Offbeat Places in Northampton


Northampton, Massachusetts, often referred to as the “Paradise City,” is known for its picturesque landscapes, historic charm, and vibrant cultural scene. While iconic attractions like Smith College and the vibrant downtown draw visitors from all over, Northampton also boasts an array of offbeat and lesser-known places waiting to be explored. If you’re looking to uncover the quirkier side of Northampton, here are some hidden gems to add to your itinerary.

Smith College Botanic Garden

Hidden within the Smith College campus, the Botanic Garden is a tranquil oasis that often goes unnoticed by tourists. This living museum showcases a diverse collection of plant species from around the world, making it a must-visit for botany enthusiasts. The lush greenhouses and outdoor gardens are not only beautiful but also serve as a vital resource for education and research.

Historic Round House

Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, the Historic Round House is a fascinating architectural gem. Built in the 19th century as a blacksmith’s shop, it’s one of the few surviving round buildings in the United States. The building’s unique shape and historical significance make it a hidden treasure worth exploring.

The Ainsworth Building

Nestled on the grounds of the Northampton State Hospital, the Ainsworth Building is a prime example of Victorian Gothic architecture. While the hospital’s history is complex, this structure is an intriguing reminder of the past. It’s a place where history and architecture enthusiasts can indulge in a bit of exploration.

The Oxbow Gallery

For lovers of the arts, Northampton offers more than its fair share of galleries, but The Oxbow Gallery stands out as a cooperative space showcasing a variety of local artists. You can find an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional art here, making it a wonderful place to discover new talents and perspectives.

Forbes Library’s Calvin Coolidge Presidential Collection

Hidden within the historic Forbes Library is a unique and extensive collection of materials related to the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. This collection includes personal letters, photographs, and documents that provide a fascinating glimpse into Coolidge’s life and presidency.

Belly of the Beast

When it’s time to refuel, venture into Belly of the Beast, a farm-to-table deli that prides itself on sourcing local and sustainable ingredients. The menu features creative and mouthwatering dishes, making it a perfect spot for foodies looking for something a bit different.

Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area

For those seeking a more natural adventure, the Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area offers a serene escape. This hidden gem features a beautiful lake surrounded by hiking trails that are ideal for leisurely strolls and birdwatching. It’s a peaceful retreat just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the town.

Northampton Jazz Festival

If you’re lucky enough to visit Northampton during the annual Jazz Festival, you’re in for a treat. This event showcases talented jazz musicians from across the region and features performances at various venues throughout the town. It’s a lively celebration of music that’s not to be missed.


Another unique event worth catching is Transperformance, an annual music and arts festival. Each year, local musicians pay tribute to their favorite bands and artists by dressing up and performing their songs. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that adds a touch of whimsy to the town’s cultural calendar.

Silver Chord Bowl

For music enthusiasts who prefer a cappella, the Silver Chord Bowl is a must-see. This competition features cappella groups from local colleges showcasing their vocal talents in a friendly yet competitive setting. It’s a great way to experience the harmonious side of Northampton.

As you explore Northampton’s offbeat places, you’ll discover that the town’s charm extends far beyond its well-known attractions. Whether you’re interested in history, art, food, or the great outdoors, Northampton has a hidden gem waiting for you to uncover. So, take a detour from the beaten path and delve into the offbeat side of this enchanting New England town. You won’t be disappointed by the surprises that await you in Paradise City.

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