Great Fall Getaways: The Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts

Photograph by Christopher Churchill

Photograph by Christopher Churchill

For the Epicurean

More than 22 farms and bakers proffer local treats at the Amherst Farmers’ Market, held on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Seek out Berkshire Mountain Bakery’s artisanal cherry-pecan bread — it’s delicious with French herb chèvre from Crystal Brook Farm. And if you happen to catch chef Paul Hathaway shopping for ingredients, follow him to his French bistro, Chez Albert, for delectable escargots. Apple-cider donuts from Atkins Farms Country Market — which has been using the same recipe since 1971 to produce 10,000 fried treats per day during the fall — are a must. On your way out of town, stop by Cook Farm, a fifth-generation family dairy farm, to meet the cows and try a scoop of homemade ice cream.

For the Adventurer

Cyclists will love Northampton, with its miles of friendly, traffic-free trails. Rent wheels from Valley Bike and Ski Werks in Hadley, then ask co-owner Charlie Canalizo to point you in the direction of the Norwottuck Rail Trail, an 11-mile path along the former Boston & Main Railroad right-of-way. Keep your camera close as you cross the Connecticut River on a half-mile-long bridge — it’s a dramatic lookout point — but be sure to save battery life for the photo op of a lifetime: handling trained birds of prey in Hadley’s meadows and forests with the help of New England Falconry’s Chris Davis. For a final adrenaline rush, hike up Chesterfield Gorge, a rock canyon with 70-foot-high walls carved by the Westfield River.

For the Culture Vulture

Creative types have so flooded this region over the past few decades that there seems to be even more art shows than coffee houses. Start exploring the scene at Northampton’s Arts Night Out, a self-guided tour of the town’s many galleries held on the second Friday of the month. Then check out the distinguished permanent collection and changing exhibits at the Smith College Museum of Art. Exhausted from all the visual stimulation? Close your eyes and enjoy the show at the Iron Horse Music Hall, where acts run the gamut from rocker Peter Wolf (10/14) to bluegrass band Della Mae (10/23). And for take-home art, pop into reclaimed-furniture shop Sticks and Bricks for one-of-a-kind chairs and occasion tables.

Where to Stay

Amenities at the luxe Hotel Northampton (fall rates from $175) include two restaurants and a workout center. A laid-back alternative is Ivory Creek Bed and Breakfast Inn (fall rates from $160), nestled on 24 wooded acres. Ask for the Rose Room: With the windows open, you can listen to the property’s namesake — the gurgling Ivory Creek — below.

Save this Date: October 8 – 10

Northampton’s Paradise City Arts Festival ( showcases the work of 275 craftspeople and artists.

The Essentials

Drive time:  Two hours