Saturday, January 14, 2006

Let out your inner travel guide!

J and I are talking about where we'd like to go on vacation after getting hitched (that is if there's any money left over). We've talked about Canada, Europe, and a cruise we definitely can't afford. I'm thinking there must be other interesting places to see here in the Continental U.S., and other places we haven't thought of. I'm curious to know about the neat things to see and do in your neck of the woods and also places you'd like to travel to.

Anybody traveling this way should definitely explore some of the Pioneer Valley. Of course, Northampton is the great cultural center around here, with music and arts venues galore. The Iron Horse Music Hall is a great place to get a meal and watch the show- they have hosted some of my favorite musicians (like Melissa Ferrick, Kate Rusby, Kris Delmorst, etc.) and it's where J and I first met! Other great arts venues include the Calvin Theatre, Pearl Street Nightclub, Pleasant Street Theatre, and the Academy of Music, along with several free art galleries. The best cup of coffee in town (always organic and fair-trade) is the Haymarket, but keep your eyes peeled, because it may be one of the oldest stalwarts of Noho businesses, but the doorway is tiny and easy to miss! Noho is also home to Smith College and it's beautiful river and walking trails, and for a great day of family fun, go to Look Park- a beautiful public park complete with trails, picnic sites, a petting zoo, paddle boats, a choo-choo train, wading pool with giant flower-sprinkler, and outdoor concert half-shell known as the Pines Theatre. Of course, I'd reccommend our favorite restaurant and site of our wedding reception, the Northampton Brewery for good food and great beer brewed on site. Northampton is also home to the Valley's premier GLBT Nightclub, Diva's.

Closeby, Easthampton- Center of the Universe (as the townie bumper sticker declares) is home to the Pioneer Arts Center of Easthampton (PACE) for music and theatre, and the Brass Cat and Amy's Place have both served me good drinks in an enjoyable atmosphere. The Riverside building at 1 Cottage St. is also a neat place to visit because the upper floors are artists' studios filled with fascinating wares. For a nature day, Mount Tom is beautiful and has picnic sites, wonderful trails leading to amazing views, the Eerie House Ruins, and two climbing towers to look even farther.

The Northern Valley is full of highly recommended experiences- try our new hometown of Greenfield for the People's Pint (another great local brewery with some of the best food on the town), Poet's Seat Tower for a beautiful nature walk up to the tower that over looks the town, and the Green River Music Festival and hot air balloon launch every summer. Nearby is Shelburne Falls, famous for the glacial "Potholes" that are naturally formed craters from the last Ice Age that are now part of the Salmon Falls waterfall. Though swimming isn't allowed anymore, it's still a fantastic site for the geologists among you. Just down the street is the Bridge of Flowers- quite literally an expansive bridge that is covered in flowers from spring to fall- it draws thousands of visitors every year and it's absolutely beautiful. Other things to see in the Shelburne area include the Trolley Museum and Mass MoCA- a venue for some of the Valley's best arts and cultural entertainment. We're not far from Brattleboro, VT, either, but that's another state for another time!

The Valley in general is a very GLBT friendly place, especially Northampton, so it's definitely on my list of safe places to go. Also a very family-friendly place, with lots of entertainment that would be great for kids- even at pride. The Northampton Pride parade and festival continues to be the largest concentration of two-mom families I've ever seen, year after year. Of course, there's a lot more to the area, but there's my short review of our little part of the world! And yours?


eryn said...

As you know, we live the 'happy valley' as well. You do a wonderful job describing it. I love all the places you mentioned. Noho in the spring/summer is the best and I love the Graduation Ale at the Noho Brewery in late May.

Amy and I were married on the Cape and took a short honey moon to Provincetown. We'd previously had a private commitment ceremony on Aruba, so that was out first and real honeymoom (besides we had tickets to see the indigo girls at the Calvin two nights after our wedding). We sort of took an "anniversary" trip to Alaska around our one year wedding anniversary. And I dream of a trip to Sr. Croix! I was hoping for our 2nd wedding anniversay, but it's not looking like it will happen.

You could also check the Damron's Womens Traveler book. We've found it very helpful when traveling!

Trista said...

Ok, I know that this sounds totally counter-intuitive for a lesbian couple's honeymoon, but if you're into outdoor recreation (I don't know if you are or aren't) then nothing beats Utah. So many different ecosystems, so little time! You can go from high alpine to red rock desert in a short drive. And don't forget the martian landscape of Goblin Valley! And, of course, you could stay with us! Ok, I'm just being selfish, though Utah is indeed wonderful to vacation in (but you wouldn't want to live here) I'm sure there are better destinations for lesbian honeymooners.

You could come visit some other time, though!(?)

starevelina said...

Oh, you bet! That would be great! Having only ever traveled the coasts, I've wanted to go to some other areas, especially to the West. And I'm not surprised at all that Utah is a great destination- and it would be just the sort of not-so-common vacation that we don't take and really should. I will most definitely let you know if and when we head your way.