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Berkshire Hills, Massachusetts Guide

The Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, from Williamstown in the north to Egremont in the south (map), are alive with music, theater & dance, art, antiques and outdoor adventures, especially in summer—and in winter, skiing. Hiking Mount Greylock, you may just come upon the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft & Wizardry!

Veterans War Memorial Tower, summit of Mount Greylock, North Adams MA
The Veterans War Memorial Tower at the summit of Mount Greylock, highest mountain in Massachusetts.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, wealthy vacationers built huge, sumptuous "summer cottages" on spacious grounds in Berkshire County, about 130 miles (209 km; 2-2/3 hours) west of Boston, and 160 miles (258 km; 3-3/4 hours) north of New York City. Many of these country estates and town mansions have been converted to venues for concerts, drama and art exhibitions, or to host travelers.

Prime among them is Tanglewood, the sprawling 19th-century estate in Lenox MA that has become the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and seat of the Tanglewood Music Festival.

The Berkshires are also art country, with numerous museums of works in the graphic, plastic and performing arts.

Music & Tanglewood

On the lawn at the Music Shed, Tanglewood, Lenox MA
Savvy concert-goers arrive early to claim a good picnic place on the lawn of the Koussevitsky Music Shed at Tanglewood—and they bring their own shade.

Tanglewood Music Festival

Since 1937, the number-one summer activity in Lenox has been the Tanglewood Music Festival, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Over 50 concerts—by full orchestra, chamber groups, and soloists in recital—take place during the Tanglewood season (July & August), including the famous weekend symphony concerts in the 5000-seat Koussevitsky Music Shed.

Up to 15,000 people may crowd into Tanglewood for a weekend concert. If you want to be among them, you must plan your visit! Tickets, accommodations, traffic and parking (thousands of cars!), good seats in the Shed or on the lawn (in the shade!), food, what to do if it rains... Here's my Plan for a Tanglewood Visit.

Tanglewood Jazz Festival

After the summer classical music concert program, Tanglewood is the scene for the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, held in the first week of September, featuring many legendary performers as well as up-and-coming talent.

South Mountain Concerts

South Mountain Concerts in Pittsfield specializes in chamber music. Concerts begin in August and last into October. South Mountain Concerts was started in 1918 in a lovely old hall located a mile south of Pittsfield on US Route 7 & 20. More...

Aston Magna Music Festival

Since 1972, Aston Magna has brought concerts of classical music performed on period instruments to a variety of venues in New England. Its summer series includes concerts at Great Barrington's Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and Daniel Arts Center. More...

Williams College Music

The Williams College Department of Music arranges numerous concerts from September through May when college is in session in Williamstown.

In the summer, Williamstown Chamber Concerts organizes several chamber music performances at Williamstown's Clark Art Institute.

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

The historic Mahaiwe Theater built in 1905 for vaudeville acts, converted to a cinema in 1930, is going strong after more than a century. It is now Great Barrington's drama, film and concert venue, right in the town center, offering a wonderful historic space as well as a full program of varied arts entertainments. More...

Theater & Dance

Williamstown Theatre Festival

62 Theatre, Williams College
The '62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College.

Founded in 1954, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has staged many original works that have moved on to Broadway and other prestigious venues. Big-name actors, fine set design and satisfying performances draw the crowds to this town on the Vermont border.

The all-summer festival performances take place in a number of locations around Williamstown, chief among which is the Main Stage company's performances in the dramatic 512-seat '62 Center for Theatre and Dance.

The 173-seat Nikos Stage in the Adams Memorial Theatre is the venue for new and experimental plays and workshops. Other performances include Cabaret comedy and singing, and kid-friendly Free Theatre performances and events for families.

Shakespeare & Company

For three decades, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox has brought to life the Bard's best in the Berkshires, with memorable performances by a company of more than 150 artists. More...

Berkshire Theatre Group

Colonial Theater, Pittsfield MA
The historic Colonial Theatre (1903) in Pittsfield MA.

The Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, is organized by the Berkshire Theatre Group which stages performing arts events on five stages: three at the Festival's campus in Stockbridge, two in Pittsfield (the historic Colonial Theatre and adjoining Garage). More...

Berkshire Fringe

A three-week mid-summer festival of emerging artists, ensembles and innovative, dynamic, cross-discipline and edgy theatrical works, including world premieres organized by Bazaar Productions at The Daniel Arts Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington (map). More...

Barrington Stage Company

Pittsfield's own theater company is the Barrington Stage, presenting classic dramas, musicals, new and experimental works, and youth theater on three stages in the city center just off North Street in Pittsfield. More...

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival

This premier American summer dance program—the Berkshires' dance equivalent to Tanglewood—takes place in the tiny (pop. 2000) town of Becket, next to Lee. (map). The dance company was founded in 1933 by Ted Shawn (1891-1972) who had "a dream of legitimizing dance in America as an honorable career for men." Shawn bought a small Berkshire farm the owners called "Jacob's Pillow," and brought his innovative ideas of modern dance to the Berkshires. His vision was soon affecting modern dance throughout the world.

For nearly a century, Jacob's Pillow has fostered modern dance in its summer teaching and training programs and performances during July and August, promoting the careers of numerous stars such as Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey and Bill T Jones. More...

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

The historic Mahaiwe Theater built in 1905 for vaudeville acts, converted to a cinema in 1930, is going strong after more than a century. It is now Great Barrington's drama, film and concert venue, right in the town center, offering a wonderful historic space as well as a full program of varied arts entertainments. More...

Art Museums

Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA
Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA

Summer colonies of artists and cognoscenti from Boston and New York assured that some towns in the Berkshire Hills have rich collections of art, from Chesterwood, the studio of famed sculptor Daniel Chester French, through the traditional Americana of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge to the avant-garde of North Adams's Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. and the gem of the Berkshires, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

Combination Tickets

Note that several of these Berkshire Hills art museums sell discounted combination tickets valid for admission to more than one museum. If you plan to visit more than one museum during your visit, ask about these, and save money.



Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Seated Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, and The Minute Man at Old North Bridge, Concord MA, lived and worked at this Berkshire estate from 1897 until his death in 1931. His sculpture studio remains as it was on the day of his death. A gallery of his work is on view as well. More...

Norman Rockwell Museum

America's most beloved illustrator of the 20th century lived and worked in Stockbridge from 1953 until his death in 1978. His museum here holds the world's largest collection of his work, beautifully displayed. Changing exhibits of current illustrators' works add to the attraction. More...

North Adams

MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art)

Once a factory complex producing textiles, and later electronics, this 13-acre (5.26-hectare) campus with 26 buildings is now one of the USA's foremost contemporary art museums with space for even the largest works. Besides a series of ongoing exhibits including Sol LeWitt's dramatic painted walls, MASS MoCA offers changing exhibits and performances of music, dance, theater, film and video. It's a happening place. More...


Clark Art Institute

"The Clark" features European and American paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the early20th century, especially rich in French Impressionist and Academic paintings, British oil sketches, drawings, and silver, and the work of American artists Winslow Homer, George Inness, and John Singer Sargent. This is the Berkshires' gem—don't miss it. More...

Williams College Museum of Art

The collection of 12,000 objects spans world history and cultures, but is particularly strong in American art from the late 1700s to the present, and especially since 1945, with works by Ida Applebroog, Lynda Benglis, Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Philip Guston, Ann Hamilton, Jenny Holzer, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Robert Morris, Louise Nevelson, Philip Pearlstein, Adrian Piper, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Faith Ringgold, Larry Rivers, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, David Smith, Kiki Smith, Mark Tansey and Andy Warhol. Admission to the permanent collection is free. More...

Forests, Parks & Gardens

The Berkshire Hills are gorgeous: long, low forested mountains separated by fertile valleys watered by the Green, Hoosic, and Housatonic rivers, with a sprinkling of lakes and ponds.

Mount Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts (3591 feet/1095 meters), is just outside North Adams at the northern end of Berkshire County. The county includes all of the westernmost part of Massachusetts framed by the borders of Vermont, New York and Connecticut.

