You’ve Got to Go To Jacob’s Pillow

During our vacations in the Berkshires, I’d often hear people rave about Jacob’s Pillow – the renowned dance festival that takes place every summer in Beckett. The Pillow is approximately a 35 minute drive from Great Barrington & this year, the festival runs through August 24th.

What’s always intrigued me about the Pillow is just how passionate people are about the place. Many people will tell you that their first exposure to a live dance performance was at Jacob’s Pillow & that ever since, they can’t get enough & now visit the Pillow many times each summer.

Last summer, my wife & I attended our first full length, live dance performance, at the Pillow, & like so many others, we too were smitten by the place. And, just last week, we took the kids to the Pillow for their first time – &, no surprise – they’re also hooked.

Pillow Kids

Strolling the Pillow Grounds

In the last week alone, we’ve seen 2 separate performances at the Pillow. The first performance was by the Trey McIntire Project – simply amazing. The second half of that performance was titled “Mecury Half-Life” & was set entirely to the music of classic rock band Queen – one of my son’s favorites. The second performance we took in was “Unreal Hip Hop” - super creative, high energy & lots of fun for both us & the kids.

An afternoon or evening at the Pillow isn’t just about the dance performance, but also about having lunch or dinner there, strolling the grounds & soaking up the spectacular setting & energy of the dancers & dance students from around the globe. If you arrive an hour or so before your scheduled performance, you’ll have plenty of time to picnic or dine at one of the Pillow’s 3 dining establishments – The Café at Jacob’s Pillow, The Barre at the Café & the Pillow Pub. We really like the Pillow Pub. It has nice sandwiches & a great selection of local, craft beers on tap.

Pillow Pub

The Pillow Pub

The Pillow also has many free outdoor performances throughout the summer – known as “Inside/Out Performances”  – set in an outdoor amphitheater with breathtaking mountain views. Not to be missed.

Have a blast at the Pillow!


Ashuwillitcook both

Berkshires Biking- The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

One of our favorite outdoor family activities in the Berkshires is biking. This will be the first of several posts on some of our favorite bike rides here.

We love biking here not only because it’s a great workout but also because you get to take in all of the natural beauty of the Berkshires – the rolling hills, glorious mountains, pastoral farmland, crystal clear lakes & lots of wildlife (In fact, I just observed a porcupine scurrying across the road on my last ride!). The bike rides here range from relatively flat & easy to very hilly & challenging.

One of our favorite rides with the kids is the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail (say that 10 times fast), in Lanesborough. The reason why this makes for such a great family ride is that it’s mostly flat & not too strenuous. Yet, you get to ride alongside beautiful lakes (including the 418 acre Cheshire Reservoir), mountains, streams & babbling brooks – without car traffic (with the exception of a couple of crossings that are clearly marked & difficult for the kids to get through on their own, because of strategically placed barriers).

Ahuwillitcook Ava

Cheshire Reservoir. Awesome!

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is a former railroad corridor converted into a 10-foot wide paved trail. It’s also a great place for jogging & rollerblading. The Rail Trail runs parallel to Route 8 through the towns of Cheshire, Lanesborough & Adams. The southern end of the rail trail (which is where you’ll probably want to start) begins at the entrance to the Berkshire Mall off MA Rte. 8 in Lanesborough & travels 11.2 miles north to the center of Adams. So, the total ride is 22 miles and takes several hours. It’s just under a 40 minute drive from downtown Great Barrington to the start of the Rail Trail – well worth the trip.

There’s a cute little ice cream shop along the ride – in Cheshire – that also sells cold beverages. And, when you get to the end of the trail in Adams, there’s a really nice visitor’s center with very clean restrooms & snack machines. Once inside the visitors center be sure to check out the Thunderbolt Ski Museum which features a fun exhibit (with a movie) on the 10th Mountain Division & the now legendary Thunderbolt Ski Race.

Thunderbolt Ski Museum in Adams

Thunderbolt Ski Museum in Adams

The Thunderbolt Ski Race started in the 1930s & still takes place every year on nearby Mount Greylock - the highest point in Massachussets.  Once in Adams, you can also walk around the streets near the Visitors Center & check out the beautiful classic brick mill buildings – some of which have been converted into loft residences.

Have a blast on the Rail Trail!



Pink & White

Awesome Art & Dining in Columbia County

One of the great things about living & vacationing in the Massachussets Berkshires is that you get the triple benefit of not just the Massachusetts Berkshires, but also what’s often referred to as the neighboring New York Berkshires & Connecticut Berkshires. The NY Berkshires, in Columbia County, is chock full of arts & culture, outdoor activities & amazing food & restaurants. One of of our favorite Columbia County day trips from West Stockbridge is to the OMI International Arts Center in Ghent, with a dinner stop afterward in Philmont, NY.

