stephmodo: Destination: Northampton, MA

Destination: Northampton, MA

• 07 July 2009

When we lived in Boston, it never occurred to us to drive out to Western Massachusetts--about a week and a half ago we stayed in Northampton and wondered why. It is such a darling, little New England town. We even talked about flying out from the West at some point in the future for a getaway. Although we thought our Pricelined-motel was perfectly fine, it might be fun to try one of the quaint B&B’s next time.

In this little gem-of-a-town you’ll find refurbished brick buildings, locally made homemade ice cream, gourmet restaurants, reasonably-priced boutiques and the most beautiful Urban Outfitters you’ll ever see. The latter was kind of a surprise…I’d never seen one outside a major metropolitan area before.

If you visit Northampton, you must stop by the following:

Essentials…this is one of the best shops I’ve ever seen in my life because it combines so many things I love into one location. You’ll find Japanese goods, vintage French items, awesome publications by Chronicle Book, baby clothes from Tea, letterpress stationery, bold wrapping paper and a million other Etsy-esque offerings. Heaven. They do have a website and while it doesn’t do the shop justice, it does at least allow you to enjoy a slice of the retail experience.

Circa…inspired by Alice Waters & Chez Panisse, you will surely find something to love at this tiny restaurant just off the main drag. When locally procured ingredients are combined with excellent seafood, the results are simply superb. The Husband enjoyed the best salmon entrĂ©e of his life. I, on the other hand will never forget those scallops…yum.

Urban Outfitters…located in an old, perfectly restored bank, this UO is the most stunning you’ll ever see. Even if you don’t love Urban Outfitters, be sure to stop by and check out the extensive moldings and dentals up near the ceiling.

Herrells…one of the many reasons why Massachusetts residents consume more ice cream per capita than any other state in our nation. Do you blame them? There are so many creameries offering homemade ice cream, one can hardly resist. Herrells apparently inspired the popular chain Cold Stone (thankfully they credit Herrells), but after enjoying the real thing I’m wishing it were Herrells that made it big!


  1. Stacey_Killpack@yahoo.comJuly 7, 2009 at 9:57 AM

    thank you for constantly tickling my travel bug... LOVE it!

  2. I haven't left a comment in always gorgeous pictures and serene ideas. Are you as calming as a presence as your blog is? Lovely lovely.

  3. Sorry about how long this comment is, but I used to live in Northampton while attending Smith College (and refusing to live in the dorms) and the place really grew on me...I love it and think I'll move back one day. In the meantime, anyone visiting NEEDS to go to Thorn's as well, an old department store converted into over a dozen fun shops, including the area's best record store (where my now-husband used to work). The Moroccan restaurant in town (blanking on the name now) is somewhere I still dream about, too. Ye Olde Watering Hole is the place to go if you want a kitchy bar / beer can museum while still being able to get a Greyhound made with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. And if you go to NoHo, be sure to check out the surrounding towns: Amherst has the best restaurant in the area, Fresh Side, great for cheap and incredibly flavorful Vietnamese food. Florence has the coolest old diner. East Hampton has a performing arts space and a converted factory that now houses many small retail businesses. Even downtrodden Springfield has interesting stuff (here's a goofy photo project I did at a carousel house there.) And my absolute favorite place in the entire world is in Montague--The Book Mill. A sawmill that is now a bookstore and intriguing cafe. Be sure to get directions, though: their slogan is "Books you don't need in a place you can't find."

  4. It looks so charming! I have been dying to visit MA!

  5. Yes, go fall when the trees are in their Autumn dresses!

  6. Also having gone to school in Amherst, I absolutely love the area. There is SO much great food, but I also wanted to mention Faces - it's been around for awhile and is more local than Urban Outfitters. A must stop while in the area!

  7. My husband's aunt and uncle live in Northampton. We loved it when we visited!

  8. thanks for the tips. we just moved to boston:)

  9. i love northampton -- you picked a lot of great spots!

  10. Northampton, in general, is loved by most all who visit.
    Why...first and foremost, it is safe, day or night. The sheer variety of places to eat and shop and visit. There's a coziness to it. An atmosphere of inclusion and tolerance. People watching is fabulous--wide spectrum of ages and personalities. Street buskers.
    Cars must stop for pedestrians.
    The academic feel. The Bohemian feel. The place is alive!
    Of course, there's nothing at all cheap about it. But I guess that's a matter of, "make it nice and they will come"...and return...and even move in--like I am planning to do.


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