Plan Your Staycation in the Berkshires
Sitting on our friends’ deck overlooking Lake Ashmere last week, my husband and I (and two of our three children) observed the most spectacular sunset. “Why would anyone want to leave the Berkshires in the summer?” Mark asked as we sat fascinated by the view before us. The silence that followed reinforced the fact that none of us had a plausible answer to his question. Beats me, the silence seemed to be saying. Mark repeated that sentiment again as we sat outside sipping cocktails with another family of friends at my parent’s lake house later that week while the kids splashed in the lake, while sitting on our porch enjoying a morning cup of joe this weekend, and then once again this past Sunday when we took a drive to nearby Middlefield to experience Glendale Falls for the first time. And it’s probably not the last time we will hear these words this summer (or this fall for that matter). The Berkshires is a treasure trove of possibilities for the whole family, which is why Mark and I decided to plan a “staycation” in the area for the upcoming weeks. The best part about it … because we live right here within the beautiful Berkshires we don’t have to plan our staycation for any particular week, we can spread it out over time, ensuring that we get our money and our time’s worth.
‘FALLING’ FOR THE AREA
I know Middlefield, and thus Glendale Falls, is not in the Berkshires but for those in the central Berkshire it is only a mere 15 to 20 minute excursion to the Trustees of Reservation property that will provide you with a free (minus the tank of gas) afternoon of views, swimming and family togetherness not to missed. This was the first stop on our relatively unplanned staycation. The falls were relatively easy to find and it was a mere 10-minute drive from our home in Hinsdale. For those coming from the Pittsfield area, take Route 8 towards Dalton and follow it into Hinsdale until you hit Route 143. Follow Route 143 through Hinsdale and Peru and into Worthington to River Road (approximately a mile after the Peru/Worthington town line on the right). Take a right onto River Road and follow the winding route along the Westfield River for approximately 5.6 miles taking a right onto Cartwright Rd. (after the “1990” bridge). Follow the road uphill for a little less than a mile until you see signs for the falls and the parking lot on the right. We found the falls without any problems and spent an hour climbing the different levels, frolicking in the little pools along the way and Max was even brave enough to stick his head under one of the mini-falls to mug for a photo. The views were absolutely incredible and the entire family agreed that return trips in the fall to take in the foliage and a picnic, and the spring to see the falls in all its glory after the snow melts were a must.
Glendale Falls is not the only waterfall worth seeing in the area. One of my favorites, especially in the winter when its all iced over, is Wahconah Falls in Dalton, which my youngest son just informed me he doesn’t remember ever going to. We will have to remedy that this week, maybe with a picnic dinner and LOTS of bug spray — it is in a very remote woodsy area like most of these falls. To find it: Take Route 9 east from Pittsfield through Dalton. Take a right onto Wahconah Falls Road (if you enter Windsor you have gone too far). When the road forks, keep right to get to the parking area. Follow the wide, well-worn path to the falls.
A few other waterfalls on our list this summer — hopefully we will make it to most of them — are the Cascades near Mount Greylock, Bash Bish Falls in Mount Washington, and Umpachene Falls in Mill River.
How to get there …
The Cascades: From Pittsfield. Follow Route 8 to Route 2 West in North Adams. About one mile past Hillside Cemetery, turn left onto Marion Avenue. Park your car and follow the Cascades Trail, a short, beautiful river walk following the Notch Brook to the falls. The entire hike takes about an hour and a half and is a mild hike, easy enough for even the most inexperienced of hikers.
Bash Bish Falls: From Great Barrington take Route 23 west to Egremont, then take Route 41 south to Mt. Washington Road. Follow signs to the parking area for Bash Bish Falls. Visitors can enjoy the falls from above (follow trail to left of parking lot), but to enjoy the picturesque view from below take the steep trail to the right of the parking area, an approximate half-mile walk to the base of the falls.
Umpachene Falls: From Route 7 in the center of Sheffield, follow Maple Avenue east. After a short distance, Maple Avenue turns into County Road. Follow for approximately 5.4 miles, then take a right onto Mill River Great Barrington Road. Follow this road for 1.7 miles to the end and take a right onto Mill River Southfield Road. At the end of Mill River Southfield Road take a left onto Clayton Mill River Road for a little over a mile then take a left onto Umpachene Falls Road. Cross the small bridge over the Mill River and look to the right for the entrance to the park.
Note: Do you know of any hidden waterfalls in Berkshire County or along its boarders? Leave a Comment below and let us know. And don’t forget to bring your camera when visiting any of the above locations.