OMI has a fantastic, fun & whimsical outdoor sculpture park & there’s nothing like walking around & exploring the the grounds on a nice day. While we enjoy all of the sculptures, our kids’ go-to favorite has been  “A Simple Network of Underground Wells & Tunnels” as they can actually climb down ladders into the sculpture & crawl through it. In addition to OMI’s sculpture park, they’ve got rotating indoor exhibits at the Visitors Center & Gallery  –  a stunning building that also features a great cafe.  And, if you’re up in the Berkshires this weekend, OMI is having its Season Opening Exhibition on June 13 & 14.

We're IN the sculpture!

Yes…we’re INSIDE the sculpture!


After you’re done strolling around the OMI grounds & have worked up an appetite, I suggest heading for dinner at one of our two favorite Columbia County restaurants  – both located in Philmont, NY.  Philmont is a short 15 minute or so drive from OMI.  The Main Street Public House Pub, located 12 Main Street (Route 217) has awesome pub style food with a great selection of microbrew beers on tap.  On the first Friday of each month, they serve a great fish & chips special. Their burgers, made with locally sourced beef from nearby Kinderhook Farm (another great place to visit – but I’ll cover that in a separate blog post) are also off the charts.  Note – the Pub takes cash only.

Main St. Public House

If you’re up for something a bit more upscale (yet not the least bit pretentious), I strongly recommend Local 111, which is at 111 Main Street, just up the hill from the Main Street Public House Pub. Josephine Proul, who’s been the super creative executive chef at Local 111 for the past six years just purchased the restaurant. The menu has something for everyone & covers the the rich bounty provided by the wealth of local farms in the surrounding Hudson Valley. Local 111 has a great wine selection & we just love the vibe & ambience there.

Local 111

Local 111

Enjoy your day in Columbia County & happy eating in Philmont!


Richmond Pond

We’ve Got the Kayaks!

One of our favorite outdoor activities in the Berkshires is kayaking. Kayaking can be a great cardio workout or you can just take it slow & soak up (sorry, couldn’t resist) the beautiful surroundings. I find being out on the water early in the morning or at dusk so magical & peaceful. There are so many great lakes in the Berkshires where you can just drop in your kayak from the boat launch, paddle away & explore. Some of my favorite lakes for kayaking are Richmond Pond in Richmond (great fishing & we’ve spotted bald eagles and beavers there too), Stockbridge Bowl  (there are boat launches in both Stockbridge & Lenox) & Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington (just up the hill from downtown).

My son kayaking & fishing on Richmond Pond

My Son – Living the Life on Richmond Pond

Thinking of buying a kayak? Well, kayaks were one of our first purchases when we moved to the Berkshires. We found the employees at EMS in Lanesboro (at the Lanesboro Mall) to be extremely knowledgeable & helpful with our search. Be sure to ask if Nate, the store manager, is going to be in when you go, as he’s super knowledgeable on kayak & paddle choices. And, he’ll also help you choose & install the appropriate car racks for your car. If fishing is your thing, Nate can also set you up with a fishing rod holder that easily clips on to your kayak so the rod doesn’t get in the way when you’re paddling.

If you’re not quite ready to purchase a kayak but still want to give kayaking a try, you can rent kayaks from the Arcadian Shop in Lenox. For an extra fee, they’ll even deliver to the public boat launch at Stockbridge Bowl and Decker’s Landing on the Housatonic River (in Lenox) with pickup at Woods Pond.

Happy paddling!

race brook upper falls

Hiking Mount Race – Waterfalls, Awesome Views, Babbling Brooks & More!

I just did one of my favorite Berkshires day hikes with my son – Mount Race in Sheffield. This hike offers the best of everything. You get to see a beautiful waterfall (Race Brook Falls, which you’ll reach at approximately the 1.1 mile mark), climb boulders, see multiple smaller falls, cross babbling brooks & then top it off with fantastic views into Connecticut & beyond from the summit.  And, the majestic hawks soaring right above your head are an added plus.

The total hike is approximately 5.5 miles and has some good vertical climbs – so be sure to wear appropriate footwear, allow yourself around 5 hours or so & bring plenty of water & snacks. To get to the trail from Great Barrington, take Route 41 South and approximately 1.9 miles past the Berkshire School, you’ll see the trailhead on the right (look for the parked cars). If the parking area is full, you can park along Route 41 but just make sure your car is really off the road and on the grass.

Once on the trail, at about the ¼ mile mark, you’ll see a signpost for Race Brook Falls. Bear left at the sign post. Follow the blue blazes up the trail & when you get to the Appalachian Trail sign post, bear left & follow the white blazes. Once you start seeing the pine forest, you’ve almost reached the summit, with its magnificent views.

We've reached the top!

We’ve reached the summit. YES!


If your limited on time, want something less strenuous & have approximately 1 hour, you can visit the lower falls, which will be an approximately 1.4 mile round trip hike. Just stay straight when you get to the 1st sign post at the beginning of the trail.

Have a blast on your hike!

Catamount Web

Swinging in the Berkshires!

