Summer Suggestions: Things to Do & Places to See in Western MA

Summer Bucket List & Reader Recommendations for Western MA

The Cummington Fair is a gem of an agricultural fair that happens every August in the heart of the Hilltowns. Mark Melhorn, Arjuna Greist and Piet Slaghekke all picked “The Biggest and Best Little Fair in the Country” for our Summer Bucket List! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

With it’s natural beauty, local food, family attractions and community festivals and fairs, Western Massachusetts is a haven for family fun. Whether you’re visiting the area, or are fortunate enough to live here year round, the region in the summer is an engaging place to vacation or staycation! We asked our readers to recommend their favorite attractions, day trips, must see or must do family activities, and we received 75 great tips. While not an exhaustive list (nor in any order) of the fun and adventure 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. “The (free!) spray park at the Beachgrounds Park in South Hadley.” — Sandra Dias (Holyoke, MA)
  2. “We love to go blueberry picking at [Sobieski’s] River Valley Farm in Whately!” — Laura Muller (Amherst, MA)
  3. “I like to pick up sandwiches and Polish treats from BBA Deli Market in South Deerfield, then hike up Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation for a picnic with a view.” — April Genung (Sunderland, MA)
  4. Musante Beach is a relaxing and inexpensive way to spend the afternoons reading, swimming and picnicking.” — Keith Lepine (Northampton, MA)
  5. “I love to take a picnic to Greenfield Energy Park with my daughter and enjoy the music. She loves the music, play structure, and trains. Buckland Recreation also has movies out by the pool at night during the summer. Next best thing to the old drive-ins! (Northfield Drive-In is also a great summer activity….)” — H Loomis
  6. “We love to go to Chapel Brook; a beautiful land near Ashfield protected by the Trustees of the Reservation. On one side of the road there’s is a lovely hike where beginning rock climbers can practice their skills. On the other side of the road is a series of cascading waterfalls, one even safe & gentle enough to slide down (with caution!). The water is deliciously icy-cold even on the warmest of summer days.” — Christy Winslow (Northampton, MA)
  7. Mass MoCA combined with Natural Bridge State Park (North Adams, MA) is always a good day trip. More locally, the Mill River offers countless great spots to bath–many of which are along our excellent bike paths.” — Ruth von Goeler (Northampton, MA)
  8. “Frisbee in Child’s Park in Northampton. This park seems to be the most under utilized resource in the area. This well manicured gem harkens back to another time.” — Glenn Sullivan (Holyoke, MA)
  9. “Walking on the Quabbin Dam (Belchertown, MA). It is a great place to take pictures of the kids.” — Matthew Galman (Shutesbury, MA)
  10. “The Eric Carle Museum (Amherst, MA) is a great place to spend some time.” — Eugenie Wu (Shutesbury, MA)
  11. “Any way you can float down the Deerfield River. It is sheer joy. It’s great 3 seasons, but late spring is very special – beautiful and exciting!” — Laurie Goddard
  12. “The Upper Valley Music Festival in Turners Falls. It’s a noon to midnight event that takes place at multiple venues (including Great Hall at Great Falls Discovery Center) in downtown Turners. Celtic music, singer-songwriters, rock n’ roll, contra dancing, you name it. The days events (including lots of opportunities to dance) are family friendly. And all proceeds benefits the American Cancer Society to boot. Check it out. ” — Chris Scanlon
  13. “Our favorite event is Yankee Doodle Days in Charlemont they have great fireworks and a demo Derby! Favorite everyday activities are the bike trails (i.e. Norwottuck and the Turners Falls one)” — Jen Knight (Bernardston, MA)
  14. “We always make sure to go to the 3 County Fairgrounds (Northampton, MA) to catch a horse show, preferably the sliders – it is truly amazing.” — Heather Polson (Northampton, MA)
  15. “Visit the Peace Pagoda in Leverett.” — Marion Hohn (Amherst, MA)
  16. Conway Station. Hike in and swim in that crystal clear water!” —Marissa Potter (Shelburne Falls, MA)
  17. “We love to go to the Heath Fair! It’s the perfect family day trip. Be sure to watch the herding dogs, eat lots of good food and jump into the cross cut saw competition!!” — Zoe Johnson (Ashfield, MA)
  18. “I second the Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out stage. Also weekends at Camp Norwich (Huntington, MA) for members of the Northampton YMCA.” — Amy Meltzer (Northamtpon, MA)
  19. “Summer isn’t complete without canoeing or kayaking (lots of places, but especially the DAR during blueberry season), blueberry picking at Fox Run, a summer hike at Graves Farms, soft serve from Village Green Greenhouse and Ice Cream (Williamsburg, MA) . . .” — Sara Barry (Haydenville, MA)
  20. “We would go to Puffer’s Pond (Amherst, MA) every day if we could!” — Karen Bayne (Northampton, MA)
  21. “On of our favorite summertime activities is playing Poohsticks on the bridge at the Mill River Recreation Area, and then walking on the trail to the Puffer’s waterfall.” —Melissa Miller (Amherst, MA)
  22. “Swimming at Ashfield Lake and then eating on the deck at the Ashfield Lake House!” — Rona Leventhal
  23. “Hot summer days mean heading to Flayvors of Cook Farm in Hadley for great ice cream and finding a spot to fish on a local river and if it has a rope swing~ bonus!” —Glenda Datsko (Greenfield, MA)
  24. “The Cummington Fair in late August is fun for the whole family.” — Arjuna Greist (Greenfield, MA)  Read the rest of this entry »

