Far into the western corner of Massachusetts, tucked between mountains, is Berkshire county. The Berkshires is known for it’s beautiful natural landscape of mountains, valleys, rivers, and waterfalls, as well as its many cultural locations ranging from museums to performance spaces. Whether you are old or young, interested in Shakespeare or folk music, artisanal ice cream or scenic views, there is something in the Berkshires for everyone. This is an (incomplete!) list of the many great things this region has to offer in the 2016 summer season.
1. Hike Monument Mountain - Great Barrington
One of the most well known mountains in the Berkshires, Monument Mountain, has two grades of trails making it accessible to experienced hikers and the more leisurely type to all reach the 1,600 foot summit. The view looks over the mountains of Great Barrington and far into the distance you can see New York state. On rainy days be sure to look out for the bright orange Eastern Newt - watch your step!
2. Get a Scoop at SoCo - Great Barrington
Flavors range from blueberry honey lavender, Mexicali chocolate, coconut lemongrass, as well as many other seasonal flavors and local collaborations. Their ice cream is also free of corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and growth hormones. It may be busy in the summer months, but it is well worth the wait.
3. Grab a Pie at Baba Louie’s - Great Barrington
Not an actual pie, a pizza pie! Baba Louie’s offers sourdough pizza crusts as well as a tasty gluten free crust. Their pizza combinations are unique combinations of flavors like dried figs and prosciutto or BBQ chicken. They also offer tasty salads, soups, and pasta.
In the Northern part of the Berkshires sits three art museums. One museum, Mass Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), has its main galleries in an old mill building making the space itself a work of art. This summer be sure to see the exhibits of Alex Da Corte, Richard Nonas, and Sarah Crowner. Pop outside of the main buildings to see the ‘boiler room’ and the suspended airstream trailer: Michael Oatman’s work. The museum will also host various performances this summer, including the band The National and the musical group Bang on a Can. At Williams College Musuem of Art be sure to see the group show African Art Against the State and the sibling collaboration between Lexa and Dan Walsh: Both Sides Now. Finally, stop by The Clark and explore the beautiful grounds and trails after viewing their collection of European and American paintings, sculptures, and drawings.
5. Relax on the Lawn for a Show at Tanglewood - Lenox
Tanglewood is the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s country vacation. Though usually a hub for classical music, this summer’s line-up will include Dolly Parton, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Bob Dylan with Mavis Staples. The lawn seating is affordable and perfect for having a picnic alongside great music.
6. Watch a Dance Performance at Jacob’s Pillow - Becket
Jacob’s Pillow offers dance performances of all kinds. It also has free outdoor performances every Wednesday through Saturday from 6:15-7pm beginning on June 22nd. Their mission statement is to “support dance creation, presentation, education, and preservation; and to engage and deepen public appreciation and support for dance”.
7. Visit the Art Galleries in Lenox - Lenox
Lenox has a beautiful downtown filled with various art galleries many featuring local artists. Sohn Fine Art Gallery, Scott Barrow, The Wit Gallery, and the Hoadley Gallery offer a wide variety of photography, paintings, and sculpture.
8. Spend an afternoon at the Norman Rockwell Museum - Stockbridge
The Norman Rockwell Museum houses a significant amount of work by the famous American artist Norman Rockwell. This summer the exhibition Rockwell and Realism in an Abstract World will be in the galleries. Rockwell was named the official state artist of Massachusetts and lived in the Berkshires for the last 25 years of his life.
9. Catch a play with Shakespeare and Company - Lenox
Shakespeare and Company likes to put their own twist on Shakespeare’s plays. This summer will kick off with a play inspired by The Taming of the Shrew simply titled, The Taming, but it is not just home to Shakespeare’s plays. Many other comedies, dramas, and romances grace this company’s stage.
10. See a show at the Mahaiwe Theater - Great Barrington
The Mahaiwe is a beautiful performing arts venue that offers music, movies, dance and more. This summer they will host films from the Berkshire International Film Festival, a screening of the 1933 King Kong, a series of shows from the Paul Taylor Dance Company, a performance by musician Buckwheat Zydeco, the Dog Film Festival and much more. Located in downtown Great Barrington it is easy to enjoy dinner before a show.
11. Catch a Screening at the Berkshire International Film Festival - Great Barrington / Pittsfield
Berkshire International Film Festival, known as BIFF, is celebrating over a decade of the festival’s occurrence. The festival offers local, international, and independent films. This year the festival will run June 2nd-5th and films will be shown at the Mahawie Theater and the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington, and the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield.
