Being a last-minute trip, I didn't have much time to research the locations on my New England road trip; therefore I have been able to discover them with an open mind as I reach them. On paper the little towns and villages can sound somewhat similar to each other, as they all feature boutique shops, galleries and similar architecture. However, once I actually arrived in each place I found unique and interesting things to discover.
The Berkshires is a rural area in western Massachusetts and was the fifth location on my road trip. The area comprises of many small towns and villages including Stockbridge, Lennox, Lee and Great Barrington, they are easy reach from each other by car and surrounded by densely forested mountain scenery. I was staying in West Stockbridge which was a little out the way, summer is a very popular time of year to visit this area and all the boutique properties and resorts closer to the towns were fully booked, speaking to one of the locals who owned an inn here, I learned that they are often fully booked over the summer months a year in advance.
It didn’t take long to understand the reason for the regions popularity, The Berkshires are reputed as the centre of art and culture in the United States with a myriad of theatres dotted around the towns, as a theatre lover I was really excited to get out and see what was on offer. We visited the Berkshire Theatre Festival on Saturday night and watched Arsenic and Old Lace – I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show but found it hilariously funny and perfectly executed and would have gone to see another show here if I had the time.
On Sunday morning we ventured into Great Barrington, which was about a 15 minute drive, this was slightly bigger than Stockbridge, we stopped at the festively decorated Patisserie Lennox for a delicious breakfast and then spent a few hours relaxing at the nearby Lake Mansfield in the sun.
For lovers of the arts this is a great place to be in the summer months with the Annual Jacobs Pillow Festival – a dance festival a few minutes away. We drove over there to explore and found outdoor stages and spaces with the picturesque backdrop of the hills, sadly they weren’t showing any ticketed performances until the Wednesday when we would have moved on, but we were able to take a self-guided tour around the grounds for free with a map and stop in the café for a coffee. There were also free short films and talks taking place every day in between the paid performances. I would definitely recommend pre-booking shows in advance and planning your trip around them.
When not enjoying live performances in the area you can walk freely into many of the galleries in the area, there are also many quirky restaurants and places to relax over cheese and wine. I also visited the Red Lion Pub which is supposedly the oldest in the United States. With low ceilings, dim lighting and live music it certainly feels like not much has changed since it opened, and they offer a very European menu with camembert, shepherds pie and a roast dinner on offer.