15 Best Things to Do in Easthampton (MA)
Nestled in the shadow of Mount Tom at 1,202 feet above sea level, Easthampton is a forward-thinking creative community surrounded by renowned university cities such as Northampton, Amherst, and Hadley.
From the 19th century until just after World War II, East Hampton was the center of the textile industry, and the town has retained its distinctive cityscape of historic factory complexes.
These massive brick buildings now house artist collectives, studios, restaurants, microbreweries, live music venues, indoor parks, and entertainment venues.
The ponds that once powered these mills are now the backdrop to a charming city park with walking trails, boat rentals, and space for outdoor summer entertainment.
1. CitySpace (Old Town Hall)
Easthampton’s old commercial center runs along several blocks of Main Street, from Northampton Street in the north to Center Street in the south.
The borough has been the city’s civic and commercial center since it was incorporated in 1785, and the many buildings testify to Easthampton’s prosperity in the 19th century.
The one-of-a-kind Old Town Hall was built in 1869 in theatrical Renaissance style with a 133-foot tall bell tower.
Since 2006, the Landmark on the ground floor has been occupied by the non-profit City Spaces, which raises funds for the building’s restoration while also hosting his exciting live performances here at the Blue Room.
2. Nashawannuck Mills Historic District and Cottage Street Cultural District
Overlooking the north shore of Nashawanak Pond is a vast complex of interconnected factory buildings built from the mid-1840s to the 1870s.
These were manufactured for the Williston Elastic Suspender Company, later renamed the Nashawannuck Manufacturing Company. She made elastic fabrics for suspenders and webbing, and rubber parts for shoes.
The stretch fabric business finally went out of business in 1970, but today the complex is home to a wide range of residents, from light industry to martial arts schools to artists’ cooperatives.
Heading east brings you to the bustling Cottage Street Cultural District, a long line of independent restaurants, bars, stages, and shops, with Mount Tom on the eastern horizon.
3. Park Hill Orchard
Just a few miles from central East Hampton, in the countryside, you’ll find an orchard that doubles as an outdoor art gallery.
Park Hill Orchard grows about 100 varieties of fruit, including various types of blueberries, raspberries, plums, plums, blackberries, peaches, cherries, pears, and apples.
There are about 48 kinds of apples alone, and you can enjoy apple picking from the end of summer. All of these produce and more are sold at rustic farm stands, which are open during Thanksgiving and are famous for their cider donuts and cider slush.
In addition, Park Hill Orchard is an art destination that hosts juried installations every two years, in between annual invited exhibitions that typically feature two artists. The work can be admired along an 800-meter promenade that winds through orchards and orchards.
4. New City Brewery
One of the tenants of this turn-of-the-century textile factory on Pleasant Street is New City Brewery, which has been brewing beer and lager since 2013.
The brewery he moved to this atmospheric space in 2015 offers 12 beers. What you won’t find anywhere else in the flagship is a hard ginger beer in a pre-Prohibition style. It also tastes great as a mimosa with grapefruit juice or freshly squeezed orange juice.
A variety of IPAs, lagers, and maltier also have New City Mules, which pair beautifully with Quiver Hibiscus Tea in a Hibiscus Mule. New City also has a kitchen stocked with extensive bar food, including vegetarian and vegan options.
5. Luthier’s Co-op & Backstage Bar
This unique and highly respected local business calls itself “the world’s first full-service guitar bar.”
By day, Luthier’s Co-op is a musical instrument store that specializes in stringed instruments, buying, selling, and repairing used and vintage guitars, basses, ukuleles, banjos, mandolins, and amplifiers.
At night, the venue transforms into a lively entertainment venue, featuring open mics, spoken word, stand-up comedy, and multiple performances each night.
The Backstage Bar serves signature cocktails, freshly ground and brewed coffee, and a variety of craft beers and ciders on tap.
6. Dinosaur Footprints Reservation
This corner of Pioneer Valley holds a special place in paleontological history, as it is where the first scientifically described dinosaur footprints were discovered.
During the early Jurassic period, about 200 million years ago, what is now the Connecticut River Valley was a subtropical area of lakes and wetlands.
Here, two-legged dinosaurs up to 20 feet long left footprints preserved in mudflats that eventually turned into sandstone.
Discovered in 1802, these castings were originally made by crows fleeing Noack’s Ark before the scientific community realized their significance in the second half of the century.
Nearly 20 tracks left by small herbivores and large carnivores can be studied on eight acres owned by the Reservation Board in adjacent Holyoke.
7. Chicoine Family Farm
In the idyllic west corner of East Hampton is the Sicoine family farm since 1933.
William Chicoin began raising cattle in the 1970s on what used to be a dairy farm, long before terms like farm-to-table beef and grass-fed beef became fashionable.
The herd of approximately 70 cows is exclusively grass-fed and never given steroids, growth hormones, or antibiotics, so the impact on quality is evident.
The Chicoin Family Farm shop is open on Sundays and also sells organic chicken and pork raised on-site.
8. Prodigy Minigolf & Gameroom
You might be surprised to find an indoor miniature golf course and game room for ages 13 and up on the ground floor of Eastworks Mill.