12. Take a Dip Umpachene Falls - Southfield
Umpachene Falls Park offers various swimming holes and small waterfalls in the Umpachene River. The park is perfect for having a picnic and cooling off. Be careful on the slippery rocks here and make sure not to wander too far as private property surrounds the park.
13. Wander through the Berkshire Botanical Gardens - Stockbridge
The Berkshire Botanical Gardens are not just gorgeous gardens. They also offer educational seminars, lectures, and other events. This summer’s events include Watercolors Sessions, The Evolution of a Landscape lecture, and a program on the Frogs and Turtles of Berkshire County. This summer there will be a series of cocktails in the garden as well as fragrant plants garden.
14. Grab your Bike and hit the Ashuwillticook Trail - Lanesborough / Cheshire / Adams
This walking, running, and biking trail starts in Lanesborough and runs about 11 miles north to the town of Adams. It passes by various ponds and rivers including the Cheshire Reservoir which offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains. If it’s too hot you can even stop to take a dip in the reservoir.
Naumkeag was the former estate of a New York City lawyer. Naumkeag boasts incredible views of the valley, as well as Monument Mountain, and has bountiful gardens surrounding the intriguing manor. The Mount was once the home of writer Edith Wharton. The estate includes her home as well as beautiful gardens and trails. Full of history and compelling architecture The Mount makes for a great afternoon wander. For you ghost hunters out there, there is rumor that the mansion is haunted!
16. Take the Family to the Berkshire Museum - Pittsfield
Perfect for any age, the Berkshire Museum offers a wide variety of exhibitions, from a large rock and mineral collection, to hands on displays, and various art exhibitions. The museum also has a small movie theater, Little Cinema, which shows foreign and independent films. This summer be sure to check out the exhibitions Finding the Raven: Art and Stories from the Northwest Coast and Living on Earth: The Work of Robert Hike.
17. Grab a loaf at Berkshire Mountain Bakery - Housatonic
Renowned baker Richard Bourdon, is well known for his practice of baking naturally leavened sourdough bread. The bakery offers fresh bread, delicious take home pizzas, and appetizing pastries. Be sure to keep an eye out for their seasonal specials.
18. Pick Blueberries at Windy Hill - Great Barrington
Though the pick-your-own season will not start until July 1st, Windy Hill’s acre of blueberries will offer a tasty treat. Windy Hill also has a garden center where you could pick up your very own blueberry bush.
19. Shop the work of master artisans at the Berkshire Crafts Fair - Great Barrington
This event occurs every summer in August, and will occur this year from August 12th-14th. The fair showcases the work of dozens of artists hand selected by a jury. The crafts range from ceramics to textiles to jewelry and much more.
20. Hear live music at the Brick House - Housatonic
Itching for some more live music? Order some nachos and listen to the variety of live music performances Brick House offers, ranging from folk to electronic. Be sure to walk around Housatonic before the sun sets to find the iconic water tower.
21. Stop in for Tea (and possibly tunes) at Elixir - Great Barrington
Elixir offers delicious tea brews and baked goods. It also hosts various events throughout the year. Stop by for some tea on the patio and you might catch a musical performance in the alley way nearby.
22. Grab some fresh local produce at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market - Great Barrington
Farmers and vendors from all over the Berkshire area and beyond congregate on Saturday mornings in Great Barrington to offer their goods to the public. Fresh bread and homemade cheeses are among fresh produce and wildflower honey. You can also find natural soaps and body products as well as mouth watering desserts.
Both these shops are known for their interesting selection: from giant dragon statues at Asia Barong to hand woven baskets and tiny plastic animals at Out of Hand, the shelves of these shops are packed with tiny curiosities. Whether you’re looking for a hand printed scarf or an odd garden decoration, you’ll be sure to find it at one of these locations.
24. Fuel up at Fuel - Great Barrington
Grab a coffee, tea, or smoothie to go from this popular coffee shop. You can sit in the cozy cafe or outside at one of their tables in the sun. Be sure to take a look at the local art they have hanging along the walls.
25. Enjoy Dinner and Music at the Famous Dream Away Lodge - Becket
This legend of a venue is located in the mountains of Becket and offers a comfortable, homey, dining and live music experience. In 1975, the lodge was visited by Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Allen Ginsberg. The beautiful grounds around the Dream Away make it a great venue for weddings, parties, and other events
Did I forget something? Leave it in the comments!