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    Great Barrington,

    Massachusetts

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    Great Barrington is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,104 at the 2010 census. Both a summer resort and home to Ski Butternut, a ski resort, Great Barrington includes the villages of Van Deusenville and Housatonic.
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    Great Barrington Articles

    Road Trips

    The ultimate New England fall foliage road trip

    Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Trip length: 5–7 days; 424 miles (682km)Best time to go: Late September to mid-OctoberEssential photo: Kent Falls set against a backdrop of autumnal colorsTop experience: Ziplining through the tree canopy in Bretton Woods The brilliance of fall in New England is legendary. Scarlet and sugar maples, ash, birch, beech, dogwood, tulip tree, oak and sassafras all contribute to the carnival of autumn color. But this trip is about much more than just flora and fauna: the harvest spirit makes for family outings to pick-your-own farms, leisurely walks along dappled trails, and tables groaning beneath delicious seasonal produce. Lake Candlewood is the perfect place to start a New England fall foliage road trip © Alan Copson / Getty Images1. Lake Candlewood With a surface area of 8.4 sq miles, Candlewood is the largest lake in Connecticut. On the western shore, the Squantz Pond State Park is popular with leaf-peepers, who come to amble the pretty shoreline. In Brookfield and Sherman, quiet vineyards with acres of gnarled grapevines line the hillsides. Visitors can tour the award-winning DiGrazia Vineyards or opt for something more intimate at White Silo Farm Winery, where the focus is on specialty wines made from farm-grown fruit. For the ultimate bird’s eye view of the foliage, consider a late-afternoon hot-air-balloon ride with GONE Ballooning in nearby Southbury. The drive: From Danbury, at the southern tip of the lake, you have a choice of heading north via US 7, taking in Brookfield and New Milford (or trailing the scenic eastern shoreline along Candlewood Lake Rd S); or heading north along CT 37 and CT 39 via New Fairfield, Squantz Pond and Sherman, before reconnecting with US 7 to Kent. The Litchfield Hills of Connecticut have possibly the best fall colors in the world © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images2. Kent Kent has previously been voted the spot in all of New England (yes, even beating Vermont) for fall foliage viewing. Situated prettily in the Litchfield Hills on the banks of the Housatonic River, it is surrounded by dense woodlands. For a sweeping view of them, hike up Cobble Mountain in Macedonia Brook State Park, a wooded oasis 2 miles north of town. The steep climb to the rocky ridge affords panoramic views of the foliage against a backdrop of the Taconic and Catskill mountain ranges. The 2175-mile Georgiato-Maine Appalachian National Scenic Trail also runs through Kent and up to Salisbury on the Massachusetts border. Unlike much of the trail, the Kent section offers a mostly flat 5-mile river walk alongside the Housatonic, the longest river walk along the entire length of the trail. The trailhead is accessed on River Rd, off CT 341. The drive: The 15-mile drive from Kent to Housatonic Meadows State Park along US 7 is one of the most scenic drives in Connecticut. The single-lane road dips and weaves between thick forests, past Kent Falls State Park (currently closed due to COVID-19) with its tumbling waterfall (visible from the road), and through West Cornwall’s picturesque covered bridge, which spans the Housatonic River. The picturesque covered bridge in West Cornwall, Connecticut © Jeff Hunter / Getty Images3. Housatonic Meadows State Park During the spring thaw, the churning waters of the Housatonic challenge kayakers and canoeists. By summer, the scenic waterway transforms into a lazy, flat river perfect for fly-fishing. In the Housatonic Meadows State Park, campers vie for a spot on the banks of the river while hikers take to the hills on the Appalachian Trail. Housatonic River Outfitters runs guided fishing trips with gourmet picnics. Popular with artists and photographers, one of the most photographed fall scenes is the Cornwall Bridge (West Cornwall), an antique covered bridge that stretches across the broad river, framed by vibrantly colored foliage. In the nearby town of Goshen is Nodine’s Smokehouse, a major supplier of smoked meats to New York gourmet food stores. The drive: Continue north along US 7 toward the Massachusetts border and Great Barrington. After a few miles you leave the forested slopes of the park behind you and enter expansive rolling countryside dotted with large red-and-white barns. Look out for hand-painted signs advertising farm produce and consider stopping overnight in Falls Village, which has an excellent B&B. The Berkshires turn crimson and gold, making for a spectacular fall, in the hills of Massacusetts © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images4. Berkshires Blanketing the westernmost part of Massachusetts, the rounded mountains of the Berkshires turn crimson and gold as early as mid-September. The effective capital of the Berkshires is Great Barrington, a formerly industrial town whose streets are now lined with art galleries and upscale restaurants. It’s the perfect place to pack your picnic or rest your legs before or after a hike in nearby Beartown State Forest. Crisscrossing some 12,000 acres, hiking trails yield spectacular views of wooded hillsides and pretty Benedict Pond, Further north, October