Northampton is such a cool little hippie town. When I went to UMASS, we would visit here often. The Main Street has fun shops to peruse and there are great restaurants. Here is a list of our favorite things to do in Northampton!
1. Rent a hot tub at East Heaven Spa
Inspired by Japanese tradition, you can soak in one of nine private hot tubs. There is a tub on the roof deck where you can sit and watch the snow come down during the winter or you can sit outside in a covered tea house pavilion. It’s a unique experience and a great way to relax.
The Botanic Garden of Smith College fosters environmental and social justice through teaching and learning about plants and people. It’s a beautiful place to walk around. The Lyman Conservatory exhibits thousands of different types of plants but the collection flows to outdoor walkways as well.
3. Shopping at Thornes Marketplace
Thornes is a unique shopping mall that feels almost like you are shopping in someone’s house. Boutique shops line the hallways. My favorite shop is the Cedar Chest. It is filled with things I didn’t know I needed. It’s the best place to find a gift. There is a great bookstore called Booklink Booksellers that has a children section. Harry’s favorite shop of all was Captain Candy.
4. Norwottuck Rail Trail
Enjoy scenic views of the Connecticut River on this eleven mile paved trail along the former Boston & Maine Railroad. Kids will love crossing the old railroad bridges.
I would recommend parking at Elwell Recreation Area in Northampton. It’s free to park and allows for easy trail access.
5. Have pancakes for lunch at Jakes
This little hole in the wall is the highest ranked restaurant on Tripadvisor. They serve breakfast all day and the food is amazing. Don’t miss the fluffy pancakes which my son had for breakfast AND lunch.
6. Visit the A2Z Science & Learning Store
A2Z Science & Learning is one of the best toy stores in the state. They sell educationally based, high quality toys and games for children of all ages. They even offer free yo-yo lessons three days a week.
7. Stay at the historic Hotel Northampton
The Hotel Northampton is an icon of Northampton. It’s central location makes it easy to walk to all of the local attractions. This grand old hotel was built in 1927 and has welcomed guest such as the Dalai Lama and Bob Dylan.
These are popular places to visit just outside of Northampton:
8. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Eric Carle is the author and illustrator of more than 70 books including the well loved Very Hungry Caterpillar. He wanted to build a place that would inspire a love of art and reading through picture books.
The museum exhibits the work of national and international picture book artists throughout three galleries. There is also a café, an art studio, an auditorium and a museum shop.
9. Look for Dinosaur Footprints on the Connecticut River
Millions of years ago, the Connecticut River Valley was once a mix of subtropical wetlands and shallow lakes highly populated with dinosaurs. For years, prehistoric footprints have been found along the banks of the river.
A short dirt trail leads down to the tracks. Incredibly, they aren’t protected by anything so you can walk right up and put your foot in them to get a feel for the size of these “giant turkeys.”
Just imagine what it must have been like with large dinosaurs roaming around! It still blows my mind. Tracks from five species of dinosaurs from the early Jurassic period were found in the sandstone. Scientists could also see from the track patterns that they were moving in herds.
There is a short trail that leads to views of the Connecticut River. The park is open from dawn until dusk and there is no entrance fee.
10. Take a hike at Mt. Tom
Mt. Tom has an endless amount of beautiful hiking trails offering scenic view of the Pioneer Valley. There is also a great playground that kids will love. Click here to download a trail map and for a list of recommended hikes.
As you can see, there is so much to do in the Northampton area. If you are traveling further west, check out our guide to the Berkshires. Deerfield is another great town nearby with loads of activities.
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