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New England escapes: Tanglewood and The Berkshires

Posted by Melanie Nayer  June 15, 2012 06:19 AM

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Tanglewood at dusk (Photo Credit -Stu Rosner).jpgTanglewood at dusk. Photo Credit: Stu Rosner

There's no mistaking the beauty of the Berkshires. Whether cuddled up by the fire during a snowy winter day or sitting under the stars on a hot summer night, the Berkshires has a way of bringing us back to a much more simplified life - and reminding us that it's the simple things that often make the best memories.

This year, as Tanglewood prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary, the Berkshires is gearing up for a whirlwind summer of regulars and guests eager to take in a bit of what makes this New England enclave so special.

What to do: Tanglewood was inspired by a group of music-loving summer residents in 1937. Every summer since (except during WWII years 1942-45), Tanglewood became a second home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and drew the likes of musical luminaries spanning various generations including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Earth, Wind & Fire, Tony Bennett and James Taylor. Ask any New Englander what their favorite thing to do in the summer is, and you'll likely hear "a night at Tanglewood" mentioned alongside "a Red Sox game" and "a weekend on the Cape."

This year, Tanglewood celebrates its 75th Anniversary with a mind-blowing lineup of musical guests, new programs and star-studded events including appearances by James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, John Williams and more. Tickets are still available for many of the summer concerts at Tanglewood, so don't miss a chance to sit under the stars and listen to some of the best, internationally-renowned musicians and artists.

While you're here, don't miss a chance to take in some of the area's famous antique shopping. Head south along Route 7 from Great Barrington toward Connecticut for some of the best antique stores and boutiques selling furniture, silver, jewelry, art, pottery and more. Visit the Berkshire County Antiques and Art Dealers Association for more information.

The fresh air in the Berkshires is one of the areas blessed attributes. Set out one morning for a hike up Monument Mountain or through Bash Bish Falls, or take in the wildlife at Pleasant Valley Bird Sanctuary, part of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. There are plenty of museums and historic homes to visit, including Edith Wharton's home and the Norman Rockwell Museum. For a truly memorable experience, head up in a hot air balloon at dusk and watch the sun set over the Berkshires.

What to eat: You might not know the Berkshires as a foodie spot, but the Berkshires is actually one of New England's top farm-to-table destinations. Visit some of the nearby markets located in Great Barrington and pick up some favorites to take with you to Tanglewood for a picnic on the lawn. If you're looking for something a little more diverse, stop by The Meat Market - the newest butcher in Great Barrington - for some locally sourced meats as well as sandwiches, snacks and homemade foods from local farms.

Where to stay: The Berkshires is a hodgepodge of lodging options. Whether you want budget or luxury, resort or retreat, one night or all-inclusives, there's a place here to suit you. A few notables include:

  • Blantyre Resort: The five-star Relais & Chateaux is a destination all in itself. You'll find it hard to actually leave here once you arrive, but try and pull yourself away from the vintage decor, crystal chandeliers, mood-setting music, dramatic landscapes, mouth-watering food and attentive service to see at least a little of your surroundings. A stay at Blantyre includes breakfast each morning, and on some occasions the hotel hosts wine or dinner packages (typically coincide with events in the area).
  • Briarcliff Motel: This newly opened motel on the foot of Monument Mountain in Great Barrington brings a bit of modern to the 1960 motor lodge. The 16 vintage-cool rooms are decorated with travel posters, and you'll get homemade snacks in the lobby every morning.
  • Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health: For those needing a zen break, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is the most popular retreat center for yoga, health and holistic living in North America. Tanglewood is currently partnering with Kripalu for a workshop called, “All Together Singing: Creative Ways to Make and Listen to Music with Your Family,” with Nerissa and Katryna Nields. Families can develop their own family musical canon, and also enjoy a July 4 outing to Tanglewood for the annual James Taylor concert, followed by fireworks.

Readers: What's your favorite thing to do in the Berkshires?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Melanie Nayer is a travel writer who spent many years in the newsroom before jetting off to see the world. Her goal is to bring readers the best insider information More »

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