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Beyond the Bridge: Shelburne Falls’ Cultural District

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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

The world-renowned Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls is one of Massachusetts’ most iconic places. As far back as the 1920s, and again since the 1980s, local residents have converted this former trolley bridge into a stunning display of horticultural color and beauty, attracting visitors from April through October.

Bridge of Flowers Shelburne Falls

Shelburne Falls’ famed Bridge of Flowers

Creating beauty out of one’s surroundings is a hallmark of Western Massachusetts, long considered a bastion of cultural and artistic richness. When you visit the Bridge of Flowers, make sure to enjoy the Shelburne Falls Cultural District, a vibrant panoply of artisan shops and galleries in the adjoining towns of Shelburne and Buckland.

Stop into the artisan shops clustered in the center of town, where you’ll find the works of local photographers, quilters, metalsmiths, weavers, potters and painters. You can see the full list by clicking here (sort by “Arts & Culture”).

Shelburne Falls Art

Quilt by Shelburne Falls-based Ann Brauer

Shelburne Falls Pottery

Some of Shelburne Falls’ most vibrant bowls by E. Michalenko

On the Shelburne side, just over the Bridge of Flowers on Bridge Street, you’ll find Boswell’s Books, a popular cultural gathering spot for more than three decades. The bustling independent bookstore stocks many of the area’s local authors such as Phil Billitz, whose new book, A Jewell in New England, contains photos and inspirational quotations about the Bridge of Flowers. You’ll also find a variety of games, puzzles, crafts, calendars and more.

Boswell's Books

Calendars on display at Boswell’s Books via Facebook

Just down the street from Boswell’s is Memorial Hall, a community gathering spot since 1995 that offers a year round calendar of films, concerts, theater and more, as well as simulcasts from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. The hall was originally an Opera House, built in 1898, and has also hosted minstrel shows, vaudeville acts and countless community events over its illustrious history.

Speaking of history, you’ll find plenty of it at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum on Depot Street in Buckland. Take a ride on the museum’s famous Trolley No. 10 (built in 1896) and the old-fashioned pump car (best suited for adults). Inside the visitors’ center are wooden and electric train displays, historical trolley photos and a gift shop whose proceeds help to maintain this unique museum.

Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum

Getting up close and personal with an antique trolley

Where to Dine and Stay Over

Mocha Maya’s is a great spot at the beginning or the end of the day, with coffee to get you going early on and terrific live music in the evening, plus poetry readings, art displays and sports on the big screen. And check out the fine craft beer selection that includes many local brews.

Mocha Maya's Shelburne Falls

Mocha Maya’s

The West End Pub is also worth visiting. Overlooking the Bridge of Flowers and Deerfield River, diners can enjoy classic American fare with local products, such as maple syrup, mead, goat cheese and beef. If the weather is agreeable, grab seats outside, where the scenery and fresh air make meals even more pleasant.

Shelburne Falls Restaurants

Digging in outdoors

When it comes to overnights, there are plenty of choices. Dancing Bear Guest House is a European-style bed and breakfast located in the historic Moses W. Merrill homestead built in 1852. Nearby Charlemont has a host of suitable lodgings, too, which can viewed here.

Shelburne Falls and Buckland are located along the Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts, between the Berkshires and Central Massachusetts. Described as “63 miles of pure New England,” the Mohawk Trail officially opened in 1914 and contains over 500,000 acres of state parks and forests. Several information centers along the trail provide maps with fuller details of the area.

You can learn even more about the Shelburne Falls Cultural District here. For more information on Massachusetts’ cultural districts, just click here.

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  • Mary King

    Your timing is perfect. I’m working on my fourth novel (The McFadden Series by Mary King) and the story includes a trip along the Mohawk Trail. I’ve been researching the out-of-the-way places to visit as well as the well-known spots. Thanks too, for the additional links.

    • MassVacation

      Happy to be of service, Mary!

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