Blue Heron Restaurant, 440 Greenfield Road, Montague Center. (413) 367-0200.
A national historic landmark, this unspoiled 330-year-old village reflects the essence of old New England. Founded in 1669, the tiny village was a frontier outpost in British North America and hasn't grown much since. It's home to museums, working farms and three schools, including prestigious Deerfield Academy. For more than 250 years, education and the preservation of the past has been the village's chief occupation.
This is a museum of New England history and art a most unusual one at that. Off by itself in the midst of fields and meadows between Interstate 91 and U.S. Route 5, it is a collection of restored houses strung out along the mile-long Main Street, simply called "The Street." Although the entire village seems like a living museum, the official one comprises fourteen beautifully restored 18th and 19th century homes and other structures and the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. Together they are filled with more than 25,000 objects made or used in America from 1650 to 1850. You can drive or walk through the village free and at will. But unless you go inside the houses you'll miss the treasures of furniture, ceramics, textiles, glass and silver that form one of the country's finest collections of useful and decorative arts. The original benefactors were the Henry Flynts of Connecticut, whose son attended Deerfield Academy. They liked the village so much they bought a saltbox, the 1725 Allen House, on The Street in the 1950s and devoted their lives to buying more houses, restoring them and filling them with fine furnishings. Most of the houses are on their original sites and most furnishings are original. The structures include the Hall Tavern Information center, the Museum Store and Bookshop, and the Deerfield Inn. Admission includes an orientation program, a guided walking tour of the village, a self-guided tour of the Flynt Center and guided house tours that last about half an hour each.
(413) 774-5581. www.historic-deerfield.org. Open daily, 9:30 to 4:30. Adults $12, children $5.
>> Deerfield Lodging and Dining Suggestions
The Deerfield Inn, 81 Old Main St., Deerfield. (413) 774-5587 or (800) 926-3865.
>> Deerfield Dining Suggestions
Sienna, 6-B Elm St., South Deerfield. (413) 665-0215.
Chandler's Restaurant, Routes 5&10, South Deerfield. (413) 665-1277.
Northampton, home of Smith College, touts its acclamation as "the best small arts town in America." Arts and artists are evident everywhere, from the landmark Academy of Music to the two imposing bank buildings lately turned into art galleries. Northampton's downtown of local stores, galleries, theaters, restaurants and the like is one of New England's liveliest.
The Smith College Museum of Art, one of the best college art museums in the country, was closed until early 2003 for four years of renovations and expansion. The $35 million makeover of the Fine Arts Center is the most ambitious capital project in Smith history. The college also hosts the Lyman Plant House and Botanical Gardens, containing plant species from across the world.
>> Northampton Lodging and Dining Suggestions
The Hotel Northampton, 36 King St., Northampton. (413) 584-3100 or (800) 547-3529.