50 Winter Suggestions: Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA

Winter Bucket List
Reader Recommendations for Western MA

Elise Gibson of Williamsburg writes, “Pack up your cross-country skis AND your ice skates and head to the DAR State Forest in Goshen. Once you’re there you can judge the conditions and see which activity suits the day. Sometimes we do both! Plus, no fee in the wintertime!” (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Western Massachusetts is rich in opportunities to get out and about with the family… any time of the year!  Winter offers outdoor activities like snowshoeing, sledding, skiing and ice skating.  And local businesses and attractions welcome you indoors to warm up with comforts, culture and entertainment.  Whether you’re visiting the area, or are fortunate enough to live here year round, winter in Western MA is a joyous time of year!

We asked our readers to recommend their favorite attractions, must see or must do family activities during the winter, and we received fifty great tips.  While not an exhaustive list (nor in any order) of the fun adventures families can have in Western MA, it’s a great place to start.  If you have a recommendation to add to this list, please do!  Post your suggestion below.

  1. “We’re looking forward to renting a cabin at Mohawk Trail State Forest (Charlemont, MA).” – Amy Meltzer (Northampton, MA)
  2. “The things I most enjoy… going ice skating on Ashfield Lake and DAR State Forest; going sledding on the Ashfield Golf Course.” – Laura Arruda (Ashfield, MA)
  3. Ice skating at UMass Mullins Center, snow shoeing to the Northfield Mountain Chocolate Pot, and pond hockey and sledding wherever we can!” – Rebecca Chambers (Amherst, MA)
  4. “Fill up a thermos with hot soup and go cross country skiing at Notchview (Windsor, MA) with the family.” – Heather (Northampton, MA)
  5. “My 3 and 5 yr old daughters and I LOVE to warm up inside the Smith College greenhouses! The bulb show in March is refreshing and vibrant. It’s fun to be in the humid greenhouses while its a winter wonderland outside.” – Heather Johnson
  6. “Holyoke has done a great job making over Community Field. They’re supposed to have ice skating and hot chocolate in the winter.” – Christa Figueroa (Holyoke, MA)
  7. “If you aren’t a member of one of the best spots in the Berkshires- you are missing out! We join the Berkshire Museum as a family and Grandma and Grandpa can bring our grandchildren there all year for free. We have 6 grandchildren and they love the aquarium, the digging for bones, natural history, Native American dress-up, vacation plays or feeding times for fish, discounts on all things charged and the gift shop. As another benefit you will be given a list of hundreds of museums across the country to enter free with this membership- such as NY museums, the Boston science center and SO many other great things. Join- support the area and take advantage of SO much.” – Bernice Hagan
  8. “Catching a Springfield Falcons ice hockey game or a Springfield Armor basketball game at the Mass Mutual Center (Springfield, MA)  is always a fun family outing.” – Christine Curtis (South Hadley, MA)
  9. “Always a perfect spot to go sledding behind C.T. Plunkett Elementary School in Adams… hike and explore Greylock Glen while there.” – Kim Robert
  10. “The Springfield Museums always have a family friendly exhibit!” – Ellen Rustico (Goshen, MA)
  11. Monson Library has some great events: a science club on Thursday afternoon once a month; Lego club; book club; and many more.” – Jo Sauriol
  12. “Cross country ski at Stump Sprouts (Hawley, MA). Hot chocolate at Mocha Maya’s (Shelburne Falls, MA). Ice skate or broom hockey! Bake a batch of cowboy cookies and cozy down for an indoor snow day with a good book or a movie. Invite friends for pancakes on Sunday. Snowshoe the neighborhood on a snow day. All fun things we do in winter!” –Dory Pelletier (Belchertown, MA)
  13. “The banks of the Westfield River when the ice begins to break up. It’s so awesome to see the different kinds of ice layered in massive chunks stranded on the banks.” Deanna Scarfe (West Chesterfield, MA)
  14. “The Cyr Skating Arena (Springfield, MA) is one of my families favorite places to go in the winter. They have ice skating sessions open to the public and very affordable. And you can bring your own skates or rent some there. It is located in Forest Park in Springfield, the same place as Bright Nights.” – Heather Houghton-Smith (East Longmeadow, MA)
  15. “Love to snowshoe at Northfield Mountain.” – Bonnie beth Pierce (Greenfield, MA)
