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ykís annual family summer trip to Berkshires, 2020 pandemic edition

ykís annual family summer trip to Berkshires, 2020 pandemic edition

Old Sep 1st, 2020, 05:57 PM
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yk
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ykís annual family summer trip to Berkshires, 2020 pandemic edition

Hi all,
Every summer we (we = me, DH, and our 7.5-year-old) would go to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts for vacation. The main reason is the Tanglewood festival (summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra). This year Tanglewood was moved online but since I had already booked a rental house way back in January, we decided to still go on our trip. Besides, our 2 European trips (April & June) were cancelled so we wanted to have at least some sort of a vacation.

On this trip we ate out twice (outdoor seating); the rest of the time we either cooked at home or packed a sandwich.

We have been making this family trip for the past 5 years. Each year we would visit some favorites and try to add in new-to-us experiences.

Day 1
We arrived on a Monday (I reserved the house Mon-Sat in order to avoid the weekend crowds...which didnít materialize this year for obvious reasons). Our house is in Richmond, not far from West Stockbridge and Pittsfield. We stopped at Six Depot in West Stockbridge for lunch. This was only our second time eating out at a restaurant (outdoor seating). They had brisk business on a Monday but we had no trouble finding an outdoor table. The house was ready by 12 noon and it is wonderful and suits our needs. That afternoon we went to the town beach. Calling it a beach is a bit of a stretch... itís more like a path to the water. Our son doesnít swim but he likes to dig in the sand, but this beach barely has space for any sand.

Day 2
A lot of the Berkshire attractions have reduced opening hours this summer, so it takes some effort to figure out whatís open when. Many places arenít open on Tuesdays so we went hiking in the morning at the Mass Audubon Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. We have been here a few times before and we liked the ponds, beaver lodges, and the views. Trails are very well marked. it was a hot day so we stayed at the house in the afternoon playing jigsaw puzzle and watched a movie.

Day 3
Although there is no concert at Tanglewood, they opened the grounds to the public a few days a week, and Wednesday mornings is one of them. One need to reserve a (free) ticket in advance but basically the place is pretty empty given how vast the campus is. We walked around and played some lawn games for a couple of hours before it closes at 12 noon. Then we drove to our favorite restaurant in the Berkshires, Starving Artist Cafe& Creperie in Lee for lunch. Normally this place is busy with lines out the door. But with the pandemic, we were able to walk right in and order immediately. Several outdoor tables were free so we grabbed one.

In the afternoon we visited a new-to-us place, the Ashintully Gardens. in Tyringham, run by The Trustees. The gardens itself are quite pretty and peaceful, and if you hike up a trail, you actually arrive at the ruins of a former grand mansion. It burned down but 4 huge doric columns remain.

our rental house has a beautiful deck for watching sunsets. But seeing that it was going to be a *spectacular* sunset that evening, we drove over to our favorite spot, Laurel Lake, for that eveningís sunset.


Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Ashintully Gardens

Ruins at Ashintully Gardens

Sunset on Laurel Lake
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Old Sep 1st, 2020, 06:24 PM
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Day 4
Today is Thursday so many more places are open for visits. We went to Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield in the morning. Although we have visited it 2-3 times in the past, the last time was 3 years ago so our son had little recollection of the place. Itís one of the few places that did not require advanced tickets, given how vast the grounds are. Our son had fun checking out all the different animals they keep there. Since some of the smaller buildings are closed, we decided to take its 1-mile trail which we had never done before. It was pretty cool we didnít come across anyone on the trail. The huge water turbine is open for demonstration and we were able to watch it with small groups.

Since our rental house is only 10 minutes from Hancock Shaker Village, we went home to enjoy our sandwich lunch on the deck. After a bit of a rest, we headed to Naumkeag in Stockbridge. One have to reserve a parking spot in advance but I had no trouble reserving it just an hour prior. Because of Covid, we were instructed to follow a specific route to visit the gardens (no back-tracking allowed). The first floor of the house is actually open for self-guided visit.

