If you think you know the Berkshires, think again. Thanks to a group of intrepid entrepreneurs and creative visionaries, there’s a whole new dimension to this destination in Massachusetts’ western reaches. That makes it high time to give the land of rolling hills and tall mountains, lush forests and open fields, rushing rivers and slow streams a fresh look — and what better time to visit than the fall, when leaf-peeping season is upon us? In the weeks and months ahead, the region’s foliage will achieve its peak palette of reds, oranges, and yellows, but, these days, that’s only part of the draw.
The Berkshires — about 130 miles from either New York or Boston — have tempted holiday-makers of all stripes for well over a century, of course. No less a literary lion than Herman Melville wrote lovingly about the area as early as 1855, and major American landscape painters including Thomas Cole captured its pristine wilds even earlier. During the Gilded Age, barons of industry built grand summer homes they rather understatedly referred to as “cottages.” The Berkshires rose in prominence and opulence.