I have visited Williamstown, MA several times over the past year and have wondered what to write about this small Berkshire town that might inspire others to visit. When people ask me what is so great about the Berkshires, I have a similar struggle. Sure, there are plenty of museums, theaters, historic homes, and other cultural draws. There are plenty of hills, rivers, and lakes to provide a great setting for biking, hiking, canoeing, or a picnic. But for me, I mostly just enjoy spending a day touring around, appreciating the architecture and less commercial vibe that these rural towns provide.
Williamstown is best known for its prestigious liberal arts college, Williams College, founded in 1793. The campus is beautiful. The Williams College Museum of Art, offers free admission and has over 12,000 pieces of historic art on display. The college also houses the Chapin Library of Rare Books. The library has an extensive collection of writings available to students, faculty and visitors. The collection includes original printings of the country's Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other founding documents. However, the library is under major renovation and will be in a temporary location until summer of 2013. The temporary location does not have any public exhibits, however, they have moved the founding documents to the Clark Art Institute for the time being. The Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street. The museum has an extensive collection of nineteenth-century European and American paintings, especially focused on French Impressionists.
Spring Street is lined with restaurants and specialty stores. Lickety-Split, located at 69 Spring St, has great ice-cream. It's a small space, but if you're lucky enough to get a seat by the window, makes for a nice place to stop. Tunnel City Coffee, located at 100 Spring St, also has a nice atmosphere and more seating is available, including a few tables outside. They serve a variety of coffee and tea beverages, along with bakery-type snacks.
If you are looking to escape for a day and just enjoy some time away from the hustle and bustle, I'd definitely recommend driving over to Williamstown. It's a great place to take a walk, enjoy historic architecture, take in a museum visit, or just have lunch and shop.