Built around Smith College, the prestigious and historic women's school, Northampton is just down the road from Amherst and its co-ed college, in one of the most densely academic regions in the country. But it would be wrong to dismiss it as just another snooty New England college town—the surrounding rural area keeps Northampton fresh and folksy. And the scenery, in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, is spectacular, including the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary and nearby Mount Tom State Reservation, an excellent place to watch migrating hawks and falcons. The town itself—just a couple hours' drive from Boston and New York City—is full of quirky little restaurants, unexpected boutiques, as well as Smith's impressive art museum and botanical garden. And, yes, its lefty label is well deserved: almost 70 percent of its voters are registered Democrats.
- Vibe: Liberal enclave with rural roots
- Population: 28,411
- Median housing price: $251,900
- Average number of sunny days: 189