There’s a saying you’ll see on t-shirts and bumper stickers in Amherst that offers both a pronunciation lesson and an insight: “Amherst—where only the ‘h’ is silent.” That captures Amherst—vibrant, opinionated and proud of it.

Life here is also smart, fun, dynamic and somehow laid back all at the same time. Here are two facts backing that up:

  • More than 40% of the local population has a graduate degree.
  • Surveyed visitors say Amherst makes them feel more like themselves than anywhere else.

The town of Amherst is home to 35,000 politically engaged, culturally aware people, and more than 30,000 college students live in Amherst during the academic year. Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst are the College’s neighbors, and Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges are a short bus ride away (more on that below). Along with Amherst, these schools form the Five Colleges Consortium (events at each school are posted here).

The small sampling below will give you an idea of how much there is to enjoy here. And most of this is within walking distance of the College.

Town Life

Emily Dickinson daguerotype, a bird in the Beneski Museum, and visitors viewing art in the Mead Art Museum

Arts and Museums

The influx of students (and faculty, staff and their families) means plenty of concerts, festivals, lectures, conferences, exhibitions and museums (including our own Emily Dickinson Museum, Beneski Museum of Natural History and Mead Art Museum). Galleries can be found in both Amherst and Northampton and families will love the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Check out The Museums 10 website for up-to-date information on area exhibitions.


There’s music for every taste, from classical to funk, from orchestras to chamber music. The Pioneer Valley is a major stop on the concert trail. Venues such as The Drake in Amherst and the Academy of Music in Northampton mean that you can watch live music pretty much every night (recent examples at Amherst College alone: Macklemore, The Decemberists and The Roots, as well as the Music at Amherst concert series, which features chamber music and leading vocalists).


Located downtown, Amherst Cinema Arts Center not only shows the latest art-house features, classic films and documentaries but also offers live discussions with film artists, education programs, and broadcasts of productions from around the world, including Britain’s National Theatre. South Hadley’s Tower Theaters, close to the Mount Holyoke College campus, offers a mix of mainstream and independent features, and if you’re looking for the latest Hollywood blockbusters, Cinemark is located in nearby Hadley at the Hampshire Mall.

Food & Coffee Shops

students seen through a window talking in the local pizza place

Sure, every college town has pizza places. But Antonio’s in Amherst is one of the best in the country, and there’s so much more, from French to Mexican to Italian to delicious deli. Check out the amazing variety.

Our town is full of some of the friendliest, warmest and most intellectually engaged people you’ll ever meet. Many such folks can be found at Share Coffee, or Amherst Coffee (of course, Frost Library’s café is not too shabby either). As one student put it, Share Coffee "attracts the kind of people you see in romantic comedy movies but secretly hope to meet in real life.”

Brew Pubs (and More)

Small-batch beer flows at the Amherst Brewing Company’s Hangar Pub & Grill on the edge of UMass. Locals love The Moan and Dove just a mile outside town, for its serious selection of casks and bottles. The Northampton Brewery beckons to the west, the Tree House Brewing Company is a short drive north in Deerfield, and though it doesn’t have a brew pub, Berkshire Brewing Company offers some of the tastiest beer in the region.

Outdoor Life

The Valley’s outdoor life can’t be beat. Hiking trails, fishing streams, the Connecticut River (a favorite for boating), and all variety of natural scenery — from woods to farmlands to ponds — provide beautiful views and give students unforgettable experiences to share.

A squirrel on a branch in the woods

Amherst College Wildlife Sanctuary

Amherst College’s own Wildlife Sanctuary includes 500 acres of open fields, wetlands, flood plain woods, river, upland woods, plantation pines, and ponds. There are also three trails, with interactive tours on our campus map.

Rail Trail

If bicycling (or jogging or cross-country skiing) is your thing, on our east edge lies the 11-mile Norwottuck Rail Trail. This paved trail cuts through the college’s Wildlife Sanctuary and connects Amherst, Hadley, and Northampton. 

Local Parks

Having explored the local scenery since her arrival at Amherst, Sophia Maldonado ’20 created this interactive map of local public parks.

Her map includes the Mill River, Kendrick, Sweetser, and Groff parks, all within the town of Amherst.

Transportation & Accommodations

Getting Around

Buses operated by the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) take you wherever you want to go, well into the early morning hours and on weekends when school is in session. College students simply show their ID to ride as often as they like. And through our Zipcar program, you can get 24/7 access to Zipcars parked right on campus.

Going Places

Whether by air, rail or bus, traveling to and from Amherst is a breeze. Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn., is about an hour from campus, and Boston’s Logan Airport is about two and a half hours away. Shuttle transportation from either airport to campus is available. Megabus offers daily bus service to New York City, and Amtrak has limited service to nearby Northampton and extensive service to Springfield, Mass., just 30 minutes from campus. See more transportation options, including shuttle, bus and limousine services.


Inn on Boltwood

We’re proud of our own Inn on Boltwood, recently restored to its former glory. Right on the Amherst Common and on the doorstep of campus, this inn has housed students, alumni, families and the occasional famous poet (Robert Frost) since 1926. It’s known for impeccable service, luxurious style, exceptional food and commitment to environmental sustainability. There are plenty of other lodging options, though. See Amherst’s Local Lodging page.

Amherst Coffee shop and Jones Library

Amherst for Amherst

Learn about Amherst College’s initiative to deepen its partnership with the town of Amherst, MA.