Best of Massachusetts | 2017 Editors’ Choice Awards

Looking for dining, lodging, and top-notch attractions in Bay State? Here are nearly 30 of our editors’ picks for the best of Massachusetts.

By Yankee Magazine

Apr 10 2017

plimoth wampanoag village

The Wampanoag Village at Plimoth Plantation

Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

Need a reason to travel this summer? From dining and lodging to attractions that are well worth the drive, here are nearly 30 of our editors’ picks for the best of Massachusetts. (To see our separate picks for the Boston and Cambridge areas, click here.)

Best of Massachusetts | 2017 Editors' Choice Awards
The Wampanoag Homesite at Plimoth Plantation | Best of Massachusetts
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker



The Lorax would have a field day at this glorious outdoor course, which is set as high as 45 feet up in trees that stretch as far as the eye can see. Among the ropes, bridges, ladders, and swings, there are five levels (beginner to advanced) represented in eight courses, some of which soar over ravines by way of zip lines. 110 Brodie Mountain Road, Lanesborough. 844-472-6253;

ART MUSEUM: Peabody Essex Museum

What’s here? How about a world-class collection of international art in a beautifully composed and intimate setting? Stroll through the light-flooded atrium into rooms displaying more than 1.8 million works—key pieces of American Impressionism and Chinese and African art—and then into collections of Rodin sculpture and Native American art, all thoughtfully chosen from around the globe by some of the region’s most respected curators. 161 Essex St., Salem. 978-745-9500;

BIKE PATH: Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

For almost a dozen miles you can peddle through Mount Greylock and the Hoosac Range, skimming past wildlife, waterfalls, and reservoirs on what makes for an ideal day adventure. Converted from a onetime railroad corridor, it’s now a 10-foot-wide, completely paved trail dotted with parking lots and restrooms. Lanesborough to Adams. 413-442-8928;

BIRD-WATCHING SPOT: Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary

Stretching out along Indian Brook and the Charles River, this Mass Audubon sanctuary is home to owls, black-capped chickadees, tree swallows, Eastern bluebirds, and more than 120 other species of feathered friends, many of which use the nest boxes scattered throughout the elaborate trail system. Back at the Saltonstall Nature Center, rotating birding exhibits are on display, and bird-watching groups gather to share the day’s biggest sightings. 280 Eliot St., Natick. 508-655-2296;

CAMPING AREA: Salisbury Beach State Reservation

Nature lovers may swarm to the Merrimack River every summer, but setting up a tent on its banks here all but guarantees you won’t feel cramped. With almost 500 sites, access to a 3.8-mile stretch of beach (complete with seal sightings), and conveniences like RV hookups and renovated bathrooms, campers here come away feeling as if they’ve spent their time communing with nature instead of just their neighbors. State Reservation Road, Salisbury. 978-462-4481;

COLLECTIBLES SHOP: North Reading Coins, Antiques, and Collectibles

From china and rare books to vintage lamps, a trove of unique finds is waiting to be snapped up at this multidealer marketplace. The helpful staff can assist you in finding almost anything, and the stock is replenished daily—so your chances of discovering that next family heirloom rise with each visit. 157 Main St., North Reading. 978-664-4402;


Upward of a million visitors flood into Plymouth every year to experience firsthand what life was like in one of America’s first colonies, and for good reason: Thanks to its re-creation of a 17th-century English village filled with actors and its Wampanoag Homesite (populated not by actors but by real Native Americans), Plimoth Plantation provides an immersive, 360-degree view of history. 137 Warren Ave., Plymouth. 508-746-1622;

SUMMER THEATER: Berkshire Theatre Group

In an area celebrated for top-notch regional theater, what sets this organization apart? Again and again, fans tout the highly personal experience that its stages offer. In Stockbridge, the Fitzpatrick Main Stage is an iconic 1928 venue that brings in classical productions and world premieres every summer, while the smaller Unicorn Theatre presents experimental and avant-garde work. In Pittsfield, the Colonial Theatre is the go-to for summer musicals. 83 E. Main St., Stockbridge; 6 East St., Stockbridge; 111 South St., Pittsfield. 413-997-4444;

