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    The Athens of America

    by deecat Written Aug 16, 2007

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    Favorite thing: "Every Child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. Pablo Picasso

    Boston has often been called "The Athens of America" because Boston, like Athens, has wonderful theaters, beautiful buildings, graceful statues, & intelligent philosophers.

    Bostonians love beauty, & the Boston museums reflect that love. Today, Boston's museums certainly offer a "visual feast" for everyone. The Boston Atheneum is located in a lovely Italian-style building on Beacon Street. It was founded in 1807 & the first museum in Boston to open its doors to the public.

    The galleries display fine examples of American & European art. Can you believe that on the 5th floor, they have a collection of rare books that once belonged to George Washington! Boston's Museum of Fine Arts has a portrait of Paul Revere by American artist, John Singleton Copley. I loved the silver pitchers & dishes made by Revere himself that were also on exhibit. In addition, the museum also has a great collection of Egyptian carvings & Japanese brush paintings.

    The Isabella Steward Gardner Museum is as well known for a theft as it is for its wonderful collections. "In 1990, thieves disguised as security guards, carried off thirteen prized paintins....Bostonians were outraged. The Gardner Museum holds a special place in the city's heart, & the theft touched thousands of people." The museum is housed in a Renaissance villa that was transported brick by brick from Venice, Italy. This was my favorite museum because it literally overflowed with paintings, sculptures, tapestries, & elegant furniture. But what I enjoyed most was the courtyard garden & its splashing fountain. Isabella Stewart Gardner opened her home as a public art, & her will states that none of the exhibits must ever be changed! But, I enjoyed the city's monuments and buildings (which I consider to be art) as much as the art within the museums.

    Fondest memory: I think that two more of my favorite museums were the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum and Harvard University Museums. As a long-time fan of President Kennedy, I just had to visit his library and museum. It's a bittersweet museum because I marveled at the images, the success of the man at such a young age, but I shed tears for a life taken way too early. The video clips were especially compelling. The Harvard University Museums have it all...archeology, European Art, Asian and Near Eastern Art, and natural history. The architecture of one of the museums, Sackler Museumm, is artwork itself. I feel fortunate to have visited many of the excellent Boston museums.

    Courtyard at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
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    Salem, Historic Village

    by deecat Updated Aug 16, 2007

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    Favorite thing: "Search others for their virtues; thyself for thy vices." Benjamin Franklin

    The Puritans brought their beliefs that witches existed with them from Europe to America. They believed that all their problems were caused by witches working with the devil.

    Out of fear, they were quick to identify people as witches and then tried to destroy the designated witches! Many Puritans also believed that Native Americans were controlled by the devil. These fears of witches led to witchcraft trials in Salem in 1692. More than 100 people were accused of witchcraft. Nineteen people were put to death, sometimes on such slim evidence as the word of another person.

    The Royal Governor of the Colony eventually stopped the witch hunters after his own wife was accused.

    Fondest memory: The town of Salem is north of Boston. There is a museum devoted to the witchcraft trials (The Salem Witch Museum). There is also a Witch House that is a 360-year-old home of one of the judges of the witchcraft trials.

    While in Salem, you are able to visit the Salem Witch Village, the Witch House, and the Witch Dungeon Museum. The Dungeon Museum features an acclaimed re-creation of a witch trial adapted from actual court transcripts!

    But, Salem's history is more than witch trials. About six buildings in Salem Maritime National Historic Site inform visitors of Salem's days as a prosperous port and shipbuilding center.

    All three of us enjoyed historic Salem. It's "witch" sites are interesting and somewhat frightening. The six buildings having to do with the Maritime History were really fascinating and interesting from an architectural viewpoint.

    Photo: (The Statue of Roger Conant, founder of the city of Salem) shows a stern faced man in his heavy cloak as though he is enforcing the harsh moral code of the Puritans who settled in Salem during the seventeenth century.

    Roger Conant Statue in front of Salem Witch Museum
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    Lexington and Concord

    by deecat Updated Aug 16, 2007

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    Favorite thing: "...There is her [Massachusetts] history; the world knows it by heart...There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill; and there they will remain forever..." Daniel Webster

    On our way to Boston, we spent a brief time in two history-laden towns: Concord and Lexington.

    In Concord, we saw the Minuteman National Historic Park. But, I was most interested in all the leading literary figures who were important in Concord. We took quick tours of the homes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott. My favorite was Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott's home, and it was the setting for her novel, Little Women.

    We also spent a brief time in the serene environment of Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau's favorite place. In nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, we saw the graves of Alcott, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau.

    Fondest memory: In neighboring Lexington, we traced the steps of the Revolution's first skirmish at the Battle Green.

