New England Day Trips Part III: Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts


Patrick Sweeney, News Editor

This is the third in a series of articles highlighting one town in each New England state. You will find tips on how to enjoy yourself for the day without the fear of spreading the coronavirus. This article will focus on the town of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, the Mohawk Trail,and the surrounding area. For more information on the area, community events and to view COVID-19 updates and information, please visit and

The first coronavirus case was discovered in the United States in early 2020. It has been over a year since that first case, and the country is still in a partial lockdown. Variants are spreading quickly and conflicting timelines about vaccinations and when we can return to a sense of “normalcy” has been a recipe for stress for many in the country. People are having a difficult time trying to find things to do during the lockdown. Now that the weather is getting better, families have the option of going on day trips around the region. The Shelburne Falls region of the state is very close to Holyoke and will provide for an excellent trip with the family. There are many wonderful attractions for families to enjoy, such as shops and restaurants.

Families will enjoy the quiet ride from Holyoke to Shelburne Falls. They can expect to be traveling on Interstate 91 north until they get to the exit which leads to Shelburne Falls. Be sure to pay attention to attraction signs for prior exits as well. There are many attractions for families to enjoy in the town of South Deerfield. Families with young children will enjoy stopping at Yankee Candle to start the day off. This popular destination has many wonderful activities for children to enjoy, such as a toy boat to play on and a toy and game area. Santa might even make an appearance and speak to the little children! While waiting to sit on Santa’s lap, young children will enjoy the opportunity to sit at a desk, write a letter to Santa, and drop it in an official North Pole mailbox. Parents will enjoy shopping for various home goods and candles. There are also options for families to eat and get snacks on-site. Hillside Pizza recently opened a small shop inside Yankee Candle. Popcorn lovers will enjoy the wide array available at Popcornopolis. If families are not interested in any of the food options at Yankee Candle, there are various other eateries in South Deerfield, such as Wolfie’s downtown. This quaint joint serves everything from seafood to soups and sandwiches. Large bonus – there is free popcorn available to all patrons. No visit to the South Deerfield area is complete without a stop at Richardson’s Candies, which makes all of their delicious treats on-site. Be sure to stop in the warmer months for some freshly dipped chocolate-covered bananas. Families can jump right back on Interstate 91 to get to Shelburne Falls. If families have not eaten lunch yet, there are many options available in Greenfield and the surrounding area. Greenfield houses many excellent restaurants, such as Pete’s Seafood. This restaurant offers many specials, such as all-you-can-eat fried clam strips on Saturdays. There are also various options for families before they begin driving on the Mohawk Trail, such as Subway and McDonald’s. These restaurants will provide a quick and cost-effective meal for families.

The Mohawk Trail is a beautiful area in western Massachusetts. There are many beautiful trees and foliage in the area, so be sure to bring a camera. The road itself is very windy and at times can be confusing. However, just keep driving. Every now and then, there will be some fun attractions for you and your family to enjoy! One popular attraction slightly off the beaten path is Apex Orchards, which is located in Shelburne Falls. Families will have to take Peckville Road off the Mohawk Trail to reach their destination. The road is very steep and windy, which might cause concern and a few statements like “I think we are going in the wrong direction.” However, the road eventually curves and leads to the Orchard, which features beautiful views of the mountains and the surrounding area. There is a beautiful farm store, which features everything from maple products to delicious apple cider donuts. There is even a cold storage room where bags of apples are stored and available for sale during the fall season. Once families purchase their treats, they can enjoy them at outdoor tables just to the right of the farm store. The apples for sale are fantastic and come in multiple varieties. Be on the lookout for picking season at Apex, when everything from peaches to apples and blueberries are ripe and ready for pick-your-own fun. Shortly down the road is Pine Hill Orchard, which has a nice farm store as well as various farm animals available to feed and pet. Families with young children will delight at the opportunity to spend time with some furry friends. Once back on the Mohawk Trail, families will enjoy stopping at Hager’s Farm Market. This store offers a variety of products to customers. It is usually very busy during the day, so be sure to grab a parking spot immediately. Hager’s grows a wide variety of apples behind the building. During the fall, they are available for purchase in bulk or individually in front of the building. Once inside, families will delight at the variety of baked goods available. Hager’s makes a wide variety, ranging from muffins to breakfast treats. They also serve soups and pizza during lunchtime. There are many locally made products available, ranging from maple syrup, various produce items, and homemade bread, which come in flavors such as “Garlic Dill” and “Cheddar Black Pepper.” Do not leave Hager’s without ordering some maple soft serve, which is made on-site. You can watch the employees prepare your specialty treat in your choice of a cone or cup. Continuing on the Mohawk Trail, there are also many other attractions for families to enjoy. There are various gift shops that sell items that pay homage to the Native people who once lived in the area. There are two gift shops, Mohawk Trading Post and Native Views, both located in Shelburne Falls. Families will enjoy the quietness of the Trail and the nice ride before reaching the beautiful town of Shelburne Falls.  

