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Northampton

Northampton enjoys the most diverse shopping in the valley. Its half-mile-long Main Street, from Bridge Street at the eastern end to the Smith College campus on the western end, is rich with upscale restaurants, art galleries, acupuncture clinics, shops with hand-crafted jewelry, buskers, and clothing boutiques, and has become nearly chic over the past 20 years. It's as easy to find vegan chocolate and organic egg omelets here as Ugg boots and expensive glass artworks.

A former department store was reconfigured into Thorne's Marketplace, 150 Main St. (tel. 413/584-5582; www.thornesmarketplace.com), now containing more than 30 boutiques and casual eating places. Next to the side entrance is Herrell's, 7 Old South St. (tel. 413/586-9700; www.herrells.com), a celebrated New England super-premium ice-cream emporium, scooping a huge variety of flavors, including Malted Vanilla, Derby Chocolate Bourbon, and Pumpkin.

Burnishing the city's reputation as a small town with an unusually vigorous arts community is the prestigious R. Michelson Gallery, 132 Main St. (tel. 413/586-3964), which occupies a grand former bank.

And there are, of course, the used bookstores. "The Pioneer Valley is arguably the most author-saturated, book-cherishing, literature-celebrating place in the nation," wrote the New York Times. Nine independent bookstores in downtown vouch for it.

Amherst

The Jeffrey Amherst Bookshop, 55 S. Pleasant St. (tel. 413/253-3381; www.jeffbooks.com), specializes in Emily Dickinson books. Scandihoovians, 25 S. Pleasant St. (tel. 413/256-0004; www.scandihoovians.com), features Scandinavian housewares, clothing, jewelry, and Marimekko bags; the original store is in Northampton. Clay's, 32 Main St. (tel. 413/256-4200), has funky, flowing women's clothes in natural fibers; a small sign on the way to the dressing room says, "You are radiant & beautiful." Harlow, 196 Main St. (tel. 413/584-5233; www.harlowluggage.com) was founded in 1875 and sells suitcases, wallets, bags, and other travel items.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.