    We also visited the Old Belfry that summoned the militia to the green. We also spent some time at the Museum of Our National Heritage where we saw some great exhibits of furniture, toys, and costumes from the Revolutionary period. I only wish that we would have spent more time in these two historic cities.

    Revolutionary War Presentation at Concrod
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    Diverse Landscapes

    by deecat Updated Aug 16, 2007

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    Favorite thing: "In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences." Robert Greene Ingersoll

    Massachusetts has two major regions--The Coastal Lowlands and the New England Upland.

    The New England Upland is divided into the Connecticut River Valley and the Berkshires. More than one third of the state is Coastal Lowland. It's made up of low hills, swamps, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Not too much (besides cranberries) grows here. The far end of the lowlands is what gives the state its nickname (The Bay State)--Cape Cod.

    The Cape (as it is called) juts out into the ocean for 65 miles. Note: People do not realize that the Bay's offshore waters are among the most treacherous in the Nation!

    West of the Coastal Lowlands, you'll find the New England Upland which is a hilly region that stretches from New Jersey to Maine. In Massachusetts, the New England Upland is split in two sections. The first section, The Connecticut River Valley was created by the Connecticut River which ranges between two and twenty miles in width. The land on the two sides of the river is very fertile; thus, the best farmland in the state resides here.

    The other section of the New England Upland is located in the far westernmost region in the state and is called the Berkshires, named after the Berkshire range of low mountains. Here, you'll find many dairy farms. All in all, Massachusetts offers diversity in its landscape just as it enjoys diversity in its population.

    Fondest memory: My fondest memory of the landscape of Massachusetts is Cape Cod. Our daughter Jill was in grade school when we visited the Cape, and she, too, was impressed by the utterly charming's so relaxed, laid back, and spontaneous.

    Cap Cod Beach
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    Massachusetts: An Education Powerhouse

    by deecat Updated Aug 17, 2007

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    Favorite thing: "The love of learning, learning how to learn--was revealed to me in Boston". Leonard Bernstein, composer

    As a high school teacher for over thirty years, education is my number one priority. So, I was delighted to learn about the importance of education in Massachusetts. It has earned a reputation as one of the finest learning centers in the world.

    In 1635, the Puritans founded the Boston Latin School, America's first public school. Also, the first public high school was established in Massachusetts in 1821. In addition, the first college in the US, Harvard, was founded in the state in 1636 by the Puritans! Interestingly, in 1852, Massachusetts became the first state to declare mandatory school attendance.

    Today, there are numerous colleges and universities of great merit. Across the river from Boston in the city of Cambridge, you will find three outstanding schools: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M. I. T.) which is a center of scientific research, Radcliffe, a well respected Woman's college, and, of course, Harvard, the oldest and most prestigious university in America.

    In Boston alone, many highly regarded schools reside such as Boston University, Boston College, Tufts, Wellesley, and Brandeis, to name a few. Because of these fantastic schools, research has led to many new medical innovations. These innovations have helped to make Boston one of the most respected medical centers in the world!

    Fondest memory: Massachusetts-born, Horace Mann, did much to improve the nation's schools. He was born in Franklin and was considered "the father of American public education"; led the fight for free, universal education; & helped create the Massachusetts State Board of Education.

    A prestigious private school, Phillips Academy, in Andover has been in operation since 1778! The nation's first women's college was founded in South Hadley and called Mount Holyoke. Better yet, four highly respected private women's colleges are in Massachusetts: Mount Holyoke (South Hadley), Wellesley College (Wellesley), Smith College (Northampton), and Radcliffe (Cambridge).

    So, you can see why I, as an ex-teacher, would be enamored by the state of Massachusetts.

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    "We're #1" is Well Deserve in Massachusetts

    by deecat Updated Aug 16, 2007

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    Favorite thing: "It ain't bragging if you can back it up." Dizzy Dean

    If ever a state deserves to say, "We're #1!", it's Massachusetts. I am impressed at how many people, places, and items concerning the state are categorized as being FIRST. I did not learn all of this at one time; it evolved over a period of two or three weeks.

    In SPORTS for instance: Basketball was first invented in Springfield in 1891 by James Naismith, a physical education teacher who wanted an indoor sport for his students to play in the winter! Four years later, a YMCA director named William Morgan developed the sport of volleyball in Holyoke. Baseball's first World Series was held in Boston in 1903. First Marathon Race in USA was Boston Marathon (1897).

