A Perfect Weekend At The Williams Inn

By Melanie Carden

Travel is a unique opportunity to create memories with family or friends of different ages. I was recently lucky to travel with my mother, a disarmingly young seventy-something firecracker. We both adore small-town vibes and meandering in search of eclectic treasures, and the walkability of Williamstown was just the ticket.

Nestled among the mountains of The Berkshires, The Williams Inn served as our home away from home, and I don’t use this turn of phrase lightly. We were greeted by name as we passed through the grand-yet-cozy fireplace-centered lobby. And not in that obligatory, drenched-in-blasé tone when it’s required to welcome guests. Everyone was wonderfully genuine; we chatted and lingered, feeling entirely at home.

It’s a reasonably tall hotel, but the elevators were appreciated, as were the hearty gourmet coffee stations on each floor that kept us fueled for adventure. We were especially enamored with the quaint book nook area—just off the lobby—stocked with books by local authors and handsome, wooden games.

The outdoor communal areas are equally inviting, with oodles of Adirondack chairs and fire pits scattered about near the edge of the wooded area behind the hotel’s restaurant, The Barn Kitchen & Bar. We sipped Aperol Spritz and local craft beer, but another aged beauty was of interest: the bar’s Elder Miss Jane cocktail, made with elderflower liqueur, gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Of course, food classics such as a proper, gorgeously rustic Bolognese make the menu sparkle. Still, they won me with the little details, like the perfect grain mustard served with the charcuterie spread.

Upon arrival, we were delighted by how close the Inn is to the shops along Spring Street. Just passed The Willimas Inn parking is the local favorite, Tunnel City Coffee. Alongside this eatery, you’ll find the famed Where’d You Get That? a store filled with what can best be described as gifts for everyone, especially the hard-to-shop on your list. If you usually need to catch up on holiday shopping, here’s your chance to shine bright.

From there, the shops are plentiful enough to make an afternoon of it, but Mom and I got chatting with the staff at Chapter Two Books, a volunteer-run used bookstore whose proceeds benefit the local library. It is the particular little nugget of a store, filled with all manner of books—and plenty of small-town warmth. These books are the tattered volumes you’d find at a yard sale (though those are equally worthy), but instead, lightly used beauties. For less than $20, you can score a few books and hunker in front of the fireplace at
the Inn.

Walking along, I noticed Mom and I weren’t intergenerational travel planning pioneers. There were clusters of families - some three or more generations deep - browsing, eating ice cream, and dining on the patios. The proximity to The Williams Inn and the flat, walkable shopping area makes for a great family outing or, in my case, a relatively magical mother-daughter weekend (sans the sore, aching knees!).

Those looking to fill two days with a blend of approachable culture and memory-making fun should allow a few hours for poking around in the shops on Spring Street but leave time to explore. The Clark Art Institute is a quick 5-minute tour and is one of those artsy unicorn-like galleries with a little something for everyone. Plus, the corn and crab chowder at the eatery rivals any fine dining restaurant on the Cape.

We were keen to pack a picnic dinner and visit the Clark for one of their many outdoor concerts. Provisions, a fabulous gourmet and spirits shop around the corner from Spring Street, is the local go-to for elegant, tinned fish, cheese, and other swoon-worthy goodies.  

As we checked out of the Inn, we dedicated a few more hours to nearby North Adams favorites such as MASS MoCA – where even the bathrooms are a memorable artsy experience. Afterward, we parked in a public lot across the street and slipped through a colorful alleyway, searching for the vintage clothing shop Terra. We found Heart’s Pace – Tea & Healing Arts Lounge a few doors down and ordered lovingly prepared, fresh iced teas. We needed to hydrate for our final mother-daughter weekend hoorah – the Mountain Adventure Park at Jiminy Peak. 

My mother and I chatted among the pine behind The Williams Inn, searched for funky finds, and soaked in the art and culture The Berkshires are known for. Still, we had another itinerary to check off our list—flying down a mountain with childlike abandon. If ever there were a perfect ageless adrenaline rush, this is it. Each sled has its brake system, so controlling your speed as you whiz through the forest is an Alpine breeze. Every time I looked back, she was hot on my tail, and we laughed hysterically the whole way down the mountain—a storybook ending to a perfectly wonderful weekend in The Berkshires.  

For more information on The Williams Inn, visit; for The Berkshires, visit 

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