Trust In The Trustees. Winter Staycation is Where It’s At!

The Trustees of Reservations Offer Accessible Winter Family Fun for School Vacation

Photo credit: (c) Sienna WildfieldPlanning to staycation during February school vacation week? If so, The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) have you covered with community-based programs and activities for all ages designed to expand your family’s horizons. Whether it’s learning to snowshoe, identifying animal tracks, or making maple sugar, The Trustees have programs to teach you and your kids something new this winter across western MA! Read the rest of this entry »

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for Columbus Day Weekend

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for October 12th-18th, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Bulletin Board Announcements, Featured Community Building Events, Hilltown Family Variety Show and our Autumn Bucket List!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 20 Community Highlights: Barns to Trolleys. Canoeing to Storytelling., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: October 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

October 12th-18th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


PollinatorsLocal HistoryIndustryAnimal StudiesStorytellingCanoeingFoodMedieval HistoryCultureScience

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. 10 New Picture Books for Halloween
  2. Our Daughters: 5 Ways To Talk With Your Daughter About Technology
  3. Q&A: Home Remedies for Colds and Flu
  4. Lloyd Miller Guest DJ Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)
  5. Family-Friendly Farms for Pumpkin Pickin’ in Western MA

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Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for October 5th & 6th, 2013

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for October 5th-11th, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Bulletin Board Announcements, Featured Community Building Events, Hilltown Family Variety Show and our Autumn Bucket List!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 33 Community Highlights: River Cleanups to Storytelling. Russian Food to Apple History., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: October 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

October 5th-11th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Natural HistoryIndustryEnergyCommunity ServiceLiteracy/StorytellingFire SafetyLocal HistoryCultural StudiesFood HistoryScienceParent Workshops

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. HFVS Library Cat Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  2. Q&A: What Are the Going Rates For a Mother’s Helper or Babysitter?
  3. 5 Ways to Enjoy Shorter Days with Less Light
  4. The Holyoke History Walk: A Virtual Tour of the City
  5. Let’s Play: Alternate Identities

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Lui Collins' Upside Up Music 

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for September 28th & 29th, 2013

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for September 28th-October 4th, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Bulletin Board Announcements, Featured Community Building Events, Hilltown Family Variety Show and our Autumn Bucket List!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 28 Community Highlights: Hoosac Tunnel to Comet Ison. Community Meals to Local Gardens., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: September 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

September 28th-October 4th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Local HistoryClimate ChangeLiteracyScienceIndustryAstronomyMusic & ArtGardeningAnimal StudiesCommunity MealsParent Workshop

