises remain eco-friendly. 

Visit the Sweetser Park of Amherst

Looking for a romantic getaway in Amherst? Head to the Sweetser Park, previously owned by the famous Dickinson family of Amherst. Originally, Luke Sweetser and his family overlooked the construction and design of the park. As time passed by, the Cook Fountain was added to the park as well. Today, it remains one of the most picturesque places in Amherst, Massachusetts. 

This park is special because of the 50,000 daffodil buds that were planted here. They have been here for more than 250 years, making the whole magical during the spring season. In addition to these daffodils, there are many other iconic shrubs and fruit trees in the park as well. 

Once you have explored Sweetser Park, head to the restaurants that surround the park. Enjoy a refreshing drink by the park and rejuvenate with your friends and family during your stay in Amherst, Massachusetts. 

Visit the Public Library of Amherst 

Things to do in Amherst
Jones Public Library | Photo Credit – Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

The best place to know more about the culture and history of a place is the local library. Amherst has maintained the tradition of providing accessible education to all through its Amherst Public Library. Shell out a day from your routine and grab a book by your favorite corner of this library.

Previously known as the Jones Library of Amherst, it is the center of local culture. It has been here in Amherst for more than a century now. They offer several free programs and workshops like the free language learning seminar and Saturday movie screenings. 

Engage with the local community of Amherst at the Public Library. It is home to thousands of books- ranging from classical literature to contemporary non-fiction collections. Over time they have digitized their resources as well. 

One of the many perks of being a member of the Amherst Public Library is discounted passes to local museums. That’s right, enroll here to get access to exclusively literary and historical seminars of Amherst. 

Visit their website to know more about their membership offers.

Explore modern art at the University Museum of Contemporary Art

Things to do in Amherst
University Museum of Contemporary Art | Photo Credit – Warren LeMay

In our hectic daily lives, we seldom get the opportunity to stay in touch with upcoming art events. University Museum of Contemporary Art takes the burden off us, bringing together a wide and extravagant collection of modern art. They curate local and international art, bridging to you the best of both worlds. 

Many of their pieces are from the 1960s, chronicling the details of our recent past. As of now, they are home to more than 2600 pieces of galactic pieces, curated by their efficient team of experts. 

Address: University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Fine Arts Center, Presidents Dr, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, United States of America

Closes at 4:30 PM

Telephone number: +1 413-545-3670

Learn local history at the Stearns Steeple

Things to do in Amherst
Stearns Steeple | Photo Credit – Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

Amherst College is home to many hidden gems, the Stearns Steeple is one of them. It is a gorgeous piece of architecture from the nineteenth century. The surprising fact is that this old steeple has no church beside it. 

Originally, the sponsors of the Stearns Steeple had ordered the construction of a gothic-style church beside the steeple. The church was dismantled by the people of Amherst, to maintain the secular character of Amherst College, the church was reconstructed as the new Art Museum building, known as the Mead Art Museum.

A Jurrasic excavation as the Hitchcock Ichnological Cabinet

The Hitchcock Ichnological Cabinet is a part of the Beneski Museum of Natural History. It continues to be one of the most influential collections of Jurassic era masterpieces from the United States of America. They have collected a wide assortment of footprints from dinosaurs, crocodilians, arthropods, and early mammals.  

Moreover, the Hitchcock Ichnological Cabinet has a collection that chronicles the pre-historic life of Connecticut Valley. Ichnologists from all around the world visit this place to learn about the behaviors of pre-historic animals. In addition to these animal prints, the museum also has sandstone slabs containing impressions of raindrops, water ripples, and more. 

Please also read about the best things to do in Warwick, New York.

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