Visiting in the Winter
It’s a New England winter, with fields of brilliant snow, the sharp blue sky, a bracing snap of cold, and then a relaxing evening in front of a toasty fireplace, and the Berkshires is the perfect place to enjoy the season.
Whether plans are for a weekend of romance or a snowshoeing trek across white-blanketed fields, there’s an inn to suit every taste, from an elegant Victorian mansion to a rustic timber-framed lodge to a bucolic farmhouse. Skiing in the morning, visiting a world-class art museum in the afternoon, then a marvelous dinner followed by a concert and a cozy retreat at one of the welcoming B&Bs: It’s an extraordinary combination.
Skiers flock to the Berkshires and with good reason: the rolling hills offer ample opportunities to take to the slopes. Choose thrilling downhill runs at Jiminy Peak, Butternut, Catamount, and Bousquet. Choose the deeply satisfying slide of cross-country skies, where groomed trails welcome seasoned skiers and novices alike. Or strap on a pair of snowshoes and become part of a glorious winter landscape for an exhilarating snowy adventure.
Winter athletes might choose to stay at a rustic lodge with a rural, wooded setting or a fine resort guarantees a quiet, secluded getaway. Opting for a historic inn set amidst farm and meadow is another excellent winter choice; grab the snowshoes and step right out the door onto expansive fields of pristine snow. Return to a merry blaze in the fireplace and unwind in the country-casual setting.
Take the chill off after an exhilarating morning enjoying the snow with a delicious lunch: many casual dining restaurants in the region boast a wide range of menu choices, from sushi and pad thai to a classic burger and fries or even a pizza loaded with a creative assortment of toppings.
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The beauty of the Berkshires in winter is unparalleled and the area is unique in offering so many enriching and rewarding cultural activities during snow season. It may be blustery outside, but indoors, visitors to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute enjoy European masterpieces, from Renaissance altarpieces to lush nineteenth-century portraits, and important American art by the likes of John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and Frederic Remington.
While in Williamstown, visit one of the local art galleries for superb landscape paintings, many of Berkshire scenes, and stop at the Williams College Museum of Art to peruse their excellent permanent collection.
At MASS MoCA in North Adams, the spacious galleries display a changing roster of exciting contemporary works; the museum also is home to the breathtaking installation, Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective, where 105 of the artist’s distinctive, large-scale wall drawings have been created in a building dedicated to his work.
Heading south, the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield is a popular spot for families: the aquarium and the “Dino Dig” are perennial hits with the littlest museum-goers. In Stockbridge, the works of America’s iconic illustrator can be seen at the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the view from the hilltop-perched site is spectacular. Rockwell, of course, made his home in Stockbridge for many years and his studio was recreated on these grounds.
A cozy dinner in a local tavern or one of the more elegant fine dining establishments might be the perfect ending to a winter’s day or just the respite a visitor needs before venturing off to a performance at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield or the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, offering an array of entertainment in all seasons.