VINEYARD: Westport Rivers Winery

When you want a taste of why Westport Rivers is arguably the most esteemed wine producer in the region, hop into the car and spend an afternoon touring the place itself. You can sample the vintages in the wine bar and pick up a few bottles (or, OK, a case) in the abutting company store, where the staff is always ready with pairing tips and recommendations. And when the weather cooperates, bring a picnic and enjoy the resplendent seaside setting. 417 Hixbridge Road, Westport. 508-636-3423;

Best of Massachusetts | 2017 Editors' Choice Awards
Blue Inn on the Beach | Best of Massachusetts
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker


ADVENTURE LODGING: Berkshire East Mountain Resort

Cycling enthusiasts know it as the premier bike park in the region. Whitewater lovers adore it for the Deerfield River rafting. Zip-liners queue up for its 200-foot-high canopy tours. And roller coaster junkies can’t get enough of the Thunderbolt, North America’s longest mountain coaster. In winter, skiing and snow tubing come into the picture, too. 66 Thunder Mountain Road, Charlemont. 413-339-6617;

BOUTIQUE INN: The Merchant

With just 11 bright and pretty rooms smack in the middle of historic Salem, the Merchant is an unquestionably charming mix of history (George Washington once stayed overnight, and portions of the Salem witch trials took place on the property) and modernity. Eclectic accents like funky Lucite chairs and emerald cheetah-patterned fabrics contrast with fireplaces and wooden beams, while amenities such as complimentary iPads and a bustling, cushy guest lounge up the coolness factor. 148 Washington St., Salem. 978-745-8100;

COUNTRY B&B: Seven South Street Inn

Offering roomy chambers graced with fresh flowers and four-poster beds, Rockport’s much loved bed-and-breakfast is equal parts cozy and cosseting. Walk over to Old Garden Beach for the day, explore nearby Rockport Village, or just lounge around the pool for hours after polishing off breakfast. The latter is an event unto itself, thanks to such treats as peaches-and-cream Belgian waffles, scrambled egg casserole with sweet potato hash, and apple strudel French toast with bacon rosettes. 7 South St., Rockport. 978-546-6708;

FAMILY LODGING: Chatham Bars Inn

After the tykes have had their fill of the tennis courts, the private quarter-mile beach, biking, water sports, and the on-site farm, they can jump into hands-on and educational activities galore. All summer long, the tony resort offers a slew of programs that run from pirate cruises and seal-watching to clam digging and scavenger hunts, all led by CPR-and-first-aid- certified instructors who seem to be having nearly as much fun as the kids. 297 Shore Road, Chatham. 508-945-0096;


HISTORIC B&B: Candleberry Inn

Stroll through the heart of the Old King’s Highway Historic District and you’ll run right into this Georgian-style beauty, where the nine guest rooms feature Winslow Homer prints and poster beds, fireplaces, and 200-year-old pine floors. Loved for its epic breakfasts taken in the 1790s dining room, it’s an ideal spot from which to explore the rest of the Cape. 1882 Main St., Brewster. 508-896-3300;


Tucked into the quiet and breezy northeast point of Nantucket, this sprawling seaside property is where to come when it isn’t about the scene, it’s about the scenery—and the taste buds. From your seat at Topper’s restaurant, gaze across the pristine lawn to a beach sunset as you dig into foie gras with apricots, Sauternes, and Marcona almonds; seaweed butter–poached lobster; or any of the other gorgeous dishes on offer. The spectacular wine selection lists nearly 1,500 labels, all chosen and poured by sommeliers with the kind of attentiveness typically reserved for child-rearing. 120 Wauwinet Road, Nantucket. 508-228-0145;