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

This 11.2-mile (18km) paved recreation track follows a former railroad line parallel to MA Route 8 along the eastern base of Mount Greylock through the northern Berkshire towns of Adams, Lanesborough and Cheshire—great for biking or roller-skating. More...

Bash Bish Falls State Park

Bash Bish Falls, a great place on a hot day.

The highest single-drop waterfall (80 feet/24 meters) in Massachusetts is the centerpiece of this scenic park in the extreme southwest corner of the Berkshires, right next to Mount Washington State Forest. More...

Bartholomew's Cobble

A 100-foot-high bedrock outcrop of quartzite and marble, this reserve just east of US Route 7 north of the Connecticut border boasts an unusual array of flora, including a great array of fern species. Cared for by The Trustees of Reservations, it has a Visitor Center and 5 miles (8 km) of hiking trails. You may also want to visit Tyringham Cobble, 25 miles (40 km) northeast. More...

Beartown State Forest

Beartown's big attraction is Benedict Pond, great for swimming, fishing and boating, but the trails on the 12,000-acre (4856-hectare) reserve are great for hiking in summer, skiing and snowshoeing in winter. It's 6 miles (10 km) southeast of Stockbridge, 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Great Barrington. More...

Berkshire Botanical Garden

Wildflowers at Berkshire Botanical Garden, Stockbridge MA
Learning about the 3000 Berkshire-native flowers, plants and trees at the Berkshire Botanical Garden.

While you're enjoying the fresh, bracing air of the Berkshires, why not add beautiful flowers and lots more? The Berkshire Botanical Garden, founded nearly a century ago at 5 West Stockbridge Road in Stockbridge (map), is the place for a breath of fresh air. More...

Clarksburg State Park & Forest

Between Williamstown and North Adams at the northern end of the Berkshires, Clarksburg offers picnicking at Mauserts Pond, 9.5 miles (15 km) of hiking trails, birding, and 45 campsites with indoor showers and toilets. Natural Bridge State Park and Mount Greylock State Reservation are not far away. More...

Monument Mountain Reservation

Maintained by The Trustees of Reservations, Monument Mountain, on the west side of US Route 7 between Stockbridge and Great Barrington, offers a strenuous but satisfying 720-foot (220-meter) vertical-rise climb up a quartzite outcrop to 1642-foot (500-meter) Squaw Peak. Views of the Housatonic River Valley, and indeed all the Berkshires, are fine. More...

Mount Everett State Reservation

At 2624 feet (800 meters) elevation, Mount Everett offers panoramic of the Berkshires, New York and Connecticut from its location in the extreme southwest corner of Massachusetts, 13 miles (21km) southwest of Great Barrington. The path to the summit is only 3/4 mile (1.2 km). More...

Mount Greylock State Reservation

Massachusetts's highest mountain (3491 feet/1064 meters; map) offers fine views if the weather is clear, and 40 miles (64 km) of hiking trails no matter what. The Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft & Wizardry is also here—if you can find it.

View from Mount Greylock MA
Enjoying the view from the summit of Mount Greylock.

Mount Washington State Forest

Not to be confused with the much-higher Mount Washington in New Hampshire, Massachusetts's Mount Washington is set in a 4169-acre (17-square-km) forest reserve in the extreme southwestern corner of the Berkshires next to Bash Bish Falls. It offers 30 miles (48 km) of rough-terrain hiking trails with wilderness campsites. More...

Natural Bridge State Park

Natural Bridge, North Adams MA
Water flows beneath the tortured marble of the natural bridge.

Only 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northeast of North Adams, this small park is great for a picnic and a look at a marble quarry, the only white marble dam in the USA, and a curious gorge cut by a stream through white marble leaving a "natural bridge" above. More...

October Mountain State Forest

Once the estate of President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of the Navy, now Massachusetts' largest state forest (at 16,500 acres/67 square kilometers), October Mountain has 47 campsites just outside of Lee, and hiking trails for all levels of skill and mobility. The Appalachian Trail passes through the forest. More...

