Monday, June 5, 2023

Part II: Long Island, NY - Discover 10+ Great Reasons To Visit the North Shore

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Oheka (photo: Stefen Turner)

While The Hamptons is considered the hotspot, there are so many wonderful areas to explore on Long Island that you can visit time-and-again and still find more cool places to discover. The North Shore of Long Island was home to some of the wealthiest Americas, known as the "Gold Coast." (Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby takes place here.) These are some spots that are definitively-worth seeing:

Cradle of Aviation
51 Charles Lindbergh Blvd, Garden City, NY; Tel: 516/572-4111;
This terrific museum chronicles the history of aviation from hot air balloons to space travel. With over 75 real airplanes and spaceships, plus docents that have flown in war time and/or as commercial pilots, a visit to this museum is truly an inspiring, educational experience. In addition, Long Island’s contribution to aerospace, science, and technology is highlighted.

Long Island Children’s Museum
11 Davis Ave, Garden City, NY; Tel: 516/224-5800;
LICM gives kids hands-on experiences to learn and explore through fun, inventive, interactive exhibits and program
s, including art and theater.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
(photo: Courtesy Sagamore Hill)

12 Sagamore Hill Rd, Oyster Bay, NY; Tel: 516/922-4788;
Sagamore Hill was the home of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, from 1885 until his death in 1919. During Roosevelt's time in office, it served as the "Summer White House." This magnificent house has 23 rooms, furnished with hunting trophies, gifts from foreign dignitaries, artworks, books, and other electric pieces from the Roosevelts' collection. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it can be visited on a guided tour. Sagamore Hill sits on 83 beautiful acres that can also be explored.

Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
180 Little Neck Rd, Centerport, NY; Tel: 631/854-5579;
(photo: Courtesy Vanderbilt Museum)

The Vanderbilts were once the wealthiest family in America. Their fortune came from Cornelius Vanderbilt’s monopoly of the shipping and railroad industries. This magnificent, 43-acre waterfront property was once the home of William K. Vanderbilt II, Cornelius’ great grandson. Now, it‘s part of a museum complex: The Mansion – On a guided tour, visit the stunning, 24-room, Spanish-revival mansion decorated with antique furnishings and art collected during Mr. Vanderbilt’s world travels. The Museum Wings – See the impressive, natural-history items from Vanderbilt’s worldwide, specimen-collecting expeditions. The Planetarium – Exciting programs for education & exploration of the universe.

Washington Spy Trail: During the American Revolutionary War, under the orders of General George Washington, Major Benjamin Tallmadge formed a spy ring based on Long Island: The Culper Ring--farmer Abe Woodhull, pub landlady Anna Strong, and fisherman Caleb Brewster--an unsuspecting group of his friends, worked undercover to oppose the British occupation of New York. If you're a fan of American history, Alexander Rose’s book, Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring, or the TV series, TURN, you’ll be thrilled to visit some of the actual sites on the North Shore such as:
(photo: Courtesy Raynham Hall)

Raynham Hall Museum
20 W Main St, Oyster Bay, NY; Tel: 516/922-6808;
Raynham Hall was the home of Robert Townsend, “Culper Junior,” who as a merchant with a Manhattan-based shipping firm, went to coffee houses and social events in the city, eavesdropping on the British without arousing suspicion.

The Brewster House
18 Runs Rd, East Setauket, NY;

During the American Revolution, Joseph Brewster used the house as a tavern, entertaining British troops. His cousin Caleb Brewster, a frequent visitor and member of the Culper Spy Ring, was an experienced seaman tasked with transporting the intel gathered across the Long Island sound to Connecticut where Tallmadge was stationed.
Some of the famed North Shore “Gold Coast" mansions are now garden-museums:
Planting Fields Arboretum - Coe Hall, a 65-room Tudor Revival mansion, sits on 409 acres of formal gardens & woodland paths.
Coe Hall (photo: Courtesy Planting Fields Arboretum)

Old Westbury Gardens - Westbury House, a 44-room English manor house, has over 200 acres of traditional, formal gardens.
Sands Point Preserve - On the original Guggenheim Estate, there are four mansions: Castlegould; Falaise; Hempstead House; Mille Fleur.

