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How to Take an EV Road Trip Through Massachusetts’ Berkshires

by Staff

My six-year-old son, Remy, was in the back seat, deep into his book, oblivious to the fact that I was filled with so much nervous energy I could have recharged our electric BMW i3 myself. Our family had recently bought the car with an eye toward reducing our carbon footprint, and this was our first long-distance mom-and-son drive. In preparation, I’d mapped out an EV-friendly route from our home in Connecticut through the Berkshires, the Massachusetts region known for its cute towns filled with museums, antiques shops, and year-round farm stands.

Museum guests at Clark Art Institute.

Jeff Goldberg/Courtesy of Clark Art Institute

When we rolled up to the Norman Rockwell Museum, in Stockbridge, which has on-site EV charging, my grip slackened and my shoulders dropped a few inches. While Remy and I spent an hour and a half taking in paintings like Boy and Girl Gazing at Moon, our car’s battery was topped up for just $2.11.

Despite my enthusiasm for this EV adventure, there were plenty of moments on our three-day getaway when “range anxiety” got the better of me, as I fretted about running our battery to zero while fruitlessly hunting for power. But in the coming years, western Massachusetts may develop a reputation as one of the most EV-friendly destinations in the Northeast. It’s already home to more than 50 public charging ports; more are on the way thanks to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, which is expected to send $63.5 million to the state.

Tesla Model S available through Turo.

Courtesy of Turo

From the Rockwell Museum, it was an easy hour’s drive to Tourists, a motor lodge in the town of North Adams. A staffer told me the property’s two charging stations are now a hot commodity; in the five years since Tourists opened, the number of guests arriving in EVs has grown significantly. I plugged in, then took Remy to make balsam-and-cucumber-scented candles, part of the hotel’s Art & Adventure program. The next morning, we explored the hotel’s 30-acre nature retreat, where we bumped into another family at one of several giant musical installations and performed a symphony together. 

We also visited nearby MASS MoCA, one of the largest art museums in the U.S. In its Kidspace, Remy crafted with clay, inspired by the work of artist Bruno Miguel. The visit was such a hit that, as we unplugged our car in the parking lot, he exclaimed, “Let’s come back with Papa and Evie,” his sister.

Aerial views of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Douglas Mason/Courtesy of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art 

So, a month later, during the kids’ winter break, all four of us headed back to the Berkshires. Our first stop was the town of Great Barrington, for lunch at Momma Lo’s Southern Style BBQ, a place I’d come across in the Berkshire Black Economic Council’s directory. (PlugShare Trip Planner, an online tool, also pinpointed a charger next door.) From there, it was a short ride to Stockbridge, where we checked in to the 250-year-old Red Lion Inn, which has a heated outdoor pool. We fueled up with almond croissants across the street at the Lost Lamb and, despite the winter weather, hiked Laura’s Tower, a popular two-mile trail.

In Williamstown, we visited the EV-friendly Clark Art Institute, where we admired “Friends or Foes? (The Scout)” by Frederic Remington and roamed the 140-acre, sculpture-filled grounds. We had one other stop planned, but then disaster struck: our Airbnb host canceled at the last minute. I quickly called the Old Inn on the Green, in New Marlborough, where chef and owner Peter Platt told me he had a room — but no on-site EV charger. With plenty of juice left, we decided to go for it. We pulled up just in time for a prix fixe of saffron risotto, pan-roasted halibut, and sticky toffee pudding before retiring to Room 195, where we lit a fire and switched on a Gene Wilder flick.

There was a momentary snag during the drive home, when it took 10 minutes to figure out a fiddly charging station in Norfolk, Connecticut. But even that turned into a bright spot, when we realized a winter carnival was under way nearby. We soon struck up conversations with festivalgoers, several of whom recommended we come back to hike Campbell Falls State Park Reserve.

By the end of our second drive, my nerves had totally melted away. Cruising in a battery-powered car has given our family the ability to break free from the drudgery of gas stations — and seeking out plug-ins for our i3 has taken us to places we would never have otherwise gone.

A version of this story first appeared in the July 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline “The Era of the EV Road Trip.”

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