Mountain State Forest is the state’s largest tract of green space (16,127 acres), also interwoven with hiking trails. The name – attributed to Herman Melville – gives a good indication of when this park is at its loveliest, with its multicolored tapestry of hemlocks, birches and oaks. The drive: Drive north on US 7, the spine of the Berkshires, cruising through Great Barrington and Stockbridge. In Lee, the highway merges with scenic US 20, from where you can access October Mountain. Continue 16 miles north through Lenox and Pittsfield to Lanesborough. Turn right on N Main St and follow the signs to the park entrance. Driving to the summit of Mt Greylock in autumn is a sensory overload © PM 10 / Getty Images5. Mt Greylock State Forest Massachusetts’ highest peak is not so high, at 3491ft, but a climb up the 92ft-high War Veterans Memorial Tower rewards you with a forested panorama stretching up to 100 miles, across the Taconic, Housatonic and Catskill ranges, and over five states. Even if the weather seems drab from the foot, driving up to the summit may well lift you above the gray blanket, and the view with a layer of cloud floating between tree line and sky is simply magical. Mt Greylock State Reservation has some 45 miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Frequent trail pull-offs on the road up – including some that lead to waterfalls – make it easy to get at least a little hike in before reaching the top of Mt Greylock. The drive: Return to US 7 and continue north through the quintessential college town of Williamstown. Cross the Vermont border and continue north through the historic village of Bennington. Just north of Bennington, turn left on Rte 7A and continue north to Manchester. Manchester's architecture looks even better shrouded in fall colors © DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images6. Manchester Stylish Manchester is known for its magnificent New England architecture. For fall foliage views, head south of the center to 3828ft-high Mt Equinox, the highest mountain accessible by car in the Taconic Range. Wind up the 5.2 miles – with gasp-inducing scenery at every hairpin turn – seemingly to the top of the world, where the 360-degree panorama unfolds, offering views of the Adirondacks, the lush Battenkill Valley and Montréal’s Mt Royal. If early snow makes Mt Equinox inaccessible, visit 412-acre Hildene, a Georgian Revival mansion that was once home to the Lincoln family. It’s filled with presidential memorabilia and sits nestled at the edge of the Green Mountains, with access to 8 miles of wooded walking trails. The drive: Take US 7 north to Burlington. Three miles past Middlebury in New Haven, stop off at Lincoln Peak Vineyard for wine tasting or a picnic lunch on the wraparound porch. Go out on Lake Champlain for a leaf-peeping adventure and you might run into a mythical sea creature © Larry Gerbrandt / Getty Images7. Lake Champlain With a surface area of 490 sq miles, straddling New York, Vermont and Quebec, Lake Champlain is the largest freshwater lake in the US after the Great Lakes. On its northeastern side, Burlington is a gorgeous base to enjoy the lake. Explore it by foot on our walking tour. Then scoot down to the wooden promenade, take a swing on the fourperson rocking benches and consider a bike ride along the 7.5-mile lakeside bike path. For the best off-shore foliage views we love the Friend Ship sailboat at Whistling Man Schooner Company, a 43ft sloop that accommodates a mere 13 passengers. Next door, ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center explores the history and ecosystem of the lake, including a famous snapshot of Champ, Lake Champlain’s mythical sea creature. The drive: Take I-89 southeast to Montpelier passing Camels Hump State Park and CC Putnam State Forest. At Montpelier, pick up US2 heading east to St Johnsbury, where you can hop on I-91 south to I-93 south. Just after Littleton, take US 302 east to Bretton Woods. The Bretton Woods have leaf-peeping as well as high adventure just waiting to be explored © thrmylens / Getty Images8. Bretton Woods Unbuckle your seat belts and step away from the car. You’re not just peeping at leaves today, you’re swooping past them on zip lines that drop 1000ft at 30mph. The four-season Bretton Woods Canopy Tour includes a hike through the woods, a stroll over sky bridges and a swoosh down 10 cables to tree platforms. If this leaves you craving even higher views, cross US 302 and drive 6 miles on Base Rd to the coal-burning, steam-powered Mount Washington Cog Railway at the western base of Mt Washington, the highest peak in New England. This historic railway has been hauling sightseers to the mountain’s 6288ft summit since 1869. The drive: Continue driving east on US 302, a route that parallels the Saco River and the Conway Scenic Railroad, traversing Crawford Notch State Park. At the junction of NH 16 and US 302, continue east on US 302 into North Conway. Wrap up your fall foliage road trip in North Conway, a scenic finale © Nils Winkelmann / EyeEm / Getty Images9. North Conway Many of the best restaurants, pubs and inns in North Conway come with expansive views of the nearby mountains, making it an ideal place to wrap up a fall foliage road trip. If you’re traveling with kids or you skipped the cog railway ride up Mt Washington, consider an excursion on the antique Valley Train with the Conway Scenic Railroad; it’s a short but sweet roundtrip ride through the Mt Washington Valley from North Conway to Conway, 11 miles south. The Moat Mountains and the Saco River will be your scenic backdrop. First-class seats are usually in a restored Pullman observation car.