Where To Stay:
The Mansion at Glen Cove (200 Dosoris Lane, Glen Cove, NY; – This 1910 Georgian mansion, now a hotel, has 187 guest rooms & suites, a lovely pool, spa, and 55-manicured acres.
(photo: Courtesy Glen Cove Mansion)

Oheka Castle (135 West Gate Dr, Huntington, NY; – Built in 1919, this magnificent French-style chateau restored to its original grandeur, is now one of the Historic Hotels of America® and on the National Register of Historic Places. If you can’t afford to stay, come for a tour and/or have a delicious meal here.
Getting the Most Out of Your Trip: Discover Long Island – Find accommodations, places to dine & terrific itinerary suggestions.
Getting There: Each one of these places is accessible by train (LIRR) & then a taxi ride, in a succession of day trips. But, if you’d like to visit several places in one trip, it’s more practical by car.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Part I: Long Island, NY - 10+ Artsy & Cool Things To Do in The Hamptons

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Pollock-Krasner House (photo: Helen A. Harrison)

It’s time to discover or re-discover some lovely places. While The Hamptons, on the South Fork of Long Island, New York, is often thought of as just a playground for the super-rich, there’s an amazing amount of culture from great art museums to magnificent, public gardens, plus impressive, historic buildings and, also, some terrific vineyards! Here’s a sampler to get you started.

THE HAMPTONS - East Hampton, Southampton, Bridgehampton, etc.
To-Do List: Check out lovely gardens & museums; Visit local historic sites; Do a Wine Tasting; Hike in surrounding parks & nature conservancies; Go Horseback riding; or Boating & Fishing; Enjoy a Beach Day: Coopers Beach (Parking fee; facilities: concession, bathhouse, chair & umbrella rentals); Shop at local & designer boutiques; Dine in a variety of great eateries…and so much more!

LongHouse Reserve
133 Hands Creek Rd, East Hampton; Tel: 631/329-3568;
(Open: April-Dec; Wed-Sun 12:30pm-5pm; By appointment off-season; Fee)
Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome (photo: Gary Mamay)

Without a doubt, LongHouse is one of the most enchanting sculpture gardens you'll ever have the pleasure to visit. The fantastic variety of plantings combined with a selection of groovy artwork make for a truly divine experience. The 16-arce estate was the home of renowned textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, hence the gardens—which he designed—have the look of expertly-patterned fabrics: a stunning mix of colors, textures, and forms. Strategically placed within the gardens are magnificent pieces by eminent, artistic creators such as Buckminster Fuller, Yoko Ono, Ai Weiwei, Sol LeWitt, Willem de Kooning, Dale Chihuly along with new artworks by Daniel Arsham, John Giorno, Beverly Pepper, & Prune Nourry. While there are several permanent pieces, the artwork changes from season to season as do the blooming plants & flowering trees. So, each time you return, you’ll see something new, but you won’t want to leave in the first place!

Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center
830 Springs Fireplace Rd., East Hampton; Tel: 631/324-4929
Pollock-Krasner Studio (photo: Helen A. Harrison)

(Open: May-Oct; Thurs-Sun; Visit by guided tour only, online reservation required in advance; Fee)
This area of Long Island was once a place where emerging artists could find an affordable, tranquil spot to live and paint. In 1945, the husband-and-wife artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner moved into a fisherman’s house built in 1879 with no central heating or indoor plumbing. Every time Pollock sold a painting, improvements were made to the house. Eventually, he turned the barn into his studio where he did many of his famous “drip” paintings such as Autumn Rhythm, Blue Poles, & Lavender Mist. After his death, Krasner used it as her studio. If you’re a fan, it’s a thrill to be in the rooms “were it happened.” Even if not, it’s fascinating to learn more about the modern, American artists’ community in eastern Long Island.

The Leiber Collection
LongHouse (photo: Robert Fu)

446 Old Stone Hwy, Springs, East Hampton
(Open: Wed, Sat-Sun, 1pm-4pm; Reserve Free tickets in advance)

This lovely, little jewel box gallery and sculpture garden was created for the delight of the community by the extremely-successful, handbag designer Judith Leiber and her modern-artist husband Gerson. It’s a charming spot to enjoy a moment of peace & quiet…and art!

