New England Travel: New England's Best Small Towns


Because… if you can imagine it, they can make it.


There’s nary a Walmart in sight in this Deerfield River hamlet, which only stands to reason: Few places are more antichain than Shelburne Falls, where everything—and we mean everything—is handmade. Its streets hum with the energy of artisans making handblown glass bowls, quilts, kitchen knives, and much more. Fans of high-end crafts meander through the Shelburne Arts Co-op and individual studios, where laid-back locals tend to decompress with a can of Bud after a day of making beautiful things. Tempted to embark on your own treasure hunt? Here are a handful of gems to inspire you. —Matthew Reed Baker

Laurie Goddard: In her studio on Bridge Street, Goddard paints dreamy images inspired by the landscapes of Japan, Italy, and the Berkshires and filtered through an abstract expressionist lens.

Stillwater Porcelain: These ceramic artisans specialize in adapting Mother Nature’s own designs—including shells, flowers, and crab apple trees—for a variety of highly detailed pieces, from dinner plates to wall tiles to soap dishes.

Angelic Glass: After watching glassblowers shape delicate ornaments, you can buy their creations right next door at the Young & Constantin Gallery.

Molly Cantor: Featuring quirky depictions of birds, farm animals, and even Shelburne Falls itself, Cantor’s pottery and sculpture may come off as playful, but her method is seriously ingenious. After molding the form from a slab of basic clay, she coats it with a different-colored clay, then carves into the layers to achieve her trademark block-print look.

Ann Brauer: An NEA grant recipient with work at the Museum of Arts and Design, Brauer pieces together mesmerizing quilts and wall hangings that evoke New England’s seasons and landscape.


New England’s Best Small Towns 


  • Dan

    Don’t miss Great Barrington Bra & Girl (GBBG) at the top of Railroad Street, the area’s only full-service bra shop, and one of the best intimate apparel and accessories shops that you’ll find anywhere!

  • lo

    also- see Brad at Allium-the best bartender in the Berkshires

  • Dan Shaw

    One of the best places to eat in GB is not on Restaurant Row–it’s Cafe Adam

  • Claudia

    If you are serious about food, this is the place. It’s a couple of miles north of town.

  • fred

    no one in Shelburne Falls drinks Bud… they (we) prefer locally made micro-brews

  • Marti

    Don’t miss Millerton NY, one of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel “10 Coolest Towns in America”. We are just 10 minutes or less to Sharon, CT and about 30 minutes to Great Barrington We’re a little bit Hip and a little bit Homey! To come on over.

  • Chris

    I have lived in Sharon all my life and it’s nice to see Sharon getting such recognition . The article got it right when it added Sharon.

  • Jonathan

    In Harvard, between orchards, you also have to go to the General Store (a gourmet/locavore paradise), get a cappuccino, sit on the Common, and look at the beautiful old houses. Then go to Fruitlands Museum.

  • Eve

    You forgot to mention the magnificent hillsides and valleys (ablaze with color right now) and the ancient pot holes and waterfalls, and my favorite – the very beautiful bridge of flowers.

  • Eve

    I forgot to mention above, I am talking about Shelburne Falls, MA.

  • J

    Couple comments:
    The bad: Putnam might be quaint because of the antiques, but other than that – it’s pretty much a dump. I grew up near there.
    The good: Hancock IS a beautiful town, not to mention the incredibly nice people. It’s also next door to another beautiful town, my other hometown of Harrisville.