Apr 27th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Great Barrington is #1 Town, Seniors, Let’s Check It Out

Smithsonian Magazine released its picks for the 20 best small towns in America in the May issue, with Great Barrington (GB), Mass. and Taos, N.M., topping the list. The survey of towns of populations less than 25,000 sought to find those that offered “what might be called enlightened good times in an unhurried, charming setting.” Great Barrington, long a favorite summer and fall getaway destination for senior vacationers, has a population of just 6,800 but boasts the sophistication of a larger city. With great food and arts, it is surrounded by natural beauty, with lakes, woods and the nearby Berkshire Mountains.

It’s quite small…and that’s part of the attraction.  Great Barrington is known for its plethora of antique shops. If you like looking at, and perhaps buying old stuff, you’ll want to spend some time here and in nearby South Egremont. The dining is also good in GB, with more and varied restaurants than you would imagine for a town its size. Nearby inns are also good places for fine dining. Besides these urban pleasures, GB is good for outdoor activities.

And history. Great Barrington was an important town even before the American Revolution. The citizenry, angered at Britain’s denial of the colonialists’ rights, prevented the king’s judges from convening in the courthouse here in 1774.

The town has “character” and history.  Smithsonian magazine put Great Barrington at the top of the list because it “…still evokes Grover’s Corners, with its white-steepled churches and doughnut bakeries. But you don’t have to live there to see that the town has changed, welcoming new immigrant groups and coming up with schemes like minting its own local currency to keep it vital.”

But Why Here, Seniors Ask?

The magazine surveyed quaint New England streets to tidal towns along the California coast. The magazine surveys not only cultural charm but enriching history. It chose Great Barrington as its top choice for any number of reasons. The town, which is about 125 miles outside of New York City is steeped in history, and was incorporated in 1761. In the summer, it hosts the Berkshire International Film Festival and is also home to Tanglewood and Shakespeare & Company. Can you believe that this town has its own currency? The local currency of the region is the BerkShares; proponents say that the currency gets residents to shop at local stores. Local areas may have their own currencies as long as they do not resemble the US Dollar and are in paper only. It just seems to “have it all together” as their town website indicates.

A great visit would be highlighted by a great overnight at one of Great Barrington’s B&Bs. TripAdvisor finds GR to be a super town with top-rated hotels, rentals, restaurants and things for seniors to see and do. Monument Mountain, exceptional for its spectacular scenery and remarkable for its geology, rates high with senior visitors. Rating right in there with Monument Mountain is Mahaiwe Performing Art Center. The mission of The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center is to be the leading year-round presenter of performing arts, film, and educational programs for the Southern Berkshires and neighboring communities.

The Berkshires Travel Guide highlights activities and attractions as well as galleries, lodging, events and entertainment. World66 has a nice overview of Great Barrington and why it rates so highly with visitors.  It has dozens of links on Google and Yahoo.  So check out Great Barrington on the map and drive on over to visit the town just off I 90.  Enjoy.  jeb

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