Southampton History Museum
Tel: 631/283-2494 x 5;
Halsey House (photo: J.Carnegie)

The “museum” is not one building, but a collection of historic sites offering insight into daily life at different periods in Long Island’s history:
Halsey House & Garden
249 South Main St (Open: July-Oct; By appointment, Fee)
Built around 1683, 17th- & 18th-century furnishings & household items are on display in this lovely, saltbox-style, farmhouse with a Colonial herb garden.
Rogers Mansion
17 Meeting House Lane (Open: March-Dec, Wed-Sat, 11am-4pm; Fee)
This Gilded Age mansion remained in the William Rogers’ family through eight generations. Today, it’s decorated with furnishings from the Victorian (1837-1901) and Edwardian eras (1901-1910).
On the grounds, an Old Southampton Village has been recreated with historic structures including: a 1790 blacksmith’s shop, an 1825 barn, an 1830 one-room schoolhouse, an 1880 paint store, an 1890 carpentry shop, and a newly-restored 1890 carriage house now a thrift shop offering vintage items, furnishings & nicknacks.
Pelletreau Silver Shop80 Main St (Open: Year-round, Tues-Sun, 11am-6pm)
This 1686 trade shop was made famous by Elias Pelletreau, an acclaimed silversmith and celebrated patriot. In addition to crafting tankards and flatware, during the Revolutionary War, he organized the local militia. The tradition of silversmithing carries on today with the shop’s latest occupant, metalsmith and jewelery-designer Alyssa Saccente, offering pieces for sale as well as workshops in jewelry-making.

Coopers Beach (photo: Peetlesnumber1/WikiCommons)

Parrish Art Museum
279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill;
(Open: Thurs-Mon, 11am-5pm; Fee) 
- Modern, American artists featured in a Herzog & de Meuron designed building on 14 acres with outdoor sculpture.
The Dan Flavin Art Institute
23 Corwith Ave, Bridgehampton;
(Open: Fri-Sun, 12-3pm; 3:30-6pm; Free) - For Flavin fans: 9 fluorescent light sculptures on display.
Bridge Gardens
36 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton;
(Open: Daily, 10-4; Free)
- Five acres of manicured gardens.
Wölffer Estate Vineyard
139 Sagg Rd, Sagaponack;
(Open: Daily, 11am-6pm: 
Online reservations in advance; Fee) - Offering casual to sophisticated wine tastings.

Where To Stay: In The Hamptons, there’s every kind of accommodation imaginable. Here’s a good place to start:
Southampton Inn
91 Hill St, Southampton; Tel: 631/283-6500;
This 90-room Inn is right in town, but has the feel of a resort with: all-weather tennis courts, a heated pool (May-Oct), a croquet lawn, badminton & volleyball, along with a shuffleboard court, bike rentals & a shuttle to Cooper’s Beach. The beds are Tempur-Pedic, the WiFi is free, and kids & pets are welcome. Also, Claude’s, an on-site restaurant, is open for breakfast & weekend brunch

Dine: There are all kinds of eateries offering several different cuisines. Here are a few recommended by the locals:
Union Burger Bar
40 Bowden Sq, Southampton; Tel: 631-377-3323;
This laidback spot is a great place to hang out with the locals, enjoy a fabulous burger made from antibiotic free, 100% Black Angus Beef (as well as tasty vegan & vegetarian options), and be welcomed with open arms by the super-friendly wait staff. If you’re in the mood for sushi, there’s also the adjoining Union Sushi Steak.
Golden Pear, Southampton, East Hampton & Bridgehampton;

Fellingham’s Sports Bar, 17 Cameron St, Southampton;

Plaza Café, 61 Hill St, Southampton;
75 Main, Southampton;
Sip & Soda, 40 Hampton Rd, Southampton;
Pelletreau Silver Shop (photo: J.Carnegie)

Getting There
: Drive, it’s about 2hrs from New York City, when there’s no traffic jams. Or, relax and take the Hampton Jitney bus. In Southampton, there’s an Enterprise car rental right at the Jitney stop (395 Country Rd, 39A). The train is less expensive, but less frequent, LIRR.

There are so many wonderful areas to explore on Long Island that you can visit time-and-again and still find more cool places to discover. Next stop: North Shore.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Concierge Confessions: 15 Top Sightseeing Tips in Washington, DC

By Jacquelin Carnegie
(photo: National Cherry Blossom Festival)

Visiting The White House and the Smithsonian Museums is already on your itinerary. But these great sightseeing tips come from the best kept secret in the nation’s capital—Les Clefs d'Or hotel concierges. (A pin of crossed gold keys on a concierge’s lapel means you’re getting advice from a seasoned professional.) Les Clefs d'Or concierges pride themselves on really knowing their cities—the best sights, events, restaurants, etc.—so you can get the most out of your visit. These wonderful activities are some of their top DC recommendations: 

Best Way to Get Around Downtown: DC Circulator (
The DC Circulator buses stop at numerous cultural and entertainment sights in the DC city center—for $1.00. They run frequently, have six downtown Washington, DC routes with more stops than the Hop-On-Hop-Off buses. Get a DC Circulator pass for unlimited rides or a SmarTrip card that can be used on the Metro, Metrobus & the DC Circulator. 

The Smithsonian Institution in DC, includes some 19 museums, galleries and the National Zoo! All are amazing and worth visiting, especially since they’re all free. 
Additionally, there are numerous other gems such as:
(photo: Hillwood Estate)
Fabulous Fabric: The Textile Museum
(701 21st St, NW;
Established in 1925, the collection features fabulous antique and contemporary textile arts such as oriental rugs, American quilts, silk clothing, and cotton fabrics. It's now part of the George Washington University Museum at Foggy Bottom.
First in Modern Art: The Phillips Collection
(1600 21st Street NW;
Considered America’s first modern art museum, opened in 1921, with a great collection, located in the lovely Dupont Circle neighborhood. 
Estate Envy: Hillwood Estate - Museum & Gardens
(4155 Linnean Ave., NW;
Be sure to plan at least half a day to visit the magnificent Marjorie Merriweather Post mansion-museum & gardens; there’s a nice café, too.

Best Hail Mary: Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart
Georgetown University Campus (37th & O St. NW, Healy 113)
Of the seven chapels on the Georgetown campus, the beautiful Dahlgren Chapel, built in 1893, is the primary house of worship for the campus’ Catholic community. After Mass, head over to The Tombs restaurant for more libations.
Dahlgren Chapel (photo: Georgetown University)
Best Bloody Mary: The Tombs 
(1226 36th St. NW; Tel: 202/337-6668;
After you’ve repented, enjoy the best Bloody Mary in town or Sunday brunch at this popular Georgetown hangout in the basement of the 1789 Restaurant.
Best Combo – Books & Beer: Kramerbooks
(1517 Connecticut Ave. NW; Tel: 202/387-1400;
Pick up the latest bestseller, a cold one & a tasty snack all at this wonderful, independent bookstore and resto-bar.

Best Sightseeing on Wheels: Bike Tours
Unlimited Biking - Learn some interesting history and get unique DC touring tips as well as a nice workout on these informative bike tours of Washington, DC & Alexandria, VA. Or, just rent a bike to explore the sights on your own.
Great Recreation: Fletcher's Boathouse - Boat & Bike rental 
(4940 Canal Rd NW;; Open March-Nov)
Located in Georgetown on a cove along the Potomac River, Fletcher’s Boathouse has provided a bit of nature and recreation for DC residents, including several Presidents, since the 1850s. Go for a leisurely boat, canoe or kayak ride, or bike along the C&O Canal towpath.
C&O Canal Boat (photo: National Park foundation)

Cool Canal Boat Rides: C&O Canal 
(Georgetown Visitor Center, 1057 Thomas Jefferson St. NW;
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was built between 1828-1850 to transport agricultural goods to market. Today, it’s a National Historical Park that starts in Georgetown and runs 184.5 miles. You can walk or bike along the towpath. Or, go on a fascinating Canal Boat Tour to learn all about the history of life on the canal in mid-19th-century America. (Spring/Summer) 

Most Amazing Garden: The Bishop’s Garden - National Cathedral
(3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW;
Bishop's Garden (photo: All Hallows Guild)
Most people tour the stunning National Cathedral without stopping to admire the gardens on 59-acres of wooded, landscaped grounds. The Bishop’s Garden, planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., is a beautiful, medieval-style garden planted with fruit trees, roses, perennial flowering plants and herbs. Winding stone paths, a gazebo, a 9th-century baptismal font and other statuary add to the charm.
Oldest House: The Old Stone House
(3051 M St. NW, Georgetown;
Built by cabinetmaker Christopher Layman in 1765, this house in Georgetown is considered the oldest building in Washington, DC. Take a trip back to the 18th century by touring the period rooms, when open. Be sure to admire the English garden out back.

