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Great Falls Discovery Center

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Address: 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA 01376-1101
Phone Number:
+1 413-863-3221
10:00 - 16:00
Open now
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Sun - Sat 10:00 - 16:00
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour

Housed within a complex of old mill buildings in historic Turners Falls,...

Housed within a complex of old mill buildings in historic Turners Falls, Massachusetts, the Great Falls Discovery Center's exhibits show the natural, cultural, and industrial history of the Connecticut River watershed. The Center's four acres of native plants, butterfly gardens, and open lawn nestle into a bend in the Connecticut River to provide a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and the perfect place for fun and learning. Inside the main building, exquisite walk-through dioramas show the plants, animals, and landscapes of this 410-mile-long river from its arboreal source near the Canadian border, through forests and farms, past villages, towns, and cities, all the way down to the estuary at the Long Island Sound. A timeline indicates the impacts of human habitation on each environment over time and suggests safeguards to keep the watershed healthy and useful for all-people, plants, and animals-that live here together. The Center's charming Great Hall is in a separate building, a former machine shop, with a high ceiling, brick walls, large windows, and gleaming old wood floors. It is connected to the main building by a corridor whose windows on one side open onto an old canal (once used for transportation, now for power), faced on the other by a mural depicting what is found beneath the canal water rushing by. The Great Hall is used for regularly held art exhibits and special educational programs and activities for children and adults, as well as for the Friends of GFDC's monthly live-music Coffeehouses that warm up the room while raising funds that support the Center's free public programs. Located in town yet close to nature, the Center is one end of an easy self-guided walking tour of the interesting little town of Turners Falls, with its historical industrial architecture and distinctive geology, restaurants, shops, and old Carnegie Library. The walk and bike path along the river and canal runs from Turners Falls to Deerfield and is a favorite site for bird watching. A short distance along the other side of the bridge leads to Barton Cove's picnic area and camp grounds, where eagles soar over the peninsula. The Center's building and exhibits are fully accessible and are free and open to the public. It is a cooperative program of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, with financial and program support from the Friends of Great Falls Discovery Center.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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    Very good
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Bring your kids!

I took my grandson here for a Junior Ranger program last summer and he had a great time. Very interactive - four days, once a week. They also offer nature programs on a regular... read more

Reviewed 15 November 2016
Vicki V
Turners Falls, Massachusetts
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24 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 24: English reviews
Turners Falls, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
23 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 November 2016

I took my grandson here for a Junior Ranger program last summer and he had a great time. Very interactive - four days, once a week. They also offer nature programs on a regular basis. It is right next to the bike path and near the park - along the CT river. Beautiful walk and explore.

Thank Vicki V
Janel N, Vistior Services Supervisor at Great Falls Discovery Center, responded to this review

You are right about this being a place for kids! Thank you for attending Junior Rangers and thinking of telling people about your experiences through a review. We love it here and hope you do too! More 

Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 November 2016 via mobile

Everyone should go to this museum and enjoy its wonderful and free offerings. Coffeehouses, lectures, tours, beautiful views of the river, near playground, downtown Turners Falls shops & restaurants. Fun & relaxation for one and all!

1 Thank Heather M
Janel N, Visitor Services Supervisor at Great Falls Discovery Center, responded to this review

Thank you for coming to the center and for posting a review of your experiences. Hope to see you again soon! More 

Amherst, MA
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 October 2016

If you visit Turners, you have to pay a visit to Discovery. Nice place with animals and explanation about natural life. Janelle is fantastic as a guide. Try to join any of the walks or activities with kids.

Thank vicm65
Amherst, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
63 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 September 2016

We stopped just out of curiosity and found the woman caring for the place to be very personable, well informed and quite proficient. The displays are very hands-on and it would be a great place to get kids excited about nature and the environment. I foudn the design of the exhibits quite professional and some of the faux water remarkably... More 

Thank OmenWesternMA
Massachusetts, USA
Level Contributor
104 reviews
47 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 August 2016

The exhibits are hands on; the place is a very small do-able size for kids (with a National Park ranger/personnel!)...All the local wildlife things you take for granted and think you know...put in front of you to think about in a different way. The building itself is lovely. The end of the permanent exhibits has a great view of the... More 

Thank Ladythrowback
Level Contributor
57 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 August 2016

It was a surprise to find such a well organized and almost new museum in tiny Turner Falls. At the back of the exhibit is a large picture window with a lovely view. Best of all, it is free.

Thank judithantoinette
Dover, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
902 reviews
408 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2,835 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 June 2016

The Great Falls Discovery Center was located in a restored mill building less than ½ mile off the Mohawk Trail in Turners Falls, a village in the Town of Montague. It is the main visitor center for the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge which has parts in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont. Its purpose is to... More 

1 Thank Maurene_K
Turners Falls
Level Contributor
47 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 May 2016

Hostess and chef went out of their way to mix ingredients to make a "Daily Special" suitable for GF visitor. Meals here tend to be hearty, not spartan, and wines recommended are well-chosen. Only caution: on busy theatre nights, allow more time for chef to do his work.

Thank johnhA3674EL
Grafton, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
55 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 April 2016

The Visitor center is a nice small museum in the village of Turners Falls in western Massachusetts. There are two main buildings on the grounds, with plenty of parking. The first building has several dioramas showing the natural landscapes along various portions of the Connecticut River. The second building is less impressive and has several photos showing the history of... More 

Thank Emily C
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviewed 4 October 2015 via mobile

Nice short visit free museum. Neat walking area near the river. Museum store was closed, look small. The history of the Connecticut river done well. Good for a 1 hour or less visit.

Thank Jason U

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