You can sit back over cheese fondue or ham and cornichons on a baguette with butter. This milltown along the Housatonic River has a long connection to New York and one of the strongest concentrations of restaurants and small local shops in any Berkshire community.

You can wander among second-hand books and vintage clothing. On a crisp fall morning, you can share a home-made doughnut with apple filling and a locally roasted cup of coffee, or Thai noodle soup and steamed buns.

Bard College at Simon’s Rock adds to the cultural weave of the community, holding talks and performances and art year-round, along with downtown venues like the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and St. James Place. The town has fed creative life since long before Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne met on a hike up Monument Mountain.

W.E.B. DuBois was born and raised here, and he found sources of strength on the Housatonic. Today you can walk a path to his homesite and find his thoughts in the DuBois Center, in the rare bookstore near the cemetery where he buried his wife and young son — or join a tribute in a garden along the River Walk and keep the rhythm of a spiritual and a talking drum.

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Guthrie Center

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant — even an evening of music with the Guthrie family. The church that made folk music history 50 years ago in Arlo Guthrie’s hit song is now a community center and the site of an annual folk music series in the summers.


Close Encounters

Close to 30 years ago, cellist Yehuda Hanani began presenting chamber concerts with conversation on a theme. The form was new then — it has become common now. And over the years, Hanani has created concerts with musicians and themes around the world as artistic director of Close Encounters with Music.