Other Ideas: Walden Pond State Park; Massachusetts DCR State Parks; Garden In The Woods: New England Wild Flower Society; Elm Bank at Mass Horticultural Society; Boston Harbor Islands
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Mountains, major cultural institutions and gorgeous fall foliage make the Berkshires---which take up the western third of Massachusetts---an attractive destination for a weekend getaway from Boston, though somewhat impractical as a daytrip.
Sprinkled with classic small towns, the Berkshires offer outdoor fun and classic New England fare---country stores, scenic drives, and pristine liberal arts colleges. Bordered to the north by Rte. 2 (Mohawk Trail) and Vermont and to the south by the Mass. Pike and Connecticut, the Berkshires are best known as the site of Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home, and for MASS. MoCA, the country's largest contemporary art museum.
Tanglewood is the summer residence of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which performs at various venues tucked away among the rolling hills and pristine meadows of the Berkshires. Now one of the best-regarded and most beloved music festivals in the world, Tanglewood attracts more than 300,000 visitors each summer, not to mention a celestial array of classical music celebrities, including Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.
Pick up the daily Tanglewood in a Day(also downloadable online) for the most up-to-date info on what's happening the day of your visit.
Concerts include a variety of musical genres (folkie James Taylor's annual concert here is very popular), and now take place at several venues around the Tanglewood estate. However, the focus of most performances is on the BSO's tried-and-true classical repertoire. The best part of Tanglewood is that although tickets for seats in the Shed proper are rather expensive, lawn tickets (for first-come, first-served seating on the grassy expanses around the venues) are eminently affordable ($14-17) and rarely sell out. Order tickets online, arrive early (with lawn chairs and a picnic) to secure your spot, and wait for the music to begin. The Tanglewood concert season closes out with an annual jazz festival.
Contact: Tanglewood info 413-637-1600, box office 413-637-5165; www.bso.org.
Bascom Lodge is a rustic stone and wood Lodge perched atop Mount Greylock in western Massachusetts. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's to provide accommodations for hikers, vacationers, and nature enthusiasts it has private and group rooms available for overnight stay.
The large dining room with its high ceiling and hand-cut oak beams provides an ideal atmosphere for a meal and the enclosed porch with wraparound windows overlooks the finest views in the Berkshires. Stone fireplaces create a relaxing setting after a day of hiking.
Visitors Ctr.: Union St. (Rte. 2 and 8), on the east side of town. Open daily 10am-4pm.
Camping: Clarksburg State Park (413-664-8345), a few mi. north of town on Rte. 8, has 44 wooded campsites, a brand-new bathroom/shower complex, and over 3000 acres of woods and water. Day use $5; Camping $12, state residents $10.)
Once a large industrial center, North Adams went into decline for many years after its factories fell into disuse. The city is now on the upswing again thanks to the recent opening of the phenomenal Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (better known as MASS. MoCa), a giant contemporary art complex.
By bus: Peter Pan Bus Lines (800-343-9999) runs from South Station to Springfield, where there is a Bonanza connection to Williamstown.
Williams College injects youth and preppiness into what would otherwise be a quaint little town surrounded by beautiful hills. In summer, this sleepy hamlet is host to the star-studded Williamstown Theater Festival. (413-597-3400, info line 413-597-3399. Box office open June-Aug. Tu-Sa 11am-intermission of 1st evening performance, Su 11am-4pm. Performances Tu-Su. Main Stage $35-45; Nikos Stage $20-25, F afternoons $3.)
Berkshire Common, Pittsfield, MA map
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