July’s Chronogram served up a rundown of some of the wealth of alluring activities and attractions to be found in Western Massachusetts. But that hand-picked sampling was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg; hence, this bonus compendium of a few of the many other fabulous Berkshires to-do’s that we didn’t quite have room for last time. August is the peak month to get out and enjoy the abundant wonders of this beautiful region, so make sure to visit some of the winning spots we’ve lined up below.
If you’ve got your hiking shoes on, the Berkshire Hills boast some of the most spectacular nature locations on the East Coast. The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, which runs through Lanesborough, Cheshire, and Adams, is a former railroad corridor converted into a 10-foot wide paved, universally accessible recreation path with outstanding views of the adjacent Hoosic Mountains. Middlefield has Glendale Falls, whose trails parallel one of the state’s highest waterfalls. And if you’d like to get those hiking shoes off the ground, check out Berkshire East Canopy Tours, in Charlemont, which has been named one of the top 10 zip lines in the US and includes two half-mile-long lines that soar 200 feet overhead.
Nature inspired many of the famous literary figures who’ve lived in the Berkshires, and several of their historic homes are open to the public today. Foremost among these authors is Herman Melville, whose house in Pittsfield, dubbed Arrowhead, has stunning views of Mount Greylock—which, according to legend, reminded the novelist of a whale. The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Lenox estate, is a cultural and literary center that regularly hosts exhibits and events, in addition to tours of the majestic house and its grounds. Just across the state line in Austerlitz, New York, is Steeplechase, the picturesque retreat of poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay.
The area has a wealth of museums, as well. Lee is home to the family-perfect Animagic Museum, which celebrates the dazzling world of film animation and special effects via work by local artists and interactive programs. The Clark, in Williamstown, opened in 1955 and is an intimate, worlds-class museum. Its current exhibits feature the works of French Impressionist Camille Pisarro, a survey of French and British Romantic landscape painters, and large sculptures by El Anatsui.
Local to the Clark is the annual Williamstown Theatre Festival. Now in its 57th year, the acclaimed series finishes up this month with “She Stoops to Conquer” (through August 7), “Touch(ed)” (August 3-14), “Ten Cents a Dance” (August 11-28), and “You Better Sit Down: Tales from My Parents’ Divorce” (August 16-21). The Berkshire Fringe Festival (through August 15), held in Great Barrington on the campus of Simon’s Rock College and at other venues, is a 21-day festival of emerging voices in theater, dance, music, and film.
For another kind of fringe in Great Barrington, there’s Karen Allen-Fiber Arts, a shop opened by the Raiders of the Lost Ark actress to market her line of high-quality knitted garments. Rubiner’s Cheesemongers and Grocers, also in Great Barrington, offers a dizzying array of exotic and locally made cheeses, meats, pastas, coffees, and breads. Williamstown’s Wild Oats Market, a natural foods co-op that began in a church basement in 1975, is today a supermarket-sized storefront with a bakery, salad bar, and takeout counter.
Diners desiring a sumptuous sit-down meal enjoy organic eatery Nudel, in Lenox, a creative pasta bar that draws heavily on the bounty of Berkshire County farms and producers. Once Upon a Table is a charming, low-key bistro in Stockbridge beloved for its intimate atmosphere and fresh, local cuisine. North Adams’s Gramercy Bistro, on the grounds of the MassMOCA arts center, offers fine dining emphasizing local ingredients and exquisite custom cakes and desserts, while the same town’s Elf Parlor is a coffeehouse/hangout revered for cutting-edge live music.
Time to rest? The historic Morgan House Inn, in Lee, has operated as an inn and casual restaurant since 1855 and played host to Ulysses S. Grant, Bernard Shaw, and Grover Cleveland. For ultra-elegant accommodations, Lenox has the Wheatleigh Hotel, a grand 1893 estate with 19 rooms, a restaurant, and spaces for special events.
Ashuwillticook Rail Trail www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/asrt.html
Glendale Falls www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/pioneer-valley/glendale-falls.htm
Berkshire East Canopy Tours www.berkshireeast.com
The Mount www.edithwharton.org
The Clark www.clarkart.edu
Animagic Museum www.mambor.com/animagic/museum.htm
Williamstown Theatre Festival www.wtfestival.org
Berkshire Fringe www.berkshirefringe.org
Karen Allen-Fiber Arts www.karenallen-fiberarts.com
Rubiner’s Cheesemongers and Grocers www.rubiners.com
Wild Oats Market www.wildoats.coop
Once Upon a Table www.onceuponatablebistro.com
Gramercy Bistro www.gramercybistro.com
Morgan House Inn www.morganhouseinn.com
Wheatleigh Hotel www.wheatleigh.com
- The Mount, the estate of author Edith Wharton, in Lenox, Massachusetts, is open through October 31.