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Spoilt For Choice In The Berkshires

Ever since spending three years of my early childhood in Connecticut I have wanted to return to the state and its surrounding areas to explore some of its breathtaking scenery and culture. There aren’t many places in the world that can claim to have the abundance of natural beauty combined with the fascinating rich culture that the Berkshires have. It is a truly unique and individual destination. The allure of the area has been calling to me for years so my return to the area was well overdue!

Geographically the Berkshires are officially a southern continuation of Vermont’s Green Mountains, but they are at a much lower elevation, with heights of around 1,000 feet less. Perfect for my fairly amateur level of hiking abilities!

As a visitor to the Berkshires I was spoiled for choice of what to do during my vacation. No matter where your interests lie, you will find plenty to do to keep you entertained. Here is a brief look at the highlights of my visit.

A Culture Fix

The Berkshires have culture hidden around every street corner, and I could sense it as I walked around. The region is musically blessed with the Tanglewood Music Centre offering classical, popular and jazz concerts. It is known as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and watching them perform there is an experience that I will never forget! The Williamstown Theatre Festival attracts top acting talent and puts on fantastic plays throughout the year. There are also a host of fascinating museums to visit with captivating exhibitions. For my art fix I visited the MASS MoCA, Clark Art Institute and Norman Rockwell Museum which together offer a great mix of classic and modern art.

The Great Outdoors

Both hiking and biking are very popular in the Berkshires, and as soon as you seen the stunning landscape it is easy to understand why. They were the main activities that drew me back to the area. I am by no means a pro cyclist or hiker, but found it impossible to resist the call of the natural beauty of the Berkshires and will soon find myself outdoors exploring. The vast area has so many areas of natural beauty to choose from. The Cascades is a stunning 50-foot waterfall that took my breath away, and was an easy hike from the main road. A visit to Berry Pond was slightly more challenging requiring a steeper climb. The pond lies at 2,060 feet and offers incredible panoramic views of New York State. When I chose to explore on bike I found myself travelling through quaint colonial villages, alongside beautiful rivers, over gently rolling hills. If you’re braver than me and want more of a challenge you can choose to take the intense mountain routes. The toughest route is the Mount Greylock circuit, which is a steep, heart-pounding climb, but the views at the top apparently make it well worth the effort. Whether you decide to explore via foot or bike be sure to pack a picnic as the region is littered with breathtaking picnic spots. My biggest problem was choosing which of the many was the perfect one!

Fall Foliage

The changing colors of the leaves in New England during Fall are world-famous and people flock from far-flung places to experience its beauty, and I am pleased to say I can now consider myself one of them! The Berkshires do not disappoint in this respect and put on a magnificent display every year. I had had my fill of hiking and biking, so decided to sample a range of other exciting ways to experience the colors. Horse riding was my favorite experience, with trails across the hills and up the mountains. I went with Berkshire Horseback Adventures who offer an excursion from Lenox up Lenox Mountain. From the peak I could see the magnificent colors across Berkshire County, Catskill Mountains in New York and the Green Mountains in Vermont, meaning I saw the Fall colors in three different states. A boast that not many other people will be able to compete with! For a more gentle experience I joined a guided canoe trip in New Lenox which meant I could view the Fall colors in peace and tranquility. Finally I wanted to sit back and relax while I viewed the majestic colors so hopped on the Berkshire Scenic Railway. The luxurious trip was a wonderful way of viewing the Fall colors from the comfort of a train carriage. The Leaf Peeper Train runs until late October and the 2.5 hour round trip gives you a great view of the stunning scenery.

 
 

History

For a taste of the history of the area I needed look no further than my accommodation at Blackberry River Inn. It is a magnificent Colonial home dating back to 1763. With its beautiful cherry paneled library and hearth fireplace, two living rooms, and a breakfast room with stunning 24 paned windows it made me feel that I was living back in an era of luxury and style! To read more about the Inns' history kindly follow this link.

Be Prepared

To help you prepare for you vacation in the Berkshires here are a few bits of advice on items to pack which I forgot on my trip and wished I had brought with me from home. The Berkshires do have a vast range of amenities and stores but you don’t want to waste your valuable vacation time traipsing round stores looking for items. If you plan to do outdoor activities make sure you bring a range of clothing options with you to cover you for dry and wet weather. If you plan to hike or bike bring a day pack bag with you so you can take enough food, water and layers to keep you going all day. Some of the trails are remote and you may not come across a store all day. If you are travelling from abroad it is worth considering organizing a prepaid travel credit card. This will enable you to use your card as many times as you like without being charged transaction fees each time which can save you a great deal of money over the course of a holiday. It also means that you don’t have to travel with large sums of cash on you as you can simply use the prepaid card instead. It is a much more secure method of travelling with money. Like me, you may end up being tempted by the Berkshires’ great shopping, so having a card that you can use will enable you to shop guilt-free!

Don’t miss out!

With so much to see and do in the Berkshires it is hardly surprising that more and more visitors flock to see the area’s stunning scenery each year. Come and see for yourself what all the fuss is about! I can personally highly recommend it.