  16. “Visit the Windsor Library – there are always new books. I can’t keep up with the Librarian’s wonderful choices!” – Valerie Kohn (Windsor, MA)
  17. “There are so many great winter activities in Western MA to choose from! Here a few of my favorites: Indoor: escaping to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory (South Deerfield, MA) and sampling first run of the year maple syrup at a sugar shack. Outdoor: hiking at Mount Tom State Reservation (Holyoke, MA) or cross-country skiing a trail in the woods.” – Susan VanPelt (Holyoke, MA)
  18. “I love to visit the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls. Here you can learn about the Connecticut River Watershed’s rich natural, cultural and industrial history.” – Sylvia Snape (Plainfield, MA)
  19. “Find any snowmobile trail and follow it (Regardless of whether or not you have a snowmobile)!” – Miranda Edison (Worthington, MA)
  20. “Go see a frozen waterfall. Check out your favorite summer spot and see all the cool ice formations.” – Maxine Oland (Belchertown, MA)
  21. “Walking from our house (downtown Northampton) to the Smith College greenhouses and then going to share a pot of tea at a coffee shop.” – Lisa Andrews (Northampton, MA)
  22. “A trip to Yankee Candle (South Deerfield, MA) never gets old, especially for young kids. We go about once a month in the winter. We walk around the whole place (great for tiring out toddlers), smell candles, and visit Santa’s workshop. In Santa’s workshop they have a train table for kids to play at and it’s always a big hit with our two little ones.” – Kristen Estelle (Goshen, MA)
  23. “Come shopping in Shelburne Falls. Holiday lights strung across Bridge street. Galleries with local crafts. Walk along the Bridge of Flowers. Have lunch or dinner in one of the fine restaurants.” – Karen Powers
  24. Sledding at the Worthington Golf Club hill — and after that if you’re still ready for more winter fun — across the street is ice skating on the pond – maybe a pick up ice hockey game for little ones … Being a thermos of hot cocoa to keep toasty!” – Amy Kane Coyne (Hinsdale MA) 
  25. “We like to cross country ski at Notchview in Windsor, MA. It is a great family activity and good for working off those unwanted Holiday pounds!” – Tracy Griffith (Cummington, MA)
  26. “We love to go to MASS MoCA (North Adams), especially with our two sons. You can always count on seeing at least one thing that is 1) beautiful, 2) thought-provoking, 3) fascinating, 4) inspiring, 5) hysterically funny, and 6) gross. The sixth is always the boys’ favorite.” – Michelle Koelle (Windsor, MA)
  27. “We love cross-country skiing at Stump Sprouts in West Hawley or just going for a local walk in the woods with the dogs.” – Jane Riley (Williamsburg, MA)
  28. “Walk the Chesterfield Gorge; walk from your home to the next town or two; ski on a full-moon.” – Leslie Charles (Chesterfield, MA)
  29. Berkshire East ski area in Charlamont MA has great deals for families and young ones, very safe and fun, with many levels of skiing available. Ski programs from Deerfield, Williamsburg, the Center School and lots of others have great winter sessions there! Night skiing, almost never a line, fun and affordable!” – Mieke Geffen (Shelburne, MA)
  30. “Attending a UMASS hockey or basketball game (Amherst, MA) is cheap and fun! Also- stopping by the Yankee Candle down the street (South Deerfield, MA) is always a good time with PLENTY to do, see and buy!” – Heidi N. (Duxbury, MA)
  31. “Snowshoeing anywhere in the Hilltowns! The beauty of the woods in the winter is something everyone should experience!” – Steve Nartowicz
  32. “Most definitely Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory(South Deerfield, MA), ESPECIALLY in the winter. The warm, tropical, climate and atmosphere will make you feel oh-so-much better on cold winter days. It’s like a butterfly fairy-land, complete with quail running around underfoot, reptiles to gawk and wonder at, and incredible vegetation to admire.” – Jennifer Page (Amherst, MA)
  33. “A tranquil, fine for beginners and old-hat’s alike, and free family snowshoe trek is at Savoy Mountain State Forest (Florida, MA). It is really lovely.” – Carrie Healy (Shelburne, MA)
  34. “If anyone from out of town visits us from February through April, a trip to a local Sugar Shack for Sunday brunch is a must! Other winter fun time staples OHITH (out here in the hills) is anything played in the snow and extra sets of snow pants, boots, hats, and mittens are an absolute necessity.” – Kara Kitchen (Plainfield, MA)
