You guys know that I'm a South Eastern/South Coast/Cape Cod Massachusetts girl at heart. 100%. But a couple of weeks ago, my better half and I embarked upon an adventure, sort of on a whim, in beautiful Western Massachusetts. For my pageant sisters, it felt like a mini version of Savvy and Nate's pilgrimage, but is a bit more in reach for those of us who live in MA and just feel the need to get away from the business for a bit. Highly recommend. So here you have it. 4 reasons why Western MA is the place to be- especially in the fall.
#1 Art & History Collide
Have you ever heard of Norman Rockwell? If the name doesn't ring a bell, his art might.
Norman Rockwell lived in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for much of his life and is perhaps most well known for his many works that were created for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. He painted a total of 323 covers for the post and each of them can be seen at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.
Alex and I absolutely loved our visit at the museum. Seeing the iconic works, walking through Norman's art studio, and seeing his vision of America through his paintings was a truly memorable experience. It also inspired us to check out downtown Stockbridge which led to more adventures. The town is adorable and there are so many cute shops and hole in the wall cafes that make some pretty amazing lattes.
#2 Wine & Apples
Many of you may know that I have a growing passion for the art of wine, wine making, wine tasting, and everything that surrounds the experience of wine. I caught the wino fever the first time I traveled to Ontario, Canada in 2017 and began my wine tasting journey. Since then, I have returned to Canada for further wine exploration, have visited the wine region of the Finger Lakes, begun my pursuit of obtaining a certificate in Wine Studies from BU, and am taking any opportunity I can find to taste at any winery I might stumble upon.
When Alex and I arrived at our Airbnb on day one of our Western, MA adventure, we watched the documentary film, Somm. Click here to watch the trailer. It's on Netflix as of this post's publish date so go pour yourself a glass and check it out!
Anyway, after watching Somm, we were inspired to seek out wineries near Pittsfield, MA where we were staying and we stumbled upon two winery experiences that made our little trip an amazing one.
The first winery: Balderdash Cellars in Richmond, MA.
Talk about a warm and interactive tasting experience. This winery was absolutely full of charm, character, and good vibes. They're currently in the construction process for their new tasting room, but the faint smell of fresh wood panelling and overall coziness only added to the authenticity of the winery and the tasting experience. The women behind the counter were so friendly and knowledgable about the wines and we learned so much, taking home info sheets on each wine we tasted. Plus, THERE WERE DOGS. TWO DOGS. Wine, dogs, cheese, and deep, meaningful conversations made our experience at Balderdash an unforgettable one. We stayed for 4 hours, talking, tasting, and munching. Be sure to carve out some time to visit this winery the next time you're booping around in Pittsfield.
The second winery: Hilltop Orchards & Furnace Brook Winery in Richmond, MA.
This winery was so unique. We walked through the doors and were met by the scent of fresh cider donuts, the warmth from a crackling fireplace, and the bustle of the connected apple cider facility. It was amazing. Here, we tasted mead for the first time as well as a bunch of different wines, including Ice Wine (oh, sweet elixir) and thanks to our new friend David, we were able to get a behind the scenes look at how apple cider is made. We spent 4 hours at this winery as well, playing darts, munching on fresh honey crisp apple from the orchard, exploring the grounds, and we left with a bottle of mead that we happily enjoyed back at our Airbnb while we watched How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days. It was a solid wine/orchard experience- and so unique! We will definitely be visiting this one again.
#3 The Scenery
I wouldn't trade my 25 minute drive to the beach for anything, don't get me wrong. But I also can't tell you how many times Alex and I both wished that Western, MA was closer to the ocean because holy beans. I have never seen so many trees than we did during our adventures. Trees, fields, open green space, historic buildings. When I returned to Boston at the end of our trip, I literally despised the concrete that took up every inch of city space. It reminded me that I'm 100% not a city person. And it remains true that no matter where Alex and I end up in our future, (and he knows this) it is required that we have enough space for chickens in our backyard at all time.
We knew that we wanted to do some hiking before our adventures concluded, and we drove around for a good part of day 2 looking for a place to explore. We happily stumbled upon Pleasant Valley Nature Sanctuary, in Lenox, MA. It's a beautiful, quiet reserve with lots of trails for all ages to enjoy.
#4 Character and Charm
Each town that we drove through, explored, and wandered through had a new personality that made for a memorable visit to the western part of our gorgeous state. For every place we visited, we have stories to share. We had so many interactions with the local people, small business owners, the history of the towns, and the nature surrounding it all. Even though we didn't leave the state, we were able to return to reality back home feeling renewed and rested. If you're looking for a new fall tradition, taking a weekend and spending it in Western, MA will give you wonderful opportunities to learn, wander, and taste.