Shelburne, Massachusetts, is a small town with plenty of charm, great eateries, and must-see attractions like the iconic Bridge of Flowers.
By Cathryn McCann
Oct 19 2018
Downtown Shelburne | Guide to Shelburne, MassachusettsPhoto Credit : Heather Marcus
Shelburne, Massachusetts, is a historic New England town bordered by hills, the Deerfield River, and Salmon Falls. It’s home to several well-known attractions, including the Bridge of Flowers, glacial potholes some 14,000 years in the making, and one of the last remaining candlepin bowling alleys. While you’re there, you can enjoy the outdoors while picking fruit at Apex Orchards or taking a stroll in the High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary; there are also surrounding towns in Deerfield River Valley to explore. No matter what brings you to Shelburne, you’ll find some great additions to your itinerary among our favorite things to do, places to eat, and places to stay.
Depending on the season, you can load up on a variety of fruit at Apex Orchards, including apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, pears, blueberries, kiwis, and grapes, all with a vast view of the Western Massachusetts landscape (and all the way to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire). And when the holidays roll around, the orchard offers locally made wreaths and precut or choose-and-cut Christmas trees.
There are five miles of trails off Patten Road in Shelburne, all part of the 792-acre wildlife sanctuary. Choose easier walking paths that wind around wildflowers and a vernal pool, or more strenuous trails that lead to views of the Deerfield River Valley and Mount Greylock.
Once a trolley bridge and now a footbridge open from April to October, the Bridge of Flowers is just that: a stately bridge with cascades of bright blooms and greenery arching up and billowing over. This one-of-a-kind garden makes for a pleasing stroll for visitors.
The river-eroded potholes at the base of Salmon Falls have been forming for about 14,000 years, starting when the Deerfield River began to flow over the rocks in what is now known as Shelburne. Today this spot is home to one of the largest collections of natural potholes in the world, ranging in diameter from 6 inches to 39 feet.
This is one of the oldest bowling alleys in the country, as well as one of the few places in New England where you can still enjoy candlepin bowling, a game with narrow pins and small balls without finger holes. Located just off the Mohawk Trail, this is a favorite hangout for locals and a must-visit for anyone seeking a round of old-school bowling sans flashing lights and electronic scoreboards.
Whatever kind of beverage you’re in the mood for — coffee, craft beer, wine, tea, hot chocolate (or their famous frozen version), or a fruit smoothie — you’ll find it at Mocha Maya’s, along with live music and poetry. Hungry? Try one of their homemade baked goods to go along with your drink of choice.
Styled like a classic French bistro, Gypsy Apple Bistro is the place to go for fine indoor and outdoor dining in Shelburne. The small but well-curated menu changes frequently (a recent offering: pan-roasted chicken breast with pumpkin risotto and seasonal vegetables) and keeps a focus on local ingredients.
After strolling the Bridge of Flowers you can stop in for a bite at the West End Pub, located (you guessed it) at the west end of the bridge. This two-story casual dining spot with views of the Deerfield River features everything from beef, fish, and chicken entrées to burgers, salads, and pasta.
Influenced by worldwide cultures and with an emphasis on organic local foods and sustainable practices, Hearty Eats offers a wide range of dishes made without gluten, dairy, sugar, peanuts, GMOs, or artificial ingredients. Among the offerings are falafel, salads, curry, rice bowls, and fish, which can be paired with everything from kombucha to a frappe.
A downtown fixture for more than 70 years, the Foxtown Diner offers a laid-back, “locals” atmosphere and delicious classic diner food, including homemade doughnuts, pancakes and omelets, burgers, and old-fashioned sodas, plus specials like a pot roast dinner.
Breakfast is served all day at this bakery and restaurant, which opened in 2017 just off Bridge Street, so look for top-notch egg sandwiches, Benedicts, French toast, and the like. Baked also serves up soup, burger, and sandwiches — and even has a beer and wine menu. But the stars are the from-scratch sweets and pastries, which have included peach coffee cake, raspberry cream cheese rolls, and peanut butter fudge pie.
This modern restaurant and bar has outdoor and indoor seating with great views of town and the Deerfield River (and the rush of Salmon Falls as atmospheric background noise). The Blue Rock specializes in New American fare, which goes nicely with its craft beer flights and signature cocktails.
An 1852 home converted into a cozy bed-and-breakfast with four guest rooms, the Dancing Bear is located in the village of Shelburne Falls, which means many area attractions and dining options are just a quick stroll away.
This 1880 Victorian bed-and-breakfast offers gardens to wander, shaded decks, and views of the surrounding hills. There are three guest rooms, all with Wi-Fi and air conditioning.
Situated just down the road from Shelburne in the historic village of Deerfield, this 1884 hotel has grown into an upscale getaway with a popular restaurant and tavern. The 24 rooms are all individually decorated, and the king suite boasts a gas fireplace.
Have you ever been to Shelburne, Massachusetts?