For nearly two centuries, Berkshires has been a prized destination for Northerners looking to get away from it all. About two hours from Boston and three from New York City, the area is an easy weekend getaway with a little something for everyone, whether you prefer world-renowned shows, outdoor adventures, a getaway for rejuvenation, or a bit of history. Sure, New England is known for its fall foliage (and fall is a common time), but the area’s rolling hills, brilliant light, quaint cities, and vibrant arts community make it a great vacation spot for all seasons. Here, where to stay and dine and what to do if you find yourself for a few days in Berkshire.
where to stay
Hotels and B&Bs abound, but if you’re looking for a hotel expertisebook a room at Maraval Berkshires– Indulgence you will not regret. The newest addition to the Miraval brand opened in July 2020 (you’re probably familiar with its original location in Arizona) on nearly 400 gorgeous acres, perfect for nature walks, horse therapy, golf, or just taking in the great views. It’s a spa, yes, but without the austerity of many other properties in this category. Maraval is more about alertness and balance than weight loss and sacrifice. There are no calorie limits or mandatory fitness classes, and alcohol is served. Where they are restricted: making sure you are present; Cell phones and laptops are only allowed in certain locations. At first, this may sound annoying (you’ll want to post all about your trip), but soon you’ll find it’s a much better fit for a vacation – a more relaxing and enlightening one – if you live in the moment.
The 100 guest rooms are outfitted with modern and comfortable interiors, including a Tibetan singing bowl and meditation pillow, but the bed is the one that really feels like curling up on a cloud. Your room includes… just about everything! All food and beverages (excluding alcoholic beverages) and all activities (except where a surcharge is included) are covered. Before your stay, the concierge can help you plan all your activities (more on our recommendations below).
what are you going to eat
As mentioned, all meals are included in your stay at Miraval, and the farm-to-table fare (many ingredients are grown on the property) is healthy and delicious. But, you’ll want to visit the charming surrounding towns, so you can also take advantage of the great dining options there as well.
City folk who crave the morning with everything lox and schmear can get their fix at Bagel and Brew in Lenox. Return in the afternoon when the breakfast shop turns into a brewery, serving handcrafted beer and hotdogs. For a more elegant brunch, head to Zinc Bistro. Sip on a French 75 while indulging in a crispy goat cheese and roasted duck cheese salad. (Lots of cheese, swap in the fried oyster salad or moly frites instead.) If you’re traveling north to Mass MoCA, get there early and have lunch at the on-site A-OK Berkshire Barbeque. The top-rated place is known for its homemade sausage and bread, but beware: they stop serving when they run out.
Ice cream lovers should save time for a trip to Farmstead Creamery at High Lawn Farm. Relax at the picnic tables with a spoonful of Oreo coffee or pineapple cake inside out, or if you’re in the mood for something savory, grab a cheese board and charcuterie. For dinner, make a reservation at Alta, a cozy wine bar known for its sumptuous food and excellent service. Wine pairing recommendations are listed with each entree, such as Cotes du Rhone to go with roast duck breast and seared cod with sauvignon-viognier.
What do I do
What do I do? It really depends on what your interests are. Here are a few of the best options, although this list is by no means exhaustive.
Indulge in a Spa Day
If you need a little R&R, put on a plush robe and stroll from your room down to the Miraval Spa. The 29,000-square-foot facility has 28 treatment rooms where you can engage in Ayurvedic treatments, Reiki, vibration sound therapy, or dozens of scrubs, facials, or massages. Be sure to make time to relax in the indoor/outdoor spa pool, perfect for waterside relaxation in any season.
You can fill out the entire weekend without having to leave the property. Other activities on offer range from sweaty to spiritual: fitness classes include kickboxing, aqua pari, and cardio to name a few; There are standard meditation classes but also a labyrinth wisdom walk and sound immersion while swinging yoga; Aura photography allows you to visualize your energy; Adventurous people may prefer to try a new hobby like archery – the more aware you are, the more likely you are to bump into the center of a target.
Enjoy “Berkshire Cottages”
The Berkshires is not a trendy new destination. During the Golden Age, many of the wealthiest Americans built summer homes in the area, which they affectionately called “huts”—but they are quite unlike tiny homes. According to the book Berkshire Cottages: The Age of Transience By Carol Owens, the “Berkshire Cottage” was a second home “with no fewer than 20 rooms on at least 30 acres”. As many as 93 such homes were built, mostly in the villages of Stockbridge and Lenox. Some have been destroyed, but many are still found, and many are preserved as museums today. Book lovers may want to visit Edith Wharton’s home, “The Mountain,” or Herman Melville’s, “Arrowhead.”
Get the Artsy
Whether you’re into painting, sculpting, music or dancing, Berkshires has what you’re looking for. Contemporary art lovers should start from MoCA . Mass. The exhibitions in this industrial space are usually large-scale and immersive and visitors can often watch the artists in the midst of creativity. In Stockbridge, you will find a file Norman Rockwell Museumfeaturing nearly 1,000 original pieces by the famous American painter and painter who lived in the area for a quarter of a century and who often depicted the city and its inhabitants in his work.
Do you visit the area in the summer? You are lucky. Enjoy the Boston Symphony Orchestra in concert at TanglewoodFormerly the Berkshire Cottage – the organization’s seasonal home. (The place boasts shows all year round.) Meanwhile, dance lovers can take a stroll in the park at Jacob’s pillow– National Historic Landmark featuring the famous dance festival of the same name – while watching Les Ballet Afrik and Boston Dance Theatre, among many others.
There’s no shortage of Berkshire’s breathtaking vistas – or trails that will take you there, of varying levels and lengths of difficulty. You can even hike part of the Appalachian trail at Mount Wilcox in Burtown State Forest. In winter, the area offers plenty of terrain for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. As we said, the area is an excellent place to visit at any time of the year.