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ABC40 Road Trip: The Berkshires

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(WGGB) — It’s a region perfect to visit any time of year, with skiing in the winter, leaf peeping in the fall, and hiking in the spring and summer.

This week, we head west to the Berkshires.

From shopping, to music, to the arts, the area has a little something for everyone.

Best of all, you can make the trip in a day and on one tank of gas.

Nestled in the town of Stockbridge, you can find a museum named for and celebrates an iconic artist: Norman Rockwell

“It was actually founded as a small town museum in 1969. Rockwell donated some of his paintings to preserve a historic house. We outgrew that space. We moved to this property 20 years ago — it’s actually the 20th anniversary of this building space. We present Rockwell’s work as an illustrator, as visual story tellers,” says Jeremy Clowe, manager of media services for the museum.

Visitors will be able to take in works spanning Rockwell’s career and the history of the 20th Century.

“You can find the world’s largest collection of original Rockwell artwork. Quite a body of work. Everything from his Saturday Evening Post covers works that he did for the civil rights movement in the 60’s to depict that time. Really, you look at his work as a history of America. From the first flight to man walking on the moon. Rockwell was there to capture it all,” Clowe adds.

The Berkshires are also home to two great historic resorts.

Located in Stockbridge, The Red Lion Inn has been welcoming guests for over two centuries.

“This is an incredible building. An incredible weigh station between New York and Boston. We’ve been on this site for 240 years. This is our 240th year celebration,” says Sarah Eustis, Director of Business Development at the inn.

Its location makes it a great spot to stay, dine, and visit.

Eustis adds, “We are really at the center of the Berkshires when it comes to cultural activities – incredible music, art, dance, intellectual things to do, a lot of historical things to do. We are a warm and welcoming place for people to come get their families together. We see people constantly coming up on the porch area. It’s a place for people to socialize. It’s the place to be in the summer in the Berkshires. You can watch life go by, have a drink, meet a friend. There aren’t that many porches left like this in New England. It’s a real special thing.”

North of the Red Lion is the Cranwell Resort and Golf Club. It’s a spot that really appeals to every kind of traveler.

“There is a little bit of something for everyone…indoor pool, spa, an 18 court golf course, driving range, sitting out on our terrace having a drink and dining. From wedding to executive retreats, someone traveling on their own. Girlfriends having a spa experience. Winter, spring, summer or fall – it’s a great time. [There's always] something different to do,” says Carl Pratt, General Manager at the Cranwell.

Outside of being a great place to stay, its history adds to the resort’s appeal.

“It really is unique because these homes can no longer be built. These homes were built prior to income tax and property taxes. If you’ve seen Downton Abbey, we’ve been using the tag line ‘Your very own Downton Abbey.’ It really has that feel. This wood work. Just the majestic location as far as the views and all of those other aspects,” Pratt adds.

While in the Berkshires, you can take in the scenery by car, foot, bike, and even horse, thanks to the Berkshire Horseback Adventures.

There, you can stroll along the shaded trails of Kennedy Park and Lenox Mountain, while riding a well-trained horse guided by a professional horseman.

“The trails are better for riding horses than anywhere around here. They were originally cut for riding horses. It’s a great place to do it,” says Dan Brinton from Aspinwall Equestrian Center and Berkshire Horseback Adventures.

Children ages 10 and up can take the trail rides. Younger visitors can ride ponies in the ring.

Located in Lenox, it’s the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Tanglewood has been a fixture for music lovers since 1934.

“It’s the summer home for the Boston Symphony and also the Tanglewood Music Center – the BSO Institute for advanced students. There is a lengthy schedule of popular music: the Boston Pops. Melissa Etheridge, the Steve Miller band, Joan Baez,” says Clarence Fanto of The Berkshire Eagle.

The picturesque 200-plus acre campus brings people in from all over the area.

Fanto adds, “Tanglewood attracts people from New York, Boston, across the Pioneer Valley, and Berkshire County. It’s a major tourist draw. It’s also a venue for local people, especially when someone like James Taylor performs…usually he’s here every summer for a number of nights.”

It was a quiet day at Tanglewood Thursday, but that will all change in a mere few weeks as their 2013 season gets underway.

Fanto adds, “A typical Sunday afternoon, the lawn here is blanketed with up to 10,000 people. They bring elaborate picnics and banquets. A low key party atmosphere. [They are] very well behaved concertgoers. It’s a beautiful experience under the stars or under the sun. It’s a bucolic experience and also great for music, of course.”

The BSO usually plays on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons throughout the summer, but other artists and even students perform on the grounds during any given summer, so there is a show nearly every day of the week.

Mount Greylock State Reservation, which has its visitor center in Lanesborough, offers a simply amazing view from the highest peak in Massachusetts.

“A lot of people come here to go camping, backpacking…hikers, mountain bikers, to take in the view.

From the top, you can not only see the Berkshires, but five other states. Besides the view, people experience another surprise when they reach the peak

“Temperature difference. It’s about 10 degrees cooler from the base of the mountain to the summit. Some people get a big surprise.”

One thing that’s nice about Mount Greylock is that if you are a novice to backpacking, you can still have a great time.

“A lot of people aren’t used to backpacking. For entry level, this is a great place. It is not a long hike into our campground. It’s pretty accessible. We have so many miles of trials. It’s a great place to find yourself and come out with a great experience.”

250,000 people visit the reservation from all around the world every year.

LINKS:
Berkshire Chamber of Commerce
Norman Rockwell Museum
Red Lion Inn
Cranwell Resort Spa and Golf Club
Aspinwall Equestrian Center / Berkshire Horseback Adventures
Tanglewood
Mount Greylock State Reservation


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