    BOSTON'S FIRSTS: Boston Common became the first public park in the American colonies. The first American secondary school was Boston Latin School. Boston established both the colonies' first post office and the first free public school The first American public library was founded in Boston. Boston was the site of the first newspaper published in the colonies. Boston also had the first American lighthouse and the first American subway. Boston's court officials established America's first police force. Bay Psalm Book was the first book printed in the colonies; yes, in Boston.

    Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital is where the first operation using general anesthesia was performed. Dr. Susan Dimock opens the first training school for nuses in BOSTON. Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone in BOSTON. Bostonian Frances Perkins was appointed the nation's first woman cabinet member. The world's first successful human kidney transplant was done at BOSTON'S Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. First American celebration of St. Patrick's Day was held in BOSTON (1737).

    Fondest memory: EDUCATION FIRSTS First Woman's College at Mount Holyoke. First college was Harvard in Cambridge. First American Secondary High School.

    OTHER FIRSTS First bookstore First Chocolate Chip Cookie (1931) First Chocolate Factory (1765) First state to outlaw slavery First Thanksgiving celebration The nation's first African-American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, charges Fort Wagner during the Civil War. Frank Duryea drives the first American gasoline-powered automobile in Springfield. Robert Goddard launches the first liquid-fuel rocket in Auburn Howard Aiken heads a Cambridge laboratory that develops the first computer, called the Mark 1. Massachusetts native John F. Kennedy becomes the first Irish Catholic and the youngest person elected president. Sadly, Blackstone River was first polluted river in America. It flows from Worcester to Providence, RI.

    A Prized Possession from Massachusetts
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    Reality Squares With Expectations

    by deecat Updated Aug 17, 2007

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    Favorite thing: "It is not en route to anywhere else. One of its [Provincetown] charms is the fact that those who go there have made some effort to do so." Michael Cunningham

    We visited Cape Cod in the summer, along with thousands of other visitors. Although "the Cape" is not huge, there are numerous museums, restaurants, and activities to keep even the most jaded tourist satisfied. We stayed at the cape's farthest tip, Provincetown. This is where the Pilgrims first landed before they settled in Plymouth. Here, there is a 250-foot-tall monument (Pilgrim Monument) which marks that spot. An observation deck at the top provides a stunning view of the tip of Cape Cod.

    Unbeknown to us at the time that we planned our stay was the fact that Provincetown is predominately a gay and lesbian community. The attitude here is open, carefree, and fun. And, it's quite a contrast to the Puritan ethic once dominate here!

    I always thought that Provincetown was a fishing village and a haven for artists and writers. ( I knew that Eugene O'Neill had stayed here).It is, indeed, an artistic community. But, "P-town" (as it's called) is also a sprawling playground with some gaudy souvenir shops and discotheques. There are devoted joggers who run the beach, maneuvering through sunbathers and children building castles. But, there's also quaint homes, a wonderful art community, and a friendly attitude that welcomes everyone.

    Two of my favorite places on Commercial Street were Provincetown Portuguese Bakery (299 Commercial Street; 508-487-1803), where you can watch them frying sweet doughnuts called malasadas. and across the street, Cabot's Candies of Cape Cod (276 Commercial Street; 508-487-3550)) with its 30 flavors of saltwater taffy pulled on the premises. They also make delicious fudge.

    Fondest memory: Iremember walking along Commercial Street with my daughter Jill (age about 9 or 10), and she says, "Mom, why are those women kissing each other?" I was at a loss for words. I didn't know how much to tell her. So, I said the truth. "They are kissing because they love each other." That's all she wanted to know and was satisfied. It was a learning experience for our whole sheltered family.

    We left Provincetown knowing that a gay/lesbian community is just like every other community, only this one is filled with mostly kind, caring, wonderful people.

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    African American Role in Boston's Society

    by deecat Updated Aug 16, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Note: Photo from Pamphlet

    "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King, Jr., American Civil Rights Leader

    It's interesting to note that Massachusetts was the only state to record no slaves when the first U.S. census was taken in 1790. Blacks have lived in Boston since Colonial Times, and there are several landmarks in the greater Boston area commemorating their history. A lesser-known, but just as historic, walking tour is The Black Heritage Trail which starts at the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill. This meetinghouse is part of the Museum of Afro-American History and was built in 1806

    The New England Anti-Slavery Society was founded here. The Black Heritage Trail links key sites and private homes (not open to the public) where escaped slaves were given a safe haven. In essence, they were part of the "Underground Railroad" (safe houses between the South and Canada). An interesting spot on this walking tour is Holmes Alley at the end of Smith Court, which was once used by fugitives to flee professional slave catchers.

    The Boston Massacre Monument is on the Boston Common and tells of the involvement of American blacks in the American Revolution. Of course, The Boston African-American Park includes fifteen pre-Civil War structures relating to the city's African-American community. I loved the memorial to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment(See the photo) It was the first regiment of black soldiers in the Civil War. It's located in the African-American Park.

