What are the five best things to see and do in the Berkshires?

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The Berkshires is one of New England's favorite hideaways. Located about two hours from Boston and New York City, this regional mountain range is the magic point in the middle that connects Massachusetts to the state of New York, and where everyone congregates for the same reason: complete disconnect from city life. It's in the Berkshires where you'll find endless music, theater, art and outdoor adventures. While you're here, make sure to take advantage of the following:

1. Hiking. Reconnect with nature by taking picturesque hikes through the Berkshires. October Mountains is the largest state forest in Massachusetts and includes a portion of the Appalachian Trail. The park area has a variety of different hikes for you to take on, depending on your skill level and time allotted for reconnecting with nature. For those with a little adventure in them, try to hike to Mount Greylock, the highest point in Western Massachusetts.

2. Antiquing. The Berkshires is known for many things, but those in-the-know have a very clear idea where to go when it comes to the best antique shopping in New England. Along Route 7 from Great Barrington all the way to Connecticut, antique dealers line the way selling everything from jewelry to pottery and furniture. Be sure to pick something up to take home with you.

3. Museums. Why not get cultured while you're in the Berkshires? Nothing paints the picturesque scenes of New England quite like Norman Rockwell, and you can visit the studio that houses all his famous paintings while you're here.

4. Music. The Berkshires is home to New England's favorite outdoor and indoor arts scene, including the famous Tanglewood Music Center, which is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and you can take in concerts when you visit in July and August. Grab your blanket and picnic blanket and snag a spot on the grass outside of the open venue for $15, behind the paid seats. These tickets are a great deal and picnicking is certainly the way to go.

5. Garden tours. If there's one thing New England is known for, it's the many colors that each season brings. Fall foliage, lush summer gardens and rare spring flowers and plants bloom here throughout the year. Take a tour of the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, or the Ashintully Gardens in Tyringham, both small but stunning reservations that capture the beauty of the area as it changes with the seasons.

  • On October 15, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the Berkshires’ restaurant scene like?

    The Berkshires isn't known for its restaurants; trendy diners and those in the food game head to New York City or Boston for the best restaurants. In the Berkshires, the restaurant scene is simple: good food, casual atmosphere, easy dining. You'll find a plethora of pubs and taverns around the Berkshires that whip up everything from burgers to chowders and pot pies. Comfort food is a way of life here, so expect to eat well and hearty when you sit down to dine. That's not to say you can't find a few fine dining restaurants in the Berkshires — they do exist — but ask the locals and they'll tell you the best food is found in the diners and taverns that line Route 7 and Route 20. One thing you can be sure of when you dine in the Berkshires: whether you're hanging bar side or amid candlelight in a fine dining restaurant, the food here is unbelievably fresh. Thanks to local farmers located throughout the region, the farm-to-table concept is as widely accepted here as waitlists are at nearby New York City and Boston restaurants.
  • On October 15, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to hear live music in the Berkshires?

    The Berkshires is home to New England's favorite outdoor music scene, Tanglewood Music Center. Tanglewood is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and you can take in concerts when you visit in July and August. Tickets for seats to summer concerts are available online, or you can grab your blanket and picnic blanket and pop a squat on the grass outside of the open venue for $15, behind the paid seats. Throughout the season, you'll hear world-famous jazz artists, classical musicians, and every so often pop-culture conductors (John Williams is a favorite) take the stage.

    Tanglewood hosts a variety of themed music weekends, including the famous Tanglewood Jazz Festival, which happens every Labor Day weekend and features the best jazz composers, singers and musicians. Tanglewood tickets are available online and are divided up by covered seats (The Shed) and lawn seats (The Lawn). If you're a member of Tanglewood, you'll have first dibs on prime seats in The Shed each year, then the remaining seats are put online for guests. Lawn seats are available to one and all for $15 per person (free for kids under 12). Performances take place weekly — sometimes seven days a week — so securing tickets is usually a breeze, especially if you're up for a picnic on the lawn. During big weekend festivals — like the Tanglewood Jazz Festival — tickets sell out way in advance so you'll want to snag your spot early on. Here's a hint from our inspectors: forget about covered seats and take advantage of The Lawn at Tanglewood. Bring lounge chairs, blankets, picnic baskets, wine and candles, and let the Boston Symphony Orchestra provide your background music. On a clear night you can see thousands of stars, which truly sets the stage for a unique evening in the Berkshires.
  • On October 15, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best museums in the Berkshires?

    ©TheMount/DavidDashiell The Berkshires is home to plenty of museums — even though the natural scenery is so beautiful, you’ll want to make the most of staying outside. If the weather isn't cooperating, or you just want a day indoors exploring history, try a few of these famous museums.

    1. Berkshire Museum. The Berkshire Museum features an indoor aquarium and petting pool, a dinosaur dig area, special exhibits that include the likes of mummies and insects, as well as various fine art exhibits. It's the perfect place for kids of all ages.

    2. Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum. Take a ride along the river from Lenox to Stockbridge, and stop into the railroad museum in Lenox for all the history and events that shaped the industry. There are also themed rides throughout the year, including the Polar Express in the wintertime, which features a few special guests for kids.

    3. Emily Dickinson Museum. The birthplace and home of one of America's best-loved poets, this museum is dedicated to celebrating Emily Dickinson's life and her works, including those that are famous and unpublished. The museum is open from March to December.

