52 Weekend Getaways: North Adams, MA

Visual aid.

| Boston Magazine |

Back in the ’70s, photographer Stephen Shore was known for his desolate images of decaying, post-industrial U.S. downtowns. One of his most famous portrayed an abandoned street in North Adams. For decades that was the closest contact this Berkshire County town had with the international art world.

[sidebar]But it wasn’t long before Mass MoCA made it a world-renowned destination. The museum now draws 120,000 visitors a year to exhibits like its long-running Sol LeWitt retrospective and music festivals like this past summer’s Solid Sound, headlined by Wilco. North Adams’s downtown storefronts are now packed with studios and galleries featuring Haitian art, sculpture, installations, and work by students at the nearby Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Upon arrival, grab a copy of the handy North Adams Art Map. After hitting the museum and downtown spots, head to the clustered quartet of old mills (Beaver, Eclipse, Windsor, and Noama) just outside the town center, filled with galleries of paintings, pottery, fiber arts, and more. And take a side trip to tony Williamstown, where the Clark museum offers impressive collections of 19th-century art as well as the achingly modern Stone Hill Center galleries (pictured here).

At day’s end, the best eats are at Gramercy Bistro (inside Mass MoCA) and Taylor’s, a steak and seafood spot. Be sure to savor an outdoor cocktail at the Golden Eagle restaurant, too. Sitting on the porch as the sun sets over the Berkshires, you’ll be inspired to take plenty of pictures. They’re certain to turn out rosier than Stephen Shore’s did.

STAY: The Porches Inn at Mass MoCA, 231 River St., North Adams, 413-664-0400, porches.com.

DRIVE: Three hours, 30 minutes