  35. “Cross-country ski at Notchview in Windsor, go sledding at JFK Middle School (Northampton, MA), and in late winter, have breakfast at a maple sugar shack in the hilltowns.” – Mimi Kaplan
  36. “We head out for sledding at Hospital Hill in Northampton. We also can’t wait to check out Popcorn Noir in Easthampton this year. I have heard it is excellent food and the movies are free with membership.” – Jaimee (Westampton, MA)
  37. Look Park (Florence, MA) in a definate stop in the winter. I also love lunch at the Old Creamery with friends. They make a fantastic Mac and Cheese. Also, you can pick up stuff for a picnic and sit buy the river on a nice day and just listen. I do this often myself when I get to the hilltowns.” – Catherine Salisbury (Plainville, MA)
  38. “Visit the Holyoke Children’s Museum on those days when it is too cold to play outside!” – Shannon Dillard (Holyoke MA)
  39. “I have 4 must do activities. 1.) Pot Hole Pictures in the Shelburne Town Hall (Loony Tunes air for a Friday and Saturday night during the winter). 2.) Shelburne Falls Bowling Alley, candle stick pins, and you can bring your own pizza. 3.) Northfield Mountain Cross Country Ski Area, rental equipment available and lessons, it is awesome. 4. Greenfield Ice Rink (Collins-Moylan Skating Arena), public skate, it is a must that my kids learn to skate, that’s what makes us New Englanders!” – Emily S. (Shelburne, MA)
  40. “Make a batch of Hot Cocoa to go, pack some snacks & sleds and head to the closest hill with a group of friends for a sledding party!” – Susan Clark
  41. “A family could visit Windy Hill Farm Sugar House, Sam Hill Road in Worthington. Go sledding at Look Park in Florence, or at Hospital Hill in Northampton.” – Mindy Kelly
  42. “Pack up your cross-country skis AND your ice skates and head to the DAR State Forest in Goshen. Once you’re there you can judge the conditions and see which activity suits the day. Sometimes we do both! Plus, no fee in the wintertime!” – Elise Gibson (Williamsburg, MA)
  43. “I would recommend stargazing together on a blanket, or a trampoline in a field or fairground. Or, a snowshoe hike from one friend’s to another with a hearty sup to follow. But, if it has to be an official kind of place – I would recommend a family trip to The Shelburne Falls Art Garden… Make Art together! Or, Stump Sprouts Ski Touring Center in Hawley! Suzanne and Lloyd are salt-of-the-earth and stellar folk.” – Lorena Loubsky
  44. “Live in Goshen MA: check out our library, all welcome; visit DAR State Forest for trails and roads to explore, snowshoe and cross-country ski; everyone who can walk can snowshoe! Make snow cream: mix 5-6 c. fresh fluffy snow with cream and maple syrup, add vanilla, stir well–and enjoy!! Enjoy what only winter can offer, put a smile on your face, and spring will come sooner.” – Alison Bowen (Goshen, MA)
  45. Sledding at Look Park, behind JFK, Hospital Hill, or on the dike off Pomeroy Terrace!” – Karin Perlman (Northampton, MA)
  46. “If you have dogs, or just like them, walking around the unofficial “dog park” in Northampton is great any time of year. Well-trained pooches can go off-leash, and it’s a great way for humans and dogs alike to get out of the house & get some exercise. Enter by the community gardens off Burts Pit Rd & follow the path through the woods.” – Arjuna Greist (Greenfield, MA)
  47. “Our family likes to go and see the flowers at Smith College botanical gardens.” Helene Leue (Ashfield, MA)
  48. Meltdown Family Music and Book Bash (Northampton, MA)! Multiple stages of bands, authors, puppet shows, plus a circus, bounce house and so much more. Best of all: FREE admission (3/30/13)!” – Mark Lattanzi
  49. “Saturday varsity hockey games at Amherst College. Free, fast, fun entertainment. Start at 3 pm. End in time for dinner and bedtime.” – Dan Kirsch
  50. “Hearty breakfast at Elmer’s (Ashfield, MA) followed by a stroll through Three Sisters Sanctuary (Goshen, MA). Then head to the Old Creamery (Cummington, MA) to warm up with a delicious mug of French hot cocoa.” – Sienna Wildfield (West Chesterfield, MA)

1 Comment

  1. Brenda Curtis said,

    February 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Commenting on #19
    Not all snowmobile trails are open to all kinds of activities! Just an FYI. Being a land owner with a trail, I can tell you mine is ONLY open for snowmobiles. I wish folks would not recommend this as an option.
    Brenda in Chesterfield


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: