Group Travel Articles

Groups Explore Williamstown and Great Barrington – 2 Berkshire Gems

Williamstown

Nestled in the extreme northwest corner of Massachusetts and set hard against the borders of Vermont and New York, is Williamstown, Massachusetts – broadly acclaimed as the crown jewel of Berkshire County. This thriving rural community of just over 6,000 is ranked in The 100 Best Small Towns in America and is an ideal place for groups to while away a day.

Your group will find a delightful array of specialty stores, restaurants, spas, museums and historic inns that they can explore. A couple great group friendly lodging options are The Williams Inn and The Orchard’s Hotel.

The center of town is intertwined with the campus of prestigious Williams College, founded in 1793 and ranked as the #1 liberal arts college in America by US News & World Report. Looking for something to do spur of the moment and have some sports lovers in your tour? Then walk in off the street and enjoy outstanding Division III college basketball, hockey, soccer, football – men’s and women’s – for free at one of Williams’ world class facilities.

Be sure not to miss great selection of shops and restaurants sprinkled throughout town. For ethnic flavors try out Spice Root Modern Indian Cuisine or if you are looking for more traditional fair try out Water Street Grill. Looking for a farm to table meal? Then travel to Mezze Bistro just outside of town and have the chef create a meal just for your group. Now that you are fed be sure to stop in at The Cottage on Water Street and be sure not to miss the Harrison Gallery.

For art lovers, The Clark Art Institute and Williams College Museum of Art are near downtown and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) is just minutes away in North Adams. Rounding out the cultural highlights is the Williamstown Theatre Festival, world famous summer stock theater in the ’62 Center on the Williams’ campus. Add a full calendar of festivities, shows and special events, and it’s no surprise that so many groups find Williamstown irresistible.

The scenic beauty of Mount Greylock, Massachusetts’ highest peak (3,491 feet above sea level) provides a gorgeous backdrop… Simply put, Williamstown has more than something for everyone.

Now that you have enjoyed some of the treasures that can be found in the northern part of Berkshire County it is time to give your group a chance to explore a south county town. Hop on the bus and head to Great Barrington.

Great Barrington

A visit to Great Barrington doesn’t mean you have to be “away from it all” unless you truly want to be!  The Southern Berkshires offer so much for your group’s getaway that it’s difficult to know where to start! Dozens of Berkshire lodging properties offer a variety of options. Fairfield Inn & Suites is situated in the heart of Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains and is an upscale hotel offering upscale group accommodation or check out what the Holiday Inn Express or Days Inn in Great Barrington have to offer. And close by to downtown Great Barrington your group can enjoys staying at the Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield the perfect place to relax in a scenic Berkshire country setting.

Voted as the Best Foodie Shopping Area in New England by Boston Magazine and one of the Top 10 Coolest Small Towns in the U.S.A. by Budget Travel, Great Barrington is definitely the place to be and Railroad Street is one main reason why.   Only one block long, this little street is jam-packed with fun places to explore during your visit.

If your group is coming during the winter months don’t forget to add skiing to the itinerary!  Close by in S. Egremont, Catamount Ski Area boasts 6 lifts servicing 32 trails and park areas covering 119 acres of prime downhill skiing and snowboarding. Plan to come back in the spring and summer to experience Catamount Adventure Park’s ropes course great for team building!

While you are here, be sure to check out the stretch of Route 7 that runs through Sheffield often referred to as Antique Alley.

Also the Mahaiwe Theatre offers great cultural programming and is group friendly. This theater was built in 1905 but has recently been restored and is well worth a visit.

Group visitors are often amazed at the delicious dining options South County has to offer!   To name just a few, the Route 7 Grill offers the best barbeque around  (so says Yankee Magazine) with a cozy New England farmhouse atmosphere and Baba Louie’s serves up wood-fired, organic sourdough pizza in a gourmet, family-friendly setting.

Enjoy some live jazz at the Castle Street Cafe, settle down in a cozy rustic setting at the Old Mill, surround yourself with succulent aromas and history at the Stagecoach Tavern, or treat yourself to a meal fit for royalty at The Old Inn on the Green.

Throughout its history, Great Barrington and the area has been the home of some very important people and events.  Your group can walk down the first street ever to be lit up with electricity (Main Street, Great Barrington), follow in the footsteps of W.E.B. Du Bois, visit the homes of Colonel Ashley and Mum Bett or Reverend Adonijah Bidwell, see the site of the battle of Shay’s Rebellion, and experience the area where some of America’s most famous artists and writers got their inspiration.

Be sure to take time to explore Monument Mountain, hike to Bash Bish Falls, explore Bartholomew’s Cobble, or wander along the River Walk for breathtaking scenery you’ll not soon forget.

Be sure that whatever itinerary you are creating that you make time to include a variety of Berkshire towns so that your group can get a real feel for the area and come to discover how each town has its own personality and a rich variety of unique offers. See you soon in the Berkshires!