Off the Mat: Autumn Autonomy

Autumn Autonomy

“Safety is what we want for those we love. Autonomy is what we want for ourselves.”   – Atul Gawande

My childhood yard held ample trees: the willow planted in the wet culvert that didn’t grow gigantic like we’d hoped. The huge blue evergreen. The fragile mimosa we were chastised for climbing. The red maple I practically lived in the summer I turned eight. Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Everything’s Coming up Apples!

Apple Season in New England

There are so many ways in cooking and baking with apples. You can make pies, jellies, cakes, donuts, apple cider and even use them in savory treats.

It’s September in New England and almost autumn which means one of many things, it’s apple season time! For many of us in New England, once we start to see those “pick your own apple” signs, it means a new season of change is coming. In fact, September 22 is the official Autumnal equinox. The full moon this month is so close to the Autumnal equinox that is actually called the Harvest Moon. The Harvest moon gives so much light that it’s said that farmers coined the term because so much extra light was given during this time that farmers had more hours in their day to harvest crops.

When I was a kid growing up in the South, I was one of those people who dreamed of autumn in New England. Any time, I would see a painting or a photograph, it seemed all so dreamy to me… and now here I am living in small town New England with my wonderful six year old!  Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn Bucket List for Western MA

Autumn Bucket List for Western MA

30 Autumn Suggestions: Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA

Autumn Bucket List
Reader Recommendations for Western MA

“The Ashfield Fall Festival is one of the most memorable small town events in the Pioneer Valley. Arrive early and have pancakes and strong coffee at Elmer’s, then step out and enjoy all that the town has to offer.” – Ken Johnston (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Western Massachusetts is a glorious region to explore with family and friends in the fall as the leaves start to change and drop, and harvest festivals and seasonal traditions happen each weekend. Whether you’re visiting the area, or are fortunate enough to live here year round, Western MA in the fall is one of the most beautiful places to be! We asked our readers to recommend their favorite attractions, must see or must do family activities during the fall, and we received thirty 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. “One of my favorite fall destinations in Western MA is the Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival in October. Lots of things to see and do for both adults and kids…food, crafts, games, white elephant and book sales…not to mention the gardens themselves! Very affordable too!” – Rosy Crittendon (Otis, MA)
  2. “Go to Atkins Farms (Amherst) and get fresh hot apple cider and a bag of cider donuts. Eat a few donuts while sipping your hot cider, then hike to the top of Skinner Mountain and enjoy the rest of the bag as your reward.” – Shannon Dillard (Holyoke, MA)
  3. “We love the Berkshire Coaching Weekend. It is held every other year over Columbus Day weekend, falling on the even years. They have carriage drives to the Norman Rockwell Museum, The Mount, and Shakespeare & Co. It is free to go and watch them arrive or depart. Then you can walk among the carriages and ask questions. It is quite spectacular!” – Gretchen Fairfield (Lenox Dale, MA)
  4. “The Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield) is a great rainy-day trip for the family and kids. Head to Coldstone Creamery in the same complex for a cool treat.” – Mary Rarogiewicz (Springfield, MA)
  5. Franklin County Pumpkinfest!” – Marya LaRoche (Cheshire, MA) – (The Great Falls Festival – formerly known as Pumpkinfest)
  6. “My favorite family autumn attraction is to visit Outlook Farm on Rte. 66 in Westhampton! They offer apple picking, hay rides with horses, BBQ, ice cream, cider, pumpkins and even live music! They sell their own fruits and vegetables, and offer a wide selection of pork products. Their pulled pork, bacon, ham and sausage are outta this world! It really is a fun-filled day my family and I have enjoyed for years.” -Risa Mantino (Lunenburg, MA)
  7. Lakeview Orchards in Lanesboro.  Apple picking, hayrides, and warm apple cider donuts. Along with great views.” – Kenna Major (Adams, MA)
  8. “Apple picking at Pine Hill Orchards (Colrain), then baking pies with the kids.” – Victoria Lenois (Colrain, MA)
  9. “Definitely the Big E (West Springfield)!! Best fair of all time. Enjoy a main baked potato followed by a cup of hot apple cider. I would also recommend going to pick some pumpkins and enjoy some cider donuts at Atkins Farms (Amherst).” – Kristen Frodema
  10. “Okay, fall time is to have fun, so Mike’s Corn Maze first in Sunderland, then off to Long Hollow Bison Farm in Hadley. How about dinner at the Goten of Japan (Sunderland) where they cook the food in front of you?” – Pamela Brown
  11. “Get a lunch to go from Tail Gate in South Hadley and bring with you to eat after a hike at MT. Tom Reservation. Or go to Skinner Mountain, take a look at the scenery, and eat your lunch on the rocks on top of the mountain and take in the view. Absolutely amazing. End your day by going to Atkins Farms (Amherst) for cider doughnuts and cider.” – Megan Brunelle (Holyoke, MA)
  12. “Leaf peeping as we ride to Hilltop Orchard (Richmond) to go apple picking, hayride, cider donuts and apple cider. Mom and Dad get a bottle of wine to take home for the holidays.” – Lorna (Wilbraham, MA)
  13. “Taking a leaf-peeping drive through The Quabbin…” –  Jennifer Meighan (Belchertown, MA)
  14. “I recommend taking a ride to South Deerfield to Yankee Candle and then go down the road to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens. Not only will you be visiting two amazing places, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the breathtaking foliage!!!” – Sue Messier
  15. “I enjoy taking my family to Whitney’s Farm pumpkin patch (Cheshire)! They have an amazing assortment of fall activities including haunted hay maze, pony rides, giant slide and of course pumpkin picking! My kids favorite time of year!” – Jennifer Carchedi (Pittsfield, MA) Read the rest of this entry »

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