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Two Fall Soups for Chilly Autumn Nights
  2. Bring a StoryWalk to Your Neighborhood
  3. 8 Ways to Make Math Fun at Home
  4. 15 Recommended Activities Grandparents Can Do With Their Grandkids in Western MA
  5. HFVS Lucky Diaz Guest DJ Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

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Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA
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Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for September 21st & 22nd, 2013

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for September 21st-27th, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Bulletin Board Announcements, Featured Community Building Events, Hilltown Family Variety Show and our Autumn Bucket List!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 22 Community Highlights: Chinese Moon Festival to Tibetan Sand Mandalas. Arugula to Grapes., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: September 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

September 21st-28th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


History & Local CulturePollinatorsLanguage ArtsPlant & Nature StudiesHistoryAstronomyCultural StudiesLocal Food

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. HFVS Autumn Equinox Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)
  2. Local Hilltown History Website is Now “Live”
  3. Citizen Scientists Track Owls in Massachusetts
  4. Tips for a New School Year
  5. Q&A: Where to Pick Local Pears?

RECAP MAP SPONSORS

Lui Collins' Upside Up Music Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA
Cup & Top in Florence, MA

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for September 14th & 15th, 2013

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for September 14th-20th, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Bulletin Board Announcements, Featured Community Building Events, Hilltown Family Variety Show and our Autumn Bucket List!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 22 Community Highlights: Coffee to Silk. Watercycles to Watersheds., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: September 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

September 14th-20th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Food HistoryOrnithologyHabitat & EcologyLiteracyHistoryMusic Studies ♦  Film/Tech/TeensGrandparentsSTEM

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. 7 Things to Tell the Teacher About Your Child
  2. Recommend an Educational Podcast or Website for Families
  3. Q&A: Where’s Your Favorite Apple Orchard in Western MA?
  4. Featured Video: Reflections of Motherhood
  5.  Music Worth Adding to Your iTunes Children’s Mix

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Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA Cup & Top in Florence, MA Lui Collins' Upside Up Music

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for September 7th & 8th, 2013

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for September 7th-13th, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Family Variety Show and our Autumn Bucket List!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 20 Community Highlights: Monarchs to Macroinvertebrates. 19th-Century Chores to Food Traditions., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: September 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

September 7th-13th- 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Entomology ♦  Transportation History ♦  Archeology ♦  Culinary Arts & Food History ♦  Fashion ♦  Storytelling ♦  Immigration Studies ♦  Cultural Celebrations ♦  Ornithology ♦  Colonial History

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. 5 Solutions to Packing a Waste-Free Lunch
  2. 6 Back-to-School Lunch Ideas
  3. How to Get Kids to Practice Their Musical Instruments
  4. Q&A: Temper Tantrums… What to Do?
  5. Western MA Folk Remedies for Wellness

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Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA Cup & Top in Florence, MA

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for Labor Day Weekend, 2013

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for August 31st-September 6th, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Bulletin Board Announcements, Hilltown Family Variety Show: Back to School Episode and our Bucket List of Summer Activities!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 20 Community Highlights: West African Drumming to Greek Dancing. Stockbridge Mohicans to Victorian Technology., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: September 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

August 31st-September 6th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Community ServiceCultureScience & MathHistoryAgricultural Fairs

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Q&A: Organic PYO Apples in Western MA
  2. Suggestions & Recommendations for Back-to-School
  3. 16 Picture Books That Celebrate Apples!
  4. Language Play: 5 Useful Apps That Help to Promote Speech & Language Skills
  5. Let’s Play: Collages

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Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA Cup & Top in Florence, MA

Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 24th & 25th, 2013

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for August 24th-30th, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Upcoming Service Learning Event, Agricultural Fairs, Bulletin Board, Hilltown Family Variety Show and our Bucket List of Summer Activities!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 22 Community Highlights: Tractors to Airplanes. Reggae to Gershwin., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: August 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

August 24th-30th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Engines & Aircraft Nature StudiesHikesLocal Food & Community BreakfastMusic StudiesGeology & PaleontologyChildren’s Literature

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. 10 Tips for Dad to Help Ease the Back-to-School Transition
  2. Language Play: 6 Pre-Reading Activities
  3. HFVS Back to School Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  4. 11 Suggestions on How Western MA Families Can Make Wise Back-to-School Purchases
  5. Q&A: Hair Cuts in Western MA

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22 Community Highlights: Tractors to Airplanes. Reggae to Gershwin.

