Now that it’s officially “spring” in the Pioneer Valley, everyone is dying to get outside. Here are five fun things to take advantage of close to UMass for those warm, sunny spring days.
1. Lay out on Southwest Beach
We’ll start with the closest. Southwest Beach is an energetic warm weather must-do right on campus. Whether you live in Southwest or another residential area, this is a great place to hang out with friends, do some homework, play Frisbee or just kick back and enjoy the sun. On any warm day (particularly in the spring) you will find hundreds of fellow students out there doing the same.
2. Ride Bikes
Did you know there is a bike trail that starts right on campus? Very few students do, so not enough get to take advantage of it. Beginning in the corner of Southwest closest to the Rec Center, this paved path connects to the Norwottuck Rail Trail which continues over the Connecticut River into Northampton. Don’t have a bike? Don’t worry. With just your UCard, you can rent one from the UMass Amherst Bike Share Program for free. That’s right, for free (get more info on that from their Facebook page). So grab some friends and set out on a Pioneer Valley adventure.
3. Swimming at Puffer’s Pond
A longtime favorite of UMass students, this is a great place to cool down without going far off campus. Located about three miles from the University in North Amherst, this is another place you will find large gatherings of students enjoying the warm weather together. While some are brave enough to dive in on the first nice day, others hang out on dry land and enjoy the scenery until the water warms up for the year.
4. Visit the Quabbin Reservoir
Okay, so this isn’t actually in Amherst. Though a little further than the other options, it is worth the trip. The Quabbin Reservoir is a straight shot down Route 9 and offers some of the best hiking in Western Mass. There’s a visitor center in Belchertown where you can grab useful things like trail maps seven days a week (hours and other info can be found here). Everyone needs a quiet, relaxing day away from the stress of classes and work once in a while. This is the place to spend that day.
5. Walk Into Town
This is a great compromise for when you want to get off campus for a little while, but don’t have enough gas left in your car and can’t stand to sit next to another, um, interesting person on the PVTA. Many forget that Amherst Center is just a 10-15 minute walk from UMass. There is so much right in town I can’t even begin to list it all. We’ll start with coffee (always a good place to start). Downtown is home to many unique coffee shops where you can do some studying while enjoying your beverage of choice. I recommend somewhere like Amherst Coffee; you can sit outside, right in the middle of all the awesomeness downtown has to offer. While on the budget culinary tour, don’t forget the yumminess that can be found at places like Antonio’s and GoBerry. Once full, wander into some of the cool little shops or sit under the shade of the trees on the town green.
These local, warm-weather excursions are a great place to start.