    Inspiration

    Condo and Villa Rentals Around the World

    Dazzled by the life of a British couple in the south of France, more than a million Americans bought Peter Mayle's charming book, "A Year in Provence," and thousands more have since followed his course, if not for a year, then at least for a summer month in a European home. Like Mr. and Mrs. Mayle, though in a different land, many crave such a profound, shared experience and want to settle for a time in a foreign country, grow fluent in a foreign language, be greeted as regulars in the local shops, feel the softness and maturity of an ancient culture. But setting all this in motion is harder than you might think. The problem stems from the need to rent such a home sight unseen. Unless, several months in advance of your stay, you're willing to make a trans-Atlantic trip just to look over the available properties, your sole option is to rely on an illustrated, mail-order catalogue of rental homes--and hope for the best. At least a dozen "international real estate brokers" publish such listings, and will supply them to you either free or for a nominal $2 to $4 (refunded if you then rent through them.) Among such companies are: Home Base Abroad (781/545-5112); Vacanze in Italia (800/533-5405); Vacances en Campagne (800/771-4771); Ville et Village (510/559-8080); International Lodgings Corporation (212/228-5900); Interhome (800/882-6864); and more. But is the method really satisfactory? Can a printed catalogue with one or two photos of each home, and a paragraph of description, really capture the qualities of each such dwelling? Though the great majority of people using the international brokers seem satisfied, other renters arrive at homes alongside a busy highway that doesn't appear in the photograph, or at homes reached by virtually-inaccessible dirt roads, or near industrial villages, or too closely alongside other homes. There's a better, two-step approach. Simply phone for the catalogues and scan their photographs. Make a tentative choice of several in one compact region, and ask the broker to schedule visits to them. And then use an inexpensive, off-season, one-week, trans-Atlantic, air-and-hotel package (less than a thousand dollars per person, when other expenses are included) to scout the tentative choices. Is this the course of a foolish spendthrift, a "rich American"? To begin with, you can assign a single member of your family to make that trip, thus limiting the expense to about $ 1,000 (possibly much less in low season). Even if you spend slightly more, the cost is only a fraction of what you will later pay for the one-month rental, and it's a prudent expense. Would you rather risk an unhappy month in a home that's not to your liking? In addition to using the U.S.-based, international brokers to make a list of several potential properties, you can also ask the local tourist bureau, on arrival, for introductions to local brokers. The Condo Alternative The--"condo vacation"--living in a fully-equipped apartment or villa on the grounds of a resort hotel, or in a "condo community" is also an increasing popular method of enjoying a "restful, refreshing, relaxing vacation."Therefore we've included condo rentals in this "Holiday Home"section. Part of the appeal of a condo rental is the spaciousness and variety of the lodging itself; some vacationers feel cramped and deprived in the average-sized hotel room; they value the chance to raid the refrigerator at night, cook themselves some eggs, read in the living room while their spouse sleeps in the bedroom. The other appeal is price. The advocates of condo vacations will heatedly argue that the condos cost far less than an equivalent hotel room; that by renting a condo for a week or two, one enjoys savings wholly apart from the ability to occasionally cook a meal and eat in. Obviously, the condo is a special value for traveling families or small groups, who enjoy considerable per person savings by staying in a multi-room condo rather than in several hotel rooms. Finally, the condo advocates also argue that renting a condo is infinitely superior to buying a "time share" the other method of enjoying vacations in a multi-unit apartment or villa. A condo rental does not "tie you down" for years; it involves no initial large outlay or risk; it doesn't require that you later find a buyer, or engage in complex "exchange" transactions (living in someone else's time share) if some year you'd rather vacation somewhere else. The "International Real Estate Brokers" Although we've listed a number of the sources for overseas villa rentals in our discussion of "the Perilous Search for a Summer Home Abroad," above it seems important to supply a more comprehensive list, not simply for Europe, but for the Caribbean and other areas. For the British Isles Home Abroad (22 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230, phone 800/533-5405 or 413/528-6610, homeabroad.com) rents the vast majority of its more than 2,000 properties in France and Italy, but it also has a few dozen apartments in London, a handful of castles in Scotland, and some unique country homes throughout England. Interhome (1990 NE 163rd St., Ste. 110, North Miami Beach, FL 33162, phone 305/940 2299 or 800/882-6864, interhome.com For apartments in London, a major, long-established company is The Barclay International Group, phone 800/845-6636 or 516/759-5100, barclayweb.com. Rentals start at the British equivalent of about $125 per night. For English country cottages, London apartments, and hotel rates on a rental basis, contact British Travel Associates of Elkton, Virginia, phone 800/327-6097, or 540/298-2232, britishtravel.com. Cottage & Villa Holidays offers short-term rentals of nearly 250 barns, cottages, manor houses and even castles in the UK and Ireland, from $800 a week. Phone 800/642-0577 or write to them at P.O. Box 16927, Savannah, GA 31416, cottageholidays.com. For London apartments, contact Home from Home, 75 Wilton Road, London SW1 1DE, 011-44-207-233-8111. Privately-owned London flats, apartments and houses for short-term rentals. Centrally located. Competitive prices. Phone 800/748-9783, homefromhome.co.uk London apartments rented directly from London, phone London Pied a Terre at its London number, 011-44-207-499-6692, londonpied-a-terre.co.uk. Apartments or flats in London at moderate rates, phone Holiday Flatlets, 38 Emperor's Gate, London SW7 4HJ, phone 011-44-207-370-1040. Rentals start at 180 pounds ($339) a week for a studio. For the Caribbean Jamaican Association of Villas and Apartments (800/VILLAS-6, villasinjamaica.com) supplies a free color brochure outlining its services in securing villa and apartment rentals in every major resort area--Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Runaway Bay and Discovery Bay. For renting villas and apartments on the pricey island of St. Bart's, sometimes at surprisingly low rates, phone St. Barth Properties in Franklin, Massachusetts, 800/421-3396 or 508/528-7727, Web site: stbarth.com St. Thomas Condos, U.S. Virgin Islands (800/524-2038 or 340/779-1540) offers properties ranging from air-conditioned studios to one-to-three bedroom bungalows and villas, some