INN WITH A VIEW: Land’s End Inn

Looking out from the high tower rooms hovering above Provincetown Harbor (each richly appointed with heirloom-quality antiques and private decks and patios), you’ll see the sea stretching out endlessly before you. Perched atop Gulf Hill in the town’s serene West End, the inn provides views of islands, clusters of sailboats, and winding beaches so enchanting that guests almost feel as if they’re out to sea themselves. 22 Commercial St., Provincetown. 508-487-0706;

ISLAND INN: The Charlotte Inn

No detail is overlooked in this, Edgartown’s enclave of Edwardian stateliness. Framed with gardens, fountains, and sculpture, the inn’s interior is pure English country fantasy. Understated luxury pervades, from the library’s leather club chairs and pastoral oil paintings to the suites’ Frette linens and impeccable period furniture. If you ever manage to leave your room, the inn’s restaurant serves beautiful food (local lobster with saffron sherry sauce, for one) that’s as magical as the rest of the place. 27 S. Summer St., Edgartown. 508-627-4751;


Lovely, bright décor and a friendly, fun staff have made the Gateways a favorite for visitors to the Berkshires. And then there’s the five-star food, which you can not only eat but also learn to whip up yourself. The property arranges private cooking lessons year-round, so by the time you get home you’ll know how to turn out a butternut squash pappardelle or a lamb stew as succulent as the kitchen’s much-lauded version. 51 Walker St., Lenox. 413-637-2532;

OCEANSIDE RESORT: Wequassett Resort and Golf Club

As if the consistently nimble and affable staff weren’t enough to keep us coming back to this stunning beachside resort, there’s also a secret weapon that puts guests’ experiences over the top. The management encourages employees to get creative and improvise in surprising guests with perks such as invitations to cooking classes, coloring-book deliveries to the room, and a plate of fresh-baked cookies with a personalized message (in chocolate sauce, no less). 2173 Rte. 28, Harwich. 508-432-5400;


It isn’t just that every detail—from the quietly luxurious, antiques-laden 19 rooms to the museum-quality artwork—embodies rustic elegance at this 1893 palazzo. It’s that the totality of your experience here sets the stage for amour: 22 manicured acres in the Berkshires that invite long walks, dinners that prompt lingering over world-class dishes, and seamless service that ensures that your attention remains on precious time with your partner. Hawthorne Road, Lenox. 413-637-0610;


A 2016 renovation breathed new life into this longtime Plum Island destination, including a new color palette (blues, beiges, and whites) that mimics the beach scene just steps from the 13-room hotel. Options include five stand-alone cottages with full kitchen, hot tub, and fire pit, ideal for a family escape. Or gather some friends and all the fixings for a classic New England lobster bake, and reserve the two-bedroom Blue Suite: The 2,200-square-foot space offers a full kitchen, a private hot tub, a fireplace, and your own private entrance to the beach (which you probably won’t leave until the sun rises the next morning). 20 Fordham Way, Newbury. 978-463-6128;

Best of Massachusetts | 2017 Editors' Choice Awards
Ramblewild | Best of Massachusetts
Photo Credit : Sean McGlynn


BAKERY: Maison Villatte

Boris Villatte trained with the legendary Eric Kayser and Alain Ducasse in Paris and plied his trade around the world before moving to Falmouth to open a bakery-patisserie named Maison Villatte. Here, his classical education shines in such treats as pain aux raisins, éclairs, and fruit tarts. Then there are the little meringue kisses, savory croissants, and breads flavored with bacon, cheese, and olives. These treasures are so masterfully made that they retain a moist crumb long after lesser loaves turn stale. There’s no better baguette in New England, and the large, country-style rounds are worth the often-long waits during the peak summer season. 267 Main St., Falmouth. 774-255-1855

BAR: The Baldwin Bar/Baldwin & Sons Trading Co.