Antique Tractors at the Cummington Fair

Tractors to Airplanes. Tomato Fest to Breakfast. Reggae to Gershwin…

These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlights this week are all about transportation and engines! The first annual Great New England Wings and Wheels show takes place at Westover Metropolitan Airport this weekend and North Adams’ Motorama event is back for its third year on Sunday! And the Cummington Fair this weekend features small engines too, including an antique engines & tractor show.  Check out our Engines & Aircraft highlights for all the details!


Engines & Aircraft Nature StudiesHikesLocal Food & Community BreakfastMusic StudiesGeology & PaleontologyChildren’s Literature


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Recap Map: Western MA Weekend Summary & Family Guide for August 17th & 18th, 2013

Here’s a recap of news and information posted on Hilltown Families this past week, along with a map for finding out what’s happening this weekend and next week throughout Western MA!

MAP

Peruse our list of Suggested Events for August 17th-23rd, 2013 for a comprehensive list of events happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, including: Upcoming Service Learning Event, Mark Your Calendars, Bulletin Board, Hilltown Family Variety Show and our Bucket List of Summer Activities!

Also check our weekly column, Learn Local. Play Local. for 25 Community Highlights: Agricultural Fairs to Eating Local. Textiles to Shape-Note Singing., and our column, Berkshire Family Fun: August 2013, for a list of premier educational and cultural highlights in Berkshire County for families!

August 17th-23rd, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday


Agricultural Fairs  ♦  Geology  ♦  Insects & ReptilesHistoryCultureMusicArtisanLocal Food

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Visit the Hilltown Families Facebook page and Twitter stream for more news and information!

FIVE FROM THE ARCHIVES

  1. Sweeten Up Your Summer With Local Fruit
  2. HFVS Ice Cream & Lemonade Stands Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)
  3. 18 Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Western MA
  4. Massachusetts Farmers’ Market Week
  5.  Q&A: Ear Piercing

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Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA Cup & Top in Florence, MA

25 Community Highlights: Agricultural Fairs to Eating Local. Textiles to Shape-Note Singing.

Old Sturbridge Village is offering free admission for kids in the month of August. For this year’s Textile Weekend, Aug 17 & 18, Village historians are highlighting 19th-century fashion accessories and a tour of the new “Trimmed to Taste” exhibit, which salutes the clever creativity of early New England seamstresses.

Agricultural Fairs to Eating Local. Renaissance Garden to Shape-Note Singing. Greece to Middle East…

These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week happens at the Kingman Tavern Museum in Cummington where there will be a free shape-note singing school on Saturday afternoon, August 17th.  Introduced in 1801, shape notes were designed to help facilitate community singing and originated in colonial New England. This type of singing was created to support a persons desire to sing with others either in their community or in their congregations. The class will teach participants about this unique singing style, celebrate American history, and offer a chance to engage in an intergenerational activity.


Agricultural Fairs  ♦  Geology  ♦  Insects & ReptilesHistoryCultureMusicArtisanLocal Food


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22 Community Highlights: Sweet Festival to Zucchini Festival. Minerals to Rockets.

Modern pow wows invite both Native and non-Native American people together to honor American Indian culture and history. Authentic dancing, drumming and tribal regalia will be presented at the 8th Annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow this weekend in Adams, MA.

Sweet Festival to Zucchini Festival. Minerals to Rockets. Silversmithing to Citizen Scientists… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week celebrates while learning about Native American traditions and history at the Rock, Rattle, and Drum Pow Wow in Adams this Saturday & Sunday, August 10th & 11th. The event is an explosion of Native American culture – families can listen to drumming, try out traditional foods, learn about the creation of arts and crafts such as pottery and beaded items, participate in community dances, and more!


