Five College area
The Five College Area is usually thought of as including:
While the southern part of the Pioneer Valley is dominated by Springfield and Holyoke, the Five College Area is its own enclave with its own issues, problems, ("UMass Students are rioting again") and concerns ("How do we deal with the student housing shortage?").
From Connecticut and all points south, take Interstate 91 North. From Vermont and all points north, take Interstate 91 South. From Boston, and all points east, take the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90) west to I-91 North. From Albany (New York), take the Massachusetts Turnpike east to I-91 North. U.S. Interstate 91 has exits to South Hadley and Northampton. From Northampton, you can talk Massachusetts Route 9 to Amherst via Hadley.
Rail service via Amtrak is available to Amherst via Springfield.
Greyhound/Peter Pan bus service is available to Northampton, Amherst, and South Hadley, all via Springfield.
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) has busses that go through the entire Five College Area.
While the Five College area is not particularly high in crime, the ubiquitous college students present some unique dangers. Parties can get out of control and violence, while rare and usually directed at law enforcement, has been known to occur. It is generally a good idea to steer clear of the college campuses on weekends and during major sporting events, especially those involving local teams (such as the Red Sox). The Southwest residential area at UMASS (between Fearing Street and Massachusetts Avenue) particularly has a reputation for rowdy behavior.
Be advised that there are many more pedestrians in the Five College area than in some other places, particularly in Northampton. Drive carefully and watch for people crossing the street, since they may not always use the crosswalks. In some places, such as Mount Holyoke, crosswalks are accompanied by flashing lights to warn motorists of crossing pedestrians; please obey these warnings if they exist.