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Sometimes you get to combine work and things and places you love, and over the past year, that’s happened to me more than once. I got to work in Sonoma on a project last summer, and for the past year I have been working with the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council in Western Massachusetts. As a UMass alum, I find that Amherst and Northampton hold some of my favorite memories, and the area is still one of my favorites to visit. There is SO much good food, beer, and wine, and gorgeous open outdoor space. And that’s just the beginning.

A few weeks ago I headed West for a meeting, and since it was on a Friday, I decided to stay the night in Northampton.

The beautiful and historic Hotel Northampton, a business I also work with, was my home for the night. It’s the perfect place to stay, and I’m not just saying that because I am lucky enough to work with them.


Hotel Northampton atrium


Hotel Northampton

Built in 1927, the hotel maintains historic charm and character while also being impeccably clean and well-kept, a true place of elegance and luxury, where you feel like sinking into a chair and never leaving.

Hotel Northampton lobby    Hotel Northampton Our beautiful and cozy room featured two balconies, where we enjoyed watching the hustle and bustle of Northampton on a warm July night.

Northampton, MA Throughout, lovely little details like bookshelves, beautiful old fixtures, and welcoming staff really add to the special feel of the hotel.

Hotel Northampton Wiggins Tavern Wiggins Tavern, with its dark wood, plaid furniture, and historic artifacts is a place that can’t be missed. They have a great food and drink selection, and being that it’s a tavern that was actually brought from another location, it is just very interesting.

Hotel Northampton

Free breakfast at the Coolidge Park Cafe is filling and delicious, served in a bright and sunny space, the perfect way to start the day.

It was tempting to just hang out at the hotel, but there’s so much going on in Northampton and its surroundings, we had to get out and about. We enjoyed part of the Northampton Arts Council Summer Concert Series, which took place right next to the hotel, and we browsed the sidewalk sales which were happening that weekend.


New City Brewery

We had heard great things about New City Brewery and their ginger beer mimosa flight, and it certainly lived up to the hype! How beautiful is this?! It was SO delicious and refreshing and a unique tasting option.

In the same complex, we stumbled into the Community Food Engine, a really cool hydroponic restaurant and indoor park. It wasn’t open yet, but from the peek we got, we were definitely intrigued!

Community Food Engine

For me, no trip to the Northampton area is complete without visiting Black Birch Vineyards. I love their wine and their stunning vineyard views. I kicked my shoes off, got a cold glass of Chardonnay, and soaked up the beautiful country life.

Black Birch Vineyard

While there are many places to eat in Northampton, I will admit I had two meals at Bueno y Sano, and old college favorite. I will forever love their tacos and am obsessed with their hot sauce. The next time I visit, I want to explore more of the restaurants, including Bistro le Gras, which everyone raves about. I need a week to eat there!

bueno y sano

Before we headed out of town, we stretched our legs with a walk on the trail at the Mill River, which is very close to downtown Northampton. You can really have the best of all worlds, fine dining and shopping, downtown life, and outdoor adventures all within a few miles in Western Massachusetts.

Mill River Mill River

For past posts on visiting Western Massachusetts:

Eating our Way around Amherst

Perfect Massachusetts Getaway

If you’re interested in a Western Massachusetts itinerary, don’t miss the Visit Hampshire County blog.

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Tags: Massachusetts, Northampton, Travel, travel blog, travel blog posts, travel blogger, Western Massachusetts

Other than the occasional snowstorm and too-cold winter days, we love living in New England so much. I’m partial to warm weather day trips from Boston (Hello, coastal living at its best.), but wintry getaways like my visit to Amherst this year can also be beautiful. This past weekend for my birthday we took advantage of blue skies and sunshine despite the cold and visited some favorite coastal Massachusetts towns, Newburyport and Essex.

The Poynt Newburyport

After a traffic-free drive, we kicked our day off with brunch at The Poynt, which is  beautiful, must-visit Newburyport spot. Seriously, I love it. It’s spacious and bright and friendly, with excellent food.

The Poyntchilaquiles

We couldn’t decide what to order and ended up sharing two of the best looking dishes, the Roasted Chicken Chilaquiles, which was smothered in the most amazing smoky red sauce, and the Cajun Bennie, another smoky, slightly spicy dish topped with blackened shrimp.

All washed down with Piper Heidseck Champagne because it was my birthday weekend, after all.


eggs benedict


Heidseck Monopole Champagne

We left brunch absolutely stuffed, and I needed a long walk. We tried our best at a few seaside locations, but the whipping winds were freezing our faces off, so we turned into Newburyport and enjoyed sunny sidewalks sheltered from the coastal winds by stone buildings.