with spacious decks and maid service. Tennis, pools, and watersports are always nearby. Private villas/homes rentals in St. Croix, are made through Island Villas (877/788-0361 or or 340/778-0361, Web site: vacationstcroix.com). Villas and Apartments Abroad (800/433-3020, or 212/213-6435, Web site: vaanyc.com) of New York, represents rental villas in Jamaica, Barbados, St. Martin, both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and Mustique. All About Vacation Rentals (800/321-3134) works with rental villas in the Caribbean and Mexico, as well as the U.S. and Europe. For vacation and villa rentals in a variety of Caribbean destinations (Antigua, Barbuda, St. Barts, U.S. Virgin Islands, Turcs and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Thomas, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Dominica and St. John), go to caribbean-on-line.com/villas. At Home Abroad of New York City managed by Claire Packman, represents a number of exclusive, upscale homes in the Caribbean, Europe, and other parts of the globe. The company's Web site (athomeabroadinc.com) lists a small sampling of properties it rents. Call 212/421-9165 with inquiries. For luxury condos, villas, estates, weekly, monthly, throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas, with a large number in Jamaica, phone Villa Website.com at 800/722-0452 or 954/783-6605 or visit villawebsite.com. For Costa Rica For homestays in and around San Jose, contact Bells' Home Hospitality (011-506-225-4752 or homestay.thebells.org with the mailing address of Dept. 1432, P.O. Box, 02516, Miami, FL, 33102. For France Home Abroad (22 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230, phone 800/533-5405 or 413/528-6610, homeabroad.com) represents many carefully chosen properties in France. Send $6 for a catalogue, refunded if you then make the rental through it. The greatest number of French cottages for rental are known as "gites" because they participate in a government-approved program for designating and rating "gites." There are many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these throughout France, of widely varying categories and prices, but almost always pleasant, comfortable, and located in authentic French settings of great charm. The U.S. expert on "gites" is Provence West, Ltd. (P.O. Box 272884, Fort Collins, CO, 80527, phone 970/226-5444, Web site: provencewest.com). Provence West is an excellent source of information and bookings, and should be contacted by persons considering a vacation rental in France. Rental prices start as low as $605/week. "Ville et Village" (of Berkeley, California, phone 510/559-8080, villeetvillage.com) offers nearly 1000 holiday rentals of bungalows and cottages in every part of France, on either a weekly or monthly basis. "Experience la vraie France in your own chateau," they say. For apartments in Paris, contact Paris Sejours Reservation (312/587-7707, psrparis.com), which rents studios for as little as $75 per night.Rentals France offers apartments and villas starting at $300 and topping out at $5,000 for a property that sleeps 14. Go to rentalsfrance.com/accomodation for more details. At Home Abroad of New York City managed by Claire Packman, represents a number of exclusive, upscale homes in France as well as other countries around the globe. The company's Web site (athomeabroadinc.com) lists a small sampling of properties it rents. Call 212/421-9165 with inquiries. LaCure is even more upscale in its listings for France. Call 800-387-2726, visit lacure.com/english for information. Villas throughout France and Paris apartment rentals in all price ranges can be had from the Barclay International Group of New York, 800/845-6636 or 516/364-0064. Or visit barclayweb.com. Finally, check out the offerings of Chez Nous, a listing service of over 3,000 privately owned villas, chateaux, apartments and houses. Chez Nous, Spring Mill, Earby, Barnoldswick, BB94 0AA, U.K (phone 011-44-870-444-6600). Go to the Internet site at cheznous.com. For Greece For villas and condos on the mainland or in the Greek Islands, visit International Rentals at internationalrentals.com. For Ireland Cottage Net UK (cottage-net.ndirect.co.uk) promotes itself as the largest database of self-catering accommodation in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Direct phone numbers are listed for various apartment and home rentals. British Travel International in Elkton, VA, also rents town-and-country cottages and villas in Ireland. Call 800/327-6097 or visit britishtravel.com For Israel For every sort of apartment in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, phone Hometours International (1108 Scottie Lane, Knoxville, TN 37919) at 866/367-4668 or 865/690-8484. For Italy Vacanze in Italia (22 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230, phone 413/528-6610, fax 413/528-6222, Web site: homeabroad.com) is a leading source of Italian villa rentals in all price ranges, and is operated by Carl I. Stewart, whom we have known personally throughout the two decades he has been acting as an international rental broker; he is a consummate gentleman, with stunning knowledge of all aspects of Italian vacation homes. Vacanze in Italia is his main company (although he also operates firms that deal with France and England as well; see the discussion under the appropriate headings in this section of our Web site.) His weekly rentals range in the low end from about $700 a week, to a top of $25,000 a week in the deluxe area; but most of them--in fact, the great majority--fall into a "mid-range," namely a villa of three to four bedrooms, with two baths, renting for about $3,000 a week in high season, half that in low season. Mr. Stewart, who represents over 500 properties, will send you literature, but also suggests a phone conversation/interview in which he ascertains your exact needs, and then suggests a property. Another leader in finding both apartment and villa rentals in Italy--perhaps in a slightly higher price range--is Home Base Abroad of (29 Mary's Lane, Sciuate, MA 02066, phone 781/545-5112, fax 781/545-1808) We've heard a number of favorable comments on its services and it recently acquired International Services (another brokerage), doubling the number of properties it represents. Director of the company is Mara Solomon, who promises "charming, distinctive, personally-selected villas" serving "modern tastes and conveniences without sacrificing authenticity or style." Visit its Web site at: Interhome (305/940-2299 or 800/882-6864; interhome.com) in business for over 30 years and now under the direction of Tony Haeusler, is also active in Italian villa rentals, and might also be "shopped." They publish a comprehensive, illustrated catalogue, for which there may be a charge at the time of your call. At Home Abroad of New York City managed by Claire Packman, represents a number of exclusive, upscale homes in the Caribbean, Europe, and other parts of the globe. The company's Web site (athomeabroad.com) lists a small sampling of properties it rents. Call 212/421-9165. Most of its rentals are upscale and therefore expensive. Travel Italy (888/28-ITALY or 573/256-4105) lists 1,200 