Arts, culture, and luxury are surrounded by beauty of Berkshire
The Museum of the Gilded Age is housed in the 19th-century Ventfort Hall. (Jonathan Wiggs/ Globe Staff)
Globe Staff / December 26, 2007
In the mid-19th century, Lenox became a summer haunt for the elite of Boston and New York, but it has since grown into a destination for the wealthy and cultured from around the world. Home of Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Company, the Museum of the Gilded Age, and novelist Edith Wharton’s magnificent estate, the town offers a wealth of music, theater, dance, art, and history. It boasts several exclusive spas and retreats, including Kripalu and Canyon Ranch. Its small, stylish downtown is replete with boutique clothing stores, art galleries, and high-end restaurants. And well-to-do newcomers have restored many of its opulent “cottages” built more than a century ago by moneyed families like the Carnegie, Procter, and Westinghouse clans. For culture in the lap of luxury, chic Lenox is the place to go.
If there’s one destination tourists most associate with Lenox, it’s Tanglewood. From June through August, the Tanglewood Music Center (297 West St., 617-266-1492, tanglewood.org) is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Concerts are held in the barnlike Koussevitzky Music Shed, and visitors can enjoy the music while also picnicking on the rolling lawn. Operating year-round, Shakespeare & Company (70 Kemble St., 413-637-1199, shakespeare.org) holds scores of performances, workshops, lectures, demonstrations, and classes honoring the Bard, as well as other playwrights and artists. Built in 1893, gorgeous Ventfort Hall (104 Walker St., 413-637-3206, gildedage.org) was one of Lenox’s so-called cottages (read: mansions) and now houses the Museum of the Gilded Age, which chronicles the country’s pockets of extravagant wealth in the late 19th century. Bordering Tanglewood, the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio (92 Hawthorne St., 413-637-0166, frelinghuysen.org) is the preserved former home of Suzy Frelinghuysen and George L.K. Morris, who helped pioneer abstract art in the 1930s and ’40s. Guided tours of the house and its extensive art collection are available. Or take a self-guided tour of The Mount (2 Plunkett St., 413-551-5111,edithwharton.org), the sprawling 1902 estate and gardens of the novelist Edith Wharton. The Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum (10 Willow Creek Road, 413-637-2210, berkshirescenicrail road.org) celebrates railroading in the Berkshires, and offers leisurely train rides from Lenox to either Stockbridge or Lee.
At least two-dozen restaurants, many of them top-notch and top-price, call tiny Lenox home. Refined Napa (34 Church St., 413-637-3204, entrees $18-$28) specializes in California cuisine like pistachio- and chive-encrusted filet of sole and braised Chilean sea bass. Baroods (18 Franklin St., 413-637-8266,baroods.com, entrees $18-$28) serves what it calls “French food without the attitude,” including crepes, croque monsieur, and escargots. Fin (27 Housatonic St., 413-637-9171, entrees $17-$26) is a sushi and sake bar offering toro, tuna rolls, and barbecued eel. Prime (15 Franklin St., 413-637-2998, primelenox.com, entrees $16-$34) is a stylish steakhouse with plenty of chicken, seafood, and pasta dishes, too. The sophisticated menu at chic Bistro Zinc (56 Church St., 413-637-8800, bistro zinc.com, entrees $21-$35) roams from beet tartare to grilled Moroccan lamb loin to vegetable spaetzle. Colorful Firefly (71 Church St., 413-637-2700, fire flylenox.com, entrees $18-$27) aims to please every appetite, whether you want nachos or a lobster roll or mustard-roasted pork tenderloin. For cheap eats, try the soups and sandwiches at Berkshire Bagel (18 Franklin St., 413-637-1500), where the bagels are baked fresh daily, or the burritos, chicken wings, and, of course, pizza at cute Betty’s Pizza Shack (26 Housatonic, 413-637-8171, bettyspizza.com, pizzas $9.75-$20). If you need picnic fixin’s for Tanglewood, check out the earthy-crunchy selection at Clearwater Natural Foods (11 Housatonic St., 413-637-2721) or the wine, fancy cheeses, and specialty foods at Nejaime’s Wine Cellars (60 Main St., 413-637-2221 and 444 Pittsfield Road, 413-448-2274, nejaimeswine.com). Then sate your sweet tooth at SoCo Creamery (26 Housatonic St., 413-637-9192,sococreamery.com), which makes its own ice cream, or Chocolate Springs Café (55 Pittsfield Rd., 413-637-9820, chocolatesprings.com), where the desserts include truffles and mousse cakes.
