Set among serene mountain vistas in western Massachusetts, The Berkshires region overflows with tourism assets. Less than three hours from New York City and Boston, The Berkshires delivers striking mountain scenery, many opportunities for outdoor mountain excursions, an array of lodging options, picturesque towns, a deeply rooted food culture, and a flourishing arts and culture scene. The world-class arts and entertainment found in The Berkshires make it a paradise for lovers of the arts. Groups can fill itineraries with art, theater, dance, music, film, and historic sites.
“The Berkshires offer culture and adventure year-round,” says Lindsey Schmid, senior vice president of tourism and marketing at 1Berkshire. “The Berkshires are a picturesque rural destination with a cultural scene that rivals far larger urban areas.”
At the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, groups engage in Rockwell’s world with interactive experiences. The museum has the world’s largest and most significant collection of art and archival materials relating to the famed illustrator’s life and work. Ten galleries help visitors discover the world of American illustration. Spring through fall, check out Rockwell’s last studio, moved to the museum grounds in the mid-1980s.
Also in Stockbridge is Chesterwood, the former summer home, studio, and gardens of sculptor Daniel Chester French. He is best known for creating the seated figure of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Open from spring to fall, Chesterwood can accommodate groups of up to 25 people. Larger groups are split into two tours. Groups should allow 90 minutes for a visit.
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, housed on a restored 19th-century factory campus in North Adams, features galleries and indoor and outdoor performing arts venues. The museum embraces all forms of art, including boundary-crossing works. Groups can arrange a self-guided visit, and a reduced admission rate is available to groups of 10 or more. Hourlong guided tours offer conversations within selected galleries.
The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown is an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Encounter art in nature throughout the 140-acre campus of meadows, lawns, and hiking trails. Self-guided visits, educator-led talks, and digital talks are available for adult groups.
Other attractions to consider include Naumkeag, Hancock Shaker Village, TurnPark Art Space, Smith College Museum of Art, and the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio.
Tanglewood is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and its training academy, the Tanglewood Music Center, as well as the Boston Pops. In a typical summer, more than 350,000 visitors come to Tanglewood for performances, recitals, and seminars across 500 acres located between Lenox and Stockbridge. Tanglewood’s group sales team helps tour operators secure discounted tickets for guided tours. Visit the Koussevitzky Music Shed, Ozawa Hall, and other facilities while learning about the site’s history, which dates to 1937.
The woods near Becket is an epicenter for dance. Jacob’s Pillow, a National Historic Landmark, is the site of America’s longest-running international dance festival, which just celebrated its 90th season. The festival runs from mid-June to the end of August, as its two theaters play host to performances by dance companies from across the globe.
Shakespeare & Company’s summer season in Lenox features the works of William Shakespeare in repertory with classic and contemporary plays. Weekday matinees fit nicely into an itinerary. Berkshire Theatre Group presents performances in theater, dance, music, and entertainment at several theaters in the region during the summer. Barrington Stage Company produces award-winning theater in Pittsfield during the summer and fall. Williamstown Theatre Festival brings talented actors, directors, designers, and playwrights to The Berkshires for a summer season.
Explore The Mount in Lenox, the former home of writer Edith Wharton—which she designed herself. Inside the home, guides share the beauty and history of the 1902 building and the writer who lived there. In addition to a house tour, groups can reserve garden tours and private, after-dark group ghost tours. Lunch and other refreshments can be arranged. Tours can be tailored to specific group interests as well.
Literature fans can also tour Arrowhead, the house in Pittsfield where Herman Melville wrote the famed classic, “Moby-Dick.”
For more information contact 1Berkshire at 413-499-1600 or visit berkshires.org.
Main image: Norman Rockwell Studio, Norman Rockwell Museum; Credit Ogden Gigli