Western Mass. rocks!

Western Mass. rocks!

Most people don't think too far outside of Boston when they consider Massachusetts meetings destinations, but if you have a smallish group, Western Mass. rocks! I just spent the weekend staying at The Porches, a gorgeous little place that was converted from a block of late 19th century row houses, with a nice porch and rockers connecting the houses. (Yes, it has a very cool little meeting space by the pool that can hold 20 classroom, and up to 40 for a reception, plus a 19-foot x 17-foot boardroom that seats 10 classroom). Our room was two stories, with one bedroom up in a loft and one downstairs, with a sitting area and spiral staircase--and the beds were Westin Heavenly-style comfortable. (Click here for the Boston Globe's review.) North Adams also has a number of great, small, restaurants, including one called Milan (can't find a Web site for it), which had both terrific Mediterranean food and one of the best waitresses I've had the pleasure of being served by.

But the best part, other than the views from Rt. 2 coming down the mountain into North Adams, is the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, aka Mass MoCA. Cai Guo-Qiang's Inopportune—nine Ford Tauruses tumbling through a 300-foot-long gallering with pulsing light rods that look like fireworks exploding from the cars (pictured above) was the big showstopper, but there were so many in the "Becoming Animal" portion, too, that just blew me away.

And yesterday we took a trip to the Clark Art Institute in nearby Williamstown, which satisfied our need for works we could just enjoy without thinking too much about them. It has a terrific collection of impressionists, and the Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) exhibition was breath-taking.

Anyway, if you have a small, upscale, art-loving group, this would be a great spot to bring them. And during the foliage season, OMG, this place would be unbelievable. It's been years since I've been out that way, but I'm coming back. Soon.

Update: The restaurant's Web site is http://www.milan55main.com.

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