by guest contributor April Aultman Becker. April and Tobin Becker are lovers of art, literature, music and each other. They are also dear friends and fellow travelers, living in Houston, TX, gallivanting around the world!
I wanted to peep some leaves and reconnect with the sense of community that is unique to the hilly towns of the Northeast; he wanted to see art. Luckily, North Adams, Massachusetts more than satisfied our needs with the largest contemporary art museum in the United States and scenery to lose yourself in…along with a sweet inn with a great backstory.
North Adams was in a state of decline when the idea of building a contemporary art museum in an abandoned mill-turned-factory was presented. In the 15 years since opening, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has transformed the community. The Porches Inn, conveniently located just across the street in a row of Victorian houses originally occupied by the factory workers, is a part of everything, as they are a partner of MASS MoCA, and even host their own fine art exhibits and performances.
I fell in love with Porches Inn before we even arrived there through their website. The colors, sweet text, and pastoral images came to life when we arrived at the reception desk. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and not the least bit pretentious. Each differently colored house contains several unique adorable guest rooms decorated with paint-by-number artwork from the 50s and 60s, vintage lamps, ridiculously comfy beds, and enormous bathrooms with claw-foot tubs. We stayed in the grey house, but we enjoyed visiting the main reception house for cider, cookies, and beers later in the evening. Sadly, we missed the nightly bonfire and marshmallow roast with only one night there, but we will next time.
food & libations: The locally-sourced, European-style continental breakfast at Porches’ main house was enough to fuel us for most of the day. We sampled regional beer and wine at Porches’ fireside in-house bar right next to the small library, complete with a friendly resident cat. We enjoyed the wide drink assortment and farm fresh dinner menu at the beautiful and industrial Public Eat + Drink downtown, totally walkable from the inn.
cool for kids: MASS MoCA has a special Kidspace with exhibits and education, along with programming throughout the year (check the website for a schedule), and kids will love climbing and running around the grounds at Mt. Greylock.
must visit: MASS MoCA (don’t miss the long-term Sol Lewitt and Anselm Keifer exhibits). On your way out of town, make time for a stop at the gallery at Williams College down the way, and make sure to drive along the Mohawk Trail, preferably in the fall when the colors are breath-taking and apple orchards line the road.