Image by Nicole Franzen
Autumn’s arrival typically coincides with Instagram feeds full of pumpkin-spiced-everything and flannel-clad friends romping through apple orchards and corn mazes. For those seeking, say, a more cultured seasonal getaway, North Adams, Massachusetts, nestled in the Berkshire hills, offers spectacular views of nature’s painterly autumnal strokes, alongside celebrated art museums, farm-to-table fare, and a recently opened boutique sleep, the charmingly named TOURISTS.
Four years in the making, it’s the first new hotel to open there since 2001…located on the old Mohawk Trail, now a well-traveled road about halfway between the post-industrial city of North Adams and the idyllic village of Williamstown, home to Williams College. Founded by Broder’s Ben Svenson, along with Wilco bassist John Stirratt, James Beard Award winning chef Cortney Burns, local brewery owner Eric Kerns, and Scott Stedman, founder of Brooklyn Magazine, the property offers a thoughtfully curated experience for the modern traveler.
Image by Nicole Franzen
Designed by architect Hank Scollard, a protégé of MASS MoCA architect Simeon Bruner, the hotel’s design still evokes the property’s former life as a mid-century motor lodge. Rebuilt from the foundation up, TOURISTS’ minimalist façade, clad in vertical slats of white oak, opens to reveal a grassy courtyard and heated salt-water pool nestled into the hillside and surrounding forest. The Hoosic River rambles along the back of the hotel, and a 220-foot-long suspension bridge beckons visitors to cross and explore the campus’ winding trails.
Each of the 48 rooms features soaring ceilings and large windows that overlook the courtyard, river, or woodlands. Airy and elegant, the whitewashed spaces are decorated with vintage photographs, cozy window nooks, and private decks with outdoor showers. The in-room radio is tuned to a playlist curated, naturally, by Stirratt himself. Every detail has been well thought out, from the complimentary reproduction vintage postcards (no stamps necessary – the staff are happy to mail them for you) to the mini-bar filled with locally sourced provisions.
Image by Nicole Franzen
Burns’ food and beverage program is in its nascent stages – there’s a small on-site kitchen located on the Deck Bar that offers a preview of what’s to come in the spring, when she opens her highly anticipated restaurant LOOM. Until then, a creative beverage menu as well as light supper and breakfast can be enjoyed by the fire pit on the deck, or in front of the fireplace in the Lodge. Beyond the restaurant, there’s an 1813 farmhouse on the property, where they will occasionally host live music.
While you can play outside all day and never get bored, the area’s art museums and restaurants offer an ideal culture fix for those New Yorkers who need an escape from urban sensory overload, but in finding themselves temporarily out of their element, also need a dose of the familiar.
MASS MoCA’s repurposed 19th century factory buildings house installations by Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, Liz Glynn, and host performances across the artistic spectrum. Notably on view through the end of 2018 is Robert Rauschenberg’s thought-provoking, Japanese-inspired Lurid Attack of the Monsters. Après art, pop next door for lunch at A.oK Berkshire Barbeque, for their melt-in-your-mouth brisket sandwich, paired with a locally brewed Rothko Red or Glass of Heart Blonde Ale from Bright Ideas Brewing.
While The Clark’s sleek Tadao Ando designed Clark Center is a study in modern simplicity, its galleries contain the decidedly more visceral works of American, British, and European masters. It’s an imperative destination for their highly respected collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, including paintings by Renoir, Degas, Pissarro and Sisley.
This picturesque bistro serves up farm-to-table cuisine in an elegant, rambling farmhouse. Founder Nancy Thomas and Chef Nick Moulton create classic American fare with a nod to the former’s Moroccan-Greek heritage. Vegetarian and vegan options – heirloom tomato risotto, roasted hen of the woods – abound; and the desserts are veritably life-changing.
Casual dining meets Berkshire county bounty, in an inviting, rustic-industrial space. PUBLIC features a classic pub menu with a hearty selection of burgers, pasta, fish, and flatbreads, crafted with local ingredients. Though there’s farro risotto and a marinated tofu sandwich for the more health conscientious.
No visit to the area is complete without a stop at Cricket Creek, a small working farm that produces award-winning cheeses, raw milk, pork and beef. The owners welcome visitors and are happy to answer questions or offer a taste of their sustainably produced products. While there, pick up a supply of their flagship Maggie’s Round, a semi-firm raw-milk cheese that took first place in the 2011 American Cheese Society Competition. (Yes, there’s an American Cheese Society.) And perhaps make a new bovine friend or two.