The Mayflower Hotel, Marriott (1127 Connecticut Ave. NW; - Opened in 1925, this 4-diamond, luxury hotel near Dupont Circle is one of the Historic Hotels of America. President Harry Truman called it the "second best address" in DC.
The Willard (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; - On the National Register of Historic Places, this magnificent hotel has been at the center of DC’s social and political scene since 1818; a favorite of President Ulysses S. Grant.
 Washington Monument (photo: National Cherry Blossom Festival)

Hotel Monaco, Kimpton (700 F St. NW; - This luxury, boutique hotel is in the original US General Post Office building, a registered National Landmark.
The Ritz Carlton (1150 22nd St. NW; - Relax in sophisticated elegance in the heart of downtown DC.

The Best of the Fests: Some highlights - National Cherry Blossom Festival (March-April); DC Jazz Fest (Labor Day weekend) and the terrific & unique Smithsonian Folklife Festival (June-July) on the National Mall; a great way to celebrate the 4th of July! There is so much to explore from cool neighborhoods to national monuments, plus theaters, jazz clubs, and entertainment venues like The Kennedy Center, one visit just won’t be enough!

Sunday, April 9, 2023

4 Great Day Trips from NYC: Splendor in the Grass--Outdoor Sculpture

By Jacquelin Carnegie – (New York, NY)
If you need a break from hectic city life, nothing soothes the soul more than art experienced in a beautiful setting.

Old Pleasant Hill Rd., Mountainville, NY; Tel: 845/534-3115;
(Open: April-November; Admission fee)
 Storm King, Maya Lin’s Wavefield (photo: Jerry L. Thompson)
This open-air museum, about an hour north of the city, features monumental sculptures in a Hudson Valley setting so stunning it will take your breath away. Around 100 spectacular works by acclaimed artists such as Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, and Louise Nevelson along with pieces by contemporary sculptors Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Serra are strategically placed in the fields, hills, and woodlands. Each year, the Center commissions new and exciting work for a special, themed exhibition. Also, be sure to check out Wavefield, an earth and grass installation by celebrated artist Maya Lin.
Storm King, William Lamson’s Solarium, Light and Landscape 
(photo: Jerry L. Thompson)
Spending the Day
Get around the 500-acre Storm King grounds by walking, taking a free tram, or renting a bike. There are few shaded areas, so in summertime bring a big hat and/or a parasol and plenty of sunscreen. There’s an open-air café for sandwiches or pack a lunch to be enjoyed at one of the pretty picnic areas.
Getting There: From New York (Port Authority Bus Terminal), take a Coach USA (Short Line) bus direct to Storm King.

New York Harbor,
(Open: Daily, year-round; Ferry fee)  
Governors Island, Mark di Suvero, courtesy Storm King 
(photo: JCarnegie)
This lovely spot, 5 minutes from Manhattan Island, was called Nut Island by Native Americans when it was “purchased” by the Dutch in 1637; it became part of New York under the English. Then, for about 200 years, what’s now called Governors Island was a base for the US Army and Coast Guard. Most recently, the Island has been transformed into an artsy recreational area open to the pubic. 
Governors Island, Mark di Suvero, courtesy Storm King 
(photo: Jerry L. Thompson)
Spending the Day
Get around Governors Island by walking, bringing a bike, or renting one or a fun Surrey. There's a variety of food vendors, but your best-bet is to pack a lunch and head to Picnic Point with great views of the Statue of Liberty. Some new, fancy options include a Spa with pool & overnight stays via Glamping.
Getting There: Access Governors Island by a quick ferry ride from Manhattan (Battery Maritime Building, next to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal) or Brooklyn (Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park or Red Hook & NYC Ferry stops).

