Photos of Tourists have been popping up here and there in my Instagram feed for quite a while now. Each time I’d see one, I’d say to myself, “Man, I need to go there!”, but it was never quite the right time, and with it being all the way up in the northern Berkshires, I figured a visit would be best served by a long weekend. With my birthday falling on a Monday this year, I decided it was finally time to ‘treat myself’ and make this little fantasy a reality. Based on the photos I’d been seeing, my expectations were high, but let me tell you right now, those expectations were absolutely met!
It’s a 3.5 hour drive from our apartment in Brooklyn, so we decided to cruised up on Saturday and stayed for two nights. I’m going to get this out of the way now because it’s the only non-amazing thing I have to say about this place — as you drive up to the hotel, the first thing you notice is that Tourists is right along a somewhat busy road across the street from a chain grocery store. Based on the vibes and photos, I was expecting it to be adorably nestled in the woods. But, I promise you that this will not affect your stay, and from the moment you check in until you leave, you will basically forget all about the road. And in true Forrest Gump fashion… “That’s all I have to say ‘bout that'.”
The hotel has 48 rooms that are set up in the classic motor lodge style (and you know we love a classic roadside motor lodge!). Check-in is in the main building. This is where those gorgeous fireplace photos are taken. There’s a bar where you can get cocktails/beer/wine/espresso drinks, etc. and they also serve a limited food menu. During our stay, we had a delicious breakfast there as well as dinner (more on that later). But after a quick check in, we headed to our room.
Tourists offers 6 different room choices, all at different price points and with various configurations. Some have a little loft hang/sleep zone for kids with twin beds, others have a deck that overlooks the woods. After our trip to Hawaii the month before, we opted for the cheapest option, the Gallery Room. While it’s the smallest room they have, it was just as large (or larger!) than your standard hotel room and even included a daybed for Sally. Plus, it had some of the most extraordinary attention to detail of any place I’ve ever stayed (not bad for a hotel that’s only been open for 6 months)! I liked the design of the room, I liked the blinds, I liked the folding chairs they provide for you to take outside, I liked how the TV was covered up, I liked the bench when you walk in to sit down and take off your shoes, I liked the soaps, I liked that there was an outdoor shower (not all that useful in January but great for a warm-weather stay), and most of all, I LOVED their little orange Field Guide filled with so much useful information! It gives you the history of the area, hiking info, swimming holes, fly fishing zones, places to eat and drink, tips on local art and culture, and even a few extra pages to jot down notes of your own.
After we settled in, with the field guide in hand, we decided to take a walk around and check out a small suspension bridge we had heard was on the property. (Oh, remember how I mentioned the hotel is on a road? You probably forgot already because I did. None of the windows in the rooms face that direction. All of the windows face towards the river and the woods!) So, going out the sliding glass back door of our room, we walked toward the suspension bridge that takes you over the Hoosic River. If one were less lazy (and didn’t have a 2-year-old in tow), you could continue down the path along the Appalachian Trail and walk your way all the way to Vermont! (which I’m guessing takes a while) But the Harrises are a lazy bunch, so instead, we took a perfect little stroll over the bridge and to the “chime chapel” where you can use the supplied mallets to bang out some “music”. This was a particular hit with Sally. A little further along the berms we found a yoga platform. Empty in January, but a perfect place in the trees for a toddler to put on an impromptu dance routine for her parents.
We spent the rest of the day making good use of the main lodge area – drinking wine, playing games, and working on jigsaw puzzles. Oh, here might be a good time to mention the food. We stayed in for dinner, eating declicious burgers at a communal table. It was such a friendly vibe there, we ended up talking with a number of other families who were just lovely! Always an added treat! The next morning we also ate at the lodge. I had an “eggcellent” (catch that Dad joke?) egg sandwich and Sally had a delectable rye waffle with ricotta and apple compote (a gourmet treat completely wasted on a toddler, but she liked it just the same). In addition to the main lodge, they are currently working on opening a full restaurant in a 1800s farmhouse on the other side of the property called the Airport Rooms, which I’m sure will be exquisite with tasty food and drink.
As for activities to do in the Berkshires, there are plenty! The talk of the town (or the Tourist lodge anyway) was Mass MoCA, which is located right near the hotel. Everyone we spoke with raved about it and said it was well worth a visit. The museum is large and they have a vast array of visual art as well as a huge selection of performing arts. The big question for us with any museum is whether or not it would be entertaining for our little one, and the consensus was that Mass MoCA is completely little kid friendly. Despite the glowing reviews however, we decided instead to go to a smaller natural history-ish museum that we thought Sally would really like called the Berkshire Museum. We loved it there! It was the perfect size for a family, not too big, and with a wide variety of awesome stuff to check out! This museum was started in 1903 by the owner of the Crane Paper Company. He travelled the world and collected beautiful art and artifacts for his museum. I’m talking everything from an Egyptian mummy to a meteorite to a fur suit that was worn on the first successful expedition to the North Pole (I am a big fan of arctic adventures). It was such a great variety of things to see in a manageable space. It’s what I consider a perfect museum! We’ll hit Mass MoCA on the next trip!
All in all, our stay at Tourists was incredible, and we were sad to leave. But for us, the adventures don’t stop until we’re home. To break up the drive home, we stopped at the Museum of Firefighting (in our beloved Hudson) that we’d been meaning to check out with Sally (she was after all a Unicorn Firefighter for Halloween). DEFINITELY worth a stop if you have a kid (or adult!) interested in firetrucks. The downstairs has rows and rows of fire engines. I have to admit, walking around for the first 10 minutes I thought the museum was going to be a bit of a bust, BUT then we went upstairs where there are all sorts of hands-on things for kids to do. The highlight is that the museum provides little fire fighter outfits that the kids can put on and climb in a few different old-timey fire trucks. There is one with a video in front of the windshield too that simulates driving the streets to a real fire. (Very 1980s driver’s ed simulator!) Watch out world, Fire Chief Sally’s at the wheel!