    Fondest memory: Perhaps the most important structure representing the African-American role in history is the African Meeting House. It was built with materials salvaged from the reconstruction of the Old West Church. It's the oldest black church building in the nation and was the political and religious center of Boston's African American Society. By the way, its basement was the city's first school for black children until the adjacent Abiel Smith School was built.

    African-American Heritage
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    Tidbits About Massachusetts

    by deecat Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Just some interesting "Tidbits about Massachusetts:

    Boston is the capital and the largest city in Massachusetts.

    Massachusetts was the sixth state that in the USA

    Massachusetts's natural resources are stone, lumber, and fish

    Massachusetts manufactures computers, paper, and machinery

    Crops in Massachusetts include CRANBERRIES, vegetables, and cattle

    Massachusetts was named after the "Massachusett group of Native Americans" It means great hill place.

    Nicknames for the state are:
    Bay State or Old Bay State [honors the Massachusetts Bay]

    Pilgrim State because the Pilgrims were settlers here first.

    Old Colony State that honors Plymouth Colony

    The state Bird is a favorite of mine, The black-capped chickadee.

    The State Tree is The American Elm which honors a historical event when George Washington took command of the Continental army in Massachusetts. Washington stood under an American elm when he took command.

    A little-known flower called The Mayflower" is the state flower. Some people believe that the Pilgrims named this flower after their ship.

    The state Cookies is the chocolate chip cookies [chosen in 1997] because Ruth Wakefield invented this cookie in Whitman, Massachusetts.

    Mayflower, State flower of Massachusetts
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    "Where Someone Knows My Name"

    by deecat Updated Aug 16, 2007

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    Favorite thing: "Don't dwell on reality; it will only keep you from greatness." Rev. Randall R. McBride, Jr.

    Beginning in 1983, I, like many other Americans, started watching the comedy series, Cheers about a fictional saloon of the same name. I faithfully watched it for the eleven years it aired (275 episodes!) I was fascinated by the Boston accents, the fictional residents of Boston, and the clever plots pertaining to the city.

    In the beginning, I knew very little or nothing about Boston. This show is one of the big reasons I visited Massachusetts. When in Boston, of course, I went to see the Pub that inspired the Cheers TV show. Massachusetts governor (at the time), William Weld, honored the television program by proclaiming an official Cheers Day when the show went off the air. PS (I still watch all the Cheers reruns!)

    I find it very remarkable that a TV show made such an impact on me. But, I guess that I am not the only one who is influenced by television because when I went to investigate the Pub in Boston that was the inspiration for Cheers, there were scores of other tourists doing the same thing!

    Cheers in Boston
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    by LoriPori Written Sep 30, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Located in the northwest corner of Massachusetts, on Highway 2 and in Berkshire County, is the lovely town of WILLIAMSTOWN. It shares a border with Vermont to the North and New York State to the West. It is home of Williams College and the Clark Art Institute.
    Williamstown is also known for its cultural attractions including the Chapin Library of Rare Books where original printings of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are on display.
    Williamstown was first settled in 1749 and incorporated in 1765.
    Notable Residents of Williamstown:
    Cole Porter - songwriter
    Matthew Perry - Actor
    Christopher Reeve - Actor
    William Henry Vanderbilt III - Politician
    Fay Vincent - Former commissioner of Baseball

    First Congregational Church - 1765 Williams College Building Thompson Chapel - Lasell Bell Tower
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    by LoriPori Updated Sep 30, 2007

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    Favorite thing: No city offers as dramatic a view of the American Industrial Revolution as LOWELL Massachusetts. Founded by Boston Merchants in 1821-22, Lowell, named for Francis Cabot Lowell, was built as a factory city along the Merrimack River to take advantage of the waterpower potential of the Pawtucket Falls.
    It was a thriving industrial center during the 19th century, attracting many immigrants and migrant workers to its mills.

    Merrimack Canal St. Anne's Episcopal Church Masonic Temple Lowell City Hall John F. Kennedy Civic Center
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    by LoriPori Written Oct 4, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Sunday, September 23, 2000
    SALEM is a residential and tourist area which includes the neighbourhoods of Salem Neck, South Salem, North Salem and Witchcraft Heights. Most people associate the city with the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, which the city embraces both as a source of tourism and culture.
    Salem also embraces its glorious maritime past. Its "Salem Marine National Historic Site" protects Salem's historic waterfront.
    Other attractions include witch-related Salem Wax Museum, Salem Witch Village, Salem Witch Museum and Salem Witch House. Historic sites include the wonderful House of the Seven Gables, Derby House and Customs House.