rental villas, farmhouses, castles, and apartments in nearly all parts of Italy. Visit its Web site at http://www.travel-italy.com/. Villas and Apartments Abroad (212/213-6453, vaanyc.com) of New York lists various upscale villa and apartment rentals throughout Italy, though primarily in Tuscany, Umbria, and the Amalfi Coast. Ville et Village represents over 2,000 individually owned farmhouses, cottages, mills, villas, manor houses and chateaux (about 600 of which are in Italy). Rentals in Italy are mainly in Tuscany, Umbria and in the Amalfi Coast, and a few other select locations. Call 510/559-8080 or visit villeetvillage.com For Mexico All About Vacation Rentals (800/321-3134) works mainly with villa rentals in Mexico and the Caribbean, though it rents some properties in Europe and the U.S. also. Casa Helga Villas (800/418-3322, fax 203/372-6222), in business for over two decades, represents vacation villas in and near Puerto Vallarta and other spots on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. See its Web site at casahelga.com For Spain and Portugal Villa Plus is a specialist villa tour operator and has been arranging villa holidays in the Algarve, Portugal and Costa Del Sol, Spain since 1986. Call 011-44-172-783-6686 or visit villaplus.co.uk. International Lodging Corporation (300 First Avenue, Suite 7C, New York 10009, phone 212/228-5900 or 800/SPAIN-44, fax 212/677-1815, Web address: ilcweb.com) is a major source of vacation home rentals in Spain, supplying everything from one-bedroom apartments to six-bedroom deluxe villas in dozens of cities and locations--and they've done so since 1983. For golfers in particular, it represents several properties alongside the Mijas Golf Course on the Costa del Sol. For travelers seeking kitchenette apartments in Barcelona, it represents the Duques de Bergara in the heart of the shopping and business district. Interhome (305/940-2299 or 800/882-6864, interhome.com) is a major source for Spain, publishing a large catalogue of four-color photographs of individual properties. We've used its services, and find them reliable. For the United States Interhome has 20,000 homes, condos, and apartments for rent in Florida and 14 European countries. Check out interhome.com or call either 305/940-2299 or 800/882-6864. Villa Net, a big firm of Seattle, Washington (phone 800/964-1891) claims to represent rental homes in Western Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States. For information online, go to rentavilla.com. For renting a condo on popular Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the company to call is Resort Rentals of Hilton Head Island at 800/845-7017. With over 40 years of experience, it offers rentals of nearly 300 homes and villas in every part of Hilton Head. Visit its Web site at hhivacations.com. The Vacation Villa Referral Center offers rental vacation properties in several states, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. Visit ifb.com/vvrc/view.htm for details and pictures of the properties for rent. Alternately you can call 540/721-9915. If you're looking for a listing of properties available all over the world (though primarily in the U.S. and the Caribbean), try one of the following Web-based companies: Reservations Direct (reservationsdirect.com or 727/738-1737) direct rentals from private owners worldwide); Condo Vacation World (condoworld.com or 888/391-6766; specializing in areas like Hawaii, Arizona, California, Florida, and Canada, but with additional global listings); and Condo Concepts (condoconcepts.com or 888/CONDO-53; global listing including a frequently updated "specials" page). For almost everywhere The "E-bay" of condo rental sites, Vacation Rental by Owner, better known as VRBO (vrbo.com) has perhaps the most extensive list of properties of any site out there. Looking for an apartment in Recife, Brazil or Cape Town, South Africa? You'll find it at this site, as you will homes in all 50 US States, throught the Caribbean, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The downside? As the name states, these are all being rented by the owner, so there is no outside agency to inspect properties or guarantee quality or even price. Mike Thiel's Hideaways International 767 Islington Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801 (800/843-4433 or 603/430-4433 or visit its Web site at hideaways.com ) is a fascinating and popular organization, in business for many years, representing rental villas, apartments, condos, throughout the world, ranging from Cape Cod to Upper Captiva in Florida, from the California Coast to Provence and Tuscany. Instead of acting as a "broker," Mike operates a referral service. He issues a twice-a-year catalogue containing color photographs of hundreds of homes for rental, but without listing their street addresses and phones. If you see something that interests you, and if you have become a member of Hideaways, you phone them and they provide you with the details. You then contact the owner of the home or condo directly, and make your arrangements without involving (or paying a fee to) Hideaways. Membership is $185 a year for two issues per year of the 150-page "Hideaways Guide." Paying the membership fee enables you to rent, say, a private home in the Bahamas for four people for $1200 a week, a big, multi-bedded condo on the Florida coast for $900 a week in winter. You save, according to Thiel, by renting direct. 1001 Villas promises beautiful holiday villas and vacation rentals booked directly from their owners. It rents properties in 28 countries. Go to 1001-villa-holidaylets.com for a complete listing. For apartment rentals in several major European cities, visit europeapartments.com or call 800/327-6097. Rent-a-Villa, a big firm of Seattle, Washington (phone 800/488-RENT) claims to represent rental homes in Western Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States. For information online, go to rentavilla.com. For vacation rentals and non-hosted lodging throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean, visit virtualcities.com. The company has an extensive selection of properties to rent. The Vacation Villa Referral Center offers rental vacation properties in several states, Canada, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. Visit ifb.com/vvrc/view.htm for details and pictures of the properties for rent. Alternately you can call 540/721-9915. Holiday-rentals.com advertises over 10,000 private vacation homes to rent worldwide, including several properties across the U.S. Costs are reduced because you book directly from the owners via the Internet. Reach Holiday-rentals.com at e-mail feedback@holiday-rentals.com, phone 011-44-20 8743-5577, fax: 4 (0)20 8740-3863, mailing address 1st Floor, Westpoint, 33/34 Warple Way, Acton, London W3 0RG, United Kingdom. The absurdly studious-sounding Canadian Condominium Institute is actually an independent, non-profit organization formed in 1982. It's the only national association that serves as a clearinghouse on condominium issues and activities across Canada. Phone 416/491-6216, Fax: 416/491-1670 or cci.ca. Mailing address: 2175 Sheppard Avenue East, Ste. 310, Toronto, ON M2J 1W8.