Rt. 9, Sleepy Hollow, NY; Tel: 914/631-8200;
(Open: May – November; Admission fee)
Kykuit  (photo: Ben Lee)
Kykuit, the Rockefeller family mansion--now an historic site--less than an hour north of the city, is situated on a bluff providing magnificent views of the Hudson River. The Rockefellers championed modern art, so the house is filled with impressive artwork. But make sure to purchase the tour package that includes the gardens because, on the estate grounds, there’s an absolutely amazing collection of modern sculpture by Picasso, Brancusi, Calder, Giacometti, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith.

Kykuit, Max Bill’s Triangular Surface in Space
(photo: Ben Lee)
Spending the Day
The only way to visit is on a tour, best booked beforehand; wandering around on your own is not permitted. At Phillpsburg Manor, Kykuit’s Vistor Center, there's a café with sandwiches & salads and picnic tables or stop at a restaurant in Tarrytown: Sweet Grass Grill on Main Street or dine right on the water at the Washington Irving Boat Club.
Getting There: From New York (Grand Central Station), take Metro North train Hudson Line to Tarrytown. Then, a taxi from the station to Phillpsburg Manor, Kykuit’s Vistor Center, where all the tours start.

18 Fairgrounds Rd., Hamilton, NJ; Tel: 609/586-0616;
Grounds for Sculpture, Carlos Dorrien’s Nine Muses 
(photo: Ricardo Barros)
(Open: Year-round; Admission fee, Reserve tickets in advance)
In New Jersey, about an hour from New York City, you’ll find one of the most delightful places. In a pretty, 42-acre park surrounding a lake, over 300 sculptures by established and emerging artists are on display. The pieces range from traditional to abstract to whimsical by renowned artists such as Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, and George Segal.
Grounds for Sculpture, If It Were Time by Seward Johnson
a 3-D version of Monet’s painting Terrace at Sainte-Adresse.
Spending the Day
Stroll leisurely around the Grounds. (In summertime, bring a hat and/or a parasol & plenty of sunscreen.) The Van Gogh Café is a nice spot for salads & sandwiches. Rat’s Restaurant is a more upscale option for lunch or dinner. (They’ll even prepare a picnic basket for you to enjoy by the lake, as outside food is not allowed). 
Getting There: From New York (Penn Station), take NJ Transit train to Hamilton. Then, a 5-minute taxi ride to Grounds For Sculpture.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Cool Cultural Scene in the Northern Berkshires: 7+ Artsy Reasons To Go

Stone Hill, The Clark, Williamstown
(©Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute)
By Jacquelin Carnegie – (Pittsfield, MA)
Culture lovers already flock to the Southern Berkshires in Massachusetts for concerts at Tanglewood in Lenox and dance performances at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket. But venturing a few towns north--to Pittsfield and Williamstown--opens up another world of artsy possibilities. Even after summer is over, the cultural activities continue.
Taking the Pits Out of PITTSFIELD
Back in 1998, First Lady Hillary Clinton came to town on a Save America’s Treasures tour and gave a shot-in-the-arm to blighted Pittsfield. The town’s subsequent revitalization has been tied to the arts--and what an impressive transformation it is. Architecturally, Pittsfield is not a charming New England town like Lenox or Stockbridge, but it makes up for that with all its’ cultural offerings.