And then we went in search of beer. We discovered two great breweries with tasting rooms and delicious, free beer tastings. RiverWalk Brewing Co. was our first stop, a delightful little tasting room with some killer beer, including a sour I loved. The only downside was that our arrival coincided with a brewery bus tour full of REALLY loud drunk women. As in, my ears actually, physically hurt. We left with a half growler of Gnomad, an American farmhouse ale we both loved.

Riverwalk Brewing Co Newburyport Brew Co

At Newburyport Brewing Co. our favorites were the two stouts we tried, especially the Joppa Stout.

We couldn’t believe tasting flights were free, and we plan to return to hang out and order pints (and growlers!) again soon. We’re going away again soon and didn’t want to have the fresh beer go bad.

beer tasting in Newburyport

Post-beer-tasting led to more wandering, including checking out some of the great shops in Newburyport, waking ourselves up with a giant coffee, and then hitting the road for Essex for an early light dinner at CK Pearl.

CK Pearl scallop sabayon fish tacosOysters and rosé led into fish tacos and an almost bowl-lickingly amazing scallop sabayon, a slightly sweet, creamy soup. We couldn’t get enough of the views, and stayed until the sky turned as pink as the wine in my glass before heading home, not wanting the day to end.

Essex River

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Tags: brewery, Essex, Massachusetts, Newburyport, oysters, Travel, wine

Welcome, new readers! You can read all about my travel here.

My perfect Massachusetts getaway in Hampshire County of Western Massachusetts included just a fraction of the amazing restaurants and cafes in the region. It’s the most productive farmland in New England, and Hampshire County is a foodie paradise.

After I checked into the beautiful Lord Jeffrey Inn, I decided to check out Amherst Coffee, which I had heard great things about, for a cocktail. Amherst Coffee isn’t just a coffee shop; it’s also a whiskey bar after 3:00 p.m., making for a space that is multi-use, and it is one of the coziest places ever. I loved all of the dark wood, the friendly and warm staff, and the craft cocktail menu.  I ended up visiting two days in a row, opting twice for the Walnut Old Fashioned, the perfect balance of sweet and bitter.

Amherst Coffee

I had a hard time deciding on dinner, because Amherst has so many great restaurants, but since The Lumber Yard was new-to-me, I decided to wander  in the cold, starry night down to this cozy restaurant, located near the railway station I used to travel through as a student at UMASS. It was the perfect choice.

The Lumber Yard Amherst

The Lumber Yard Amherst

The Lumber Yard mixes Amherst country charm with everything a cocktail lover and foodie would want, including a full bar with great wines by the glass, charming service, and delightful locals at the bar.  While sipping a penicillin at the bar and chatting with some local ladies, I felt the need to move to Amherst ASAP. Truth be told, I feel that every time I visit. There’s a relaxed free feeling about the place, and at my core, I am the nose ring decorated, backless shirt wearing, Phish following hippie I was in college, molded into a more conventional life in the city.  I like the old me, and that nose ring may make a reappearance.

penicillin cocktail

But back to the cocktails and food. . . everything at The Lumber Yard was SO good. The cocktails were so perfectly made, and my fries with dips and the warm lentil dip I had were both amazing. The Lumber Yard was one of the best dining experiences I have had lately, and I wish it wasn’t two hours away. It is well worth a visit.

perfect fries

The Lumber Yard Amherst On my way back to the Lord Jeff, I spied a live music session happening at one of my favorites, The Black Sheep Deli.  I had plans to have breakfast the next day at The Black Sheep, but I couldn’t miss the music so stepped inside for some toe-tapping fun for a few minutes.

Black Sheep Amherst

The Black Sheep has always been one of my favorites, and I loved seeing their window signs welcoming refugees and got a kick out of their Brooklyn Bernie sandwich.

Black Sheep Amherst

I only made a few stops in Amherst due to the limited amount of time I had there, and I am so grateful I get the chance to work with Hampshire County and to visit the region on a regular basis.

bueno y sano amherst

And of course, no visit to Amherst is complete without a stop at Bueno y Sano for a taco fix and Atkins Farms for their famous cider doughnuts and other local products.

Atkins Farm Donut

In the interest of full disclosure, I do PR  work for the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council, but I chose to arrive early and stay in Amherst after my work was done and paid for all of that myself just because I love it there so much.

It’s a special place, and I am thrilled I get to share even a little bit of it with my blog readers.

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Tags: Amherst, Dining out, Food, food blog, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Travel, travel blog, Western Massachusetts

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