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Awash in crooked streets, the downtown area of Northampton is eye candy for those into long meandering strolls checking out old redbrick buildings swollen with cute cafes, quaint bookstores and at night throbbing rock clubs. Nicknamed "NoHo", its picturesque center leads onto the rural grounds of Smith College (a women only domain) - this is a region famous for its college towns. This town is the epitome of liberalism, with an outspoken lesbian community and rainbow flags waving wildly all over the city.
Sitting in the county of Hampshire, Massachusetts, Northampton includes the outer villages of Leeds and Florence. The city is the academic, musical, artistic and countercultural hub with numerous alternative health and intellectual organizations and a high percentage of same-sex households. One of the northernmost cities in the Pioneer Valley, it is home to not only the Smith College, but the Northampton High School and the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.
You will find plenty of eclectic restaurants to frequent when the hunger pangs strike and there are 2 farmers markets weekly selling fresh produce from local farms where you can rub shoulders with the natives. The Elm Street-Round Hill historical district is for the architectural buffs, where you can see building styles ranging from the 18th Century with plenty of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival homes to gawk at. For a pious moment head to the First Church that was the home church of the 18th Century theologian, philosopher and leader of the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards. There are plenty of parks to get some fresh air, such as the Look Park where Bob Dylan has played and the Botanic Garden of Smith College, or the open spaces of the Connecticut River and The Oxbow where the boaties tend to gather.
If you are into a bit of "dark tourism", head to the small hill overlooking the city that was the site of the former Northampton State Hospital where you will find a stone monument dedicated to 2 Irishmen - Domenic Daley and James Halligan - who were hung after being wrongfully convicted of murder in 1806.
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