Plant & Nature StudiesCitizen ScientistsHistoryCultural StudiesLocal FoodFilmsScienceAnimal Studies


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25 Community Highlights: Felt to Pottery. Storytelling to Stargazing.

Age of Iron Weekend at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield this August 3rd & 4th, 2013. Blacksmiths will showcase their art and artisanship with both historical and contemporary demonstrations. Ironwork craftsmanship dating from the 17th to the 21st century,

Felt to Pottery. Storytelling to Stargazing. Ethnic Fair to Agricultural Fair. Earth Songs to Revolutionary War… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week is a free summer celebration at the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage in Greenfield on Sunday afternoon, August 4th. See the art of blacksmithing with a live demonstration and learn what a blacksmith might have made, other than horseshoes! There will also be an opportunity to learn about textile technology with hands-on activities for all ages, and to view several exhibits on Franklin County’s industrial history, including “Textile Town: Conway’s Industrial History” and “Industry and Innovation: Franklin County’s Unique History.” Light fare and live music will add to the festive atmosphere too! Come celebrate and learn a  few new things about Franklin County’s rich industrial history!


TheaterHistoryNature Studies/HikesArts & CraftsMuseum AdventuresAstronomyCultural StudiesMusic Studies


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27 Community Highlights: Argentinian Folk Music to New England Folk Art. Pollinators to Raptors.

Frog at the Westfield RiverIce Cream Socials to Intergenerational Hikes.  Argentinian Folk Music to New England Folk Art. Herpetology to Lepidoptera. Susan B. Anthony to Virginia Lee Burton. … These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week explores river critters at the Chesterfield Gorge in West Chesterfield! Discover the creatures that live in and around the river with naturalist Aimee Gelinas and the Trustees of Reservations on Saturday, July 27th. See if you can spot a red newt or how to tell the difference between a frog and a toad. This free intergenerational event is appropriate for ages 5 and older. The hike is easy and time will be spent in the river with nets exploring, so come prepared to get wet!


Community Service Animal & Insect StudiesNature Studies Museum AdventuresHistoryMusic StudiesOrnithology


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30 Community Highlights: Munch to Thoreau. Scottish to Yiddish.

Opportunities to supplement insect studies this weekend include dragonflies and damselflies in Easthampton, Bug Safari in Housatonic, Science in the Parks in Pittsfield, and a search for aquatic insects (like this one pictured here)in Plainfield.

Munch to Thoreau. Motorcycles to Metalworking. Turbines to Firefighting. Scottish to Yiddish… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week explores the ecosystem of streams, home to a wide variety of often overlooked creatures. By wading in and flipping rocks, netting fish and sorting through leaf packs, discoveries of remarkable critter can be found which can lead to a better understanding our waterways and habitats. The Franklin Land Trust will be hosting an free opportunity for families to explore these stream ecosystems at the Guyette Farm in Plainfield on Saturday morning, July 20th. Josh Morse will lead an exploration of woodland streams and the different aquatic insects that live in these habitats. Families with kids ages 6-12yo will learn how to interpret the health of our streams by the presence of these benthic invertebrates.


Art HistoryCulinary ArtsIndustryHistoryShakespeareHikesNature StudiesSTEMGeology & PaleontologyCultural StudiesEntomologyLawn Concerts


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30 Community Highlights: Wiggly Worms to Curious Creatures. Marionettes to Shadow Puppets.

Wiggly Worms to Curious Creatures. Local Diarist to Local Industry. Marionettes to Shadow Puppets… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week turns STEM into STEAM! Kids 12 and under can participate in the Sunderland Public Library’s free paper airplane contest on Wednesday evening, July 17th! Make a plane at home and bring it to the library to see how it flies. Airplanes must be true paper airplanes – no cardboard, wood, plastic, wire, tape, clips, staples, etc. If youth participants want to continue to experiment with paper airplane, bring them to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield every Thursday at 1pm as part of their PaperWorks art exhibit to further supplement their interests and learning about basic principles of physics & engineering… and art!