    Travel Tips

    Where Foodies Love to Eat

    We pestered 33 experts until they shared every last tip from their recent trips. It's food for the soul, from people whose taste you can trust (and check back next week for more places where foodies love to eat). MARIO BATALIOwner of seven New York City restaurants; author of the new book Molto Italiano; star of Molto Mario on the Food Network San Francisco The best tacos in the world are at Taqueria San Jose. 2830 Mission St., 415/282-0203, $2. Miami Beach The best skirt steak with chimichurri is at Parrillada Las Vacas Gordas. 933 Normandy Dr., 305/867-1717, $16. New York City The best pork bao is at Momofuku. 163 First Ave., 212/475-7899, $7. ALICE WATERSChef/owner of Chez Panisse in Berkely, Calif., and a champion of sustainable farming San Francisco Cocina Primavera at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market serves great Mexican food on Saturday mornings: a delicious breakfast with handmade tortillas and tamales, and salsas using pure ingredients (ferrybuildingmarketplace.com, breakfast $8). At Pizzetta 211, the pizza with two eggs cracked in the middle is very good, especially with an organic-lettuce green salad and a glass of wine (211 23rd Ave., 415/379-9880, egg pizza $14). New York City Pearl Oyster Bar still makes the lobster roll by which others are judged. 18 Cornelia St., 212/691-8211, $22. ARI WEINZWEIG Cofounder of Zingerman's, an artisanal food emporium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Kalamazoo Julie Stanley, chef and owner at the Food Dance Café, puts great energy into sourcing quality ingredients, and her efforts show. 161 East Michigan Ave., 269/382-1888, calamari $9. Chicago Pastoral is a new little cheese shop with a beautiful selection and a nice variety of wines and breads. There are a few tables outside where you can eat one of their cheese sandwiches. 2945 N. Broadway, 773/472-4781, cheese sandwich $6. Milwaukee Cuban food isn't what comes to mind when you mention Milwaukee, but there are some great dishes on the menu at Cubanitas. It's authentic Cuban cooking in a spot you'd never expect. 728 N. Milwaukee St., 414/225-1760, roasted pork with rice $10. DAN BARBER Chef and co-owner of Blue Hill in New York City, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. Berkshires To shop for the perfect picnic, start at Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Housatonic; they use their own organic flours (367 Park St., Rte. 183, 413/274-3412, loaf of sourdough $4). This part of Massachusetts is famous for dairy. High Lawn Farm is the last dairy around that produces and bottles its own milk (535 Summer St., Lee, 413/243-0672, chocolate milk $3). Then head to Rubiner's, an upscale cheese shop, for Rawson Brook chèvre (264 Main St., Great Barrington, 413/528-0488, $8). On Saturday mornings, go to the Great Barrington Farmers' Market (Castle St., 413/528-0041). PATRIC KUH Restaurant critic for Los Angeles Magazine Los Angeles I like to go to Teresita's, a family-run restaurant in East L.A. The owner, Teresa Campos de Hernandez, opened the modest place in 1983. She's still cooking and greeting customers in the front, but her son Antonio runs the restaurant now. Their chilaquiles are great--fried corn tortillas drenched in homemade red or green salsa and strewn with cotija cheese. And on Wednesdays, they have costillas de puerco en chile negro, pork ribs cooked in a black chili sauce and finished with Ibarra chocolate. It's sort of like a braising juice. 3826 E. 1st St., 323/266-6045, chilaquiles $8. BILL NIMAN Founder and chairman of Niman Ranch, purveyors of hormone-free meats Philadelphia When I'm in Philadelphia, I love to go to the White Dog Cafe, a restaurant in a row of five 130-year-old houses. You feel right at home the moment you walk in. Their food is prepared from natural ingredients sourced directly from sustainable family farms. The best thing is the barbecued pork sandwich, served in the bar and grill part of the restaurant. 3420 Sansom St., 215/386-9224, pork sandwich $11. JOAN NATHANAuthor of The New American Cooking (out next month), host of PBS's Jewish Cooking in America Providence Whenever I go to my hometown, I make a trip to nearby Fall River for delicious Portuguese English muffins from Central Bakery. On the package, they call it a "Port." 711 Pleasant St., Fall River, Mass., 508/675-7620, English muffin $3. RICK BAYLESS Chef and owner of Topolobampo and Frontera Grill, both based in Chicago Oklahoma City For Oklahoma-style barbecue, I go to Van's Pig Stand in Shawnee, outside of town. Everything's made from scratch. The barbecue is dry-rubbed. It's mostly pork ribs with hickory smoke. Oh, you've got me all worked up now! 717 E. Highland St., Shawnee, 405/273-8704, ribs $11. BILL SAMUELS JR. President of the Maker's Mark bourbon company Kentucky People drive 70 miles to eat breakfast at Lynn's Paradise Café in Louisville. It's the most interesting place--not fancy, just weird. They give out an Ugly Lamp of the Year award (984 Barret Ave., 502/583-3447, bacon and eggs $5).The best fried chicken in Kentucky is at the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg. It's been open since 1919, and they age their own hams. Let's just say you would not be surprised to run into Robert E. Lee there (638 Beaumont Inn Dr., 800/352-3992, fried chicken lunch $9).Everyone wants a steak. At Pat's Steak House in Louisville, Pat butchers his own meat. My wife and I had our wedding reception there.... My mother was so mad that we didn't have it in the country club, she didn't come (2437 Brownsboro Rd., 502/893-2062, steak dinner $28). R. W. APPLE JR.New York Times associate editor and author of Apple's America Portland Jake's Famous Crawfish is a favorite with locals for its cedar-planked salmon ($20) and selection of Oregon wines (401 SW 12th Ave., 503/226-1419). At Mother's Bistro and Bar, Lisa Schroeder is the mom, and I'll bet she cooks better than your mother. The bill of fare features homey items like chicken and dumplings and pot roast (409 SW 2nd Ave., 503/464-1122, chicken $13). Seattle The country is full of faux bistros, but Le Pichet is the real thing, and a lot cheaper than a ticket to Paris. Try the charcuterie ($11), followed by one of the wines served in pitchers. 1933 First Ave., 206/256-1499. CHRIS BIANCO Owner of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, where the pies have inspired many pilgrimages Phoenix Burros are a southwestern soul food--basically little tacos with meat and chilis. At Rito's, they come with either red or green chili sauce; I always get green ones. It's been around for 28 years. There's no sign, it's family-owned and cash only, and Grandma's in the kitchen. As far as the food goes, it's the real deal. The burros are really killer (907 N. 14th St., 602/262-9842, green chili burro $4). Also in Phoenix, there's a new place called Matt's Big Breakfast. They make traditional American breakfast, and almost everything is locally grown. I usually get either this really great oatmeal with bananas, or the pork chop and eggs. The building itself is brick, and inside it's a funky space--tiny, clean, deco, all white with orange tables and counters (801 N. First St., 602/254-1074, oatmeal $5). SHIRLEY CORRIHER Author of Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking San Francisco In North Beach, there's Café Jacqueline. She only makes soufflés, soups, and salads. I still remember the endive tossed in olive oil and blue cheese. She said the secret is to find a white, white endive, so it's sweet. If there's any color at all, it'll be bitter. You can stop in and have a chat with her--she'll explain. 