In a region famous for its charming college towns, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything more appealing than the crooked streets of downtown Northampton. Old red-brick buildings, buskers and lots of pedestrian traffic provide a lively backdrop as you wander into record shops, restaurants, cafés, rock clubs and bookstores. Move a few steps outside of the picturesque (and sizable) commercial center and you’ll stumble onto the bucolic grounds of Smith College, whose lake and buildings are well worth exploring.
These days, the presence of college students and their professors gives the town a distinctly liberal political atmosphere. The lesbian community is famously large and outspoken, making Northampton a favorite destination for the gay community.