Nature & Animal StudiesHikesArt WalksCulinary HistoryHistoryFilm & Music StudiesFolktales & Puppet ShowsLibrary Adventures


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23 Community Highlights: French Paintings to Folk Art. Cockatoos to Bald Eagles.

28 Community Highlights: Rockets to Origami. Hieroglyphics to Bridges.

Hometown parades are a great way to have fun with your family while taking in the culture of various local towns. The Chesterfield 4th of July Parade is the quintessential hometown parade, now in its 66th year! The theme this year is “Children are Our Future.”

Swamps to Camp Fires. Rockets to Origami. Fireworks to Hometown Parades. Hieroglyphics to Bridges… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

4th of July Highlights! From the state where the American Revolution began, families can take part in the multitude of 4th of July celebrations happening in Western MA. Check our 4th of July preview of events, parades & fireworks happening to celebrate in Western MA: 2013 Fourth of July Celebrations & Fireworks


Independence DayPlants, Nature & Animal StudiesSTEMArchaeologyLocal HistoryArts & CraftsLawn Concerts & Family DinnersMovies


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30 Community Highlights: Fossils to Fire. Kirtan to Orchestra.

Ants to Grasshoppas. Fossils to Fire. Kirtan to Orchestra. Earth to Outerspace… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Summer Solstice

Friday, June 21st, marks the first day of summer, the longest day of the year!  Celebrate the Summer Solstice at UMass at sunset this evening.  Professors from the UMass Department of Astronomy will be at the UMass Sunwheel in Amherst inviting the public to join them on the longest day of the year.  Learn about the significance of solstices and equinoxes and the history of the UMass Sunwheel at this participatory community event.  Gather with your friends & neighbors, mark the seasons, and learn a little while you’re at it!


EntomologyAnimal StudiesNature ScienceArchaeologyHistoryGeologyLibrary AdventuresAstronomyFilm, Dance & Music StudiesFashion StudiesHighlights in the Hilltowns


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29 Community Highlights: Dragonflies to Damselflies. Father’s Day to Juneteenth.

Dragonfly or damselfly? Learn how to tell the difference between these two insects this weekend at the Mills River Environmental Center and the benefits they contribute to our larger ecosystem.

Dragonflies to Damselflies. The Hundred Dresses to The Hunger Games. Naturalists to Musicians.  Father’s Day to Juneteenth… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Happy Father’s Day!

On Father’s Day this Sunday, June 16th, dads and grandfathers with younger kids can enjoy a free train ride at Look Park in Florence, or Forest Park Zoo in Springfield. Or take an even bigger free train ride at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum. Other locations honoring dads and granddads on Father’s Day include Historic Deerfield and Old Sturbridge Village, both of which will offer free admission on Sunday, and a free ride on the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round. Check our Best Bets for Father’s Day highlights for more ways to spend time with the dad in your life this weekend in western Massachusetts!


Historic Homes & BuildingsMusic StudiesLawn Concerts Animal & Insect StudiesPlant StudiesLibrary AdventuresHistoryParent Workshops & Support


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36 Community Highlights: Hermits to Fairies. Tornadoes to Dioramas.

Lawn concerts in the summer are lovely opportunities to enjoy a picnic dinner together with your family, and your community! We’ll be adding lawn concerts to our list of weekly Suggested Events throughout the summer, from the Berkshires down to the Valley. Check there each week and make plans for a fun family dinner, al fresco style!

Hermits to Tornadoes.  Fairies to Snow White.  Lawn Concerts to Kayaking… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

LAWN CONCERTS

Summer evening lawn concerts are a lovely way for families to enjoy an al fresco dinner together, in the warm air with live music. BYO picnic dinners and chairs to the following free evening concerts this week and enjoy time together with your family and community:

  • Concert Series at Stanley Park in Westfield presents Shakin’ All Over, one of New England’s premier dance bands, on Sunday evening, June 9th.
  • Musical Moments at Amelia’s Garden in Westfield presents Dan Kane and Friends, who will be performing Broadway classics, on Tuesday evening, June 11th.
  • Coop Concerts Summer Series takes place on Thursday evening, June 13th at Greenfield Energy Park. This week’s show features Devlin Miles, Orlen & Gabriel, and Pat & Tex LaMountain Band. Each group will perform a range of music, including love songs, folk tunes, jazz, blues, ragtime, and country music.
  • Arts in the Park Summer Concert Series happens at Millside Park in Easthampton on Friday evening, June 14th.

