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Family Travel: Berkshires Bounty


snowshoe, children snowshoeing   The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, about 3 hours from the New York metropolitan area, boasts year-round attractions for the whole family. There is biking, both for the advanced teen rider and the beginning tricyclist. The wide, paved 11-mile Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, set to be extended, runs from Pittsfield to Adams, with benches and interpretative signage along the way. Be sure to pick up a brochure identifying the flora and fauna you will encounter along the path. When it snows, you can cross-country ski on the path; and any time of year, you'll find hikers and walkers enjoying the trail.

   The Berkshires has four ski resorts, including Bousquet Ski Resort in Pittsfield (www.bousquets.com) and Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock (www.jiminypeak.com). Both of these turn their ski slopes into family adventure centers in the summer, with a water slide and bungee trampoline at the former and a mountain coaster and alpine slide at the latter.

   If you like to hike, head to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (www.clarkart.edu) in Williamstown where there are 140 acres of hiking trails. The museum lends visitors GPS units for geocaching, a game using the global positioning devices to find hidden treasures. The GPS systems are loaned out with paid museum admission from June 1 - October 31, and free the rest of the year.

   While you are there, visit The Clark's collection of French Impressionist paintings by Monet, Degas, and Renoir. To help engage elementary school children, the museum provides "Looking Carefully" family activity cards. If your child takes ballet, be sure to check out the bronze sculpture, "Little Dancer," by Degas.Renoir Room at The Clark museum



   Geocaching will eventually lead you to the original upside-down trees at the nearby Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts in North Adams (www.massmoca.org). Trees planted in pots are hung so the soil is on top and the trees point towards the ground. MASS MoCa is in a former mill complex and the buildings also include a restaurant, shops, and offices. At MASS MoCa, the first stop for families is usually Kidspace, a 3,200-square-foot gallery and workshop for children, but kids also love exploring the rest of the museum's bridges and unusually large art. You can start your day with a free gallery tour; there are also concerts, dance performances, and movies.

   The Victorian row houses across the street from MASS MocCA, where mill workers once lived, have been transformed into the chic Porches Inn (www.porches.com). The hotel has a heated outdoor pool, a playground next door, and a locally-sourced free breakfast (delivered to your room if you wish). Kids under 12 stay free with their parents.

   You can also stay at the Ingalls Crossing Farm Bed & Breakfast in Williamstown (www.ingallscrossing.com). This working dairy farm has two bedrooms; if you are traveling with more than one child, you will need to rent both rooms. Kids can explore the farm and pet the llama and the cows.

 

For more information, visit www.berkshires.org.

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