Adam and I have officially landed in the Berkshires for the summer. It's hard to believe that this is my 11th summer here, but I'm looking forward to it as usual. The month of June was crazy busy for us. Adam was playing principal cello with the Boston Pops and afterward during his vacation we drove up to the Hudson Valley where I did a photography workshop at Made in Ghent. Immediately after that, we hopped on a plane to San Francisco, California to visit our friends Greg and Lana. We had an awesome time there and I'll get that trip up on the blog shortly. But first, some things to do in the Berkshires! (the following is a piece that I wrote for Yankee Magazine last summer but still holds true this year)
The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts are a magical place. It’s where you’ll find us with our retriever mix, Elsie, during the summer months. For the past ten years, we have become temporary locals while my husband plays with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood.
There are so many traditions that we look forward to each summer like blueberry picking, shopping at the farmers markets and going on some of our favorite hikes, but it’s the new places and things we’ve never tried before that make each summer a bit different, exciting and new. Here are a few of our favorite places and things to do in the heart of the Berkshires near Tanglewood.
Connecting with Nature
We spend a lot of time outdoors. Whether we’re hiking, swimming, or listening to a concert on the lawn, we aim to soak up as much of the scenery and landscape as we can.
We’re lucky to have the Stockbridge Bowl in our back yard. This is where you’ll often find us kayaking, paddle boarding, or going for a swim at sunset. If you don’t have your own, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards from the Arcadian Shop in Lenox. They drop them off and pick them up daily from the boat launch in Stockbridge.
If you prefer to hike, there are unique and captivating hikes in abundance all over the Berkshires. Most hikes are pet-friendly and you can find some of our favorites here.
Kripalu Yoga on the lawn at Tanglewood
One of my favorite places to be on a Saturday morning in the Berkshires is at Tanglewood for Kripalu Yoga on the lawn. If you’ve never experienced outdoor yoga serenaded by the Boston Symphony Orchestra during their morning rehearsal, you’re in for a serious treat! This hour-long class boasts one of my favorite views of the Stockbridge Bowl and depending on the weather, a nice breeze to boot. The classes are free for ticket holders of the morning rehearsal and a great place to catch some sun or enjoy a shady spot under the trees during class.
Eating Out in the Berkshires
It’s no secret that I love to cook. My Instagram feed is littered with photos of local produce from neighboring farms and farm stands. I’m like a kid in a candy store waiting for each new crop to arrive at the farm. While summer cooking is a highlight for me, there are many great restaurants to try as well.
No. Six Depot in West Stockbridge is my go-to lunch spot. It’s a favorite of many, so be prepared for long lines on the weekends. Some of my personal favorites are the Italian Tuna Salad, the Antalya Salad, and the Quinoa Salad, but it’s hard to go wrong when ordering off of their breakfast or lunch menu.
The Bistro Box was a new find for us this summer and we can’t get enough of their grass-fed burgers. The Prairie Whale in Great Barrington is always on repeat with their scrumptious corn bread, farm-to-table vibes, and all around great atmosphere. Baba Louie’s in Great Barrington is the top request from my nieces and nephews when they visit. Some of my family members were on the verge of fighting over their gluten-free barbeque chicken pizza. And finally, for those special occasions, there is Nudel in Lenox. This is where we chose to celebrate my husband’s birthday dinner with friends. It’s seasonally inspired and we couldn’t be happier that they’ve started taking reservations this year.
We always save room for dessert. You’ll often find us at one of these spots for ice cream. SoCo Creamery’s award-winning ice cream is our top choice when in Great Barrington. Scoop, in Lenox, serves Blondie’s homemade ice cream and stays open late. King Kone is a Pittsfield institution that serves your classic chocolate and vanilla twist in a boat. Be prepared to eat it quickly before it melts all over you or your car.
A day at the Museum / Williamstown & N. Adams
There is no shortage of cultural institutions in the Berkshires, but whenever my husband and I have a free day we like to drive north to either the Clark or Mass MoCA for some inspiration. Williamstown and North Adams are charming and quaint little towns and the drive reminds us of just how expansive the Berkshires are.
The Clark collection features some impressive American and European artists, but I especially love the Winslow Homer collection. The museum’s outdoor spaces are also so relaxing that you won’t want to leave. I recommend lounging “pool side” in one of the many Adirondack chairs outside of the main building. The view is stunning and I can’t wait to go back during fall to enjoy the foliage.
MassMoca’s long-term Sol LeWitt exhibition is a must-see when in North Adams. The vibrant colors and bold geometric shapes of his wall drawings are fun for grown-ups and children alike. If you have kids in tow, they’ll enjoy the artbar where they can experiment with making art projects.
Picnics on the lawn at Tanglewood
Lastly, it wouldn’t be a summer night at Tanglewood without a picnic! If you’re a part of the BSO family, you tend to spend weekends on the lawn picnicking with friends and family. While many concert attendees bring their own personal picnics, a group of us regulars meet each week and call ourselves the Competitive Picnic League. It’s tons of fun cooking to a theme and as our name implies, trying to upstage each other with fancy table settings and impressive food. One of our most memorable recent picnic themes was Mad Men and the 1960’s. People brought their A-games with dishes like Baked Alaska, home brew brown ale fondue, and a Bloody Mary bar. While we’re serious about our food, more importantly, the league brings us together as a community, and that’s what I love the most. If you love to cook and share in local food experiences, you’re welcome to join us this summer!