North Adams, a small city in the hills of Berkshire County, has been transformed from a one-time regional center of industry into an idyllic destination.
At its rejuvenated heart is the vast Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), which is located in a 13-acre former mill complex. Numerous other galleries have sprung up alongside MASS MoCA, and there are even more galleries in neighboring Williamstown, as well as an annual art festival in downtown North Adams.
Explore the evocative ex-industrial space of North America’s largest contemporary art museum at MASS MoCA.
Photo: Mass MOCA by Tom Stohlman.
A third of North Adams’ formerly thriving business district has been converted into a sprawling contemporary art museum, which unfolds through numerous 19th-century factory buildings connected by courtyards and passageways. It is a wonderfully apposite location for the largest contemporary art center in the US, as industrial innovation has been transmuted into a showcase and laboratory for cutting-edge artistic experimentation. This is exhibited across 19 galleries as well as in a theater, performance courtyards and workshops.
Hike two of America’s wildest walking trails
Photo: Hiking in North Adams by FlickrDelusions
Two great old walking routes overlap and run together past North Adams: the Vermont Long Trail and the legendary Appalachian Trail. Local enthusiasts claim that the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the US, and that it provided the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail itself. Whatever the truth of such claims, it is a spectacular route, wandering through wild backcountry toward the Canadian border. North Adams lies just over a mile from the trail, which can be easily reached by a signposted trail, making the town a great starting or stop-off point.
Local produce is turned into high-end cuisine at Gramercy Bistro
Photo: Gramercy Seared Scallops by Deborah Esrick
Gramercy, which recently relocated into the MASS MoCA, is easily North Adams’ most famous restaurant. The eclectic cuisine is created from local produce and free-range meat, and the menu changes with the seasons, incorporating whatever is available into delicious and original dishes. The decor is elegant, the ambience relaxed, and the prices are relatively affordable, too.
Stay in arty accommodation near the MASS MoCA at The Porches Inn
Photo: North Adams Porches Inn
Just over the road from the MASS MoCA, The Porches Inn is a trendy reflection of the artistic spirit that has replaced manufacturing as the engine of the town’s economy. The hotel’s rooms are located in a row of pretty Victorian houses, renovated from their previously dilapidated state. Accommodation is spacious and stylish, and the owners are tuned into the town’s active art scene.
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