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9 Must-See Houses & Gardens in the Berkshires

Posted on April 05, 2023Written by Nancy Macy on behalf of 1Berkshire
Updated on July 21, 2023

The Mount, credit Eric Limon Photography

Historic house museums and gardens have stories to tell—and fun things to do.

With so many centuries-old estates and beautiful gardens open to the public, there are plenty of opportunities for exploring the rich history of the Berkshires. Add to that event calendars filled with experiences that the whole family can enjoy at these properties, and you’ve got a win for all. Here’s a short list of things you won’t want to miss while visiting the Berkshires!

For green thumbs (and aspiring ones), a walk through a well-established garden encompasses all that is wonderful about a warm spring or summer afternoon. Beyond the beauty of a perfect rose or seeing plantings of thousands of tulips and daffodils swaying in a gentle breeze, you’re outside in the fresh air. And if you’re visiting a house museum or garden in the Berkshires, you’ll often find there’s more to see and do beyond the tour.

At The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox, the mansion, stables, and the formal gardens are the settings for a summer lecture series, live music, and ghost tours. In Stockbridge, festivals and other special events at Naumkeag and Berkshire Botanical Garden celebrate the season’s blooms with fun activities for kids, workshops, art exhibitions, and live music.

Inside at The Mount, Naumkeag, and Ventfort Hall, house tours offer a step back into the late 19th and early 20th centuries when palatial mansions were built here as country homes for socialites and wealthy industrialists. You’ll find the original furnishings, artwork, and personal belongings of the former residents of these homes as well as photographs from and of the period. At Ventfort, you can also join author Robert Oakes (Ghosts of the Berkshires) for a tour as he recounts tales of paranormal activity and ghostly apparitions at the mansion. 

Chesterwood, credit Ogden Gigli

Want a glimpse inside the homes and studios where notable American artists lived and worked? Visit Chesterwood, home of sculptor Daniel Chester French, or Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio, the modernist-style house where American Abstract artists George L.K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen lived and collected works by Cubist masters such as Brancusi and Picasso. The grounds at both properties also have walking trails. Check event calendars for visiting art exhibits and live performances – you’ll often find creative demos and workshops happening at Frelinghuysen Morris House. 

For a look at life as it was for the area’s early settlers, tour houses on the Berkshire 18th Century Trail such as the Bidwell House, Mission House, and Herman Melville’s farm at Arrowhead where Moby Dick was penned. And be sure not to miss the incredible stories of Elizabeth ‘Mum Bett’ Freeman, an enslaved woman who successfully filed a lawsuit for liberty – setting the stage for the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts – and W.E.B. Du Bois at sites on the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail! Use this collection of trail guides for historical tours around the region.

Find out more ideas for things to do and discover places to stay in the Berkshires!

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