The Berkshires: Massachusetts Getaway

West of Boston lies the Berkshires. Antique shopping, hiking, and strong dance, music and arts programs will have you wanting to spend more than a weekend on a getaway in this rural neck of the Massachusetts woods. This Berkshire guide will take you to a college town, a revived mill town filled with art and a spa location to recharge and renew.

1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247, USA
The sprawling contemporary museum, MASS MoCA, is responsible for bringing North Adams to life, and offers some of the most cutting edge art around. Xu Bing’s Tobacco Project {above} is made from over half a million cigarettes arranged to mimic a tiger skin rug. It makes a thought provoking statement on the global tobacco trade, luxury and colonialism, and is typical of the installations you will see there. The complex also hosts a variety of musical events including dance and films. Luckily Split, the in house restaurant has coffee, treats and tasty lunches.
Marion Ave, North Adams, MA 01247, USA
Early in the morning take a beautiful walk on the Cascades Trail a short drive from the center of North Adams. Any trail with a refreshing waterfall is a winner in my book. This hidden hike, tucked behind a residential area is minutes away from downtown and short enough to get in and still have plenty of the day left for exploring. There are many additional activities and hikes listed on the web site.
87 Marshall Street
A favorite spot for dinner in North Adams is Gramercy Bistro. Walking distance from the Porches, and in the MoCA complex, it is a spot committed to supporting local food producers and farmers and their seasonal menu reflects that. Just make sure to save room for one of their deserts from an excellent pastry chef. Photo curtesy Gramercy Bistro
23 Eagle St, North Adams, MA 01247, USA
North Adams has many galleries, shops selling vintage items and plenty of restaurants. The street art popping up around every corner reminds you that many artists are at work in the warehouses that make up much of the city. The efforts to preserve this former mill town are evident on the brick walls of buildings where an international collection of artists have taken their brushes to the streets.
On my return home from the Berkshires, I got distracted and ended up in Shelburne Falls. It was a happy wrong turn, as I had always wanted to stop at The Bridge of Flowers when I’d taken this route before, and never quite had the time. It remained a pitstop in my mind’s eye. What a delightful wrong turn. Thousands of bulbs and plantings on a trolly bridge rescued by visionary Antoinette Burnham who saw it’s potential. The town of Shelburne Falls is a step back in time, a good place to stretch your legs, have lunch and do a bit of shopping before you drive back to reality recharged and ready for what’s ahead.
231 River St, North Adams, MA 01247, USA
The Berkshires has so much to offer, and North Adams is a hidden treasure. This block of former textile workers’ housing has been transformed into The Porches, a shabby chic gem. The award winning renovation offers a pool, cozy fireplace and reading nook along with complimentary breakfast and wifi. Vintage decor combines with modern amenities proving that the mix is just contemporary enough for this former mill town. Located one block from MASS MoCA.
5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, MA 01262, USA
The Berkshire Botanical Gardens is one of the oldest gardens in the US; they are open to the public from May to mid-October. Structurally, the 15 acre garden is laid out with different collections allowing for leisurely strolling along the paths. Selection of over 3000 species emphasizes plants and flowers that are native to the Berkshires. A diverse exhibit of outdoor sculptures and art installations are spread throughout the grounds and strategically placed benches provide a spot of contemplative thought. Gorgeous ruffled poppies and fragrant roses are a highlight of the summer season. It is the perfect place to stretch your legs after a drive out to the west of Massachusetts. The mountain air is clear and refreshing. Classes and workshops are offered year round and educational programs are available to schools in the surrounding area. There is also a well edited gift shop for gardening fans.
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