By Kelly Bevan McIlquham
Having just wrapped our 160+ Things to Do with Kids in the Berkshires on Berkshire Family Focus, I can assure you there is plenty of hometown fun to be had with your families here in the Berkshires. Whether you’re attending an Artswalk, enjoying the vistas at the end of the Cascades Trail, enjoying a family day at Naumkeag, listening to music on the lawn of The Clark or simply building sandcastles at the Lenox Beach, you will feel like one of the locals. In fact, you’ll feel like you’re home. Hometown fun is guaranteed at area festivals like Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays and First Fridays Artswalk, the annual Berkshires Arts Festival at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, Sundays @ 6 in Williamstown and North Adams’ Downstreet Art. Visitors to the region can sample a taste of the Berkshires — be it the food, the local musicians or artisans — as they can stroll aimlessly down the streets of our quaint downtowns mingling with members of these welcoming communities. Children will be treated to arts and crafts, and kid-friendly music and entertainers at these events. And the kid-tasted, parent-approved fare at these festivals, showcase some of the Berkshire’s best locally-sourced recipes. What isn’t fun about that?
Immersing ones family in the local history and culture, not only endears one to an area, but in the Berkshires it provides hours of entertainment for the whole family. Families can immerse themselves for free during Highland Street Foundation’s Free FunFriday events throughout the region this summer. Places such as the world-class Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket; the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield; Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox; and local museums MASS MoCA, The Clark Art Institute; Hancock Shaker Village; and the Norman Rockwell (as well as several others) all offer free admission and have free events scheduled on select Fridays. A healthy dose of hometown fun!
But wait. There’s even more … some of my family’s favorite venues to experience a little hometown family fun in the Berkshires are the local theaters. The Colonial Theatre, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Shakespeare & Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Barrington Stage Company all cater to parents and their young counterparts during Berkshire summers. Some performances are obvious kid favorites like BSC’s “Shrek” coming this summer and Shakespeare & Company’s outdoor “Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World,” while others will develop a lifelong love for the theater by introducing them to classics and new plays, well-known comedys and thoughtful dramatic pieces that are premiering on our stages. Not only will you experience what is known to us as some “hometown fun,” but you may even leave with some of our hometown pride.
As if this weren’t enough to keep the fun going during your visit to the Berkshires, families can picnic at local lakes and state parks, hike or bike along a variety of trails that offer stunning views of our region as your reward, dine al fresco at a local restaurant, and much more! The Berkshires welcomes you to enjoy its special brand of fun and your family will thank you.
Kelly was born and raised in the Berkshires and is now living and raising her three children, Max, McKenna and Shea, with her husband Mark in Hinsdale. She is the founder of Berkshire Family Focus, the one-stop online source for family activities, events, information and more in Berkshire County.