The 18-hole course is video game-inspired and is considered one of the most challenging and rewarding.
There are also about 60 different video game consoles from the 1970s to the 90’s, including some new ones. Add table games from billiards to air his hockey and his 200+ board games for a night of intense competition with friends.
9. Fort Hill Brewery
Opened in 2014, this craft brewery was founded by alumni of Chicago’s Siebel Institute, which has been training brewers worldwide since 1872.
Managing Director and Head Brewer Eric Bergins spent a long time looking for the ideal location for the brewery before deciding on East Hampton.
Fort Hill Brewery uses traditional German brewing techniques and adheres to historic purity laws (he limits brewers to four ingredients), which requires excellent water quality.
At the foot of Mount Tom on the Manhan River, this special location has a tasting room with an outdoor patio. Some of the most famous beers include Red Prince (Marzen), Lager Not a Fighter (Festbier), Hera Pils, Bill the Butcher (Imperial Stout), Fresh Pick (IPA), Doppelbock, and Lagerbier. Up to four nights a week (Thursday-Sunday), it features live music and local food trucks serving arepas, charcuterie platters, Italian-American street food, and more.
10. Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary
Just north of East Hampton, this 734-acre Mass Audubon Preserve is located on the Connecticut River floodplain, which is ecologically diverse with forests, marshes, swamps, meadows, and grasslands.
Arcadia’s 4-mile trail network includes the excellent All Parsons Trail with cable guides, featuring large tactile print and Braille commentary.
Extensive boardwalks and lookouts overlook the reserve’s delicate habitat, and there’s even a natural playground where kids can jump over stumps and build fairy houses.
Dozens of wildflower species bloom in the loamy soils of the floodplains, adding color to the meadows in spring and summer. There is a native flower garden at the start of the main loop from the visitor center.
11. Mount Tom State Reservation
Be sure to visit Metacomet Ridge, the highest peak in Trample, on the east side of town. At 402 feet tall, Mount Tom is part of a 160-mile chain of mountains that stretches from the northern tip of Franklin County to Long Island Sound in the south.
Like other ridge crests, Mount Tom is traversed by the 110-mile Metacomet Monadnock Trail, offering breathtaking views for miles from the mountain’s western cliff faces.
This trail is just one of a maze of trails that traverses mountains and leads to places of amazing natural beauty like Goat Peak.
The observation tower here offers sweeping views of the Connecticut River Valley and is a great spot to observe migratory birds of prey in early autumn.
12. Nashawannuck Pond
The unifying feature of downtown Easthampton is this serpentine pond, built in the mid-19th century to power the town’s factories and fed by Broad Brook, White Brook, and Wilton Brook.
Nashawanak Pond is part of a ubiquitous water system in downtown Easthampton that feeds Lower Mill Pond, which is lined with other mills along Pleasant Street.
At the western end of Cottage Street on the North Shore is a charming promenade completed in the 2010s with docks and benches.
Valet paddlers are nearby, and kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats are available for rent during the summer months.
On the south shore is the stunning Nonotuck Park, with a number of facilities, from a water spray park to a children’s playground, four lookouts, over 20 picnic areas, fishing areas, outdoor pools, and athletic facilities for soccer, baseball/softball, tennis, basketball, bocce ball, sand volleyball, and more.
13. Millpond Live Festival
Each summer, Millside Park at Lower Mill Pond hosts a series of grassroots festivals produced by a local creative agency and brought to life by a team of dedicated volunteers and local sponsors.
Featuring artists from around the world, these free, culturally diverse events are designed not only to bring people to the city but also to appeal to all members of the East Hampton community.
Enjoy great music, local food and drink, and a variety of innovative and engaging art experiences.
Artists at the time of this writing include Reyna Tropical, Judith Hill, Freelance, Beau Sasser, Misty Blues, and Puluup.
Since 1997, the five-story Stanley Home Products factory on Pleasant Street has found a new purpose as a diverse meeting place for entrepreneurs, artists, designers, artisans, non-profits, and community-based organizations…
Eastworks offers live entertainment, exhibits, dining, shopping, classes, workshops, and an open studio.
A popular hangout is Riff’s Joint. This casual countertop restaurant serves American comfort food with an ethical philosophy.
This means humanely raised meat free of antibiotics and hormones, and everything on the menu is homemade or locally sourced.
Today, the West End is Eastworks’ communal event and performance space, covering over 2,100 square meters and featuring a wine and beer license.
15. Manhan Rail Trail
Opened in 2003, this 6-mile trail traverses downtown Easthampton over an abandoned trackbed that operated as part of the Pioneer Valley Railroad until the mid-1980s.
The Manhan Rail Trail is intended to be part of a continuous 164-mile trail known as the Mass Central Rail Trail, which stretches from Northampton to Boston.
For now, it’s the best way to get around central Easthampton, passing by Main Street, Nashwanuk Pond, and the redeveloped industrial complex along Cottage and Pleasant Streets.
The road branches off at the eastern end of Pleasant Street, with a northern branch connecting to Northampton’s unique network of lanes.