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A string of historic settlements lines the majestic Connecticut River, the wide and winding waterway that runs through Western Massachusetts. The bustling city of Springfield, known for its family-friendly attractions and museums, along with a cluster of college towns and quaint, rural villages, is part of the Pioneer Valley, which formed the western frontier of New England from the early 1600s
until the late 1900s.
Educational pioneers came to this region and created a wealth of major colleges including Mount Holyoke (the first college in the country for women), Amherst, Smith, Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts. Northampton and Amherst serve as the valley's cultural hubs today; both have become increasingly desirable places to live, drawing former city dwellers who relish the ample natural scenery, sophisticated cultural venues, and lively dining and shopping.