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Five Winter Activities Near Amherst

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Snow covers the scenery on the University of Massachusetts campus

There is a chill in the air, there are mounds of snow on the ground, and the campus pond is frozen over — it’s officially winter at the University of Massachusetts Amherst! Winter can be a stressful time of the year, because it means finals are right around the corner. You may spend a lot of time studying for exams, or working on a big class project. However, don’t forget to take a break and have some fun! There are many things to do during the winter time around Amherst.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Go sledding on campus

On the first major snow day at UMass Amherst, my friends and I decided to take a break from doing school work and go sledding in Central Residential Area! We grabbed lids of plastic storage containers, as well as cardboard boxes, and headed to the hill in front of Baker Hall. To our surprise, there were many other students sledding as well! We joined them as we raced down the hill in our makeshift sleds to see who could get to the bottom the fastest. After a couple hours in the snow, we headed to Franklin Dining Commons for some hot chocolate — the perfect way to end a snow day!

2. Take a wintry hike

UMass Amherst is surrounded by many beautiful mountain ranges, including the Mount Tom Range and the Holyoke Range. If you are looking to catch some wintry views, consider taking a hike this season. Mount Holyoke Range State Park offers 30 miles of hiking trails, and Mount Tom State Reservation is home to 22 miles of hiking trails, so there’s a lot to see and do! Grab some friends, a thick coat, and sturdy hiking shoes to spend a day on the mountain trails. Just remember to prepare for the cold weather and be cautious of ice.

3. Visit Atkins Farm Country Market

Do you love the taste of apple cider donuts? How about other baked goods, like banana bread and pumpkin pie? If so, then take a trip to Atkins Farms Country Market in Amherst! Atkins is a locally owned and operated business that sells baked goods made in-store, fresh produce from local farms, meats and cheeses, as well as fudge and candy. Consider grabbing a coffee and a donut from Atkins to enjoy while you study for finals — you won’t regret it!

4. Attend a hockey game

There’s nothing more exciting than watching your team score a goal or win a big game, especially if it’s the UMass Minutemen Ice Hockey team! Head on down to the Mullins Center to watch hockey games that will keep you on the edge of your seat. While you are there, you can enjoy singing along with your friends to the music the UMass Ice Band plays during the games. You can even grab some chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and other great-tasting foods on the concourse. There is something for everyone at the UMass hockey games! Check this season’s game schedule and mark your calendarLike all UMass home games, undergraduate students can attend for free as long as they provide their UCard at the doors.

5. Do some holiday shopping

Winter holidays are right around the corner, which means many people are out shopping. If you are looking to buy holiday presents, or just want to go on a shopping trip to treat yourself, consider going to stores near UMass Amherst. The Hampshire Mall has a variety of department stores, like Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods, as well as Cinemark Movie Theaters. Downtown Northampton is home to many different locally owned stores and eateries, and it’s only a little over 20 minutes drive away from campus. I like visiting Thornes Marketplace in Northampton because it is home to many independent stores that you won’t find anywhere else!

However you decide to spend your time this winter, I hope you have some fun. Best of luck on finals and happy holidays!

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