Let’s be honest, we all know how boring Western Mass can get. We are all constantly on campus, and even if you do go out, you are spending money that you may not have. From one broke college student to another, here is a list of fun free things to do around Amherst!
- The Durfee Conservatory
Probably my favorite spot on the UMass campus, especially during the cold weather, is the Durfee Conservatory. It is so pretty to walk through and see all of the different plants from all over the world. They keep it super warm in there so that the plants can thrive, so it is a great spot to walk through to warm up if it is a cold or snowy day.
- Take a Hike
A hike is a perfect way to escape Amherst and enjoy how beautiful Western Mass is, especially during fall with the amazing foliage. Some great trails around Amherst include the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, the hills in Mount Holyoke State Range park, Mt. Bare, and Mt. Sugarloaf (which is a super easy and short hike).
- Bike the Rail Trail
The rail trail is a hidden gem in Amherst, and when I found out about it, I was so excited! You can bike directly into Northampton or just bike or run for miles on this pretty paved path through the trees. There’s so much to see, including the changing leaves, nearby farms, and so many other pretty sights!
- Amherst College Museum of Natural History
Have you ever wanted to see dinosaur fossils? Well, if you go just around the corner to Amherst College, you can! Another local hidden gem is the museum at Amherst College, where you can see a lot of different artifacts, including dinosaur fossils!
- Puffers Pond
While not super exciting in the colder weather, Puffer’s Pond is a cute spot to walk around. The pond has a little dam and areas to sit so that you can enjoy being near the water. While it’s usually too cold to swim in, you can canoe or kayak around the pond!
- Emily Dickinson Museum
Did you know you can go to the famous poet’s home? As long as you’re not scared of ghosts, this can be a cute little activity for you and your friends to explore in Amherst. Plus, students get in for free!
- Go to a Sports Game
Another highlight of being a UMass student is going to sports games! You can get into any team’s games for free, and if you want to attend the best ones, I would recommend the hockey games. So many students go to see the UMass hockey team play, and the student section always gets riled up.
- Explore the Five Colleges
When you’re just in the mood to explore, going around and visiting the other four schools in the Five College Consortium is a fun thing to do. Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, and Smith College all have very beautiful campuses that you can walk around and explore. If you are feeling very curious about UMass, you can search for the underground tunnels!
- Amherst Farmer’s Market
While not always free if you want to buy something, every Saturday morning in Amherst Center there is a very cute farmer’s market. I love to walk around the market and see what all the small businesses are selling.
- Dare I Say: Go to the Library?
When in doubt, going to the school or public library to grab a fun read could be exactly what you need on a rainy or snowy day. You can check your book out and take it home, or you can curl up in the library and read it to get rid of your boredom. If you are a UMass student, the top floors of Du Bois have a very pretty view as you read or even just do your own work.
Hopefully, some of these free activities around Amherst will inspire you to explore a bit more and find some hidden gems!