Indoor AdventuresHistoryAnimal Studies ♦  Nature StudiesOutdoor AdventuresMeteorologyMuseum AdventuresEngineeringOccupational ScienceMusic StudiesCommunity Service


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25 Community Highlights: Spring Festival to Bugaboo Review. Ponding to Nature Walks.

Come to the Hilltown Spring Festival on Saturday, June 1st and join in a community Maypole dance! Originating in the 18th century, families can learn about this traditional folk dance by dancing around with ribbons in hand, intertwining and plaiting the ribbons to the pole with their community.  (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Afternoon Tea to Cooking Classes. Ponding to Nature Walks. Cellar Holes to Headstones. Knitting Marathon to Bugaboo Review… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Learning Highlights at the Hilltown Spring Festival

The 7th annual Hilltown Spring Festival happens this Saturday, June 1st from 10am-5pm at the Cummington Fairgrounds.  In addition to great fun and terrific music on multiple stages, there are always learning opportunities at the Festival!  New this year is Joshua Wachtel’s Musical Instrument Petting Zoo. Families can come touch and play a variety of instruments, including a mountain dulcimer, Moroccan bongos, a Turkish banjo called a cumbus, autoharp, flutes and many others, including Sir Planks-a-lot (a man-sized xylophone made of 2x4s!).  Other learning highlights include four different music workshops, including a couple of  interactive intergenerational workshops! Aimee Gelinas will lead a West African and Caribbean percussion & song workshop, and Tony Vacca leads a world music percussion workshop. All of this and so much more, like the Kids-Made Craft Bazaar where youth get to participate directly in the Festival, giving them some real-world experience showing and selling their work. Find out more about the 7th annual Hilltown Spring Festival.


Culinary ArtsHistory ♦  Nature StudiesEtiquetteNational Trails DayCommunity ServiceScienceBugs & BirdsParent WorkshopsParents’ Night Out


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35 Community Highlights: Rhubarb to Butterflies. Turtles to Trolley.

It’s all turtles, all day long at Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday in Hampden for Turtle Day! Visit to meet a real, live turtle and to learn about the species of turtles native to Massachusetts. Then, visitors will be able to go on a natural history walk of the sanctuary’s grounds to learn about how the landscape was formed and to learn about turtle habitat. Free. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Rhubarb to Butterflies. Bedrock to Marble. Turtles to Trolley… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Community Highlights

There’s fun stuff happening over the next few days!  Down in the Pioneer Valley, families can check out the Amherst Town Fair on the Common all weekend, and take in a concert with Mister G at the Eric Carle Museum on Saturday.  Also in the Valley, Look Park in Florence turns on all their amenities too, including their water park and paddle boats! In the Hilltowns, the Massachusetts Sheep & Woolcraft Fair happens all weekend at the at the Cummington Fairgrounds with loads of hands-on learning opportunities, fiber arts, and animals.  Out in the Berkshires, there’s a Community Bike Ride in Pittsfield, Rhubarb Festival in Lenox and HoorWA’s annual Riverfest in Williamstown.  Then on Monday are Memorial Day Parades in various town across the region! Check out our short list of parade highlights!


HistoryTransportationAnimal StudiesScienceEntomologyGeologyNature StudiesParent Workshops


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33 Community Highlights: Lady’s Slipper to Bird Calls. Charcoal Industry to Historic Mill Sites.

If being in the garden with your kids is more your speed, be sure to check out the plant sales & swaps happening this Saturday in Cummington, Holyoke, Shelburne Falls, and Sunderland.

