Traveling west out of the Merrimack Valley, you’ll encounter the “heart” of Massachusetts, old time life in the farmlands and hills of this great agricultural center, but also home to two major cities, Worcester and Springfield.
A world-famous attraction is Old Sturbridge Village, a living-history museum that re-creates preserves a rural New England settlement of colonial times.
Worcester sits in the center of the state and was formerly an industrial town. The city’s cultural bent has won over as the manufacturing left town and Worcester is now a major center for the arts and higher learning. The Worcester Art Museum is a stop on most of the major touring exhibits and a way to see major works without going into Boston or New York. The Mechanics Hall is a perfectly preserved 19th century theatre famous for hosting stops on speaking tours by the great orators such as Mark Twain and Charles Dickens and is still used as a venue for touring classical and popular musical acts. There’s great factory outlet shopping at the Worcester Common Outlets. And there’s a healthy and lively college atmosphere (several major schools including Worcester PolyTech) which keeps the city young in spirit while still retaining its historical dignity.
Springfield has two great family attractions: Six Flags of New England, one of the greatest amusement parks in the country, and as Springfield is the first place in the country where basketball was played, the city hosts the Basketball Hall of Fame. For the more culturally minded, visit the Springfield Quadrangle, a quartet of art, science and history museums rivaling anything the larger cities have to offer.
Amherst and Northampton are college towns boasting long histories and are home to a dozen major schools. Here a lively intellectual scene promotes the arts and presents many opportunities for performances and exhibits.
Along the Connecticut River are rich farmlands and peaceful pastoral settings. The towns and villages are quaint and friendly and loaded with antique shops, historical attractions and friendly Bed & Breakfasts. Don’t miss The Mohawk Trail. First begun hundreds of years ago as a Native American throughway, the Trail is now Route 2, a winding backroad and the first scenic automobile route in the country. You’ll experience ancient villages, cross covered bridges, stop at farm stands and dine in historic inns. Right outside every town, nature beckons. There’s great hiking and biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and nature walks. The foliage, on your own on foot or in the car, or on a guided bus or walking tour is some of the most spectacular in New England and draws visitors from all over the world.
As you continue westward, drive up to the summit of spectacular Mount Greylock, the states highest point and a great camping spot. The views of several states are breathtaking in their panorama and they overlook the final destination in our trip across Massachusetts: The Bershire Hills – the foothills of the Appalachias.