Great Things to Do in the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley
The western part of Massachusetts is known at the Berkshires region, for its north-south Berkshire Mountains range, and also by its historic identities as the Pioneer Valley and the Mohawk Trail. It is a place of sophisticated small towns and college towns, great performance art and fine museums, outdoor sports in the mountains and state parks, and a vigorous antique-trading community.
Cultural life of the Berkshires is rich. Tanglewood, in Lenox, is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It welcomes world-class musicians and performers. The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington is a year-round cultural center. The Jacobs Pillow dance festival is held yearly in Becket. Stockbridge is home to the popular Norman Rockwell Museum, with original Norman Rockwell art and seasonal events. In North Adams, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) charms visitors with visual and performing arts.
With its natural beauty and lots of cultural happenings, the Berkshires region is a natural for couples ready to enjoy a romantic getaway. Among the many delightful lodgings are new boutique hotels like the award-winning Hotel on North in Pittsfield. At the same time, family friendly lodgings like Berkshire Fairfield Inn & Suites and Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, which make is easy for families to get their fill of outdoor sports like hiking and skiing, along with the region’s many festivals and wonderful dining and shopping. Area resorts, like Ponds at Foxhollow, place you in the lap of luxury, with golf, spas, and white-glove service.
The city of Springfield has plenty of activity for families. The Springfield Museum complex includes art, history, and science museums along with the Dr. Seuss sculpture garden, honoring this native son’s beloved characters. Sports fans enjoy the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Zoo in Forest Park in Springfield has lot of ways to meet exotic animals. A bit north, in the town of Amherst, is the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Kids and families enjoy visiting the towns of Historic Deerfield in Deerfield and Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield.
Several ski areas, including Berkshire East, Jiminy Peak, and Butternut, are family-friendly and a bit less overwhelming that the big ski resorts farther north. There is white water rafting on the Deerfield River near Charlemont, with guides and rentals that welcome beginner to hard-body rafters. Several places offer zip line and canopy tours. The region has a wide assortment of state parks that welcome all kinds of outdoor activities, summer and winter.
The corner of the Berkshires region around the towns of Williamstown, Great Barrington, Sheffield, and Lenox is considered a national-caliber hot spot for fine antique shopping, driven by the collective expertise of the Berkshire County Antiques & Art Dealer Association. The Berkshires generally is a place where well-heeled visitors, creative people, and college communities come together; college towns include Williamstown, North Adams, Amherst, and Northampton. With such a dense cluster of sophisticated locals and visitors, you can be sure that interesting shopping and good dining can be found in nearly every town.
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