3rd Thursdays (photo: Karl Volkman)
Taking It To The Streets
Third Thursdays
Downtown Pittsfield, MA (May-Oct, 5pm-8pm; Free)
Once a month, a big street fair jazzes up Pittsfield’s main drag in the Upstreet Cultural District. There are bands playing, a variety of food stalls, and tons of entertaining activities for young and old. In addition to what’s going on in the street, shops, art studios, wine bars, and cafés stay open late. It’s also a great opportunity to chat with the friendly locals.
Karen Andrews Asian Fusion
Downtown Pittsfield, MA (Year round, 5pm-8pm; Free)
Third Thursdays runs May through October, but the First Fridays ArtsWalk takes place all year long. Who knew there were some 50 artist studios in downtown Pittsfield? On First Fridays, there’s art on display not only in the galleries and studios but in all sorts of places: restaurants, bagel shops, the Berkshire Medical Center, The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, and loads of other off-beat spots.
The Write Stuff
Melville’s writing desk 
(photo: Pablo Sanchez)
780 Holmes Rd., Pittsfield, MA; Tel: 413/442-1793;
(Open: May-Oct, Thurs-Mon, 9:30am-5pm, visit by Tour. Tours available off-season by appointment; Fee)
Here’s something else you might not have known--Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick, and several other works, while living here from 1850 to 1863. Melville’s former home, restored by the Berkshire Historical Society, is now a National Historic Landmark and open to visitors.
It’s Showtime!
Barrington Stage Company
30 Union St., Pittsfield, MA, Tel:
Debra Jo Rupp, Dr. Ruth 
 ©Barrington Stage
Founded in 1995, the not-for-profit company, housed in a renovated 1912 vaudeville theatre (plus several new buildings), produces award-winning plays and musicals, and finds innovative ways to attract new audiences and introduce young people to theatre. The new productions at Barrington Stage are so terrific they often transfer to Broadway (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, American Son), but you can see them first, right here!
The Colonial Theater - Berkshire Theater Group
111 South St., Pittsfield, MA; Tel: 413/997-4444;
The Colonial Theater
The Colonial, designed in 1903 by noted architect J.B. McElfatrick, was a popular Vaudeville theater. After years of neglect, it’s been beautifully restored to its Gilded Age grandeur and now provides a stunning venue for top-name stars for concerts, comedies, musicals, and family entertainment all year long.
A Museum With More
Berkshire Museum
39 South St., Pittsfield, MA; Tel: 413/443-7171;
(Open: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, 12pm-5pm. Fee)
Opened in 1903 by Zenas Crane as an art and natural history museum, the Berkshire Museum’s collection includes everything from fine art to fossils, an aquarium to ancient artifacts, and objects from every continent. In addition to nifty special exhibits, the museum hosts lots of creative events. 
A Fistful of Festivals
Here are a few examples:
February: 10X10 Upstreet: a contemporary arts festival. April: Pittsfield CityJazz Festival: annual jazz fest. 
Dining Options: There’s a huge selection of all kinds of restaurants, cafés and wine bars on North Street in the Upstreet Cultural District.
Spend the Night: Holiday Inn
Williamstown, MA 
(photo: Daderot)
Getting There: Drive or from New York (Port Authority Bus Terminal) take a Peter Pan bus to Pittsfield; about 4 hours, but worth it! Seasonal weekend train service: Amtrak's The Berkshire Flyer will run Fri/Sun from May to October.
About a half-hour from Pittsfield, this quaint little town, home to Williams College founded in 1793, has some terrific cultural institutions you won’t want to miss. 
Must-See Art Collections
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
225 South St., Williamstown, MA; Tel: 413/458-2303;
(Open: Tues-Sun, 10am–5pm; daily in the summer. Fee)
Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute
(photo: Betty Sartori)
Sterling Clark, heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, moved to Paris in 1910 and, along with his wife Francine, began acquiring an extraordinary collection of Impressionist and Old Master paintings. These masterpieces form the core of the Institute’s permanent collection. Opened in 1955, as both a museum and research center, The Clark’s original neoclassical building is now surrounded by modern additions by internationally-renown architect Tadao Ando. In addition to the artwork and special exhibits, other offerings include: live music performances, talks, and lectures. There are also walking trails on The Clark’s 140 acres of beautifully-landscaped forests and fields. (Plus a great gift shop!)
Eyes by Louise Bourgeois
 (©WCMA, photo: Arthur Evans)
Williams College Museum of Art
Rt. 2, 15 Lawrence Hall Dr., Williamstown, MA; Tel: 413/597-2429; (Open: Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm; Free) 
This lovely little spot is considered one of the finest college art museums in the country with 13,000 works that cover the history of art. But, WCMA is best known for modern and contemporary art, especially its collection of American art from the late-18th century to the present.
The Stars are Out
Williamstown Theatre Festival
Rt. 2, 1000 Main St., Williamstown, MA; Tel: 413/597-3400;; Summer
Blythe Danner, The Blue Deep
(photo: T. Charles Erickson) 
Every summer, for almost 70 years, the Festival brings top actors to this tiny town to perform in exciting versions of the classics and new works by gifted playwrights. It’s worth a trip to Williamstown to see a production. (It’s also fun to spot big-name stars eating in the local cafés.)
Dining Options: Along Spring Street, in the center of town, there are lots of nice little shops, galleries, and eateries
Spent the Night: Plenty of charming accommodations.
Getting There: Drive or from New York (Penn Station), take an Amtrak train to the Albany station (about 2 ½ hrs, with stunning views of the Hudson River along the way). Then, a taxi or car service to Williamstown, about an hour. (Abbott Limo Service: 413/243-1645)  Also, bus connections run between Pittsfield and Williamstown.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Marvelous Mosaic: 5+ Great Ways to Celebrate Irish Culture & St. Paddy’s Day in NYC

