The Berkshires are both a geographic region, and a cultural area located in western Massachusetts. From a geographic standpoint, the Berkshires refers to the southern continuation of Vermont’s Green Mountains in Massachusetts. From a cultural standpoint, the Berkshires refers to an area of western Massachusetts west of the Connecticut and lower Westfield Rivers. The region runs through all or part of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties. Major communities in the Berkshires include: Adams, Great Barrington, North Adams, Pittsfield, and Williamstown.
The Berkshires are a very popular multi-season tourist destination and tourism is the region’s major industry. There are two cornerstones that attract so many to the region:
- The arts
- The great outdoors and associated outdoor activities
The Arts in the Berkshires
Lovers of visual and performing arts cannot help but be excited by what the region has to offer. Some of the major attractions include:
- The oldest internationally acclaimed summer dance festival in the U.S. performed every year on the three stages at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival in Becket.
- Major art museums such as the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) in North Adams, and the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown.
- Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Mass, a fully restored Shaker village.
- Theater companies such as the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield and Shakespeare & Company in Lenox.
- The Tanglewood Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox; the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and the Tanglewood Music Festival.
- Several world renown theater festivals including the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown.
Outdoors in the Berkshires
The Berkshires are a great destination for nature and outdoor lovers. The full range of outdoor activities can be found in the Berkshires including biking, camping, canoeing, fishing, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, and white water rafting to name a few. Some of the more memorable things to see and do include:
- Seeing the tallest waterfall in Massachusetts, Bash Bish Falls in Bash Bish Falls State Park in the Town of Mount Washington, MA.
- Hiking the Appalachian Trail which traverses 90.2 miles of Massachusetts from the border with Connecticut to the border with Vermont.
- Over 20 state parks.
- World class alpine and Nordic skiing.
- The Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, or the Hebert Arboretum in Pittsfield
The Berkshires region is also famous for its summer camps for kids.
Fall Foliage in the Berkshires
The Berkshires are one of the best destinations in New England when Mother Nature puts on her annual fall spectacular. Enjoy the fabulous fall colors, do a little antiquing, and stay in one of the region’s many inviting inns and bed and breakfasts. You may also want to consider taking in the Northern Berkshires Fall Foliage Festival in North Adams.
For planning purposes, foliage season starts in mid- to late-September and typically peaks some time around Columbus Day weekend.
The Berkshires has something for every season to keep tourists coming back again and again.
Things to Do in the Berkshires
Home to the great theater festivals as well and world-class museums and other wonderful things to do, hundreds of thousands visit the Berkshires every year for more than its wonderful scenery.
Follow the links below for listings of things to do in the Berkshires:
Lodging in the Berkshires
The Berkshires are home to the famous Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, to fabulous resort destinations such as the Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club in Lenox, and too to many quaint bed and breakfasts to count – the Berkshires offers lodging to suit any taste. For lodging options see Berkshires Lodging.