This Happy Valley is choc-a-block with brilliant free things. Wow, are we lucky here in northwestern Massachusetts! Remember we have family-friendly connecting rooms here at the Deerfield Inn and a restaurant that makes parents and children happy!
- One day only in Deerfield – August 14, Free Fun Friday – admission to exciting programming, museum houses, period re-enactors, historic artisan demonstrations, children’s old-time activities, at Historic Deerfield & Memorial Hall, Deerfield. Wear comfy shoes because this is the ultimate, sine qua non, museum feet day. You and your children can break for lunch with a kid’s menu at air-conditioned Champney’s at the Deerfield Inn for just $11
- Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers – a Victorian iron bridge saved from the wrecking ball when the Garden Club sallied out before the heavy equipment came and planted the most beautiful flower beds along its length and dedicated it to veterans of wars. A place of peace and soul-restoring contemplation surrounded by sweet scents and the soothing burble of the river below. Meander afterwards to the ancient glacial potholes where the icy water makes its own music. Known in jest around here as the glacial potholders.
- Sugarloaf Mountain, an easy ramble to the top to see the most spectacular view of the mighty and sinuous Connecticut winding below with mostly organic farmland stretching out in a patchwork of colors in the valley below. This is where a Mel Gibson film was filmed several years ago, and where, in the memory of many older folks, a trolley took merrymakers to the top for dances and dating.
- Great Falls Discovery Center in the historic former mill town of Turners Falls. Housed in perfectly as-was mill buildings, this delightful spot highlights not only the past industrial history, but also the cultural and natural. Look to the right towards the river and you might see the massive and ungainly bald eagles’ nest where raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi places eggs undamaged by DDT for the eagles to raise when their own are too thin-shelled. Beautiful gardens of native plants and plantings to lure in butterflies and hummingbirds, and a lower level to see fish sleeking by. Sometimes sucker fish glom onto the glass to take a rest against the current and our children used to squeak with delight to see their flattened out lips and rather sinister teeth grasping to the one-way glass. Fab, fun, and unpretentiously fascinating.
- Dr Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden in the Quadrangle in Springfield in honor of townee Theodor Seuss Geisel. Only five large bronze statues of well-loved key Seuss characters, but an absolute delight for children who are wowed by their size and simplicity.
The Botanic Garden of Smith College – FREE, the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College – FREE, Amherst History Museum – FREE, Mead Art Museum – FREE, Yiddish Book Center in an architecturally distinctive schtetl – FREE. Check out Museums 10 – six of them are FREE!