Year in Review: 35 Highlights of 2020

2020 may have not been the year everyone was expecting, but we were fortunate enough to still have a lot of fun and explore a lot of very cool places. While we stuck closer to home, mainly the Tri State area and New England, we racked up 12,000 miles on our Equinox (and that’s with only driving 200 miles in 3.5 months!) and visited a lot of spots that have been on our bucket list for a while. (Read more about our just-summer bucket list here).

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10 Ways to Have Fun in the Berkshires in Massachusetts

The Berkshires, compromised of over 30 towns and villages, is located in the most western part of Massachusetts. It includes towns ranging from Sheffield and Great Barrington in the southern part of the state, bordering Connecticut, to the towns of Wiliamstown and North Adams in the northern part of the state, bordering Vermont. The region is popular year round for outdoor activities, performing arts venues, galleries, museums, and historic homes and landmarks. The Berkshires have been home well known figures such as authors Edith Wharton, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and activist W.E.B. DuBois. Dubbed the “Inland Newport” during the Gilded Age of the 20th century, the area became well known for its over 75 estates, in addition to its thriving farming industry. Today, there are many spots to learn about the important history of the area and many preserved outdoor spaces to enjoy nature all year long.

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10 Ways Kids Can Explore The Mount in the Berkshires

Located in Lenox, Massachusetts, in the southern part of the Berkshires, the Mount is the 1902 home of Edith and Teddy Wharton. Edith Wharton wrote over 40 novels and was the first female to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Age of Innocence. Wharton lived at The Mount until 1911 when she moved to Paris and spend considerable time with humanitarian work during and post World War I.

The 49 acre estate (originally 128 acres) estate includes the main house, the stable, gardens, and miles of hiking trails. The English style country house has both French and Italian inspired architectural elements and furnishings. Tours through the home and gardens are self-guided; docents are available to answer questions and placards in each room share personal stories of the Whartons and explain the period décor and furnishings.

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10 Gardens Kids Will Love at the Berkshire Botanical Garden

On a recent trip to the Berkshires, we made an impromptu stop on our way to the Berkshire Botanical Garden– and we’re so glad we did! It is now one of our favorite spots in the Berkshires and very family friendly. The 20+ acre garden is spread out over both sides of Route 102 and includes over 30 gardens, greenhouses, walks, and buildings for classes, workshops, and family events.

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10 Ways to Have Fun at Jiminy Peak Resort in the Berkshires

We just returned from a beautiful (almost) fall weekend in the Berkshires. We’ll have several upcoming posts about things to do, places to explore, and where to eat in the Berkshires (we’ve already posted about Hancock Shaker Village and Naumkeag). We were fortunate to be invited to stay the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort and spend time checking their resort amenities and activities. Opened in 1948, Jiminy Peak is the largest ski and snowboard resort in southern New England and offers year round family fun. We were impressed by the initiatives the resort takes to preserve the environment and maintain their energy independence. The resort uses only renewable sources for all their electrical power- the only resort in North America to do so!

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Naumkeag in the Berkshires

The summer home of attorney Joseph Choate, his wife Caroline, and their five children in the late 1800s, Naumkeag is the perfect representation of a country estate of the Gilded Age. The estate is named after the Algonquin word (meaning “good fishing spot”) used for Salem, Massachusetts where the Choat family originally lived.

The original gardens included two terraces, a topiary garden, and an arborvitae alley. A farm, greenhouse, orchards, and vegetable gardens provided much of the food for the family. The family also enjoyed hiking, swimming, and horseback riding on many of the 48 acres of the estate, which is located in Stockbridge in western Massachusetts. The Choate’s daughter, Mabel, inherited the property and spent significant time creating many additional gardens. She deeded it to the Trustees of the Conservation upon her death in 1958 and the 44 room estate was turned into a museum opened to the public in 1960.

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