    4. Mass MoCA. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is open year-round and features exhibits in its restored 19th century factory setting. Mass MoCA is the country's largest space for contemporary visual and performing arts. The museum hosts various exhibits and performances throughout the year.

    5. The Mount. The Mount was designed and built by Edith Wharton in 1902, based on the principles written in her book, The Decoration of Houses (1897). The Mount includes three acres of formal gardens designed by Wharton, and annual exhibits explore themes from the author’s life and work.

    6. Norman Rockwell Museum. An absolute must-visit when you're in the Berkshires, the Norman Rockwell Museum pays homage to the man who so eloquently painted the picturesque New England life. The museum holds Rockwell's original paintings and also hosts various exhibitions throughout the year.
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  • On October 15, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best things to do on a romantic trip to the Berkshires?

    ©Blantyre Romance knows no limits in the Berkshires. No matter what season you visit, there's something wonderfully romantic to experience. Try these five things with your loved one:

    1. Tanglewood. The Tanglewood Music Center, summer home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, hosts live concerts in July and August — and trust us, your ears will love their harmonious sounds. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket and pop a squat under the stars for $15 while you let the BSO serenade you. We’re not sure you can get any more romantic that this.

    2. Blantyre. Some hotels just do romance right. Blantyre is our pick for the most romantic place to stay during the winter months. All year long you'll get rooms with fireplaces, footed tubs and grand four-poster beds, but in the winter, Blantyre really puts on the charm. The tennis courts turn into an outdoor ice skating rink, a fire pit roasts s'mores, the tall pine trees are adorned with lights, and if you're here during the Christmas holidays, you'll be privileged to a romantic horse and carriage ride throughout Blantyre's winter wonderland.

    3. Hiking. The Berkshire mountains can be a romantic spot to rekindle the flames. We recommend a walk through Bish Bash Falls, where you'll happen upon romantic cliffs and waterfalls. Our favorite time of year for a hike in Bish Bash Falls is fall, when all the colors are changing and you'll get the best of fall foliage as your romantic backdrop.

    4. Norman Rockwell Museum. Few people painted the picturesque family scene quite like Norman Rockwell. There's something romantic about imagining life as portrayed in a Norman Rockwell painting, so a trip to his museum might be the perfect thing for your romantic getaway.

    5. The Mount. Edith Wharton's Estate and Gardens is one of the Berkshires’ most elegant stops. The Mount was designed and built by Edith Wharton in 1902, based on the principles written in her book, The Decoration of Houses (1897). The Mount includes three acres of formal gardens designed by Wharton, and annual exhibits explore themes from the author’s life and work. It’s widely known as one of the most beautiful settings in the Berkshires, and we think a romantic day deserves a walk through these idyllic gardens.
  • On May 20, 2012
    Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown answered the question: Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown

    What is the Berkshires’ restaurant scene like?

    For a small New England Village of 3,000, Lenox has quite an extraordinary group of restaurants, offering every cuisine in country-chic settings. 
  • On May 20, 2012
    Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown answered the question: Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown

    What are the best Berkshires food experiences?

    For the best Berkshires food experiences, Blantyre proudly suggests:

    1. Have the Chef’s Tasting Menu at The Dining Room at Blantyre, featuring the freshest ingredients from local farms.

    2. Enjoy a Blantyre picnic basket overstuffed with gourmet goodies on the lawns of Tanglewood Music Center.

    3. Order from Blantyre’s Lighter Fare Menu, a more casual offering enjoyed at one of the outdoor umbrella tables along the stone perimeter of the Main House.

    4. Try the Chef’s Specials at Nudel in the heart of Lenox, featuring an open kitchen and casual, fresh Italian. 
  • On May 20, 2012
    Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown answered the question: Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown

    What are the best kid-friendly restaurants in the Berkshires?

    The five kid-friendly dining options are:

    1. Room service at Blantyre. Get selections from our scrumptious menu, served in the comfort of your room.

    2. Baba-Louie’s in Pittsfield. It serves sourdough pizza.

    3. Haven Café & Bakery in the center of Lenox. It's a terrific spot for lunch.

    4. The Dakota Steakhouse and Grill. The Pittsfield restaurant serves lunch and dinner.

    5. Mazzeo’s. It's an Italian restaurant in Lenox.
  • On May 20, 2012
    Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown answered the question: Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown

    Where can I go to watch sports in the Berkshires?

    For watching sports, try The Warming Hut at the Blantyre. It has two large-screen televisions, ideal for watching your favorite sporting event while playing a game of pool or table tennis. Additionally, our Music Room can be transformed into a big-screen theater complete with overstuffed chairs and popcorn. The wine cellar, also has a large TV hidden in a 200-year-old, heavily carved Irish hutch.
  • On May 20, 2012
    Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown answered the question: Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown

    Where are the best places to hear live music in the Berkshires?

    The best place to hear live music in the Berkshires is at Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Tanglewood offers live performances throughout the summer months of both classical and contemporary artists and also houses Ozawa Hall, which features chamber music and jazz performances.  However, it’s Blantyre, year-round, where our pianist plays nightly from 6:30 p.m. onward.
  • On May 20, 2012
    Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown answered the question: Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown

    What is the best Berkshires nightlife?

    In the Music Room at Blantyre, guests may enjoy our nightly pianist, dancing by candlelight and a fine wine, Armagnac, hot chocolate or a divine tea.
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