While Somatic Systems Institute's Western Massachusetts location may at first seem nestled away in its own corner of the world, student life is enriched by the school's location in this area: The Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, the Connecticut River valley called "The Valley" by local residents, is home to everything from a large amusement park to the homestead of a beloved poet and all within 5 minutes to an hour's drive from campus. Big city life is not too far, either, as we are fairly close to both Boston and New York.
There are several wonderful institutions of higher learning in the Valley offering an array of lectures, concerts and presentations on any given day. Smith College is in Northampton, the gates of its beautiful and resource-filled campus just a few hundred feet from Somatic Systems Institute. Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts are also all in nearby Amherst. Mt. Holyoke College is in South Hadley. Together these schools form the Five College Consortium. Most 5-College facilities are available to all 5-College students including libraries, computer labs and dining halls and are only a (free) bus ride away.
Outside of classes, students frequent Northampton and Amherst on a daily basis. Downtown Northampton, dubbed Paradise City for more than 100 years, has been voted the country's number one small arts town. In a small stretch of pedestrian avenues, one will find several cosmopolitan movie houses, big-city-grade music venues and concert halls, an density of unique artisan shops and boutiques, a metropolitan-class art museum, and shopping of all kinds. Restaurants are a specialty in the Valley, with Northampton offering every genre of food you could imagine, from burger and pizza joints to Moroccan and Tibetan cuisine. The scale is just as diverse, with anyone of any dress code being able to chose from a sports bar to high-end dining. The Northampton experience is somewhat like 5 blocks of New York city being set down in the middle of some of the most beautiful countryside in all of New England. All of this is literally right outside Somatic Systems Institute's door, which opens right on to a bustling side street to Main Street, in the heart of downtown. Students seem to enjoy this experience during their breaks and evenings almost as much as the training experience itself, and quickly come to long for Northampton as their campus and second home.
Amherst's town center is a slightly smaller and slightly more bucolic version of the same experience, just 7 miles away, and easily accessible by bus or bike trail as well as car. Downtown Amherst offers a range of activities, and is home to the Emily Dickinson homestead as well as a number of restaurants, boutiques and specialty stores.
If looking to get away from Amherst and Northampton, there are a number of places that are a short drive from campus. Holyoke and Springfield, to our south, are our nearest urban cities. Just north of Holyoke is the Holyoke Mall and nearby shopping complexes. Springfield, has a number of theaters, museums, was the home of Dr. Seuss, and is home of the Basketball Hall of Fame (as the sport was invented here). Six Flags New England is also very near Springfield in Agawam.
If looking to go somewhere more serene, there are a number of campgrounds to our northwest and also a number of small mountains for hiking and biking, some even within walking distance of campus. Really, most of the Valley is one big scenic walking trail. The Connecticut River runs through the center of the Valley and provides a perfect atmosphere for kayaking and canoeing.
For additional nearby nature and culture, just to the west of the Pioneer Valley is the Berkshire Mountains region of Western Massachusetts (in fact, the Berkshire foothills begin just 15 minutes outside Northampton center). Summer is the best time to take advantage of this area famous for premiere concerts, dance, and theater nestled in a posh country resort area. Tanglewood and other famous Berkshire cultural centers are only an hour or less picturesque drive away.
For the traveler, both Boston and New York are a few hours away, accessible by bus from the 5-College area and train from Springfield. Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT is only 45 minutes away and Logan International Airport in Boston is 2 hours away.
For those of you looking for all the other logistical conveniences, within a 15-minute drive one can find several shopping centers that include most of the biggest stores anyone might need in a pinch — including major supermarkets like Stop & Shop, Target, Wal-Mart, Staples, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and more. Local shopping is just as convenient, with downtown offering several full-featured local markets, natural food stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores.
- Northampton city information
- Northampton information from the Chamber of Commerce
- Amherst town information
- South Hadley town information
- Pioneer Valley Guide