With prime time for Berkshire tourism just a few weeks away, the area's hospitality field gets a loud and clear shout-out from Yankee Magazine's just-published "Best of New England" edition.
Among hostelries, the editors acclaimed Gateways Inn as Best Mansion -- "the gracious lodging makes an elegant base for enjoying the summer arts scene." For Best Retro Lodging, the magazine singled out the Guest House at Field Farm in Williamstown, a former private home was transformed by The Trustees of Reservations into a six guest-room mecca with stunning views of Mount Greylock and four miles of hiking trails.
Among arts attractions, The Norman Rockwell Museum's upcoming Edward Hopper exhibit was cited for "balancing Rockwell's sunny view with Hopper's more sober vision." Mass MoCA in North Adams was tagged as the state's best contemporary art museum.
The world-class Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, set to reopen on its redesigned and expanded Williamstown campus on July 4, won plaudits as Best Small-Town Art Museum.
Shakespeare & Company in Lenox is the magazine's choice as Best Theatre: "Each season's mix of Shakespearean and contemporary drama is distinguished by the company's fierce commitment to the spoken word in all its emotional complexity."
In the dining category, Great Barrington's Allium took a trophy for Best Seasonal Cooking -- "this locavore New American restaurant serves what area farms are growing; even meat, eggs, milk and cheese are local." Also earning plaudits were Nejaime's Wine Cellars in Lenox and Stockbridge for Best Picnic Food, and Haven Cafe & Bakery in Lenox for Best Berkshires Breakfast.
For its Best Bargains citations, Yankee was keen on the free admission at Williams College Museum of Art: "This being an educational institution, art often illuminates historical and cultural themes."
Among outdoor attractions, the magazine singled out Bash Bish Falls State Park in Mount Washington as Best Waterfall ("the highest single-drop falls in the state the park is a scenic delight"), while Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock won approval for its unusual summertime activities, notably Best Mountain Coaster -- "you can control the speed as you twist and turn on a scenic track through the woods."
The magazine's 200-page special issue also lists the top 20 Massachusetts events of the summer, including the aforementioned Edward Hopper exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum (June 7-Oct. 26), the entire season at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket (June 14-Aug. 24), and the Berkshire Arts Festival at Butternut in Great Barrington (July 4-6). Music lovers might find it odd, however, that the only Tanglewood event to make the list was the Wine & Food Classic (Aug. 7-10).
With a paid circulation of 317,000 and a lively web presence, the salute to the Berkshires may help attract tourists and gladden the hearts of residents, even those who have their own "personal best" selections in mind.