Pittsfield State Forest

Just a few miles west of Pittsfield are 65 acres (26 hectares) of wild azalea fields, 30 miles (48 km) of hiking trails, Berry Pond, an auto road up Berry Mountain, a paved 3/4-mile (1.2-km) trail suitable for wheelchairs, and lots of other outdoor possibilities. More...

Savoy Mountain State Forest

Just east of North Adams over the hills, Savoy has 50 miles of hiking trails,waterfalls, two ponds for swimming, 45 campsites and four rental cabins. More...

Tolland State Forest

From Great Barrington, it's 21 miles (34km) east to the centerpiece of the Tolland State Forest: 1065-acre (431-hectare) Otis Reservoir, a lake for boating, fishing, swimming, camping, hiking, mountain biking, off-road vehicles and, in winter, cross-country skiing. More...

Wahconah Falls State Park

Only 8 miles northeast of Pittsfield, Wahconah has a pretty 40-foot (12-meter) waterfall, picnic areas and hiking trails. More...


The Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts extend for 50 miles (80 km) north to south, from Williamstown and North Adams near the Vermont border in the north, to Sheffield and Egremont in the south by the Connecticut state line (map). You can travel there by train, plane, bus or car. More...

Where to Stay

Plan your Berkshire stay carefully, because lodgings fill to capacity on summer weekends, and are very busy on summer weekdays as well.

The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA, North Adams MA
The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA, North Adams MA.

Use this Hotel Map with Prices to find the lodgings you seek in the place you prefer:


Berkshire Hills Towns


Largest town in Berkshire County, Pittsfield is the county seat and transportation hub with service by train and bus. Pittsfield also has the Berkshire Museum, a lively arts scene, and historic Hancock Shaker Village and Herman Melville's Arrowhead estate on its outskirts. More...

Lenox & Lee

Tanglewood concerts by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on summer weekends are the big draw here, but these twin towns have much more to offer: art, theater, luxurious country inns, and outdoor activities at state parks. More...

Koussevitsky  Music Shed, Tanglewood Music Festival, Lenox MA
The lawn outside the Koussevitsky Music Shed at Tanglewood, ready for a concert.

 Lee boasts the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Berkshire's go-to gathering for dance. More...

Stockbridge & West Stockbridge

Stockbridge, its wide Main Street lined with grand houses, each set apart in its own lawns and gardens, was the summer home of renowned illustrator Norman Rockwell, and of famous sculptor Daniel Chester French. The Norman Rockwell Museum here is full of the famed illustrator's work, and Chesterwood, Daniel Chester French's sculpture studio, is on the outskirts, as is the delightful Berkshire Botanical Garden.

Though similarly named, the village of West Stockbridge, 4.3 miles (7 km) northwest of Stockbridge, is a much smaller, quite different place with its own special ambience. More...

Great Barrington

Largest town of the southern Berkshires (population 7100), it thrives on shops selling antiques, its restaurants, and musical and theatrical events: the Berkshire Fringe theater, shows in the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, outdoor adventures at Monument Mountain, bartholomew's Cobble, and Bash Bish Falls. Supplies and services that you might not find in Stockbridge or Lenox you'll find here.

North and South Egremont are rural, with good country restaurants, lots of antique shops and, in winter, skiing. More...

Williamstown & North Adams

Williamstown (population 7500), 140 miles (225 km) from Boston in the far northwest corner of Massachusetts (map), is at the northern end of the Berkshire Hills. It boasts renowned Williams College and two fine art museums. Neighboring North Adams is the home of MASS MoCA, one of the most unusual and alluring art museums in the country. More...

Mount Greylock

At 3491 feet (1064 meters), Mount Greylock is no Matterhorn, but it is a great hiking and scenic-view destination and, according to Harry Potter author J K Rowling, it is where the imaginary Mayflower Pilgrim Isolt Sayre established the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. More...

Veterans War Memorial Tower, Mount Greylock, Massachusetts
The Veterans War Memorial Tower at the summit of Mount Greylock.