New York has the Hamptons, and Boston has the Cape, but the East Coast rivals share the Berkshires. The idyllic, mountainous western Massachusetts region is 120 miles from either city, and in the fall, as the forests of sugar maple and oak and sassafras turn yellow, then orange, then red, Yankees and Red Sox fans collide, cameras at the ready for prime leaf peeping. That’s why I’m here, driving from my in-laws’ home outside Boston, child and husband in tow, in a car that’s suitable for rolling hills and tight curves: a Jaguar F-Pace P340 S, whose 335 horsepower makes it feel more like a sports car than an SUV.
We pass the time on the Mass Pike by testing out the Jag’s Alexa-like “Hey Jaguar” command and singing along to James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James. The title track gives a key to our first stop: Stockbridge (although the road’s not yet covered with snow). We exit at Route 102 and cruise the charming village’s Main Street. The scene looks straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting—which it is. The artist lived and worked here, and now his studio is part of the Norman Rockwell Museum, where we smile at the humor of his Saturday Evening Post covers and are moved by his later paintings, most notably The Problem We All Live With, which captures Ruby Bridges being escorted by U.S. marshals as she integrates a New Orleans elementary school in 1960. I can’t help but wonder how Rockwell would have portrayed the past year in America.
Lunch is back on Main Street at The Lost Lamb, a patisserie opened in 2019 by Claire Raposo, then a 19-year-old Le Cordon Bleu Paris grad. The three of us split a roasted red pepper and mozzarella sandwich, a key lime tart, and a raspberry shortcake.
It’s obviously time for a hike. A 10-minute drive brings us to Stevens Glen, a kid-friendly 1.4-mile loop under a canopy of hemlocks and white pines. We take our time on the trail, searching for frogs, as well as pretty leaves and stones to take home. A scramble up a muddy hill rewards us with a view of the Lenox Mountain Brook tumbling down a jagged ravine.
We get back on the road only briefly before stopping at Olivia’s Overlook, smack dab in the center of the Yokun Ridge, where we gaze over the Stockbridge Bowl. Tanglewood lies just to the east, and I vow to come back next summer to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra (or maybe James Taylor?).
Just four more miles down the winding road, we reach Barlett’s Orchard, where the Barlett family has been growing apples for four generations. We pick our own Macouns and Idareds and then also grab some apple cider donuts in the farm store. (I wish those grew on trees!)
It’s a 45-minute drive from here to our hotel, Tourists, in North Adams, but we don’t mind, since Route 7 is a visual feast of fall colors. The sun is just about matching the fiery maple leaves by the time we’re settled in our stylishly minimalist room, complete with a deck that feels nestled right in the woods. Staying here was a no-brainer—the place is co-owned by John Stirratt, the bassist for my favorite band, Wilco. (Another reason to come back: The band curates Solid Sound, a three-day arts, music, and comedy festival at MassMoCA that’s set to return next May.)
We finish the day with blackberry bramble cocktails and Shirley Temples by the firepit, then fried chicken sandwiches and yuca tacos at the hotel’s restaurant, The Airport Rooms. As the evening chill sets in, it’s time to cozy up under the duvet in our room. The Jaguar, no doubt, will rest under a blanket of fallen leaves.
2021 Jaguar F-Pace P340 S
If you want a sports car but need an SUV, then the F-Pace is for you. The sleek crossover got a stylish interior makeover for 2021, with diamond-stitched Windsor leather seats (try the massager), a handsome wood and aluminum “piano lid” across the instrument panel, and Jaguar’s smart new Pivi Pro infotainment system, which boasts an 11.4-inch curved glass screen. The driving experience is equally dynamic, thanks to the P340 S’s turbocharged and supercharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine. You’ll want to put all 335 horses to the test on the Berkshires’ curvy mountain roads—and you’ll be grateful for the adaptive cruise control when the area’s autumnal grandeur proves too distracting.
From $59,395, jaguarusa.com