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Day 1 – On arrival in the Berkshires of Massachussetts, your first stop is the Hancock Shaker Village. Here you explore the historic buildings in a 1783 Shaker Village known as the “City of Peace.” You will learn about the Shaker life, crafts and farming techniques. You will explore the main dwelling, barns, workshops, meeting house, school house and many other structures. All while learning how that the production and sale of garden seeds was their most lucrative business.
Shaker Village was included in Bob Vila’s A&E Network production “Guide to Historic Homes of America.” This tour features several other New England Homes, Villages, Botanical Gardens and Art Museums. It is a beautiful look at American Art and History featuring the Best of the Berkshires.
Next, visit The Mount. Designed and built by Edith Wharton in 1902, the house embodies the principles outlined in her influential book, “The Decoration of Houses.” The property includes three acres of formal gardens designed by Wharton, who was also an authority on European landscape design. After a guided tour of the house, stroll through the restored formal gardens.
Then you will check into your historic hotel, the famous Williams Inn for a three night stay. Dating back to 1912, The Williams Inn is one of the finest destination inns in New England and is now the official Williams College hotel. You will instantly feel welcome with their display of New England hospitality. After you have settled in, enjoy a walk around the manicured grounds.
This evening, gather for an included dinner that features New England classics and updated favorites it is served in the Inn’s elegant, but relaxed dining room. (D)
Day 2 – After breakfast, you will tour the Berkshire Botanical Gardens. This 15-acre garden has 23 public displays of gardens that are both functional and ornamental and they are among the oldest in the U.S. More than 3,000 species and varieties are represented. After the tour, gather for am exclusive session hosted by a Master Gardener and learn about seasonal gardening topics including: container gardens, propagating plants and Garden-to-Table Culinary Delights with samples!
Enjoy lunch on your own at a quaint café in the historic Town of Stockbridge. There will be time to explore the shops and boutique stores that line the streets.
Next, explore the architectural masterpiece Naumkeag, a National Historic Landmark. It is the family home of Joseph Choate, a leading 19th-century attorney, who had the 44-room “cottage,” Naumkeag, designed and built to serve as a summer retreat. Witness the Blue Steps, a series of deep blue fountain pools, flanked by four flights of stairs and a grove of white birches. With its views of Monument Mountain and its stunning collection of gardens, Naumkeag is a quintessential country estate of the Gilded Age.
Next, you travel to the Norman Rockwell Museum. The museum is dedicated to the enjoyment and study of Rockwell’s work and his contributions to society, popular culture and social commentary. It is the most popular year-round cultural attraction in the Berkshires and houses the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell’s work, including 998 original paintings and drawings.
Here in the museum’s Art Lab you will get an exclusive opportunity to learn the techniques of watercolor painting from a locally recognized artist. Sip a glass of wine, pick up your paintbrush and create your own beautiful piece of artwork that you may show off at home.
Dinner is served tonight at the historic Red Lion Inn, one of the few New England inns operating continuously since the 18th Century. The interior is loaded with antiques, it’s like a history book in itself! (B,D)
Day 3 – This morning you visit the Clark Art Institute, home to the world-renowned collection of American and European art of Sterling and Francine Clark. Tour this extensive collection of prints and drawings, sculptures, decorative arts and paintings, followed by time to explore on your own. Most notably, witness the French Impressionist masterworks by artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renior, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot and Camille Pissarro.
Next, drive by Williams College, established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams, a Colonel in the Massachusetts militia and a member of a prominent landowning family. Originally a men’s college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Williams College currently occupies 1st place in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 ranking of the 266 liberal arts colleges in the United States. Forbes Magazine ranked Williams the best college in the United States in its 2014 publication of America’s Top Colleges.
Then you will have time to explore the charming Town of Williamstown and the delightful array of specialty stores and shops. Enjoy lunch on your own at one of the local eateries.
Next, visit Cricket Creek Farm, one of the oldest dairy farms in the region it came under new ownership in 2001 and the owners have modeled their operations after those at Shelburne Farms in Northern Vermont. Your visit includes a guided tour of the milking parlor and cheese making facility, time to meet the farm animals, samples of their award-winning cheeses and time to shop in their store that features products made right on the farm and other locally produced items.
This afternoon, visit the MASS MoCA, (Museum of Contemporary Art). The museum is one of the largest centers for contemporary visual and performing arts in the country. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on this 19th-century factory campus. It has more than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space, including a single gallery as long as a football field. It is also home of the “Bang on a Can” Summer Institute, where composers and performers from around the world come to create and perform new music.
After your time at the museum, head over to the museum’s Gramercy Bistro. Sit back and learn of the region’s thriving brewery business. Enjoy the samples of three locally produced microbrews while your own personal server explains the brewing process and blending of locally sourced and unique ingredients.
Tonight features a memorable farewell dinner served in museum’s Gramercy Bistro. The contemporary, classic cuisine is in keeping with the museum’s mission. (B,D)
Day 4 – After breakfast, depart for home. (B)