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Plum Island is a great destination for nature lovers. It’s a bird watcher’s paradise; a haven for migrating birds and a breeding ground for shorebirds. Joined to northeast mainland Massachusetts by a single bridge from Newburyport, even the island’s name suggests a connection with nature: It was named after the beach plums that grow on the sand dunes. Public beaches are plentiful, and the fishing, whether from the shore or boat, is great. The coastal ecology is delicate; visitors can only access the sand dunes by boardwalk. There are numerous lodging options on the island, including bed and breakfasts, inns, and rental cottages. In addition, there is a population of year-round residents.
Nature and the arts exist compatibly in the Berkshires, a hilly area in western Massachusetts. Most of the hills are under 1,200 feet (360 meters) high though a couple do climb higher to the sky. The Berkshires are filled with hiking trails, including parts of the Appalachian Trail. The highest waterfall in Massachusetts, Bash Bush Falls, is located here. Travelers who get tired of hiking can take in an art museum or two, including the Norman Rockwell Museum, or a concert at Tanglewood Music Center. The Boston Symphony Orchestra makes its summer home in the Berkshires.
Northampton is a charming college town in the Pioneer Valley with a picturesque and vibrant downtown, consisting of numerous art galleries, restaurants and quirky shops sprinkled among coffee shops and performing arts venues. It is home to Smith College, a prestigious women’s college. The presence of college students and their professors gives the town a distinctly liberal political atmosphere. More than 20 percent of Northampton is devoted to open space and greenways, which make strolling a delight. Cultural activities include a vibrant music scene and annual film festival.