By Jacquelin Carnegie – (New York, NY)
Every March, it’s time to dig out that bright green sweater and brace yourself for gallons of green beer, rowdy teenagers, and lousy weather--it's Saint Paddy’s Day in New York! But, Irish culture is so rich and varied, it should be celebrated for more than just one day! Here are some great ways to do so all year long in New York:
Come for The Craic
Irish Arts Center 
Celtic AppalachianCelebration II 
(photo: Brandilyn Davidson & Erin Baiano)
726 11th Ave (btw 51-52 St), Tel: 212/757-3318;
The IAC is a treasure-trove of Irish cultural activities. Throughout the year, attend concerts, dance performances, plays, films, lectures or readings, and be sure to enjoy “the craic” (great conversation). If you’re bitten by the Irish bug, the IAC also offers classes for children and adults in Irish music, dance, language, and history. Great annual events include: St. Patrick's Day Open House (Free): Celebrate Irish music & dance with performances and craft workshops for the whole family. Book Day: Snag a free book by a great Irish or Irish-American author.
Discover Irish Playwrights
Donnybrook! (photo: Carol Rosegg)
The Irish Repertory Theatre
132 West 22nd St; Tel: 212/727-2737;
The Irish Rep features plays and musicals by well-known and emerging Irish and Irish-American playwrights. 
Get Some Culture
American Irish Historical Society
991 Fifth Ave., at 80th St.; Tel: 212/288-2263, (Currently closed during a reorganization.)
Founded in 1897, the AIHS celebrates the Irish-American experience with a focus on contemporary Irish culture. Events range from talks to art exhibits to readings and concerts on the harp, piano, penny whistle, and bodhrán. All take place in AIHS’ magnificent Beaux-Arts townhouse.
Thrill to the Music
In New York, there are Irish musicians playing everything from traditional, to rock to pop. No matter what your taste, there’s a band for you.
Paddy Reilly's Music Bar (519 2nd Ave., at 29th St.; Tel: 212/686-1210; In NYC, there’s an Irish pub on almost every corner, but this is one of the best with great Irish music; Black 47 got their start here.

Old Favorites: For 25 years, Black 47 was “Rockin’ The Bronx,” giving voice to the joy and the sorrow of all the Irish immigrants who’ve found a second home on Bainbridge Avenue and in other New York boroughs. Band leader Larry Kirwan now does solo gigs with a St. Patrick's Day concert. 
Some years, The Celtic Tenors, doing traditional songs, and The Saw Doctors, with their folk-rock vibe, roll into town. 

Sober St. Patrick’s Day® - This is a wonderful way to enjoy the sprit of the day with great Irish entertainment--acclaimed musicians, dancers, singers, comedians--but without the rowdy drunks.

Worship in Gaelic
The Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral
263 Mulberry St, corner of Mott & Prince, Tel: 212-226-8075;
Long before people worshiped at Saint Patrick's Cathedral (1879), on Fifth Avenue and 50th St., they came here to the city's first Cathedral Church, founded in 1809. Today, Mass is given in English, Spanish, Chinese, and, on occasion, in the Irish language, Gaelic. Throughout the year, there are lovely concerts and other cultural offerings.

 (photo: Laura_Mexico)
Saint Patrick's Day Parade
The first St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York was held in 1762, when Irish ex-patriots and Irish soldiers marched through the city. Every year, the Parade heads up Fifth Avenue, from 44th St to 86th St.

Did you know that there are other regions, referred to as 
"Celtic Nations," that share this heritage with Ireland: Brittany, France; Wales; Scotland; the Isle of Man & Cornwall.
(Often, Brittany's BZH NY society invites musicians from Brittany to perform and celebrate St. Patrick's Day in New York.)