Healthy Smiles to Spring Fling. Lady’s Slipper to Bird Calls. Charcoal Industry to Historic Mill Sites… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Community Highlights

With beautiful weather in the forecast, it’ll be a great weekend to head out to any of the many annual community celebrations taking place this weekend. Community highlights include the 34th annual Longmeaddowe Days in Longmeadow, 18th annual Springfest in Northampton, Muddy Brook Elementary School PTA’s annual Mud Day in Great Barrington, and Chester On Track which this year celebrates the 174th anniversary of the coming of the railroad to Chester!  There are also a couple of museum adventures awaiting families this Saturday with Museum Day at The Clark in Williamstown, and Art Museum Day at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.


Early ChildhoodHistoryAnimal/Nature StudiesPlant StudiesLanguage ArtsCommunity ServiceParent Workshops


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25 Community Highlights: Mother’s Day to Mamadrama. Steamboat Bill to Beaver Ponds.

Sunday is Mother’s Day! If you’re looking for ideas for getting out on Mother’s Day, we have a few suggestions

Mother’s Day to Plant Something Campaign. Mamadrama to Steamboat Bill. Beaver Ponds to Fishways… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!  Peruse our list and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Brunch, Hike & Celebrate for Mother’s Day

Not up for breakfast in bed, then head out for breakfast or brunch.  We asked our readers for family friendly restaurant recommendations for Mother’s Day and they had several to offer. Check out Mother’s Day Brunch to see their suggestions… and add one of your own.

After breakfast/brunch, celebrate Mother’s Day by taking her to one of the many gorgeous gardens dotted throughout Western Massachusetts including the Bridge of Flower in Shelburne Falls, one of the Commonwealth’s most unusual and enchanting “gardens” is found in Franklin County.  Read our post The Art of Great Gardens in Western MA for a list of recommended public gardens in the region.

Looking for other ideas?  Check out our Mother’s Day Highlights!


Mother’s Day HighlightsAnimal StudiesLocal HistoryNature StudiesFilm StudiesPlant SalesParent Workshop


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23 Community Highlights: Building Birdhouses to Making Giving Bags. Jurassic Roadshow to Long Island Express.

Northampton’s annual Pride Parade and Celebration takes place on Saturday starting at 12noon! Celebrate LGBTQ culture and rights – there is a specially designated youth space at the event just for families!

Building Birdhouses to Making Giving Bags. Jurassic Roadshow to Long Island Express. Wild Flower Walk to Historical Fashion Show…

These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Get out into your community and learn while you play!


Service-Based LearningPlaygroups & StoryhoursDinosaurs/FossilsNature & HistoryFashionScienceAnimal/Nature StudiesParent Workshop


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40 Community Highlights: History of Tea to Biology of Frogs. Cultural Festivals to Fundraisers.

The new exhibition, Tea Talk: Ritual and Refinement in Early American Parlors, opens at Historic Deerfield this weekend. Families can learn about the history of the tea trade, historical use of tea in homes, and its role in socializing in early America. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Spaghetti Dinner to Fun Run. Composting to Recycling. Victorian Tea to Potluck Dinner.  Frog Life Cycle to Arabic Cultural Festival…

These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

On the heels of Earth Day as we head towards the end of National Volunteer Week, there are still a plethora of events to participate in that celebrate and support sustainability, along with opportunities to volunteer with your family this weekend. Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.

Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!


Community ServiceFundraisersSustainabilityAnimal/Nature StudiesEconomicsCultural StudiesHistory


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34 Community Highlights: Wild Flower Walks to Textile Drives. Weather to Transportation.

Earth Day to Volunteer Week. Beaver Ponds to Raising Chickens. Wild Flower Walks to Textile Drives…

These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!

And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week.

Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

Hilltown Family Variety Show: This Saturday, April 20th, we will rebroadcast our Weather Episode with Guest DJ, Alison Faith Levey.  Tune in for an hour of great music and learning highlights on all things WEATHER!


Community ServiceEarth DayAnimal StudiesNature StudiesHistoryParent WorkshopsCultural Studies


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