Top 10 Things To Do in Northampton, Massachusetts

Arguably the cultural center of western Massachusetts, Northampton is full of attractions to make a day trip worth it, though of course a main highlight is the food. Once largely a mill town, Northampton has undergone an artisanal renewal in the past several decades. The area boasts pastoral New England scenery and the 5-College Consortium (Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst), with Northampton being home to Smith College.
thornes-marketplace

 

Here are the top ten things to do in and around Northampton, including our two Northampton food tours:

 

1

Northampton Coffee Shop Food Tour

Start your lazy Saturday out caffeinated, with our Coffee Shop Food Tour of Northampton! Northampton is well known as having the best coffee shops in the state, and together we will discover what makes each one of them unique, with highlights at each stop we make and a healthy dose of history.

coffee shop food tour

 

2

Sylvester Graham’s House (now Restaurant)

After all that coffee, head to brunch at Sylvester’s! Set in the renovated home of Sylvester Graham, inventor of the Graham Cracker, Sylvester’s offers a bakery, delicious pancakes and scrambles, and a seasonal rotation of boozy brunch drinks. Newspaper clippings about the restaurant’s eccentric namesake line one wall, and each table is equipped with antique Trivial Pursuit questions to entertain all ages while you’re waiting.

 

3

Smith College Museum of Art

The art museum on Smith College’s campus boasts an impressive collection over its four floors, including several Monets and Picassos, and displays of ancient Greek and early American art. Rotating gallery exhibits mean the museum feels renewed with each visit, and the museum also features artist-designed benches and bathrooms (well worth peeking into both the men’s and women’s!). Admission for adults is just $5, and the museum is free for college students and children.

 

4

Smith College Greenhouse and Paradise Pond

Take a leisurely stroll across Smith College campus, which is gorgeous in any season but especially the summer and fall, and end up down the hill at the Botanic Garden of Smith College, which features a collection of plants from all over the world. The greenhouse operates on a suggested donation system and puts on events such as the Chrysanthemum Show in the fall and the Bulb Show in the spring. If the weather’s too pretty to stay indoors for long, cross the street and take a stroll by Paradise Pond and up the Mill River. The Smith College boathouse even rents canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards when the weather’s nice!

 

5

Apple Picking

If you’re visiting Northampton in the fall (which is the best time of year for optimal leaf-peeping), take a short drive out to one of the nearby orchards and pick a bushel of apples! It doesn’t get any fresher than this. Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton and Outlook Farm in Westhampton both offer idyllic scenery and acres of apples, for all your pie-baking needs. The cider sold at these farm stands is unparalleled.

 

6

Look Park

Driving back towards Northampton, stop at Look Park! Entrance to the park can cost between $3 and $9 per car depending on the day of the week and the season, and offers many attractions both free and with small fees, including playgrounds, pedal boat rentals, mini golf, a zoo, and a train ride!

 

7

Florence Pie Bar

Hungry after your Look Park adventure? Grab a slice of pie or other treat at Florence Pie Bar! This charming cafe in Florence (technically a part of Northampton) serves up Americana vibes along with their delicious, rotating selection of pies.

 

8

Downtown Northampton Shops

Walk off the pie by taking a stroll down Main Street! Northampton is home to all kinds of clothing boutiques, as well as Raven Used Books and several art and jewelry galleries. Cross the giant rainbow crosswalk to Thornes Marketplace, a three-story mall of sorts that features a candy store, bookstore, every college student’s best friend Acme Surplus, and our guide Beth’s personal favorite clothing boutique, 21 Central (just about every one of their adorable patterned dresses has pockets).

 

9

Our Northampton Off The Beaten Path Food Tour!

On Sunday afternoons, Thornes is also the meeting place for our Northampton Food Tour! Learn more about Northampton history and visit our favorite local businesses, serving stories and all kinds of delicious food.

Top 10 Things To Do in Northampton, Massachusetts

 

10

Catch a Show!

For such a small town, Northampton boasts an impressive number of venues for music and other shows. Wrap up your Northampton day by catching a concert at the Academy of Music, the Calvin Theatre, or Iron Horse Music Hall! Upcoming shows include Boz Scaggs and Haley Reinhart, and indie acts like Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls drop by often.

 

This post was written by our tour guide Beth Derr who graduated from Smith College. Beth Derr writes, edits, and leads food tours in Jamaica Plain and Roslindale. You can find her at jbethderr.com.

 


There’s so much more to see and do in Northampton and Western Massachusetts. Hope to meet you soon on a Food Tour. Book today via our website. Really, there is something for everyone on our unique experiences. So check our Tour Calendar and join us this week.

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