Home to just 7,000 people and located in bucolic Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Great Barrington is famous for its versatility, doubling as both a renowned ski destination and a charming summer getaway. But the town, according to resident Walter McTeigue, is also “a vortex of creativity, home to fascinating people, whether writers, farmers, or artists” who have built a community that’s perfect for a weekend escape.
McTeigue owns celebrated jewelry brand McTeigue & McClelland with Tim McClelland. While their unique pieces are made in a “tree-house-like atelier” on Great Barrington’s Main Street, their own origin story started in New York City, where they met in a Diamond District elevator. Tired of Manhattan’s daily grind, McTeigue relocated to the Berkshires to raise his family, and McClelland later joined him there to establish McTeigue & McClelland.
“Great Barrington felt like the right place to start an imaginative business,” McClelland says. His greatest source of inspiration is found in “a little bit of [Great Barrington’s] blue sky.” McTeigue agrees. He says he felt like he was on a treadmill in New York, without the time or freedom to experiment. But the Berkshires’ proximity to nature does wonders for jewelry making. “Jewelry is a miniature art form,” says McClelland. “Look at how nature puts together a flower, or lay down in the grass and you’ll see more design perspective there than at The Met.”
For visitors looking to get off their own metaphorical treadmill, there’s no shortage of options to access that “little bit of blue sky” McClelland and McTeigue find so inspiring.
“I love to hike,” says McTeigue, who recommends exploring the picturesque Monument Mountain. The hike is a moderately difficult loop trail with a great payoff at the top: a 360-degree view of the Berkshires. “On a clear day you can see the Green Mountains in Vermont, the Catskills in New York, and the Taconic Range in Connecticut.” He also suggests Bartholomew’s Cobble, a “geological wonder with all kinds of rock formations and great trees.”
“And the best part about exploring places like that,” McClelland says, “[is] you’re not so far out that you can’t get a great lunch.” But if you’re inclined to stay out all day, he has a few favorite spots where you can pick up a picnic lunch. “Marketplace Kitchen Table isn’t overly fancy and has wonderful sandwiches and burgers.” There’s also Bistro Box, a roadside eatery with gourmet food to grab on the go.
If hiking leaves you ready to spoil yourself for dinner, the Berkshires boast no shortage of fine-dining options. Among the most memorable is The Dining Room at Wheatleigh, an elegant restaurant in one of the area’s most iconic hotels. “It’s super luxury. It’s a property you could find in Switzerland,” McClelland says. The Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough also offers a sophisticated culinary experience.
But you don’t have to splurge for an extravagant outing in the Berkshires. Many local small businesses are committed to excellence. For simpler, homier lodging, McTeigue recommends The Wainwright Inn Bed and Breakfast just down the street from his shop. And for your morning cup of coffee: “There’s a great café called Botanica that’s super high quality.” He adds Bizalion’s Fine Food as a must-try for authentic French cuisine with stellar salads.
The Berkshires’ charm extends beyond hotels and restaurants to its shops. “In Stockbridge, there’s an excellent glass gallery called Schantz Galleries that carries some of the top glass artists in the world. Then there’s Elise Abrams Antiques, which sells china and tableware of the highest order. And the owner is a force of nature.”
“Those kinds of specialty stores are why we felt we could exist up here,” McTeigue says. The community, both casual and refined, continues to shape McTeigue & McClelland’s design aesthetic. “We want to make elegant jewelry that can be worn on lots of different occasions—whether you’re at the opera or gardening.”