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Bridge of Flowers, Quintessential Small Town New England Charm Highlight Shelburne Falls, Mass.
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Articles and photos by Eric H., lifelong New England resident

Shelburne Falls MA
Downtown Shelburne Falls, MA

Years ago when traveling through the Berkshire foothills in western Massachusetts, we became immediately enamored

by the quaint New England community of Shelburne Falls, Mass. -- a small village located in the towns of Shelburne and Buckland.

We loved the Norman Rockwell-like look and feel of the downtown with its old-fashioned ways: angled parking, trees shading the wide sidewalks and old-time stores like a variety store, coffee shop, local pharmacy and book shop straight out of the 1950s. The fine, old oversized and well-maintained homes off the main street lent a neighborly feel, perfectly framing that postcard-perfect downtown. It was like Mayberry RFD with some mountain and river views, friendly people and absolutely no one acting like Barney Fife.

Times have changed in Shelburne Falls, but, thankfully, not too much. Art galleries and boutiques have made their way into town, but not intrusively the way some other traditional towns have been ruined by these upscale leanings. What makes Shelburne Falls different is that it doesn't advertise to the world about its galleries and boutiques, or for that matter its traditional ways. It's simply a place to discover an ultimate hidden travel destination gem tucked away in a part of western Massachusetts that doesn't get a lot of publicity. In Shelburne Falls, barefoot hippies, conservative townies, over stressed New Yorkers and Bostonians, and those with a balance and a centrist approach to life peacefully co-exist in a town that has a little bit of something to do for everybody. From the homemade peace sign on a third level apartment in back of a business building to the pick-up truck driver blaring some country music on the stereo further validates a place where people accept each other. It is possible to drink coffee in a hip setting at one of the newer, Harvard Square-like coffee houses, or at the Foxtowne Coffee Shop with its old-time diner presence. On one side of the street, there's Baker Pharmacy with a soda fountain and on the other side, the Logan and Wallace Gallery featuring incredible color landscape and still life photography.

Shelburne Falls and neighboring Buckland (just over the bridge) offer a street musician or two, plenty of locally-owned shopping and two of New England's greatest travel attractions: the Bridge of Flowers and the pothole glaciers.

The Bridge of Flowers is an unusual and fascinating phenomenon, a former trolley stop that now features 400 ft. of more than 500 flowers, plants and twigs. It's worth walking at least a few times, so you don't miss all the flower "nooks and crannies," as well as a beautiful view of the Deerfield River.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls MA
Bridge of Flowers

On the other side of the bridge in Buckland offers some rewards: McCuskers Market (a food coop) with lots of organic foods, the delicious non-organic aromas at the Buckland House of Pizza and Mo's Fudge Factor where homemade fudge, Bart's Ice Cream, candies and 12-pound candy bars should please anyone who likes sweets. Also, the West End Pub located on the right immediately after the Bridge of Flowers -- is a tremendous restaurant for affordably priced lunch and dinner -- and also featuring some wonderful views of the Deerfield River.

West End Pub, Buckland MA
West End Pub, Buckland

The 50 or so glacial potholes on the downtown Shelburne Falls side at Salmon Falls range in size from six inches in diameter to 39-feet across. It's an unusual site, highly recommended for geologists and sightseers in search of a different type of attraction.

The total Shelburne Falls travel experience is a great one: you get the thrill of being in a classic New England village setting, two very interesting major tourist attractions, plenty of shopping and dining options, and a place where all walks of life get along. It's also a four-season travel destination, given its spectacular fall foliage, proximity to Berkshire and Vermont ski areas, and the walkability and attractions factor in the spring and summer.

Shelburne Falls is a truly interesting place to be -- a real town from another era that has the vision to constantly update itself within its traditional, small-town matrix.

Related information on Shelburne Falls, MA:

Photo:The Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA

For more information on Shelburne Falls, visit its Town Web Site.

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