With a relatively small population of around 40,000 people, Amherst, Massachusetts, is a bustling little town that’s home to Hampshire College, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts, or as the locals call it, UMass.
It’s also known for producing some of the literary world’s finest figures, including Noah Webster, as in Webster’s dictionary, Eugene Field, Robert Francis, Robert Frost, and of course, America’s most celebrated female poet, Emily Dickinson.
The town is located in the charming Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts and has earned a reputation amongst residents, neighboring areas, and tourists from all around the country for its culture, history, art, and music, as well as its exceptional fine dining. It’s a great destination all year round, but it especially comes alive during the summer months.
5 Things to Do this Summer in Amherst
If you’re thinking of visiting Amherst in the summer months, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular things to do.
1. Amherst History Museum
Amherst is a town steeped in history, which means no trip is complete without a visit to the Amherst History Museum. The museum opened its doors in 1916 and is one the town’s major attractions. Visitors to the museum get to experience life in Amherst from its colonial beginnings, through its industrial phase, up until today.
The exhibits include decorative pieces of art and paintings as well as the different types of equipment and tools used in homes and on farms over the years. Also, to keep things interesting, the exhibits change during the year, so it’s worth a visit every few months, whether you’re a local or on holiday. For families, the museum hosts some fun events during the summer months.
2. Puffer’s Pond
A firm favorite for local residents as well as out-of-towners is Puffer’s Pond. There’s a little bit of everything for everybody, with fantastic walking trails, running areas, a sandy beach, kid-friendly waves, and a cascading waterfall.
You can take a leisurely walk around the pond, cooling off along the way, or bring a blanket, towels and picnic basket and spend the entire day at Puffer’s Pond. It’s pet-friendly, although they do ask that dogs are kept on leashes.
Open from 6 a.m. until dusk, this is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Amherst during the summer months.
3. Beneski Museum of Natural History
If it’s natural history you’re after, then we recommend you pop in at the Beneski Museum of Natural History. Conveniently located on Amherst College’s campus, it’s one of New England’s most prominent natural history museums, and boasts over 1,600 specimens.
Visitors can get up close and personal with the skulls of a Tyrannosaurus, a Triceratops as well as a Dunkleosteus. There are rocks and minerals from around the world, and there are even a few meteorites, including the Canyon Diablo meteorite from Arizona.
Entry is free for everyone all year round, and it’s a great way to introduce children to the wonders of the natural world.
4. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Believe it or not, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is the only one of its kind in America celebrating the art of picture books. Inspired by the many picture book museums in Japan, this particular one in Amherst, MA, was opened in 2002 by Eric Carle, author of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
With three galleries on site, the museum also offers various workshops for adults and children. There are classes that show you how to draw animals as well as workshops for people wanting to learn how to do screen and block printing. Guests can also visit the library and theater.
5. The Emily Dickinson Museum
Let’s be honest, you can’t go to Amherst, the hometown of Emily Dickinson, without visiting the Emily Dickinson Museum. The museum is made up of two buildings: the Homestead and the Evergreens. The world-renowned poet was born and lived in the Homestead, and her brother, his wife, and three children lived in the Evergreens.
The museum, opened in 2003, aims to educate visitors about Emily Dickinson’s family, her life, and of course, her work. Whether you’re staying a few days or just driving through, this is a must-see for anyone visiting Amherst, summer or not.
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