Most kids love anything of a creepy, crawly and often slithering nature and this summer the Berkshire Museum is luring young visitors to its galleries with its current exhibit “Geckos: Tails to Toepads,” a definite possibility for the staycation agenda. All I have to do is grab one of those free family passes from our local library and we have another low-cost family afternoon full of reptilian fun! The interactive exhibit runs through Sept. 18 and includes 14 species of geckos from the New Caledonian giant gecko to the smaller neon varieties found is Madagascar. While there we will probably head down to the basement-level aquarium where the kids still love to explore in the touch tank and meander threw the tanks of various creatures that find their homes in the waters of the world. My kids also love to spend a little time in the Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation where visitors are invited to invent their own way to make chores easier and build a model, solve puzzles and brain teasers, hunt for innovations of yesterday and today in “Williams Stanley’s study” and more.
To learn more about all that the Berkshire Museum has to offer visit www.berkshiremuseum.org.
DANCE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
OK, this might not sound like a lot of fun for the non-dance enthusiast, but there’s got to be something to the experience if even my husband and two sons don’t balk at returning to Jacob’s Pillow Festival’s Inside/Out outdoor theater space, the Marcia and Seymour Simon Performance Space, in Becket. Inside/Out offers free performances by emerging and established dance companies, sneak previews, and presentations by dancers of The School at Jacob’s Pillow every Wednesday through Saturday at 6:15 p.m. during the festival season. Families can enjoy anything from hip-hop and jazz, to ballet and contemporary dance performances at the space with each performance lasting only an hour — the perfect dose of dance for children of all ages. Better yet, children are welcome to move about freely throughout the area as long as those don’t disturb those who have chosen to come to the festival childfree. The spot is also ideal for picnicking, so be sure to bring a picnic basket filled with goodies for dinner. Note to parents: A bottle of wine shared with friends tops off the experience nicely.
Upcoming Inside/Out performances include:
- July 27: Alexandra Beller/Dances
- July 28: Korean Traditional Music and Dance Institute
- July 29: Decadancetheatre
- Aug. 3: Kawamura the 3rd
- Aug. 4: Rainwater Dances
For a complete schedule of Inside/Out performances visit www.jacobspillow.org.
PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT
The Berkshires is replete with theaters celebrating playwrights young and old, well-known and the newly emerging. From Shakespeare & Company in Lenox to the Williamstown Theatre Festival parents can enjoy anything from Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet” to Henrick Ibsen’s “A Doll House.” Now Barrington Stage Company and Bisque, Beads and Beyond is making it easier to enjoy all that their Pittsfield-based theater has to offer through their collaborative ClayTime Youth Care Program. ClayTime is a new program for the 2011 season that provides patrons the opportunity to enjoy a performance while their children enjoy a few hours of creative play at Bisque, Beads and Beyond, located at 141 North Street, Pittsfield.
Youth will enjoy quality creative time with the staff of Bisque, Beads and Beyond in the businesses open and bright studio making a fused glass or pottery project, playing games, listening to music, or other artistic activities provided by the studio. ClayTime is available for youth ages 6 to 12 and all projects and activities will be age appropriate. There is a small fee for each child that includes the project, snack and childcare. Reservations can be made at the time of ticket purchase by calling the Barrington Stage Box Office at 413-236-8888. More information and frequently asked questions on the new ClayTime program can be found on BSC’s website, www.barringtonstageco.org or by calling the Box Office.
ClayTime is available for the following Mainstage performances this summer:
- “The Best of Enemies”: Tuesday, July 26, 7 p.m.; Friday, July 29, 2 p.m.; Tuesday, Aug. 2, 7 p.m.; and Friday, Aug. 5, 2 p.m.
- “The Game”: Tuesday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 19, 2 p.m.; Tuesday, Aug. 23, 7 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 26, 2 p.m.
SPEAKING OF BARRINGTON STAGE COMPANY
Not a summer goes by that my children and I don’t head over to BSC’s Youth Theatre located at St. Joseph’s High School on Maplewood Avenue in Pittsfield and catch the year’s Youth Theatre performance. This year the company, comprised of teenage actors who engross themselves in the professional theater experience at BSC, will perform the Elvis-fueled musical “All Shook Up” with classic hits like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Burning Love,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Fools Rush In.” Even my father might enjoy this one. The musical opened on July 20 and will run through Aug. 10 in Pittsfield before moving on to Berkshire South Community Recreational Center in Great Barrington for performances that run from Aug. 12-14.