1454 Grant Ave., 415/981-5565, soufflé for two $25. RACHAEL RAY Host of three Food Network shows--30-Minute Meals, $40 a Day, and Inside Dish Austin The Salt Lick is my number-one, super-affordable go-to. It's in what looks like a huge barn with an open smoke pit. You can sit at community tables and get huge platters of sausage, brisket, and ribs. The whole barnyard is smoked and piled up on a platter--all things dead off the grill (18001 FM 1826, 512/894-3117, all-you-can-eat dinner $15). Taco Xpress--that place is crazy, too. It's this teeny, tiny shack not far from the San Jose Hotel and the tacos are awesome. It's run by a lady named Maria who put a papier-mâché bust of herself on the roof--a huge statue, like an Evita Perón sort of thing (2529 South Lamar Blvd., 512/444-0261, taco $1.75). JIM LEFF Cofounder of the cult favorite website Chowhound and producer of two new books, The Chowhound's Guide to the New York Tristate Area and Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area San Francisco A small grocery store in the Mission District, La Palma Mexicatessen is filled with a phalanx of women who are diligently pounding out various grades of masa, which is corn dough. They make the best potato chips anywhere in the continental U.S.--fried up in yummy corn oil. They also have great tamales, chicharrones (fried pork rinds), and taquitos de cabeza (beef head tacos), too. 2884 24th St., 415/647-1500, soft tacos $2.45. New Orleans Touristy though it is, I can't resist Mother's Restaurant. Debris--the stuff that falls off roast beef while it cooks--on a biscuit is a diabolical flavor bomb, the po'boys kill, and lots of other things are mega-soulful. I often eat there twice per trip, for both breakfast and lunch. 401 Poydras St., 504/523-9656, debris on a biscuit $4. DAVIA NELSON & NIKKI SILVA Known as the Kitchen Sisters, Nelson and Silva have an NPR show called Hidden Kitchens; their new book of the same name comes out next month Austin Barton Springs public pool, in South Austin, is a liquid town square where all of Austin goes to swim, barbecue, and play soccer. The snack shack there has catfish fry, burgers, and Coke floats, not to mention pigeon and duck food (2201 Barton Springs Rd., Zilker Park, 512/474-9895, burger $3). Artz Ribhouse is a roadhouse, with cacti out front that are taller than the building. You can get a half-rack of ribs with potato salad or coleslaw for $9. Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King were playing when we were there--imagine eating baby backs while Janis Joplin serenaded you (2330 South Lamar St., 512/442-8283). "A day without goat is a day without sunshine" was the motto on the Friday we went to Ranch 616. We watched them barbecue a baby goat in the parking lot, and ate their "pulled pie"--a lemon-meringue-pecan creation with hand-pulled peaks (616 Nueces St., 512/479-7616, pulled pie $6). SUZANNE GOIN Chef at A.O.C. Wine Bar and Lucques, both in Los Angeles, and author of Sunday Suppers at Lucques, to be published in November Los Angeles There's a Thai place called Ruen Pair on Hollywood Boulevard. It's in this minimall that's famous for having three Thai restaurants. One, named Palms, has a Thai Elvis impersonator. Put your name down at Ruen Pair, then go have a beer at Palms and watch Thai Elvis sing his songs, then go back and your table will be ready. It's a lot of soupy noodle things, fried noodle, meats over rice. We never remember what we ordered. We just look at what other people are eating and we point. 5257 Hollywood Blvd., 323/466-0153, papaya salad $6. MARK BITTMAN Host of the PBS series How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs and food columnist for the New York Times New York City I've been going to Menchanko-Tei for 20 years, and I always get the same thing: Hakata Ramen ($8). It's a milky white broth with vegetables, meat, and delicious noodles. Craig Claiborne turned me on to it. 43-45 W. 55th St., 212/247-1585. Los Angeles Dumpling 10053 has dumplings with this amazing chili sauce. It's like an Asian-Mexican fusion, but there's nothing pretentious about it. The thing to order is the pork or the shrimp. 10053 Valley Blvd., 626/350-0188, shrimp dumplings $6. PHYLLIS RICHMAN Former critic for the Washington Post and culinary mystery writer; her latest book is Who's Afraid of Virginia Ham? Washington, D.C. One of the most upscale restaurants in town, Galileo, has a bargain lunch in the lounge. If you see the charcoal grill out front, it means that they're grilling sandwiches in the back. The best is the pork sandwich. It's $5 for a huge one with a green sauce and fried onions. Also, they have the best cannoli on the East Coast for $2.50. You'll see limousines sitting outside waiting for someone who's gone in to get his lunch. 1110 21st St. NW, 202/293-7191. FRANK STITT Author of Frank Stitt's Southern Table and chef/owner of three restaurants in Birmingham, Ala.: Bottega, Highlands Bar and Grill, and Chez Fonfon Charleston An out-of-the-way place for an oyster roast in the winter is Bowens Island, on James Island, outside of town. It's a cinder-block shack overlooking the water on a bend in the river on the way to Folley Beach. They'll roast the oysters, then shovel them onto these big wooden tables. If you're at all cool you know to bring your own oyster knife (1870 Bowens Island Rd., 843/795-2757, oyster roast $19). In Mount Pleasant, on Shem Creek right across the river from Charleston, where the shrimp boats come in, there's the Wreck, a hole in the wall. It's a reeeal dive. It's a little bit sleazy and a little bit shady, and cheap, but you get shrimp that are right off the boat, either boiled or fried (106 Haddrell St., 843/884-0052, fried shrimp dinner $15). New Orleans At Acme Oyster House the guys stand at this marble oyster bar, shucking oysters that came out of the water the day before. You drink your beer. (Wine, no way.) The guys are shucking oysters as fast as you can eat them. There's a bit of an honor code about how many you've eaten, which I think is charming. 7204 Iberville St., 504/522-5973, half-dozen oysters $4. San Francisco: Swan Oyster Depot has the most beautiful seafood on crushed ice. 1517 Polk St., 415/673-1101, seafood salad $15. CHRIS KIMBALL Founder, editor, and publisher of Cook's Illustrated Vermont At the Creamery, in northeastern Vermont, the woman who makes the pies still melts and renders leaf lard--the fat around the kidneys in the pig. It's mild and makes it taste much better than butter crust. They are delicious! There are maple cream and chocolate cream pies--stuff you usually don't see anymore. 46 Hill St., Danville, 802/684-3616, slice of maple cream pie $5.