If your kids have overloaded on art and culture and need to burn off energy, take them to Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (472 West Mountain Road, 413-637-0320, massaudubon.org), a year-round, 1,300-acre Massachusetts Audubon habitat with a nature center and several miles of trails. One of them climbs to the top of Lenox Mountain, offering a view of Mount Greylock, the Taconic Range, and the Catskills. To see the countryside by horseback, contact Aspinwall Adult Equestrian Center, home of Berkshire Horseback Adventures (293 Main St., 413-637-9090, berkshirehorseback.net). Options range from one-hour pleasure rides to overnight camping trips. And, parents, don’t forget: During the summer, Tanglewood offers free lawn tickets for children under age 12. Up to four children’s tickets are available per adult per concert.
The bar scene in Lenox is subdued. At the statelyGateways Inn (51 Walker St., 413-637-2532,gatewaysinn.com), the La Terrazza bar and lounge, which stays open late for the post-Tanglewood crowd, boasts an impressive selection of single malts. Beside the restaurantRumplestiltzkin’s, the Village Inn also has a bar called Rumpy’s Tavern (16 Church St., 413-637-0020, villageinn-lenox.com), which sometimes has live jazz on weekends. For nothing much fancier than a burger and a beer, visit theOlde Heritage Tavern (12 Housatonic Road, 413-637-0884).
Downtown Lenox’s pricey boutique stores make it easy to lighten your wallet. Like a colorful retail museum, funky B. Mango & Bird (74 Main St., 413-637-2611,bmangoandbird.com) stocks a little of everything, from unique furniture to unusual light fixtures to “assorted kickshaws.” Whether you’re shopping for an infant or teenager, the Gifted Child (72 Church St., 413-637-1191,thegiftedchild.net) has toys, accessories, and clothing to please the kid in your life. Tanglewool (28 Walker St., 413-637-0900, tanglewool.net) sells creative knitted items and knitting supplies. Another favorite among knitters and crocheters is Colorful Stitches (48 Main St., 413-637-8206, colorful-stitches.com), with items made from yak, buffalo, llama, and hundreds of other yarns and fibers. Classy tableware is the specialty at A Table (4 Main St., 413-637-5066, atable-lenox.com), where the selection includes linens, china, glassware, and hand-painted earthenware. If art is on your shopping list, there are several galleries to explore. The Lenox Gallery of Fine Art (69 Church St., 413-637-2276, lenoxgallery.com) has two floors of art by more than 25 regional artists. The funky Church Street Art Gallery (34 Church St., 413-637-9600, church streetart.com) describes its collection as “self-taught, outsider, and folk art,” including carvings and masks. Decorative and fine arts is the specialty at theWit Gallery (27 Church St., 413-637-8808, thewitgallery.com).
If you’re looking for rejuvenation, pamper yourself at Kripalu (57 Interlaken Road, 413-448-3313, kripalu.org; one-night “retreat and renewal” packages, including room, buffet meals, yoga, aerobic dancing, and other activities, begin at $174 per person on weekdays, $190 on weekends, double occupancy). Here, you can indulge in aromatherapy, deep massage, and shiatsu. There’s also Canyon Ranch (165 Kemble St., 413-637-4100, canyonranch.com; three-night, all-inclusive packages of meals, fitness classes, lectures, and other services begin at $1,830 per person, double occupancy), an exclusive spa offering wellness programs. Lenox also has a cornucopia of inns, hotels, and bed-and-breakfasts. Three guest houses make up the Cornell Inn (203 Main St., 413-637-0562,cornellinn.com, rooms start at $70 off-season, $120 in-season), which is adjacent to a town park with trails for hiking, biking, and skiing. A short walk from Tanglewood, Stonover Farm Bed & Breakfast (169 Undermountain Road, 413-637-9100, stonoverfarm.com, rooms start at $325 off-season, $425 in-season) sits next to a duck pond on 10 acres. “There is poetry here” is the motto at Brook Farm Inn (15 Hawthorne St., 413-637-3013, brookfarm.com, rooms start at $135 off-season, $165 in-season), whose library contains an extensive collection of poetry. Sprawling Cranwell (55 Lee St., 413-637-1364,cranwell.com, rooms start at $195 off-season, $295 in-season), a historic mansion resort with more than 100 rooms, has a spa, indoor pool, tennis courts, and 18-hole golf course. For more affordable lodging, try the Econo Lodge (130 Pittsfield Rd., 413-637-4244, choicehotels.com/hotel/MA092, rooms start at $45 off-season, $180 in-season), Howard Johnson Express Inn (462 Pittsfield Road, 413-442-4000, hojo.com, rooms start at $68 off-season, $110 in-season), or Days Inn (194 Pittsfield Road, 413-637-3560, daysinn.com, rooms start at $50 off-season, $160 in-season).
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.