SUMMER TRAVEL 2022 – Outdoorsy types, art and culture aficionados, gourmets — even knitters — will be sated when visiting Northampton.
The plethora of attractions catering to people of all backgrounds is intentional, according to Vince Jackson, executive director of both the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce and the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council.
“It is a very welcoming place, a very open place I think because of its history going back to abolitionists who had a vision of Northampton being a utopian community,” Jackson said. “Where everybody was welcomed and felt like they were part of society.”
That vision for equality is still evident throughout the city where rainbow flags, LGBTQ ally symbols and Black Lives Matter signs are a common sight. Northampton is also home to a leading women’s liberal arts school, Smith College.
Individualism is celebrated in a community where artisans of all sorts sharing their goods are plentiful and corporate chains are uncommon.
With more than 100 food and beverage establishments, Jackson said, Northampton is a dining destination sure to please no matter your preference. The abundance of fresh ingredients from farm to table only serves to heighten the gastronomic experience.
Just a short drive off the Massachusetts Turnpike, Northhampton is an easy drive of about two hours. Once there, most folks take to foot or bike to explore the city and the Norwottuck Rail Trail.
HISTORY, ART, NATURE
The David Ruggles Center for History and Education presents the history of local abolitionists who fought for equal rights and social justice.
Ruggles was a Black abolitionist and member of the Underground Railroad who helped free hundreds of enslaved people. Northampton was a terminus for many starting new lives who helped shape the city.
The Smith College Museum of Art is perhaps best known for its collection of paintings by Claude Monet. Those works make up a fraction of the more than 27,000 objects in the museum’s diverse collection.
The Botanic Garden of Smith College, with more than 6,600 kinds of plants native to New England and around the world, is a living museum where nature’s beauty is the main exhibit and a must-visit destination.
The R. Michelson Galleries is a commercial gallery featuring fine art and picture-book illustrations on equal footing. Among original artwork and limited-edition illustrations, visitors of all ages can take in the artwork of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
The Academy of Music attracts roughly 60,000 visitors each year for its full calendar of live theater, dance, music, comedy and film presentations at the historic venue, which opened in 1891.
Thornes Marketplace boasts four floors of independent, locally owned shops and restaurants. A vast array of homemade, handcrafted and unique goods can be found at each storefront of the historic building that was artfully restored.
WEBS-America’s Yarn Store claims to carry the “most comprehensive” selection of yarn, needles, books, patterns and supplies. The massive shop has become a destination for knitters, crocheters and other crafters.
Summer on Strong brings dining outdoors when Strong Avenue is closed to traffic so that restaurants can serve up Italian, American, Japanese, Cajun and Creole cuisine al fresco. Eateries include Homestead, Eastside Grill, Familiars, Local Burger, Moshi Moshi and Progression Brewing Company. Enjoy your meal with a side of live music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Miss Florence Diner is one of the oldest diner cars still in operation, originally manufactured by the Worcester Lunch Car Company in 1941. The eatery on the National Register of Historic Places retains many original details, with bright enamel paneling and iconic neon signs on the exterior. The vintage decor alone is worth salivating over, not to mention the classic diner food.