Looking for a super fun activity to do with the kids this spring & summer in the Berkshires?  Then visit the Catamount Aerial Adventure Park located in Hillsdale, NY, 15 minutes from Great Barrington, right over the Massachusetts state line. You & the kids will have three or so hours of thrills & excitement, get a great workout & discover muscles you never knew existed!


Zip Line!

Cousins Zip Line Fun!

The beauty of the aerial adventure park is that it’s suitable for ages 7 & up and works much like a ski slope – with multiple courses for varying ages & difficulty levels. After being fitted for your harness & given a pair of safety gloves, you’ll receive a quick demo from the park staff on how the equipment works, proper safety, etc. And, then it’s off to the action. The best part is that each course ends with super fun zip lines that take you from the course area down to the Catamount base lodge.

We always go as a family & it never gets old. And, it’s one of the most requested destinations of our weekend guests. So.. what are you waiting for? Head over to Catamount Aerial Adventure Park & have fun swinging!

Ava Ramps Cover

The Family that Forages Together…

There’s been lots of talk and social media posting by our foody friends about spring ramp foraging here in the Berkshires. So… during a family walk in our neighborhood the other night, my 9 year old daughter shrieks with excitement “hey, mom & dad, I think those look like ramps!”. She then reaches down and pulls a couple of weed looking plants up from the ground & voilà –  we’ve got beautiful, pungent ramps folks – and plenty of them!

Ramps Carrie

My wife & her babies

As a newby to foraging, I must confess there’s something very exciting & wholesome about the experience. And, the kids had an absolute blast digging up and gathering the booty. As soon as we got home, we cleaned the ramps and my wife made a delicious ramp frittata that we devoured within minutes. (check out our friend & Berkshires based cookbook author Alana Chernila’s recipe for ramp, asparagus & ricotta frittata. )

So, next time you’re up in the Berkshires in the spring, give me a holler. You never know – I might just share our ramp treasure map with you. Til then, happy foraging!

Mud Day

Don’t Miss Mud Day!

This Saturday, May 17th is Mud Day! What on earth is Mud Day, you ask?  Mud Day is a spring festival celebrating the Berkshires landscape & the environment. The festival is held at Muddy Brook Elementary School – 318 Monument Valley Rd., in Great Barrington, from 11am – 3pm.  The event is open to the public.

We went last year with the kids & it was a blast. It’s such a wholesome family event – no cheesy game booths & prize tickets for junky plastic toys that linger around your house for years.  Each class exhibits a project they worked on during the school year related to the environment & conservation.  And, the highlight (for the kids, at least) are several mud pits that the kids get to play in.  Our kids’ favorite was the tug of war mud pit. They’ll also have lots of fun craft activities for the kids.  Last year my daughter spun her own colorful jump rope that she still uses.

My daughter creating her own jump rope

My daughter creating her own jump rope

To top it off, there will be great food (from Prairie Whale, ice cream from The Scoop & amazing doughnuts from Home Sweet Home Doughnut Shoppe ), musical entertainment & plenty of mud for the kids to romp around in.  Important tip: bring a spare change of clothes for your kids & bring them to the festivities in clothes that you don’t mind them getting dirty.  Enjoy!

Hancock Shaker

Baby Animals & More – Hancock Shaker Village

If you have never been, you owe it to yourself, your kids or your grandkids to go to Hancock Shaker Village for their annual Baby Animals event. The special tour price includes a hay ride, photo of your family holding some of the baby animals and a behind the scenes tour with a chance to hold bay chicks, ducklings, pigs and lambs! We take our kids every year & it never gets old. And when you’re their be sure to have a chat with Laura a/ka the “Chicken Lady” who can not only answer all of your questions about the baby animals but also share her passion for chickens with you.

Ava Pig

Cute little piggy – aye?

And, they’re holding a Backyard Beekeeping Workshop on May 17th.  How cool is that?

Have a blast at Hancock Shaker Village!

Ice Glen Main

Hiking Ice Glen & the Perfect Post Hike Dinner

Looking for a really fun hike, suitable for all ages and right next to downtown Stockbridge? Then be sure to check out the Ice Glen Trail in Stockbridge (trailhead is on Park Road) . The entire hike will take you +/- 1 hour and you’ll have a blast climbing in & out of the boulders. And, when you’re done and have built up an appetite, stop by Widow Bingham’s Tavern inside the Red Lion Inn.  Chef Brian Alberg & his crew create amazing dishes from the farm fresh produce that surrounds us here in the Berkshires.

Bighma's Tavern Desert

Birthday Dessert at Bingham’s Tavern

My son loves all of the old world charm & nostalgia of the tavern & claims their burger (with farm fresh egg on top, of course) is the best in the Berkshires.  And, as you can see, he never skips their delicious desserts!  He loves the Belgian chocolate mousse with salted caramel & my favorite is the pear creme brulee with smoked almond biscotti.  Bingham’s Tavern has lots of kid friendly options too.

Have an awesome hike & we’ll see you at the Red Lion!