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133 Places Rated: North America

133 Places Rated: North America

Text by Jay Walljasper

Massachusetts: Berkshires
Score: 76

This area in western Massachusetts "seems to have the right balance "of picturesque towns, arts offerings, and well-protected natural beauty. Some complain it is becoming too "gentrified," with "boutiques pushing out the mom-and-pop establishments."

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"Important area for cultural tourism in a beautiful environmental setting, the Berkshires have long attracted upscale visitors. From the Gilded Age summer 'cottages' to quaint and aesthetically appealing small towns, historical and cultural museums, and summer musical performances, the Berkshires have continuing appeal for the economically well-situated and for many average middle-class families. Outdoor recreation activities, such as hiking in natural surroundings, add to the appeal."

"Still undiscovered enough, and with a tradition of slow-growth tourism to add cultural pizzazz to the lush scenery, the Berkshires seem to have the right balance. The landscape will need to come together around these values to maintain them for the long haul."

"A cultural hideaway. Still favored more by New Yorkers than Bostonians, but never feels overrun even in the height of summer and during the peak of foliage."

"Gentrification is one of the biggest threats. The area is stunning, but the demand for boutiques and Norman Rockwell experiences pushes out the mom-and-pop establishments. A balance must be maintained to preserve the area."

Massachusetts: Cape Cod
Score: 58

"Some parts are beautiful and well-managed," but more bike trails, conservation areas, and public transit are sorely needed to overcome the Cape's "car-intensive nature." Some towns are losing their character, and environmental quality has declined, but the area instills a loyalty in visitors, offering hopes for improvement.

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"Some parts are beautiful and well managed, but the car-intensive nature of the Cape diminishes the quality in many areas. More bike trails and public transit would help."

"The National Park Service seems to be doing a very good job balancing tourism with preservation of the dunes on the eastern end of Cape Cod."

"The 'authentic' Cape Cod cultural experience is being slowly worn away by the ubiquitous homogenization of the retail experience. Shoreline ecology remains intact and healthy."

"Best enjoyed spring and fall before summer crowds, which can be overwhelming, arrive—especially when trying to cross either of the two bridges. Popularity has led to too many gift shops and too much of the miniature-golf, go-cart sort of entertainment."

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