Strike Up the Band for Summer in Berkshire Hills, Massachusetts
The Boston Pops at Tanglewood will play with Josh Groban this summer.( Photo: Hilary Scott)
By Barbara Hoffman
There are lots of reasons to head for the Berkshire Hills each summer, and the Williamstown Theater Festival, a.k.a WTF — launching pad for Broadway’s upcoming “The Elephant Man” with Bradley Cooper — is just one of them.
Western Massachusetts’ mountains, streams and steeples have long beckoned artists and writers. Your first stop? Great Barrington, a town with a crunchy, granola vibe — a fine place to unwind after threading your way up the Taconic. Main Street’s shops are chockablock with kaleidoscopes and wind chimes, and Barrington Outfitters (289 Main St.) carries more Birkenstocks than you believed possible.
Stop and smell the hummus at Baba Louie’s (286 Main St.), a mecca for vegans and fans of artisanal pizza. If you can’t bear the wait, turn the corner to 20 Railroad Street and belly up to the bar for some kick-ass sliders and salads. Or hit the Meat Market (389 Stockbridge Road), a nose-to-tail butcher shop that makes mincemeat out of my vows to go vegetarian.
Where the Williamstown Theatre Festival is happening. (Photo: Rob Ross)
It’s the perfect place to pick up a picnic to take to Tanglewood, the 250-acre summer retreat, just north of Stockbridge, of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Whether you’re seated in the (covered) shed or lying on the lawn, there’s no lovelier place to hear one of America’s top ensembles — or, for that matter, James Taylor (July 3 and 4) and the Boston Pops with Josh Groban (Aug. 30).
Stockbridge itself is picture-postcard-perfect, right down to the rocking chairs dotting the porch of the Red Lion Inn.
It looks much as it did 50 years ago, when Norman Rockwell bicycled through it, looking for subjects for his Saturday Evening Post covers. His art, studio and even his bicycle are enshrined in the Norman Rockwell Museum on Route 183. Those who’ve read Deborah Solomon’s controversial bio may well want to see his “homoerotic” works for themselves.
Heading north through Lenox, check out Edith Wharton’s digs, The Mount. Not only did “The Age of Innocence” writer work here, she also designed the house and gardens herself.