The world can always do with a little more peace. A group of monks, nuns and volunteers are doing their part in an unexpected spot in the woods near the pea-sized town of Leverett. Run by the non-proselytizing Nipponzan Myohoji sect of Buddhism, the Leverett Peace Pagoda was the first in the Western Hemisphere. The centerpiece is a stupa, a 100ft-tall white bell-shaped monument to Buddha – meant to be circumambulated, not entered. Nearby, prayer flags wave above a frog-filled pond.
To get to there from Amherst, take MA 9 west until MA 116 north, then turn onto MA 63 north and follow it 7 miles. Turn right onto Jackson Hill Rd and then right onto Cave Hill Rd. Parking is about half a mile up the road.