Behind the Scenes in Northampton Massachusetts!

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How would you describe Northampton Massachusetts to someone who has never been?

Ah, I think I used to best describe it as “not a completely far stretch to move here after living in San Francisco!” It’s very alive. It’s young, hip, artsy, green, organic, fun, connected, beautiful, and full of opportunities. You can build a life here. You can build yourself here. You can certainly build a family here.

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What are three words that define Northampton?

Progressive. Rainbow. Alive.

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What is the one Northampton clothing essential?

I’ll give you two! A flowing sundress in the summer, for farmers markets and concerts and getting ice cream. And definitely wool socks in the winter. I think they’re called SmartWool and they’re a “thing” around here.

Somewhere super touristy you still like to visit?

Not in Northampton, but nearby is Deerfield’s Yankee Candle Village. It’s a huge tourist attraction but I have two kids and they love it. I personally love the candle smells, the candy and cookies, and they have an incredible Santa Claus who can be found there year-round. Every five minutes, it “snows” in the Christmas trees section, and there are trains and all kinds of things to delight your kids (or yourselves) and to empty your wallets.

What’s the best way to get around the city? Bike, bus, car…

Well other people would say differently, but I say car!

What is your city’s philosophy?

That’s a tough one! I’d say it’s “live and let live, and support one another where at all possible.” And also, eat organic, see some nature, exercise and buy local!

Describe an ideal day in Northampton?

Breakfast, of course! I really love The Green Bean. Then shopping up and down Main Street, preferably with our dog to show her off. Lunch at Paul & Elizabeth’s, walking around Thornes Market, and ice cream at Herrell’s! Then, according to my kids, crossing the footbridge of the Manhan Rail Trail on tricycles is way cool. While we’re there, we may as well leave Northampton for a bit to get cookies at Greggory’s Pastry Shop. Pretty much I’m fixated by food, as you can tell. And a trip to Faces (now under new ownership) is a good late afternoon delight.

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What hotel do you recommend to visiting friends?

Hotel Northampton, whether alone or with family.

What is your favorite place for…

A date night: the best date we ever had here was front row tickets to see Bruce Hornsby at The Calvin and then ice cream at Herrell’s. A dinner with friends: Sierra Grille!

Working: I only work at home! My home office overlooks the woods.

People watching: Anywhere on Main Street.

Shopping: Faces

Your coffee shop: Shelburne Falls Coffee.  There are a few locations but the Northampton one has the most character.

Your local bar: I love going to trivia night at Hinge.

Your park: Look Park! I do many client family photos there.

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Okay, now some really hard questions…never having been to Northampton myself, the first thing I associate with it is Smith College.  Does the town have a large college vibe?

Very much! The college kids (girls, in this case) are everywhere. At the end of August, the town empties of summer tourists and fills with the Smith girls. I really love how vibrant they keep the town.

Being not a native Massachusetts gal yourself (Jersey and California first, right?), how hard was it to acclimate to the culture, on a scale from 1-10?

Probably a 2! This is my land! These are my people! I’m all for eating healthily and organic, with lots of treats too. I love the wide open land, with the small city vibe too. It’s like the best of anything. And politically, I’d say the vast majority of people here agree with my beliefs.

Would you say Northampton lends to an easy lifestyle of raising a family?  Challenges?

Very much. That was what first drew me in here. I can’t imagine a better place to raise kids.

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Winter, spring, summer, or fall?

I think I’m supposed to say fall because it’s amazing here. I’m a spring girl, though.

ANSWERS BY  LOCAL TAMARA BOWMAN

Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New York...as used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
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