Road Trip! Destination: Stockbridge, Mass.
If you're yearning for a life that mirrors a Norman Rockwell painting, look no further than the insanely quaint town of Stockbridge, Mass. Not only is it the birthplace of one of America's most beloved illustrators, it's also home to the world's largest collection of his artwork.
Tucked away in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts just a few hours from Boston, the town's accolades include being dubbed “the quintessential New England Town,” as well as “America's Most Famous Main Street.”
Replete with promises of romance, intrigue, celebrity and history, it's hard to imagine not falling in love with a village that has been charming the pants off of its visitors and residents since 1739.
But if you can't hit the road until the spring thaw, don't fret — seasonal activities and places of interest including the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, Naumkeag House and Gardens, Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio, and Chesterwood will just be opening again.
Norman Rockwell Museum
It's no surprise that the famed artist's hometown also boasts the world's largest collection of his original art, including a treasure trove of paintings from The Saturday Evening Post.
“They were advertising works, really. They were commercial art,” says Jeremy Clowe, the museum's manager of media services. “So, these things were published for the size of a magazine, but, in actuality, are as big as any fine-art canvas when you see them. He put his heart and soul in these things.”
“Norman Rockwell: Home for the Holidays” will be on exhibit through Feb. 8, highlighting the cheery magic that flowed from his brush. Another treat awaiting visitors is the opportunity to see Rockwell's original studio, which was moved to the museum grounds.
“You can see where he composed his works. It's pretty wild. You really feel like he's going to walk through the door,” Clowe says.
Details: 413-298-4100 or nrm.org
The Clark Art Institute
What began as a home for the private art collection of Sterling and Francine Clark has blossomed into a public art museum that attracts visitors in droves to nearby Williamstown.
“It was always meant to be a public institution. It wasn't meant to be a storage shed,” says Sally Majewski, manager of public relations and marketing.
In addition to more than 30 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, is the “Monet | Kelly” exhibit (through Feb. 15), a vivid juxtaposition of the Impressionist painter Claude Monet and the Abstract works of Ellsworth Kelly. A new exhibit, “Machine Age Modernism: Prints From the Daniel Cowin Collection,” will debut Feb. 28.
Details: 413-458-2303 or clarkart.edu
Schantz Galleries of Contemporary Art
Although not a museum by name, visitors are sure to find a collector's item tucked among the offerings from more than 60 internationally recognized glass artists including Dale Chihuly, Dan Dailey, Marvin Lipofsky, William Morris, Paul Stankard and Lino Tagliapietra.
In addition to the established names, owners Jim Schantz and Kim Saul have committed to featuring the next bumper crop of talented artisans.
“We're a world-class gallery tucked away here in Stockbridge,” says sales associate Stanley Wooley. “It's very much contrast and complimentary.”
Details: 413-298-3044 or schantzgalleries.com
Red Lion Inn
Standing the test of time — more than two centuries, to be exact — the Red Lion Inn began its life as the Inn at the Sign of The Red Lion in 1773, a stagecoach stop and pre-Revolutionary meeting place.
Over the years, the likes of John Wayne, Garrison Keillor, Bob Dylan and Nathaniel Hawthorne have all popped in for a visit, as well as presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley and Calvin Coolidge.
As the charter member of Historic Hotels of America, guests have their pick of 125 rooms or suites, each of which are outfitted with a treasure trove of antiques. Guests can take a dip in the year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tub or opt for casual or formal dining that keeps an emphasis on local, sustainable menu items.
Details: 413-298-5545 or redlioninn.com
National Shrine of the Divine Mercy
A work of art in itself, the Shrine includes 36 gorgeous stained-glass windows and two mosaics created by artist Fred Leuchs to portray the mercy of God through Scripture.
Visitors are welcome and may participate in a variety of spiritual activities including Mass and the 3 p.m. chaplet of the divine mercy.
Within the grounds, the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine and the Shrine of the Holy Innocents offer additional spots for moments of reflection.
Details: 413-298-3931 or thedivinemercy.org
Downtown and Main Street
Looking as though it came straight out of a — yes, you guessed it — Norman Rockwell painting, this quaint stretch of road boasts everything from art galleries and fashion boutiques to a wine cellar and chocolate shop.
Regardless of what gets your motor running, there are plenty of ways to take a piece of Stockbridge home with you. Be sure to pay a visit to the original Alice's Restaurant — you know, the one made famous by Arlo Guthrie? Although it is no longer in business, fans can at least lay their eyes on the building that started it all — not to mention, indulge in a prime photo opportunity for your favorite social-media outlets.