    Salem Witch Museum Salem Witch Museum The House of the Seven Gables
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    by traveldave Updated Dec 1, 2010

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    Favorite thing: Boston was first settled in 1630 when King Charles I of England assigned land to the Massachusetts Bay Company, a large group of Puritans. Puritans were people who left England to pursue religious freedom in the New World. Eleven ships carrying 1,000 Puritans left Boston, England and arrived at the mouth of the Charles River. The small settlement that was established on the south bank of the Charles River was called Trimountain at first, but was eventually renamed Boston, after the town the settlers left in England.

    It was in Boston, the most important city in the 13 British colonies, that ideas of independence began, and where the American Revolutionary War began. The main quarrel the colonists had with the British government was the burdensome taxation policies imposed on the colonies. One of the rallying cries of those opposed to the taxation was "No taxation without representation."

    Problems started between the colonists and the British in 1770, when British troops sent to protect tax collectors fired upon a group of jeering and stone-throwing protesters. Five Americans were killed in what became known as the Boston Massacre.

    In 1773, the Boston Tea Party occurred when protesters disguised as Indians boarded British East India Company ships and threw bales of tea into Boston Harbor to protest high taxes on the tea.

    In April 1775, patriot Paul Revere made his famous "midnight ride" to warn of the march of British troops to Lexington and Concord. The British were intending to capture Samuel Adams who was at Lexington, and then seize arms that had been stashed at Concord. There was a skirmish at Lexington Green in which eight American militiamen were killed by "the shot heard 'round the world."

    In June 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill became the bloodiest battle of the revolution, when militiamen from all over New England came to Boston to try to oust the British troops. They were unsuccessful, and the colonists suffered their first major defeat of the war.

    And, in an act of defiance, the Declaration of Independence was read out loud from the balcony of the Old State House in 1776.

    After independence, the Industrial Revolution brought prosperity to Boston, which became a major center of textile and shoe manufacturing. The city grew, and the Back Bay was filled in and neighboring settlements were annexed.

    From the 1950s to the 1970s, however, Boston declined economically. Many of the older neighborhoods became dangerous slums, rampant with crime. One part of the city was even called the "Combat Zone."

    Nowadays, modern Boston has turned around and is booming economically, in what has been described as the "Massachusetts Miracle." The economic recovery was brought about by an influx of finance, high-tech industries, and tourism. Areas that were once slums are being gentrified and restored, and the city's cultural life has been revitalized. In fact, Boston is now one of the most desireable cities in which to live in all of the United States. The city is the largest in Massachusetts, as well as New England, with about 7,520,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area.

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    So much to do, so little time!

    by am&pm Updated Mar 28, 2008

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    Favorite thing: This is my response in the forums regarding a family wishing to visit the Berkshires in August but the majority of the tips pertain to any time of year:

    In August the weather can be both hot/humid or cool---be prepared for both. I suggest you make your homebase near Pittsfield, MA , the largest "city" in the Berkshires and pretty central to everything. There is a main 2-lane highway (Rte 7)that travels up through the Berkshires from the CT border to the south to VT in the north and it winds through many rustic and historic towns, starting in the South with Ashley Falls and SHeffield (locally known as Antique Alley), going through Great Barrington which is a wonderful town with awesome places to eat and beautiful places to take a stroll. Continue to head north on Rte 7 and you'll pass the entrance to Monument Mountain park--which I highly suggest you stop at if you want a nice hike with a gorgeous view. A hint here---there are two trails to the top: the one to the right is much harder than the one to the left!

    If you continue north from there you'll enter historic Stockbridge with the Red Lion Inn (a must see), many shops and galleries, the Berkshire Gardens and the fantastic Norman Rockwell Museum. All around this area are places to swim, hike and sight-see. Continue north from there, on the same route, and you'll go through Lenox, of Tanglewood fame where the Boston Symphony Orchestra makes it's home all summer. Tanglewood is awesome, with a choice of either listening inside or out on the lawn where you can picnic and stroll while the music plays. Here is the link to that venue:;jsessionid=QTZND40MMXSUGCTFQMGSFEQ?id=bcat5240070

    Continue north on Rte 7 again to Pittsburgh, and then on to North Adams before heading into Vermont. The highest peak in MA is in North Adams and you can drive to the top where you'll have panoramic views, be on the famous Appalachian Trail, and be able to buy a bite to eat, or even stay in the hostel up there.

    There is so much more---just let me know specifically if you're looking for outdoor things or indoor things and I can give you more.

    I'm glad you're visiting there! I look forward to the pictures.

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