In the late afternoon, on our way home, we stopped at TurnPark Art Space in West Stockbridge. We discovered this place last year - itís an outdoor sculpture garden. Although the indoor galleries are closed this season, the grounds remain open and free to the public. Most of the installations are similar to last year but there are a few new sculptures.

Day 5
Our last full day and we went to the Berkshire Botanical Garden. This place has become one of our favorites over the years. On Fridays they often have family events and today there was a wildlife rescue person giving a talk and she brought along several animal friends (an owl, a hawk, a skunk, a snake, a chinchilla).

Once again we went home for lunch and rest, then we decided to visit The Mount (new-to-us place). Our son is still too young to appreciate the home (indoors) but I found out one can visit the gardens and grounds, which is perfect for a pandemic. Wow, the grounds are really vast and there are 2 nicely-manicured gardens. When we returned to the mansion, the Terrace Cafe is open (outdoors) so we opted for an afternoon break. I donít know what they normally serve in non-pandemic times... it would have been nice to have a proper afternoon tea with scones and finger sandwiches. But on our visit they mostly had pre-packaged snacks. No matter, we enjoyed the view and the nice afternoon breeze.

Day 6
Our check-out time is actually 3pm so we could have stayed much longer. But instead we packed up and left in the morning in order to stop half way in Holyoke area for 2 stops: First one is Dinosaur Footprints (managed by The Trustees). Itís a very quick stop by the side of a main route; it takes no more than 10 minutes to see the footprints. So afterwards we went slightly further down the road to Mount Tom State Reservation for some hiking. We did the easy Bray Loop Trail which took about an hour. There are picnic tables near the parking lot where we had a picnic lunch, before heading back on the highway to go home.

It was a nice trip to many familiar places and some new ones, and we felt safe given that we were outdoors the whole time and had minimal contact with others. Happy to answer any questions!


Hancock Shaker Village

Naumkeag

TurnPark Art Space

The Mount

Dinosaur Footprints in Holyoke

Mount Tom State Reservation in Holyoke
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Old Sep 2nd, 2020, 04:59 AM
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Nice that you got away to one of my favorite places. I love doing all the back roads.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2020, 06:22 AM
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You should enter that sunset picture in the photo contest. It is gorgeous.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2020, 06:25 AM
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It looks like a wonderful vacation (I love western Massachusetts), even without "live" Tanglewood.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2020, 08:17 AM
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Nice tr and wonderful pictures. Thanks
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Old Sep 2nd, 2020, 10:47 AM
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What everyone above wrote! Thanks, yk.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2020, 01:30 AM
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Great report, as usual. Western MA is an area we've rarely visited so I enjoyed seeing where you went. M-YK must have loved the wild animal rescue talk. Can you tell us more about the sculpture and the odd things hanging in the tree and on the ground which remind me of insect shells? Great photos. Although the sunset is spectacular, I like the doric columns best.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2020, 06:32 AM
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love the TR and photos especially that sunset. Great that you were able to get away and you certainly made the most of it - as always.
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Old Sep 5th, 2020, 07:05 PM
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yk
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Originally Posted by dfrostnh View Post
Great report, as usual. Western MA is an area we've rarely visited so I enjoyed seeing where you went. M-YK must have loved the wild animal rescue talk. Can you tell us more about the sculpture and the odd things hanging in the tree and on the ground which remind me of insect shells? Great photos. Although the sunset is spectacular, I like the doric columns best.
Iím afraid i canít tell you much about the sculptures... they were there last year too but this year there is no longer a map/guide and I canít remember the name of the artists. There doesnít seem to be a list of artwork on the website either.
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Old Sep 20th, 2020, 08:20 PM
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My daughter, son-in-law and two year old grandson who live in NYC also went to the Berkshires for a week vacation. They normally go to a time share in Florida which they cancelled way back in March so they had credits, which they used at Vacation Village right by the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort. They had a great time, spent a lot of their time at the hotel swimming pool as daughter and grandson love to swim.
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