72 Hours in The Berkshires
In time-honored (read: twice so far) summer tradition, we just had our long summer weekend getaway with the Chatterjees. Procrastination meant that any attractive vacation rental by the shore was already booked, so we settled for the Berkshires, about 3 hours by car from New York City.
Fortunately, the Berkshires have everything the Chatterjees plus David could want: attractive 19th century gardens and scenic views for Dida, a dose of art for David and my mom, and nice weather for my dad. First stop was The Mount, an early 20th century estate built by author and surprisingly feminist badass Edith Wharton (remember her from high school?). Skip the house tour and take a walk around the formal gardens and the woods nearby, which are dotted with art installations in surprising spots.
On our second day of perfect weather, we drove over to Naumkeag, another estate built by a wealthy New York family. Like at The Mount, skip the house tour (which costs money and basically feels like a shabby Downton Abbey) and check out the gardens and take in the view.
Much of the estate is the work of Mabel Choate, the final owner of Naumkeag, and I have to admit that by the end of my time there I was a little obsessed with her; she was an erudite spinster who had traveled the world and reshaped her family estate to reflect her values and tastes. And when she died, she left this beautiful place for the masses to explore.
For a little culture fix, we drove over to Mass MOCA, an old-mill-turned-contemporary art museum. It feels massive; we spent close to 3 hours there. The museum pays a lot of respect to its past; bright and airy warehouse spaces are home to massive installations, and we loved walking around the cavernous, roofless boiler house, its tubes, tanks and machines left to rust in the open.
There's a lot of fun stuff to see there, but David and I loved the Alex Da Corte exhibit; his pop art was surreal, playful, and even stunning at times. Bright colors and everyday consumer products were juxtaposed together in unsettling, uncomfortable ways. I found it totally engrossing.
The Berkshires are dotted with farms and farm stands; the local produce (especially the corn) is delicious. On our final night, David and I hit up The Prairie Whale in Great Barrington, a farm-to-table restaurant from one of the owners of Marlow & Sons in Brooklyn. Prairie whale is a 19th century term for pig, and the pork dishes here are a standout. We had a few cocktails and a leisurely meal here, taking in the Brooklyn-meets-New England countryside vibe; a good last meal before heading back to the city.