In western Massachusetts, just east of the Berkshires, is the Pioneer Valley, a region of New England villages, former mill towns, farming communities and lively college towns along the banks of the Connecticut River, recently designated as a federal historic area. The area is known for its creative arts, rural beauty, cultural diversity, and great music and restaurants fueled by the area's dense cluster of colleges and the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts.
Rural Franklin County in the north delights the eye with orchards, fields, barns, farmhouses, churches, and small shops that bring to mind scenes of a traditional New England landscape. Just south is Hampshire County, a diverse area that ranges from small rural communities to lively college towns. The colleges run a full calendar of public events that brings nationally known lecturers, theater groups, dance companies, and musicians to the area.
The rural “Hilltowns” area is comprised of sixteen rural towns situated north to south in the Westfield River watershed sitting among the scenic rolling hills that lie between the Berkshire Hills and the larger communities along the west bank of the Connecticut River.
The lower end of “the Valley,” as locals know it, is the mostly urban Hampden County, dominated by the river city of Springfield.