Massachusetts might just be the artiest US state you’ve never heard of. From Boston to The Berkshires, it’s a Mecca for culture and cracking seafood….
For red-brick buildings, cobbled streets and more world-class museums than you can shake a “Cheers”-branded mug at, Boston just oozes East Coast cool.
The Gardner museum
The must-sees: For old-school splendour, don’t miss The Gardner Museum (gardnermuseum.org). Isabella Stewart Gardner was a 19th century socialite who amassed an amazing collection of paintings in her lifetime, all housed in a beautiful Italian-style courtyard and gardens. But if you prefer your art on the cutting edge side, get down to the ICA (icaboston.org). Video installations, graffiti murals and panoramic views of the harbour make this the cool kids’ hangout.
The hip hotel: The Langham is where the celebs stay when they’re in town because loads of films, from Good Will Hunting to The Proposal have been made in Boston. And in a former life the hotel was the Federal Reserve Bank so it’s a pretty ‘safe’ bet! We loved the pink and gold decor and luxe touches like fresh popcorn in your room. And did we mention the Chocolate Bar buffet held every Saturday? (boston.langhamhotels.com, rooms from £176).
A room with a view
The arty eatery: Area Four in Kendall Square is right by MIT (so it’s full of trendy nerds) and does a mean clam and bacon pizza – a new take on the East Coast classic clam chowder (areafour.com). Or if you’re more of a Harvard-fan, ask a local to point out the dorms of Matt Damon and Mark Zuckerberg and then eat at Upstairs on the Square (upstairsonthesquare.com) The interior is out of this world (all zebra-print carpets and chandeliers) but the food (almond gazpacho and lobster) is even better.
Whether you’re into art, theatre, dance, music (or even just shopping) upscale area The Berkshires has a bit of everything – and some stunning scenery to boot.
The must-sees: Catch a dance performance at nearby Jacob’s Pillow, one of the most prestigious academies in the world (jacobspillow.org), or spend the day at Tanglewood – home to the famous summer jazz festival. Then head to former mill town North Adams, a city that’s been revitalised by the arts thanks to the huge Mass MOCA (massmoca.org), pop-up galleries and artist lofts. A short skip away is Williamstown, home to the Clark Art Institute, which currently has some of its impressive Impressionists collection at The Royal Academy, London until September 23rd (clarkart.edu).
The hip hotel: For a homely New England classic, The Apple Tree Inn has rocking chairs, wood-burning fires and cocktails on the porch (appletree-inn.com, rooms from £85). It’s also within spitting distance of Tanglewood – so bring earplugs if you come within festival time. But if you like a dose of kitsch with your arty party, you can’t beat The Porches Inn in North Adams. Once a row of mill-workers’ cottages, this boutique hotel is now just the right side of chintz-tastic (porches.com, rooms from £80).
The arty eatery: Public in North Adam is the spot to refuel with a classic American burger, locally-brewed ale and a blueberry lemonade. Not as innocent as it sounds! Looking at art is thirsty work after all (Publiceatanddrink.com).