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World map in IKEA under a light bulb
World map in IKEA under a light bulb
Original photo by Caitlin Lu
Life > Experiences

Places I’ve Discovered Since Realizing There Is More to Amherst Than Our Campus

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

My freshman year of college, leaving campus to go to Target was an adventure. The only world I existed in was the UMass Amherst campus. Now, three years later as a senior, I only venture to campus for a couple of hours a day. It follows then that the less time I spend on campus, the more time I spend off campus. I began to realize that there is more to Amherst and Western Massachusetts than UMass. Some of these places may not be hidden gems but cut me some slack. They felt like hidden gems to me when I discovered them!

Mill District General Store

The Mill District General Store was THE CUTEST find. It had a perfect balance of modern and nostalgic products. As soon as you walk in, there are rows of big glass jars to scoop candy out of. If you have ever been to North Conway, it was giving the Zeb’s General Store of Amherst. I didn’t even know that I wanted a picnic basket until I saw the collection they were selling. Rumor has it that they also offer freshly popped popcorn from an antique popcorn machine. You could even have a Queen’s Gambit moment and play a game on their chess table. The store flows directly into the Local Art Gallery which was also enjoyable to walk around in. I appreciated how the gallery displayed artists of very distinct styles all from the surrounding area. Though I did not make a purchase during my first visit, I am definitely planning on making a trip back there simply for the fall vibes.

Cushman Market & café

Right down the street from the Mill District Store is Cushman Market. As the name implies, it’s a combination food market and breakfast/lunch café. I feel like I wouldn’t do the unique menu justice by just describing it, so take a look here. It’s earthy-crunchy in the best way possible. Their outdoor patio displays an inspiring interactive art installation where you can write something that you want to see or do before you die. You know how it’s just more fun to shop at Trader Joe’s because their products are all so aesthetically pleasing? It felt the same way walking through Cushman Market. I was just looking at peanut butter and pasta sauce, but the adorable packaging and organic labels made me feel like I was shopping at a gift shop rather than a food market (although they did sell cute postcards and stickers, as well).

Roast Beef Panini
Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon
Norwottuck Rail Trail

This path traveling from Belchertown through Amherst and all the way to Northampton was once a railroad. It now serves as a scenic paved route for pedestrians and cyclists. It’s almost completely surrounded by trees, which provides a much needed time with nature and, more importantly, lots of shade. It’s also entirely flat, so our hot girl walks and runs can be enjoyed with minimal effort. It’s going to be a game changer once the leaves change color, and I can’t wait!

autumn leaves on a dirt road
Natalie Szewczyk
Yankee Candle Village

Okay, I admittedly have not yet been to the Yankee Candle Flagship Store, and it’s also in Deerfield, not Amherst, but I still wanted to include it in this list in case anybody was in the dark like I was. Along with an extensive selection of Yankee Candles, the “village” also sells cookware, fudge, holiday decor, New England-themed trinkets, and so much more. It sounds like more of an experience than a shopping trip with themed rooms and opportunities to make your own candle. I will for sure be making my debut visit soon, especially since autumn is right around the corner.

I hope you feel enlightened by these recommendations and inspired to explore Amherst after reading about the places I have recently discovered. All four of these spots scream fall, which is perfect timing as October is just around the corner. Though it was sad to move off-campus, I realized that there was a whole other world out there that I just didn’t know to appreciate.

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Jillian Hughes

U Mass Amherst '23

Jillian is a senior at Umass Amherst majoring in biology and public health. She currently serves as the UMass chapter's treasurer. Her favorite things are traveling, chocolate chip cookies, and listening to podcasts on long walks.