People come here for its proximity to Smith and Amherst Colleges, but a visit to Hadley, Massachusetts is not just for parents visiting collegiate offspring. Booking with Choice Hotels is a springboard for visiting Hadley and nearby Northampton, where you can do everything from hunting with a falcon to climbing a rock wall, from visiting the past to thinking about the future, and all of it through experiencing the area’s many attractions, which include:
Hadley has a strong rural history, one that you can discover and appreciate at the Hadley Farm Museum. Open May through October for regular tours and the rest of the year by appointment, the museum features a collection of equipment and vehicles from local farms and farmhouses that spans a period from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. The museum itself is in a barn from 1782, and it gives you a good sense of what it might have been like living there as you learn the uses of artifacts and implements that made up farm life. See the first broom-making machine as well as spinning wheels, cobblers' benches, hay tedders, butter churns, furnishings, tools, toys and more. And it is not just for adults: your children will love to climb inside the restored stagecoach. Take pictures!
If you ever imagined climbing a rock face, now is the time to try it out, which you can do at the Central Rock Climbing Center where instructors will take you through everything you need to know for a safe and exhilarating experience. Learn how to belay and tie correct knots, and do all the climbing you want until the facility closes. Other programs include climbing without belays (the staff will take care of that for you) and special-technique clinics. If you would prefer to skip the ropes and the class, you can go bouldering: you will climb a low wall (between 10 and 16 feet high) that uses mats rather than ropes for protection.
Like the farm museum, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum is open spring through fall, with winters by appointment. This house was built in the eighteenth century and continuously occupied by the same family for more than 200 years. It was the heart of a large farmstead called “Forty Acres” that actually included more than 600 acres stretching from the banks of the Connecticut River to the top of Mount Warner. The family included ministers, abolitionists, authors, businesspeople and more, and you will learn about the various paths in life they selected as you take the tour. On Wednesday evenings there is a folk-music concert at 6:30 p.m. in the Sunken Garden.
If rock-climbing was not on your bucket list, this next attraction might be: the opportunity to handle and free-fly a trained hawk at New England Falconry. Falconry is an ancient art and the thrill you will experience as a hawk returns to your glove is like nothing you have ever experienced before. You will also learn all about various raptors: their history living alongside humankind, their environmental role and how we are trying to conserve them. Children are most welcome!
Swoop back down to earth and head over to nearby Northampton for an afternoon stroll through the Smith College Botanic Garden, where color will envelop you as you walk through outdoor and glassed-in indoor gardens, koi ponds and special exhibits. The numbers are impressive: Smith College counts 1200 types of woody trees and shrubs, 2200 types of hardy herbaceous plants, 3200 types of tender herbaceous and woody plants in greenhouses and 6600 various other plants. Certainly there is something here you will enjoy! If you are around in the springtime, be sure to check out the famous Spring Bulb Show.
While you are in Northampton, treat your children to the Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, covering over 150 acres and offering a lengthy list of things to do. Ride the train, hang out in the pond on the pedal boats or visit the Christenson Zoo to start … and from there, check out the playgrounds, miniature golf, bumper boats and water-spray park. Take time for a bite to eat at the Look Park Grill, or enjoy afternoon tea at the “Tea and Trains” attraction. It is a fun-filled day of delight for the whole family to enjoy.
Western Massachusetts is an area where past and present intersect and live together comfortably, a rural area dotted with interesting towns and cities, a center of learning and a place to challenge yourself. Stay at one of the Hadley, Massachusetts hotels listed below to access all of this wealth and share it with your family: it will make for a memorable and enriching vacation for all.
West Springfield, MA, US, 01089-4607
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