Nestled in the Berkshire Hills is Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a resort community that boasts a quintessential small-town ambiance.
Its charm and allure have made this an irresistible destination for those who are seeking beauty in nature.
In fact, the town has been the subject or was mentioned in several forms of media, be it music, visual art, or literature.
And who can blame these artists?
The rolling terrain, vast wilderness, scenic lakes, and beautiful historical homes make Stockbridge the ideal muse for expressing the sublime.
But you don’t have to be an artist yourself to appreciate all these wonders, so make this a top choice for a vacation.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Stockbridge, MA:
Explore the Terraces of Naumkeag
Stockbridge has no shortage of historic homes turned into attractions, and one of these is the stunning Naumkeag.
Once owned by a prominent and wealthy couple, this 48-acre destination has expansive gardens and a regal home serving as the heart of it all.
But in Stockbridge standards, the Naumkeag is something entirely different.
This structure is often called an architectural wonder—one of the best examples of the Shingle Style country house.
The estate contains 44-rooms and has a rustic, almost whimsical feel to it that’s perfectly complemented by the gardens surrounding it.
And what a sight these gardens are: brick walls with gilded decoration, flower beds along paved paths that are just bursting with colors, terraced grounds framed by sculpted trees, and the iconic blue steps that are unlike any other in town.
It’s quite the experience to walk amongst these strikingly beautiful gardens—you’d almost feel like staying.
Smell the Fragrant Blooms at Berkshire Botanical Garden
Berkshire Botanical Garden takes the landscaped exteriors of Stockbridge’s historic homes to another level.
The 24-acre attraction is something that the town’s residents are rightfully proud of, with 25 areas showing off gorgeous greenery.
And having been around since the 1930s, the place is one of the oldest facilities of its kind in the US.
During your tour, you’d see paths lined with colorful blooms, beds of flowers bursting with color, sections of trees standing in majesty, and man-made rock formations that add a whimsical feel.
The gardens contain more than 3,000 species of plants, most of which are native or endemic to the Berkshire Hills region.
During most of the summer and early fall, all of the exhibits are open for public viewing.
Outside of this period, some areas are closed because of the chilly temperatures this region experiences.
So check out their calendar to see which sections are open during your trip.
See Colorful Displays at Schantz Galleries Contemporary Glass
Take a step back from historical art and homes and travel to the present by visiting Schantz Galleries Contemporary Glass.
The modern artworks of this facility may stand in sharp contrast to the other sights in Stockbridge, but they’re a welcome addition to the diverse forms of art in town.
As you might have guessed from the name, this gallery showcases intriguing artworks made entirely from glass.
You’d find stunning abstract pieces, intricate sculptures of animals, multicolored shards and plates, masks and human faces, as well as tentacle-like chandeliers hanging from ceilings.
It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before!
For sure, you’d be mind blown at the sheer beauty of the displays here, so keep your wits about you and try not to break anything.
See the Works of an Artist at Chesterwood
Daniel Chester French was a prolific artist in the late 1800s, and he sculpted numerous works of art that now grace national and international museums.
His most famous design is, in fact, the Lincoln Memorial Statue in Washington, D.C.
One of the places he produced many of his well-known pieces is at his summer estate in Stockbridge, Chesterwood.
Because of the significant works Chester did in this location, Chesterwood has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
His estate is typical of what you might find in Stockbridge: extensive grounds verdant with greenery and sculpted bushes, mountain views framed by landscaped trees, and a Georgian Revival home standing solemnly in the midst of it all.
Today, the house serves as a museum, showcasing samples of Daniel’s work like small sculptures and sketches.
Join a tour and check out all the wonders of this beautiful destination!
Take Stunning Photos at Monument Mountain
Reaching 1,739 feet in height, Monument Mountain is one of the highest points in the Housatonic River Valley.
This scenic attraction has inspired several painters and literary giants, including Herman Melville, the author of the classic Moby Dick.
In fact, the mystical feel of this whole area has been recognized by early native Americans, particularly the Mohicans.
The pile of rocks atop a cliff, from which the destination is named, is the fabled monument of a maiden who jumped to her death.
But legends aside, Monument Mountain is often visited because of the sweeping views of the Housatonic River Valley.
It’s an ideal location for hiking and landscape photography, especially during fall when the whole landscape is tinged with a hue of red and orange.
Feel the Magic at Ice Glen
The first natural attraction in this list is Ice Glen, a place that seems to be taken out of a fairytale.
This ravine is a lush, undisturbed, and romantic attraction that spans around 1.4 miles.
And like Stockbridge itself, this particular spot has been mentioned in classic American literature, all thanks to its beauty.