Perhaps it’s partly their unexpected setting (the former Baldwin mansion in suburban Woburn) or the fact that they’re connected to their sister restaurant, Sichuan Garden, where dry hot chicken wings stoke a thirst for cocktails by bartender Ran Duan. But even without the element of surprise, these two bars would win awards. Their menus are different—the first-floor Baldwin Bar goes the more tropical/tiki route, while the second-floor Baldwin & Sons has a vintage vibe—but the attention to detail is the same. Upstairs, the Betty Draper pairs gin and lime with a cloud of coconut air. Downstairs, bitters cozy up to rum and cream sherry in a concoction called Death Proof. Duan is winning national titles on the competitive bartending circuit—come see what all the fuss is about. 2 Alfred St., Woburn. 781-935-8488;

BRUNCH: Artistry on the Green

This is no massive hotel brunch buffet designed to overstuff and overwhelm. Like the 22-room inn that houses it—a Relais & Châteaux beauty just a stone’s throw from the Lexington Common, where the Revolutionary War began—this is a boutique experience. The well-curated menu features fluffy buttermilk pancakes with orange butter and real maple syrup, eggs Benedict with brown butter hollandaise, and a hanger steak with Anson Mills grits. Just the right number of choices to please everyone. It’s the perfect way to begin a day of trekking through history. 2027 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington. 781-301-6655;


The Cambridge restaurant scene lost one of its darlings when chef Matthew Gaudet decided to shutter his 3-year-old award-winning restaurant, West Bridge, due in part to high rent. His next move: heading to his wife’s North Shore hometown to open a casual counter-service spot with great salads, pizzas, ribs, and burgers, all with little touches to elevate them. For example, there’s lamb sausage and pepperoncini on one pizza; the kale salad comes with honey, preserved lemon, and chickpeas; ribs arrive glazed with whiskey; and the burger is offered in beef and fish variations. In a region as food-rich as the Berkshires, it’s only fitting that this community-minded eatery is one of the social centers. 25 Union St., Manchester-by-the-Sea. 978-526-0964;


The menu may be fully global—from Chinese tea-smoked chicken to richly smoked eggplant with za’atar and labneh to the classic American burger—but the orientation is entirely local. Chef-owner Josh Irwin, who first opened Cantina 229 as a casual Taco Tuesdays supper club with wife Emily Rachel in 2014, can tell you all about the pork and vegetables raised right there on the property, or about the goat cheese from nearby Rawson Brook Farm, or the greens from down the road. Even the building itself, a lovely post-and-beam, was constructed and then renovated using local materials. 229 Hartsville–New Marlborough Road, New Marlborough. 413-229-3276;

GENERAL STORE: Monterey General Store

The general store may be an endangered species, too often shrunk down to a rack of chips, a wood stove, and an aisle of groceries, but the form still thrives in unassuming Monterey, east of Great Barrington. This 1780 emporium sells flaky croissants, local produce and cheeses, pantry staples, and a thoughtful selection of gifts. Owner Scott Cole is a chef by training, which is obvious the minute you tuck into a slice of plum-hazelnut tart or the beef tenderloin sandwich. Come for breakfast, and enjoy fresh scones and a view of the Konkapot River. 448 Main Road, Monterey. 413-528-5900;

STEAKHOUSE: The Bancroft

In designing a modern steakhouse for the suburban shopping hub of Burlington, the Webber Restaurant Group and chef Mario Capone seem to have examined every archetypal element of the genre, deconstructed it, and rebuilt it with a twist. So while there are banquettes and plenty of dark wood, the feel is airy and modern. And while still boasting steak tartare, creamed spinach, and plenty of chops, the menu remixes all the standards with unexpected accents (such as violet mustard, made with pressed grapes, in the tartare) and local produce (the Webber Group also owns Gibbet Hill Farm in Groton, which supplies the kitchen). Yet, true to the best steakhouses, the wine list is huge, the service polished, and the kitchen consistent, turning out meat cooked perfectly to temperature and with a mouthwatering crust. 15 Third Ave., Burlington. 781-221-2100;

What would you add to a “Best of Massachusetts” list?

Best New England Summer Events in 2017
Best of New England | 2017 Editors’ Choice Awards