Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Frugal Living in the Pioneer Valley (Part II)

Alright, so in the first part I fed you, exhausted you, and probably got you drunk. This time around I'm going to hit on a few more ::ahem:: cultured and low-key options, which I'm sure will be much appreciated as you deal with any food-induced/head-banging headache that I may or may not be partially responsible for.

Scenery / Outdoorsy
Once again, let's start at my Alma Mater: Smith College. For those of you outdoorsy types, direct your attention to Paradise Pond. Directly behind the Admissions office there is a lovely pond with an island in the middle. By the edge, there is a dock, which makes a lovely place to picnic and tumble around. Also think about going for a hike or a jog around the nature trail that circles the pond and goes into the woods. If you made it to the pond, at this point you're tantilizingly close to the Smith College Lyman Plant House, home to a fantastic indoor garden. This botanical oasis was a favorite escape of mine and is open all year round.

Also, if you're bookish at all, make sure to check out some of the libraries. I used to work in the Sophia Smith and College Archives in the Alumnae Gym--if you've ever wanted to see an Oscar statue, a gold album, or other great stuff, thats the place to go! Hitting the Mortimer Rare Book Room is a must if you want to do the most educational thing possible. The curators there are amazing and will let you touch/look at pretty much any historical book you want. When I brought my family there we all got to handle Cuniform tablets, a Rennaisance prayer book, and rare original children's books!

Artsy types, the Pioneer Valley is your place! The Smith College Art Museum is free to all on the second Friday of the month, 4:00 - 8:00 pm. Check the websites of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College (amherst.edu), Mount Holyoke (mtholyoke.edu), and Hampshire (hampshire.edu) to find free times for their art museums. These museums are fantastic because they are constantly showing new exhibits since students are taking courses!

Finally, a bit of history. Northampton Historical Society is absolutely adorable, fun, and nearby. Venture a little further out and find the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Historic Deerfield, and the Pratt Museum of Natural History. Really, don't be afraid to go exploring! You'll come across so many neat things--also, Springfield, MA is nearby; stop there for the Basketball Hall of Fame and Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Hopefully this part will make you a little more curious about the area if my last article didn't sit too well with you. And always remember to take plenty of breaks at coffee shops: Haymarket, Starbucks (for you sellouts), the Woodstar Cafe, and the Yellow Couch!

Happy travels!
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