What’s Paradise City, and why is it called that?
“The famous 19th century singer and actress Jenny Lind gave Northampton its current nickname, Paradise City, when she was in Northampton to perform, calling the city “The Paradise of America.” [From the City of Northampton website, History section.]
Perhaps Jenny was thinking of the colleges here and the intellectual and cultural arts they helped to support and foster. Smith College is located just a block from downtown, and Amherst College , the University of Massachusetts , and now Hampshire College are in Amherst across the Connecticut River. Mt. Holyoke College is in close-by South Hadley.
Since Lind’s pronouncement, Northampton has won a slew of awards as a great place to live and visit. In 2000, John Villani named Northampton the Number 1 spot in his book, “The 100 Best Small Arts Towns in America.”
Recent awards include being one of the 25 Best Places to Retire by Money Magazine. (Yes, it does snow here, but the bike paths are plowed in the winter, so exercising or getting to the grocery store can be done without a car.)
Boston Magazine has named Northampton as one of 52 top “Weekend Getaway” destinations in New England in its October issue. Specifically, the city was noted for its outstanding – and plentiful – food and wine offerings. Daily Hampshire Gazette, 10/1/10
Bring the Kids
But Northampton isn’t just attractive to adults looking to recreate. Children have many special places to explore. With so many miles of dedicated rail trail, families can ride without worrying about whether the kids are ready to ride in traffic. You can enjoy the scenery without having to keep your eye out for distracted drivers.
Great destinations along the bike paths include Look Park , in the Northampton village of Florence, three miles from downtown, which has mini-golf, bumper boats, a sprinkler park, a grill, acres of grass for picnics, and a train!Another place to stop for refreshment in Florence is the The Cup and Top Cafe which has fresh local food and gourmet coffee and tea. One of the special things about Cup and Top is the backroom which has dedicated play space for young ones. It’s the perfect spot for an adult restorative while the juniors amuse themselves.
In downtown Northampton, kids can amuse themselves in any number of green spaces, find excellent ice cream, get a great burger, visit a candy shop, or just wander up and down the street listening to the street musicians and performers, or visit any number of small shops selling items to help remember Northampton. You can get there from Florence all on dedicated paths.
Northampton for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Visitors
Ever wanted to go on vacation and be able to hold hands with the person you love as you walk along, even if that person is the same sex as you are? Want to have a romantic dinner and have the other diners and the waitstaff smile because they can tell it is a special night for you? Northampton is the place . Often when we go on vacation to other places, I wonder why we ever left home. Here, we can be ourselves, not cringe when the kids make it obvious we are a two Mom family. For us, it is a great place to live, but it is an excellent vacation destination if you are LGBTQ.
Come ride in Paradise City, and see it for yourself.