When Norman Rockwell described Stockbridge as “the best of America, the best of New England,” he may have been influenced not only by the town’s history and architectural landscape, but also by its tradition of extending hospitality to its visitors year round — especially to groups. Few other places of its size can offer its visitors an internationally prestigious music center, a preeminent summer theater festival, a museum dedicated to a beloved American painter, as well as historic mansions, a botanical garden, a cemetery rich with figures from American history, and a broad range of accommodations, dining and shopping.
Boutiques, galleries and charming shops line the streets and alleys of downtown Stockbridge. Your group can explore upscale clothing, antique jewelry, home furnishings, and works by regional craftsmen in An American Craftsman, Vlada’s Boutique, Heirlooms Jewelry, Sidetracks Gift Store, and Mutability in Motion Gift Shop. In the center of Main Street have them stop into Williams and Sons Country, an old fashioned emporium filled with fine jellies, maple syrup and penny candy. Browsing through the unique shops of Stockbridge is a favorite pastime for groups in any season.
While you can only visit the site of Alice’s Restaurant at this time, your tour group can still get nearly anything they want when dining out in Stockbridge. Whether their preference is an intimate bistro like Once Upon A Table, a casual, family-friendly restaurant like Michael’s of Stockbridge or Theresa’s Café & Main Street Market or the old-fashioned lunch counter at the Elm Street Market, they’ll find it here. The historic Red Lion Inn, which sits proudly on Main Street, has been welcoming groups for more than two centuries. The Inn offers 108 guestrooms, elegant and casual dining, and shopping at The Red Lion Gift Shop and flagship Country Curtains Store.
Exploring the town’s arts and cultural communities is also another favorite activity amongst group visitors. Remember to take your tour group to the world-renowned Norman Rockwell Museum. The Museum houses the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell’s work, including 574 original paintings and drawings. Rockwell lived in Stockbridge for the last 25 years of his life. Rockwell’s Stockbridge studio, moved to the Museum site, is open to the public from May through October, and features original art materials, his library, furnishings and personal items.
In the spring, summer or fall, groups will love to stop at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, one of the nation’s oldest botanic gardens. With more than 3,000 species and varieties represented, their collections emphasize plants that are indigenous to or thrive in the Berkshires.
Groups can also experience gilded-age style and splendor at these three historic sites May – October: Naumkeag, family home of Joseph Choate, a leading 19th century attorney, acclaimed for its elegant gardens; Chesterwood, country home, studio and gardens of sculptor Daniel Chester French; and the Mission House, Colonial-era house and museum that tells the story of the Stockbridge Mohicans and missionary John Sergeant.
This quintessential New England town is a must see for tour groups traveling in New England and will be a memorable experience for all participants on your group tour.