Plenty of pet-friendly places can be found in the Berkshires
Guests Ira Bernstein and Loki hang out at Birchwood Inn in Lenox, MA.
Photo by Scott Barrow
The Berkshires has always been known as a haven for art and nature enthusiasts, and as the harsh winter fades into somewhat distant memory and summer firmly settles into place, exploring restaurants, lingering in a cozy cafe, over-nighting in a quaint hotel, or taking a hike along a well-worn trail isn’t limited to us bipeds. This area is peppered with pet-friendly locations for those folks who want to explore the area with their furry companions.
At Firefly Restaurant in Lenox, chef and owner Laura Shack laughs when asked how long she has been allowing pets to sit on the back porch. “Oh, they’ve been here forever!” she says, referring to two local dogs who “eat regularly at the cafe every night”—just not inside because of health code. In the warmer months, many more dogs join them outside.
A few other favorite spots for pets are Cafe Adam in Great Barrington, with a summertime porch perfect for pets to relax; Birchwood Inn in Lenox, where dogs are greeted with homemade treats and every room is pet-friendly; and Tunnel City Coffee in Williamstown, which has a small area of lawn for pets to roam around.
Although it may seem like allowing pets could lead to trouble, most proprietors insist that it has always been a positive experience. Ken Cushman, assistant innkeeper at The Porches in North Adams, says that aside from an incident with an owner—involving a hotplate, a dog’s meal that was apparently too cold, and the North Adams Fire Department—the hotel has never had any issues. Made up of six separate buildings, The Porches designates one as “pet friendly.” While most of the guest pets are dogs, many cats, a parrot, and even a snake have graced the halls. When canine customers arrive, they are greeted with dog bowls, milk bones, crates, and a humorous “pet welcome letter” written from the point of view of The Porches’ house cat, Sabine, or “Bean” for short.
The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and the Williams Inn in Williamstown, owned by the same company as The Porches—Main Street Hospitality Group—also allow pets, as do Cranwell Resort and Bascom Lodge. Blantyre in Lenox has one cottage called “The Old Bath House” where pets are allowed. Here, too, dogs are given beds and bones to make their stay as pleasant as for their owners.
Bob Thibeault with Shaker Mill Inn, a B&B in West Stockbridge, has also welcomed furry, scaly, and feathery guests with no bad experiences. He understands how hard it is for guests to find someone to take care of their pets while they travel, so he welcomes the variety of animals with care, and with a gift basket.
Alix Cabral of Williamstown takes her dog, Bonnie, a 12-year-old wire-haired pointing griffon, on all kinds of hikes through the Berkshires. Some of her favorites are Linear Park in Williamstown, where owners can take their pets for a short, flat hike, or, more notably, a dip in the Green River. Another favorite is Cole Field—also in Williamstown—where dogs can run around and access the Hoosic River as well.
Christa Abel, owner of Bark N’ Cat pet store in North Adams, also has plenty of suggestions for places to go—besides her own shop, of course, where animals are welcome and treats are placed low enough that pets can choose their own. Abel loves taking her four dogs to Natural Bridge State Park and the Cascades in North Adams, a great hike for pets and owners alike as it ends in a beautiful waterfall.
Doggin’ the Berkshires is a helpful reference for people looking for paw-friendly hiking trails. The book recommends some 33 locations, among them Notchview, Pittsfield State Forest, and Stevens Glen.
Soon, even transportation looks like it will be pet friendly as New York’s JFK Airport will open in early 2016 the world’s first pet-friendly terminal, referred to as “The Ark.” This $48-million project should create more than 180 jobs as this 178,000-square-foot terminal is erected. The Ark will be complete with its own veterinary hospital, a pet resort, stalls for larger animals, and individually climate-controlled rooms with beds and natural lighting to make animal transportation as luxurious as possible.