Shelburne Falls. Photo by Nitin Mukul

A beautiful, affordable weekend spot less than a three-hour drive from New York City? Meet Shelburne Falls. 

This beautiful area of Western Massachusetts gets overshadowed by the Berkshires, understandably. But it’s really not much farther away (under 90 minutes north of Great Barrington), and the quaint, small nature of Shelburne Falls makes itinerary planning so much easier and a weekend all the more relaxing. Here’s a breakdown of our recent excursion, designed for three days and two nights: 


We left New York City in the early morning to avoid rush-hour and interstate traffic. Our coolers were filled with snacks for the ride and the hikes and picnics planned. 

Shelburne Springs Hotel Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki / Shelburne Springs

We stayed at the year-old Shelburne Springs, a boutique bed-and-breakfast carved out of a 1914 mansion on the Mohawk Trail. Our family was spread out between a two-bedroom suite with a well-stocked kitchen and living area (with a pull-out couch) and another suite upstairs. There are seven impeccably decorated suites in total so this is perfect for a gathering of friends or family where everyone wants to hang out but also needs their space.  (On the grounds are two firepit patios and more than 36 acres of forest to explore)

We made sandwiches for lunch and headed out for a hike to High Ledges, where the combo of snow and sun made for a beautiful contrast. We returned to the room right before sunset, dropped off our exhausted kids and grabbed the octogenarian in our group for a five-minute drive with views of mountains in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Pro tip: type Apex Farm Store into your GPS to get there. 

High Ledges. Photo by Nitin Mukul

Shelburne Springs has dinner Thursday through Saturday, so we decided to stay in for manager Brolin Winning’s Hawaiian menu (think Teriyaki meats, garlic shrimp, various noodle and rice dishes). The hotel also organizes theme nights such as trivia and magic. We happened to be there for a rocking ‘80s dance party and loved the mix of hotel guests, locals and our own family. 


Breakfast is included at Shelburne Springs so we rose early and inhaled fluffy pancakes, granola and bacon before setting out for Wilcox Hollow, a gorgeous spot along the Deerfield River where folks swim in the summer and go fishing year-round. The kids skipped rocks and we took in the pristine views before setting out for a day of indoor activity. 

Wilcox Hollow. Photo by Nitin Mukul.

Here, our group split up. One set — compelled by the kids — wanted to bowl and play games at Greylock Bowl & Golf. The rest of us went to the Clark Art Institute, an exhaustive museum and research institution in Williamstown, near Williams College. Importantly, they provide a wheelchair, which made getting around the multiple indoor and outdoor galleries, spanning centuries and genres, much easier. (Brush up on your European history, particularly modern France, before you go. The paintings will feel all the more profound.)

A Renoir at the Clark Art Institute. Photo by Nitin Mukul

For lunch, we had fish  fry (and fried everything) at Pedrin’s Dairy Bar. The kids (and some grownups) also loved their soft-serve ice cream. 

We spent the rest of the day returning to Shelburne Falls and walking through its picturesque downtown. Hollywood loves to film here; we recognized scenes from “The Holdovers” and “Dexter.” Two can’t-miss sights: the Bridge of Flowers and the Glacial Potholes, not actually formed by glaciers but awesome nonetheless. 

We had dinner at the incredible Blue Rock Restaurant (the sustainable menu shifts regularly but our highlights were carrot ginger soup, beet hummus, lobster ravioli, pork chops and the local beers) and walked over to our favorite spot and the real draw of this area: the candlepin bowling alley. 

Shelburne Falls Bowling Alley is one of the oldest such alleys in the country, but it’s perhaps best known for candlepin bowling, which derives its name from the narrow pins that resemble candles. It also uses small balls (like the size of a shot put ball) and allows you to bowl thrice. 

Yes, our kids bowled twice that day but if we hadn’t dragged them out, they would have kept going. 


We ended our weekend with a family brunch in Holyoke. A family tradition has been to gather at the Delaney House, which boasts an endless Sunday brunch for $34.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids. We happened to be there on a holiday, so we chose its sister venue, the Log Cabin, perched at the top of Mt. Tom. The kids’ only critique was that this place did not have a chocolate fountain. Luckily, our gorgeous surroundings offered views to satiate every sense. 

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