This area in western Massachusetts "seems to have the right balance"of picturesque towns, arts offerings, and well-protected natural beauty. Berkshires. Lenox. The Berkshires.
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."