As Floridians who prefer the mountains over the beach, you may say that we live in the wrong place. That’s ok , just as long as we get to spend our weekends and holidays in the mountains. This past weekend we were lucky enough to have a real mountain get away thanks to some friends who decided to get married in the bride’s home town in the Berkshires (Western Massachusetts). A landscape that inspired Thoreau and Emerson, and a weekend of hiking, eating and friends, what could be better?
The Berkshires is a popular mountain retreat area for the city dwellers of the Northeast. With incredible landscapes hiking, fun and lively small towns and hospitable people, who can blame them for retreating to these woods? Here’s what we suggest if you have a long weekend to spend in the Berkshires.
Day 1. The Berkshires are a 2.5/3 hour drive from either New York City or Boston so take an easy morning and get to the mountains slowly. Then spend the afternoon exploring some of the neat museums and towns in the area. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge is worth a few hours, but there are plenty of Gilded Age Mansions in the area that are open to the public if you are looking for something a bit more architectural.
Day 2. Start your morning with some delicious delicacy’s from a local bakery. Great Barrington has a host of little coffee shops and delicious cafes, as do most of the other smaller towns along the way. Saturdays are a great day to check out a local co-op or farmer’s market, especially if you are going to head up a mountain. Spend the afternoon hiking Mt. Greylock or Mt. Everett, two popular peaks in the area along the famed Appalachian Trail. If you’re looking for something a bit less strenuous, or with less elevation, the area is covered in State Parks, like Mt. Washington and Beartown which have a variety of trails. End your day relaxing at Great Barrington Brewery where you can enjoy solar brewed beers like Black Bear Stout and Berkshire Blond. If you arrive in summer, you may be lucky enough to grab lawn seats at Tanglewood, an outdoor music venue. Pack a picnic and relax under the starts to performers like James Talyor and Evanessance.
Day 3. Time for some adventure! Cycling is a popular activity in the Berkshires and really if you don’t want to be outdoors, you probably shouldn’t be in the mountains. You can rent a bike in the larger towns like Adams, Great Barrington, Lenox or Pittsfield or jump on a day long cycling tour with a local operator. The area is also home to ziplining courses, horseback riding, mountain biking trails and even ATV trails. Choose the adventure of your fancy and make a day out of it!
IF YOU GO: It’s helpful to have a car to explore some of the smaller towns and villages that make the Berkshire’s so special. Take a few trips outside the car to explore the downtown areas and local shops, remember life in the mountains is about enjoying your surroundings. Save yourself from the mundane and skip staying at one of the chain hotels that seem out of place in the area. Instead, stay at something with a bit more character like a B&B or a rental apartment.Rental apartments are popular in the area and give visitors a taste of mountain living, sometimes in funky places like converted barns or centuries old homes.