With culture, small-town charm and beautiful mountain scenery, this lively college town in the Berkshires is a very popular destination.
Surrounded by mountains, farmland and forest, picturesque Williamstown is known as "The Village Beautiful." Along with enjoying the area’s natural beauty, check out fine art and performances at the town’s esteemed institutions and festivals.
Williams College, a top American liberal arts college, was founded here in 1793. Williamstown life still revolves around the school and its elegant buildings. The town was named after Colonel Ephraim Williams, who funded the college’s construction. Check out the Williams College Museum of Art, one of the country’s best college art museums. Admire the diverse permanent collection, which spans many eras and cultures.
See significant works of fine art at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, often referred to as The Clark. This museum is noted for its collection of French impressionist paintings.
After your cultural exploration, stop for lunch or coffee in one of the town’s cafés or bistros. If the weather is good, eat at an outdoor table and soak up the cheerful atmosphere of this sophisticated college town.
Enjoy one of countless hikes in the Williamstown area. A popular one is the picturesque Pine Cobble, where a 1-hour-long hike provides views over the Purple Valley and ends at an expanse of quartzite rock exposed by ancient glaciers. Hikers of all ability levels can tackle the Ridge Walk through nearby parts of sprawling Hopkins Memorial Forest, which spans three states. Trek along the scenic route, which provides spectacular views of the Taconic Range, the Berkshires and the nearby Green Mountains. Experienced cross-country skiers enjoy this trail in winter as well.
Though this is a year-round destination, Williamstown is arguably at its best in summer, when the surrounding nature and the town’s cultural life are in full bloom. During sultry nights from mid-June through August, the town hosts a Theatre Festival, which often features Broadway and Hollywood actors.
Williamstown is located in northern Massachusetts, just south of the Vermont border. The town itself is walkable, but rent a car if you plan on visiting other parts of the Berkshires.