Published on May 15th, 2013 | by Charu Suri
4 Five Cultural Gems to Discover in Massachusetts
Steeped in history and filled with establishments that run the gamut from artisanal to farm to table, Massachusetts has the ability to surprise by a fine excess. The quintessentially New England State offers many fine culinary, educational and horticultural stops that should be on every culture-lover’s map. Here are some places to check out on your next visit:
Experience: Tower Hill Botanical Gardens
Mountain Laurel in the Lawn Garden (images courtesy of Tower Hill)
A 132 acre garden situated right outside Worcester towards the west of Boston, Tower Hill allows you the opportunity to gawk at blooms and also learn (you can plant larch trees, for example, and even take horticultural classes). There’s also a library, impressive oak trees, and an apple orchard filled with heirloom apples (including 119 pre-20th century varieties). There are several distinctive gardens, and a greenhouse filled with year-round blooms. With over 25,000 daffodils, Wordsworth would have felt very much at home here.
Stay: The Red Lion Inn
Located in Stockbridge in the Berkshires, the Red Lion is one of the oldest continuously operated New England inns since the 18th century, and committed to eco sustainability. You’ll find the staple comfort items from hot tub to a gracious front porch, as well as antiques and artwork in rooms. It’s also a stone’s throw away from the musical paradise that is Tanglewood. The Inn also features a charming black and white cat, Simon, who also serves as its “Lobby Ambassador.”
The Inn also offers private wine dinners.
Image credit: H.R. Zeppelin
There’s no greater pleasure than a fine homemade chocolate, and H.R. Zeppelin sources local butters, flowers and seasonal spices to create small batch confections that are as delicious as they are quirky. Doria Pollinger loves to create fine handmade truffles like Dark Chocolate Macadamia Cashew, White Chocolate Peppermint etc. All ingredients are sourced locally and the chocolates are meant to be savored.
The makers of delicious and local hard ciders, Johnny Mash rose to national acclaim for its hard cider that featured a bittersweet nose with a subtle vanilla toasted oak which is complex and sweet. The oak-aged hard cider is proudly made in the Berkshires and made from fermenting fresh apple juice from estate grown apples. The Original American Cider is sweet, light and perfect for a summer evening on the porch, especially when served iced. Apples are sourced from Hilltop Orchards which is a 200-acre farm that is more souped up than your average version, with trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
Micro-wineries often produce surprising, experimental wines because they can! Travessia, located in Bedford, Massachusetts, focuses on small lots using the harvest of locally-grown grapes, including Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Vidal Blanc, and Pinot Noir. I tasted a refreshing Pinot Noir Rose, which was sweet without being saccharine, and light as sorbet. The wines are aged in stainless steel tanks as well as oak barrels, depending on the bottle.
Toshio Shibata’s landscape photography defy conventional viewpoints
The oldest museum in the country may also be among the most experimental, at least when it comes to exhibits. The Peabody Essex Museum offers everything from art to reconstructed Chinese homes, and showcases art and culture from New England as well as globally. Take, for instance, the Indian art exhibit Midnight To the Boom which is a showcase of important Indian art since Independence, and the constructed landscape photography of Japan’s Toshio Shibata.
The museum is undergoing a $650 million expansion which is scheduled to be completed in 2017.