yk's family trip to The Berkshires, July 2017

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Aug 15th, 2017, 05:25 AM
  #1
yk
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yk's family trip to The Berkshires, July 2017

Back in July, our family (3 generations) took a 5-day trip to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. Our ages range from almost-5 to over 80. We rented, via AirBnB, a house in Lee. But it is located very close to the Stockbridge line. It is a very convenient location.

Day 1
We arrived the afternoon before, settled into our house, went grocery shopping and ate in.

In the morning, we went to the Berkshire Botanical Garden. It has quickly become one of our favorite places to visit, as we had gone there last summer. It is a lovely garden, with sections for kids (they run summer camps) where they can see and touch animals. There is also an area for kids to explore, run around, build things etc. Each year, they have a different installation of art/sculpture. This year it was play houses, with more than a dozen of whimsical designs throughout the garden. It was a lot of fun for my son to locate each one. The garden also has plenty of chairs throughout so my mom can rest her legs.
https://berkshirebotanical.org/

We went back to our house for lunch out on the patio. Since none of us slept particularly well on our first night, we had a siesta. We had hoped to visit Chesterwood that afternoon, but due to major meltdowns by our overtired son, we just stayed nearby and went to the playground at Stockbridge Center.

For dinner, we went to Chez Nous Bistro in Lee. The food was good, and what we liked most is the option of half-plates on their dinner menu. Since my parents are older, their appetite is limited so the half-plate portions were perfect for them.
http://cheznousbistro.com/

After dinner, i ventured alone to Tanglewood Music Center for a chamber concert at Seiji Ozawa Hall.

Day 2
Today is a day that I have been longing for for a long time. We made the trip to Mass MoCA in North Adams. Even though we have been visiting the Berkshires for the past several years, we had yet to go to Mass MoCA due to having a young child. This visit is also prompted by the recent opening of yet another building on campus, and the biggest draw for me is the James Turrell installation. I have been a fan of Turrell for a long time, and it is such an experience to "see" his work. Prior to our trip, I have made online timed reservations for 2 of Turrell pieces, as they limit the # of people viewing them.

Before we got to the Turrell, we really enjoyed the huge Nick Cave exhibits. http://massmoca.org/event/nick-cave-until/

I won't bore you with the details, but the James Turrell was an amazing experience. We also really enjoyed the rest of the exhibit/installation, which includes the retrospective of Sol LeWitt (3 full floors!), Anselm Kiefer, the Boiler House, and so many other artwork. I was grateful that my parents came along - they were willing to watch our son while my husband and I went to some of the Turrell. After all, it was a bit boring for our son after many hours there, and a bit tiring for my parents.
http://massmoca.org/event/james-turrell/

We had lunch at the Mass MoCA cafe; dinner at home.

To be continued...
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Aug 15th, 2017, 08:28 AM
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yk
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Day 3
Today is Friday, and we happened to be at the Berkshires for 2 Free Fun Fridays offerings (free admission one Friday in the summer).

First we went to Hancock Shaker Village. This is our third year in a row visiting in the summer. What we enjoy most is seeing the animals as well as watching the blacksmith at work. We finally had time to cross the road to visit the buildings on the other side of the campus, which includes a horse barn and a school house.
https://hancockshakervillage.org/

From there, we drove to Tanglewood, which was also hosting Free Fun Fridays. They had an afternoon of kids-friendly events planned, including a scavenger hunt. The first 1000 kids who completed the hunt were treated to a prize. But before the hunt, we had a lovely picnic on the grounds.

The scavenger hunt brought us all over the campus; each stop has a kids activity. It was well thought out and lots of fun. At the end, the kids get to choose between a recorder or a frisbee as their prize.

In addition to the afternoon event, new this year is the participants of Free Fun Fridays were invited to return that evening for a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert (free lawn ticket in the form of a wrist band).

We went home for dinner, then my husband took my parents to the BSO concert that night. (I stayed home with my son).

Day 4
In the morning we checked out the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum in Lenox. It basically is a restored railway station with photos and artifacts inside. My son loves trains so even though it is small, it is still very interesting to him.
http://berkshirescenicrailroad.org/

We then headed to downtown Lenox for lunch. We attempted Haven Cafe but the line was just out of control (it was Saturday after all). We went around the corner and chose Church Street Cafe instead. It has a large outdoor covered patio, which is a really lovely spot for lunch. Everything we ordered was delicious.
https://churchstreetlenox.com/

After lunch, we were back at Tanglewood again, this time for a family concert at 1:30pm. Tanglewood offers family concert (aimed at ages 3-8) once a summer. The concert is held at Ozawa Hall and featured 5 members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Brass section. The musicians were funny and affable. They played everything from Lego Movie to West Side Story to Frozen's Let it Go. We were all delighted by it.

We had dinner back home, then I headed back to Tanglewood one last time for that evening's Boston Symphony Orchestra concert. Seeing the BSO at Tanglewood is the reason we vacation in the Berkshires (almost) every summer.

Day 5
Today is our departure day. Instead of spending more time in the Berkshires, we headed back East and stopped in Springfield for the Springfield Museums (5 museums in 1). The Springfield Museums recently opened a new building - the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss. That is the main reason we stopped there since it is literally on the way home. (If we go from Boston, it would be a long 90+ minute drive each way.)

The Dr. Seuss museum is really quite amazing. If you are a fan of Dr. Seuss, you would find it delightful. For our son, it was like going into a candy shop. The museum is not big, I think 30-45 minutes is adequate, though we were there for almost an hour. The entry to Dr. Seuss is by Timed tickets.
https://springfieldmuseums.org/

Outside the museum is a Dr. Seuss sculpture garden/courtyard. It is nicely shaded so we had a picnic lunch there. We then visited 3 other buildings part of Springfield Museums - the Science Museum, the Art Museum, and the one with Antique cars. We ended up spending almost 5 hours there total. I was really glad we went there, even though it meant horrible traffic on the MassPike on our way home Sunday afternoon.

I think that wraps up my trip report. Many people have asked me what's there to do in the Berkshires, esp with young kids. So I wanted to post this to show that there are plenty to see and do for all ages. I was sorry we didn't get to visit Chesterwood this year. And when my son is older, we will take him to Norman Rockwell Museum, and perhaps the Clark etc. We did not eat out much - many restaurants are booked solid for early dinner sittings. Next time I would try to call days/weeks earlier for reservations.
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Aug 15th, 2017, 08:51 AM
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A beautiful time of the year to visit. Would you consider posting a link to your lodging. I always endoy a drive up to Mount Greylock
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Aug 15th, 2017, 10:29 AM
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Sounds like a great trip. A note on the Church St Café is that it was sold last week to a developer that is going to turn it into an Asian restaurant.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/storie...enamed,516001?
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Aug 15th, 2017, 03:42 PM
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yk
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tchoiniere, that is too bad. We really enjoyed our lunch there. Perhaps the new Asian restaurant will be good too.
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Mar 15th, 2018, 04:49 PM
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yk, just read your trip report, rather belatedly. We have been to many of the places that you mention. Just want to add that we love Mass MoCA. My daughter frequently attended the Fresh Grass Festivals there, so when it came time to plan her wedding, she and her husband chose to have their reception at Mass MoCA. Their cocktail hour was in the Sol LeWitt Gallery on the 2nd floor!!! It was awesome!! So many of our guests told us it was an amazing place for a wedding reception!
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