Families can take a side road off the Mohawk Trail to reach Shelburne Falls. Everyone will love the ambiance in the town as well as the sense of community and “small town” feel. The center of town is just down the road. Do not hesitate to look for a parking spot immediately because they fill up quickly. The parking lots are free of charge, which is a plus for families. Families can begin by going on the Bridge of Flowers. The Bridge features many beautiful kinds of flowers, which are at their finest in the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Be sure to take your phone along to get some pictures that you just might want to use as your screensaver! The bridge attracts viewers from around the world. Prior to the pandemic, walkers would be able to view a “guest book” to see where all of the travelers come from. There are some beautiful views from the Bridge of Flowers. Families will be able to see the Salmon Falls River and the vehicle bridge that takes visitors from Shelburne Falls into the neighboring town of Buckland. Once families have explored the Bridge of Flowers, they can explore various shops scattered around town. There are two bookstores to explore – Boswell’s Books and Nancy L. Dole Books and Ephemera. Cat lovers will delight browsing the shelves of new and slightly used books at Boswell’s and petting the owner’s friendly cat. Antique book lovers will enjoy exploring the wide variety for sale at Nancy L. Dole books. Either bookstore is guaranteed to satisfy. Once done at the bookstores, families should experience the glacial potholes. These natural wonders are beautiful and worth being photographed. These potholes, according to the official Shelburne Falls website, “began to form after the last glacier age when the Deerfield River first started to flow over these rocks, about 14,000 years ago.” There are also many other stores for families to enjoy within the town. There is a stationery store which houses everything from colored pencils to magazines. There is also a bowling alley in Shelburne Falls, as well as a candy store in Buckland that will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. A short car drive down the road is Lamson, which sells many different forms of cutlery and kitchen items. Their knives are actually manufactured nearby in Westfield! If families did not grab a bite to eat yet, they also have many options in Shelburne Falls and Buckland. West End Pub features beautiful views of the river and serves excellent wraps, soups, and sandwiches. Grabbing a bite to eat and sitting by the river will provide the ultimate vacation experience. Another option for families is Baked Restaurant, which serves affordable breakfast and lunch options. The town of Shelburne Falls has many wonderful shopping and dining options for families to enjoy.

An interesting fact about this small town, it was the setting of many popular movies, such as Labor Day (2013) and The Judge (2014). Movie fanatics will delight at the opportunity to visit an area that made it onto the big screen! The town also has a small trolley museum with a working trolley. The museum is currently closed due to the virus. Feel free to check online for updates on this fascinating place of interest. 

Shelburne Falls and the surrounding area is truly a wonderful place. It is very easy to get to these areas from Holyoke. It is a quiet drive and there is not much traffic. There are many dining options for families to choose from that are both satisfying and affordable. There are also many shopping options in Shelburne Falls, such as bookstores. There are popular destinations just outside of the area, such as Yankee Candle. Lastly, there are numerous attractions, from the beautiful Bridge of Flowers to fascinating glacial potholes. Going on a day trip with the people you love will be a refreshing and relaxing escape from everyday life. The Shelburne Falls and Mohawk Trail region is guaranteed to impress. It is waiting for you, whenever you are ready and feel safe to go.