    Inspiration

    Great Barrington, Massachusetts

    Great Barrington looks like the small town of Norman Rockwell's dreams--especially on Saturday mornings in summer, when folks turn out to watch free outdoor kids' concerts that take place in a gazebo. In the southwest corner of the state, Great Barrington is the kind of comfortably supportive place that inspires locals to try new things. Last summer, native Daniel Mazursky pushed himself out of his comfort zone to open the SoCo Creamery, a gourmet ice cream shop that now has a second location in Lenox and supplies restaurants across the region (5 Railroad St., 413/528-9420, single cone $3). Michigan native Matthew Rubiner, meanwhile, was a researcher at M.I.T. before learning how to be a cheesemonger. His eponymous shop is in an 1869 building that used to be a bank; Rubiner recently finished converting the old vault into a cheese-ripening room (264 Main St., 413/528-0488). Creative reuse is common: In 2004, artist Marilyn Kalish transformed the vault of the former Mahaiwe Bank into an exhibition space for the Vault Gallery (322 Main St., 413/644-0221), and Jane and Sam Kasten established SKH Gallery in what used to be Great Barrington's train station (46 Castle St., 413/528-3300). Perhaps the best example of residents' can-do attitude is the River Walk. Since 1988, more than 2,000 volunteers have cleared 375 tons of debris from the banks of the Housatonic River, which runs through town. In 1992, the first section of trail was unveiled--all 136 feet of it. The Walk now covers about half a mile, and it's growing. Rachel Fletcher, the founder of the project, came to Great Barrington in 1981 and never left. "The spirit of community kept me here," she says. "You can really get involved without having to write a check. Everyone here--from old-timers to new arrivals--really takes care of the town."

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