Performances in Pittsfield are Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday evening at 7 p.m., with performances the week of Aug. 8 on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 2 p.m. Performances in Great Barrington are Friday, Aug. 12, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 14, at 2 p.m. To purchase tickets, call 413-236-8888 or go to www.barringtonstageco.org.
MORE THEATER FOR THE FAMILY
This week is the last week to catch BTF Plays! production of “Snow White” at The Mount in Lenox (its run ends July 30), there is still plenty of other child- and family-friendly performances gracing the stages in the Berkshires and beyond.
The Mac-Haydn Theatre in nearby Chatham, N.Y., recently presented “Rodney, The Reluctant Dragon” to young audiences and is now filling its stage with the likes of Gepetto and Jiminy Cricket in the classic fairy tale “Pinnochio.” Performances run July 29 and 30 and Aug. 5 and 6 at 10:30 a.m. Call 518-392-9292 or go to www.machaydntheatre.org for more details.
Starting today, Thursday, July 28, and running through Sunday, July 31, Mill City Productions in North Adams is presenting “Choices: Two Roads,” an original cabaret, featuring fun and creative takes on classic hits and new favorites in Broadway, pop, rock, country, and folk music. Performances are at 8 p.m. with additional 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. For more information visit www.millcityproductions.org.
At the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, families can catch the Berkshire Children’s Theatre’s production of “Rapunzel” at 11 a.m. The show runs for the next two weeks, Thursday-Saturday at 11 a.m., with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Saturdays. Visit the museum online at www.berkshiremuseum.org.
Let’s not forget the opportunity to attend one of the area’s outdoor movie events. I missed one last week in Dalton at the Community Recreation Association on Main Street, but they have two more scheduled for the summer on Aug. 10 and 28 so I’ll be sure to keep you informed on those, but make sure you mark your calendars. I’m also hunting for information on the annual outdoor movie in Hinsdale. My sources say there have been rumblings of whether to host it or not, but I will keep my ears open.
Other movie offerings this week:
- Thursday, July 28: Norman Rockwell Museum, “Robots,” 5:30 p.m. Route 183, Stockbridge.
- Friday, July 29: Adams Town Hall, “The Karate Kid,” dusk. 8 Park St., Adams;
- Friday, July 29: Clapp Park, “Field of Dreams,” 8:30 p.m. West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield.
- Friday, July 29: New Lebanon Library, “Rango,” 6:30 p.m. Route 20, New Lebanon, N.Y.
- Sunday, July 31: Images Cinema, “Back to the Future,” dusk. Spring Street, Williamstown.
MORE BERKSHIRE EVENTS INSIDE AND OUT
Thursday, July 28:
- 3:30pm – Milne Public Library, featuring storyteller Rona Leventhal. Main Street, Williamstown, MA.
- 9am-12Noon – Bartholomew Cobble, trail monitoring, where families can spend time outdoors with conservation ranger Rene Wendell helping to monitor and care for trails and plant communities. 105 Weatogue Road, Sheffield, MA.
- 6:30pm – Marketplace Café, Live Music Series, featuring local musicians and performers. 53 North St., Pittsfield, MA.
Saturday, July 30:
- 10am-10pm – Springside Park, Hoopla, an arts festival inspired by the hula hoop, featuring free group workshops with guest teachers from the Boston Hoop Troop and Hooping Harmony, hoop-making workshop and more. 874 North St., Pittsfield, MA.
- 10am-12noon – Bartholomew’s Cobble, “Up Close: Live Birds of Prey” with Tom Ricardi, who will share the stories of the injured birds and their beauty. Weatogue Road, Sheffield, MA.
- 10am – Pittsfield Visitors Center, Guided Walking Tour of Pittsfield to explore historic downtown with trained RSVP volunteer guides. 111 South St., Pittsfield, MA.
- 11am-3pm – Hancock Shaker Village, pony rides provided by Party Time Ponies. 1843 West Housatonic St, Hancock, MA.
Sunday, July 31
- 8:30-11:30am – Bartholomew’s Cobble, guided canoe trips. Weatogue Road, Sheffield, MA.
- 11am – Marketplace Café, Robbins-Zust Marionettes present “Rumpelstiltskin.” 51 North St., Pittsfield, MA.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kelly Bevan McIlquham ♦ Berkshire Family Fun
Kelly Bevan McIlquham writes our bi-monthly column, Berkshire Family Fun, sharing update, events and activities for families in the Berkshires. Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, a chocolate lab, a very fat cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate and the Editor of The Family Beat in the Berkshires. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her non-fiction published by Wee Ones online family magazine. When not writing or editing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. firstname.lastname@example.org — Check out Berkshire Family Fun the first and third Thursday of each month.