While the crowds of tourists flock to New England’s most popular fall foliage destinations, you can feel good about taking in the colors in small, uncrowded Massachusetts towns that most people don’t even know exist.
Have you ever heard of Wendell, Royalston, Hardwick and Belchertown? If not, these beautiful little north central and western Massachusetts towns feature unspoiled historic town commons with lots of trees that take on the foliage most notably around the first few weeks of October.
When writing Massachusetts Town Greens — a book about the history of local town commons as central gathering places — I came across these towns and didn’t want to leave! Sure, I was on my way to cover the more popular town greens in the state, but much to my surprise, the commons in Wendell, Royalston, Hardwick and Belchertown turned out to be amongst my very favorites. There’s just something so nice about peace and solitude combining with foliage. It’s almost like going back in time before the fall foliage travel industry took hold. Royalston, I have been told, hasn’t changed much at all in the past 150 years with the exception of paved roadways.
Picture yourself in these small central Massachusetts towns, and better yet, try to visit if you have the chance. Here, you can enjoy and connect with traditional New England featuring old homes and churches surrounding the town commons. They are ideal locations for a picnic, a stroll through the leaves, picture taking and the occasional fall town fair like they have in Belchertown. The area is also rich in apple picking orchards like Red Apple Farm in Phillipston (reasonably close to Wendell and Royalston), Brookfield Orchards in North Brookfield (near Hardwick) and Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown. So relax and take in the true meaning of the fall foliage season with fewer tourist obstructions during your Sunday fall drive, or autumn travels any other time of the week… below, we will let the pictures do the talking…