Literary City Guide | The Berkshires, MA
Tour Guide: Julie Turner
Julie is a life-long New England resident, and grew up spending time in the Berkshires with her family. Now she frequently visits the region with her husband to enjoy Tanglewood in the summer, skiing in the winter, and everything in between. She writes about food, travel, and decor at Fresh Basil. (All photos by Julie Turner.)
Relationship to the Berkshires: Frequent visitor
Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: Edith Wharton
Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: Dorie Greenspan!
Writing soundtrack: Very lame in this department - I like it quiet.
Pen or Pencil: Pencil
Coffee or Tea: Both, please.
Paperback or Hardback: Paperback
The Bookstore. This lovely, cramped shop boasts an opinioned staff and oodles of good recommendations. Used, rare, and new books are all available.
Yellow House Books. At the edge of Main Street in Great Barrington, this is the perfect spot to browse an eclectic collection of dusty used books.
Lenox Library and Welles Gallery. This darling country library has a separate gallery space next-door to display work by local artists throughout the year.
Mason Library. In 1913, Architecture Magazine said, “It is perhaps not too much to say that this is the most attractive small library building in America…” Impossible to skip.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
Lenox Library. They host a distinguished lecture series on select Sunday afternoons throughout the year featuring notable local artists, professors, and politicians, among others.
Williams College. Campus offerings include an amazing selection of dance, plays, lectures, screenings, and musical performances that are often open to the public throughout the academic year, usually for free or with a nominal fee.
Stockbridge Library, Museum, and Archives. The library hosts monthly art shows and a Sunday Speaker Series.
The Mount. The stately country home and gardens of novelist Edith Wharton are available to tour year-round. The property also offers a lecture series, live music throughout the summer, and a literary festival.
Arrowhead. The farmhouse overlooking the Berkshire hills where Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick offers tours May – September.
Crane Museum of Papermaking. This free museum allows guests to learn about the currency, bonds, stock certificates, and stationery the company produces.
Haven Café and Bakery. The bright, airy restaurant serves delicious brunch, lunch, and bakery items, with many gluten free options. The wait can look intimidating on weekend mornings, but typically moves quickly.
Rubi’s Coffee and Sandwiches. Delightfully open and rustic, this is the perfect spot to read the paper and linger over a cup of coffee. The small lunch menu is also excellent.
A PROPER MEAL
Mezze. The serene dining room has huge windows so that diners can take in the lush green views surrounding the property. The farm-fresh food, which can seem ordinary on the menu, is inventive and delicious.
Rouge. Situated in itty-bitty West Stockbridge, this place oozes charm with its mismatched tables and chairs, tiny bar area, and fantastic take on French classics.
Dream Away Lodge. This hang-out turned restaurant features everything quirky and fantastic about the Berkshires under one roof. There’s a fire pit outside, live music, and a casual, cozy menu.
Mission Bar & Tapas. This feisty spot in Pittsfield has a very good wine list, small plates, and excellent service. There’s often live music on weekend nights.
Brava. The knowledgeable staff at this warm, cozy bar stock excellent beer and wine, and the menu offers hearty snacks that can make a meal.
Chocolate Springs Café. The café menu offers an assortment of coffee, tea, gelato, and pastries, including an absolutely irresistible selection of individual cakes.
Robin’s Candy Shop. This colorful, happy shop is filled to the brim with old-fashioned candy, fudge, gelato, and more.
SoCo Creamery. Locations through the Berkshires offer delicious ice cream with a flawless texture and fresh flavors.
Julie's 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view: The lush, green lawn at Tanglewood during a Sunday afternoon concert.
2. Favorite place to write: At the picnic tables overlooking the Housatonic behind my parents’ house.
3. Favorite museum: MASS MoCA.
4. Favorite coffee shop: Rubi’s.
5. Favorite thing about the Berkshires: The beautiful mix of nature and culture.