Part of Berkshire County, Lee is also known as the “Gateway to the Berkshires,” welcoming in tourists and locals alike with its cozy atmosphere surrounded by mountains. Known for its high-quality marble, this town has been influential in trade routes since 1852 when the first quarry was established.
Lee Premium Outlets
There have been many times that I went to the Lee Outlets and spent too much money, but a shopping spree every now and then is always fun. The Outlets are perfect for dedicated or more spontaneous shoppers with all of their stores located in a small area connected by sidewalks or buildings. Each shop has its own deals and promotions, but most of them are open daily from 10-8 so you can visit as many stores as you want to.
For sports enthusiasts you can stop at Under Armour or Champion, or if you are looking for the latest teen fashion stop into Aeropostale or Forever 21. With nearly 40 different brands to peruse, you could spend the whole day at the Outlets. There are also smaller eateries scattered in the food court, if you just so happen to want something to eat.
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Basin Pond Trailhead
Located right near the October Mountain State Forest, Basin Pond Trailhead sports a scenic 2.5 mile roundtrip hike through rolling hills to see the remnants of a 1965 man-made dam. You can choose two different pathways to get to the dam, with one fork leading you higher up in elevation on a longer twisting route, while the other fork has less elevation change and is a shorter route. Both lead you to the man-made dam which can be seen off of a viewing platform, along with a beaver dam close by.
These 296 acres are the perfect location for pictures, or just a quick getaway into nature. You might get the chance to see some of the local wildlife such as moose or beavers due to its proximity to the state forest, or enjoy a non-living aspect of nature – a lacework of streams that course down the south-facing hill.
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Book lovers will surely want to make a stop at the Lee Library, for not only is it a beautiful building and part of the “Gateway to the Berkshires,” it carries a rich history as well. Lee Library is the only remaining Carnegie library building in the Berkshire area, and sits on the site of Peter Wilcox’s homestead who participated in Shay’s rebellion in 1786.
The building is made out of marble quarried from Lee, including the additions that were built in 1977. In addition to numerous stacks of books to explore, you can also find events held in the building such as craft circles or book clubs. No matter if you decide to just look around or find your next read, there is something for all ages at the Lee Library.
Animagic Museum of Animation
“Did you know that many of the hottest movies in the last 30 years were made possible by people who live in the Berkshire area?” This is the selling point of the Animagic Museum of Animation, home to not only animation but special effects for blockbuster films, all created by locals. This is a perfect place for a movie-junkie to visit, or just someone who enjoys learning about all the behind-the-scenes work there is for movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Matrix.
Admission is free, and as you walk in you will be taken on a twenty-minute tour around the building, even coming face-to-face with a genuine Academy Award won by a co-owner of Animagic. There is even an option to create your own animation, with a cost of $20, if you want to try your hand at animation, or just appreciate how much goes into making award-winning movies.
Starving Artist Cafe and Creperie
With locally sourced ingredients and options for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten free customers, Starving Artist Cafe will curb your morning hunger. Enjoy a seasonally changing menu while listening to a local artist sing from eleven to two, or just start your day with an organic smoothie.
- Hours: Mon-Sat 8-3, Sun Brunch 9-3; Live Music from 11-2
- Featured Food: Rawson Brook Crepe / Green Eggs & Ham
- Featured Drink: Organic Fruit Smoothies and Juices
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Morgan House Inn
Built in 1813 as a private residence for William Porter, the building was later transformed into an inn and restaurant in 1853 and the rest is history. Notable attendees include Ulysses Grant, George Bernard Shaw, and President Grover Cleveland, giving this building a presence bigger than just its four walls but still humble enough to serve delicious food to whoever stops by.
- Hours: Closed Tues, Mon, Wed-Sun Dinner 4-8, Sat & Sun Lunch 11:30-3
- Featured Food: ½ Roasted Duck / Yard Burger
Lee is one of those towns that no matter how many times you visit, you will still find more hidden gems scattered across the mountainside. These are just a few ideas if you happen to end up in Lee for a day, and need to make the most of an idyllic town in the Northeast.