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When I was choosing a school, location was a pretty big factor. I knew I didn’t want to be a plane ride away, I get car sick on long rides, but also didn’t want to be next door. 45 minutes away from home seemed reasonable, and looking back, I am so happy that I stayed in Western Mass and can easily go home for a night, meet my family for a hike, or have friends visit for a night when they’re home from their prospective college. With that being said, ya girl was born and raised in Western Massachusetts, and while I’m not claiming it’s comparable to how amazing Boston is, I know of some pretty cool places around UMass. You may as well make this your UMass Amherst before I graduate checklist because you have to get around to all of these at least once.

Magic Wings

This butterfly conservatory is amazing and a must-see! You step into this enormous—what to me—seems like a greenhouse building filled with thousands of beautiful butterflies. Every time I go I’m so fascinated and in awe of everything around me!

Mount Skinner

This is perfect for not super experienced hikers who still like a bit of a workout/challenge. I love this mountain because it’s a long winding paved road with the most beautiful view at the top, but watch out; it can get pretty windy at the top!


This is a given, but would have felt wrong not to include it on this list! Northampton is full of happiness, restaurants, and all-around good vibes. My favorite since I was little has been Northampton Brewery, and now that I can finally get a drink I will be ordering large nachos and sitting on the deck every chance I can convince my friends. Urban Outfitters, GoBerry, Herrels, Osaka, and Caminito Steakhouse (perfect for date night or nice family din!) are also favorites of mine.

Yankee Candle 

All year round it feels like Christmas at this place, and that’s coming from a Jewish girl. Midsummer you can walk in there and experience some nice fake snow and sniff all the candles your heart desires. You might walk out with a headache from all the scents, but worth it with the winter wonderland experience you’ll have.

Smith College Bulb Show 

If you appreciate flowers, run, don’t walk. This beautiful botanic garden is the official passage of “spring has sprung” and is the perfect place to go with your parents if they are visiting (besides the dining hall of course)! Every time I go it’s so fun and I take so many cool pictures. It is the perfect spring activity you can’t miss!

Rail Trail 

Looking for a nice long leisurely walk? This is your best bet. Park behind the Hadley Walmart and get going because if you start on the right it’s 5 miles there and 5 miles back to your car! This trail has the best views and is great if you don’t like walking on an incline :)

You may as well make this your UMass Amherst before you graduate bucket list because you’ll have to get around to all these at least once!

Rebecca Girshik

U Mass Amherst '22

Rebecca is member of HC as a senior OIM major! When she's not writing articles she's cooking, online shopping, hanging out with friends (+dogs), or staying active with her fam!
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