While trekking the route, you’d find yourself amidst moss-covered boulders dappled by pale sunlight, stone arcs that seem like gateways to another world, and old-growth forests that may or may not be hiding actual fairies.
One of the more unique (i.e., magical) aspects of this place is the fact that ice often persists even in summer.
This is all thanks to the landscape of the glen, which reduces the amount of light and heat reaching the ravine.
Explore the Halls of Norman Rockwell Museum
Many prolific artists have, at some point, made Stockbridge their residence.
One of these is Norman Rockwell, a famous illustrator who focused on creating artworks that depict the optimistic side of American culture.
In the last 25 years of his life, he lived in Stockbridge and continued to create paintings that graced the covers of magazines.
To honor his legacy, the Norman Rockwell Museum was established.
It now has the most extensive collection of Norman’s art, amounting to 574 original pieces.
There are also documents, photographs, fan mail, tools and pigments, and other things Norman once owned.
While visiting, you’ll get a sense of his buoyant and cheerful view of life in America through his vibrant works.
Catch a Show at Berkshire Theatre Festival
The performance arts is also a celebrated art form in Stockbridge, and none more so than during the Berkshire Theatre Festival.
This event is the oldest of its kind in the Berkshire Hills region, having celebrated its centennial anniversary last 2018.
And during this historic run, more than 550 fully-staged productions have taken place in various facilities around town.
Many award-winning actors and playwrights have joined the festival, which elevated it into a prestigious event.
Some notable personalities who’ve starred in the productions include Al Pacino, Buster Keaton, and Dustin Hoffman.
Check out their website today to see the schedule and venue of their upcoming shows!
Visit the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy
Even if you’re not particularly religious, you’d still be in awe of the majesty of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gave the “National Shrine” designation to the chaplet in the 1990s, increasing the number of pilgrims visiting the place.
Upon arrival, you’d immediately witness the grand architecture of the structure, which has the same style as most of the historical homes in the area.
Then there are the vast grounds that give way to forests, covering 370 acres.
Inside is a solemn and modern interior that’s ideal for a few minutes of silent prayers and reflections.
You’d also see the image of the “Divine Mercy” at the altar from which the chaplet is named.
So if you’re looking for a spiritual destination during your trip to Stockbridge, then this is the place to be.
Cruise the Gentle Currents of Housatonic River
Housatonic River is a meandering body of water that traverses the lower half of Stockbridge.
It’s an economically important river that irrigates the surrounding forests and agricultural lands.
And it also serves as a tourist attraction for visitors who want to explore the more secluded areas on this side of town.
You’re welcome to cruise the gentle currents on a kayak, canoe, or boat and discover some scenic bends or hidden beaches.
There are some areas that have turbulent rapids, but with a seasoned guide, these shouldn’t be much of a problem to you.
If you want to try your angling skills, there are pike, car, bass, and other freshwater species swimming in the depths.
Go Swimming at Stockbridge Bowl
As the biggest body of water in the area, Stockbridge Bowl has become the local favorite for those who want to try water-related activities.
It’s also known as Lake Mahkeenac, and it has a total area of 372-acre.
Many people come here to enjoy the gorgeous tree-lined banks, deep blue waters, and views of distant mountains, such as the Yokun Ridge.
You can try swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, and a host of other activities here, except for jet skiing, which is not allowed.
During winter, the whole lake freezes over, making it an ideal destination for ice fishing.
But if you’re not a fan of water, you simply stay in one of the many parks and campsites surrounding the lake.
It’s a great place to spend time with your family!
Other Places to Visit Nearby
After your tour of Stockbridge, why not visit these other attractions in the surrounding areas?
Join an Event at The Mount
Edith Wharton is a celebrated American author who wrote classics like The Age of Innocence and the House of Mirth.
The Mount is the estate where she did most of her work, treating it as the place she can truly call “home.”
And it’s no wonder she wanted to stay here, as the property is almost of palatial standards, with vast sprawling grounds and a home styled after British country houses.
More than 50,000 people visit the location every year to marvel at the sights or attend some of the events held within the expansive house.
These include dramatic readings, workshops, lectures, and small film showings.
Marvel at the Views of Olivia’s Overlook
At the center of the Yokun Ridge is Olivia’s Overlook, a panoramic clearing that offers uninterrupted views of the surrounding hills and plains, including the aforementioned Stockbridge Bowl.
This hidden gem is well worth the trip, as the scenery here is something straight out of a painting, whatever the season is.
Even the trails are attractions by themselves.
The first is the Charcoal Trail, located south of the ridge and nearest to Olivia’s Overlook.
It’s a strenuous hike that brings you to the deeper parts of the ridge before ascending steeply into the destination.
On the other hand, Burbank Trail loops around the ridge and brings you to some other locations like Jackson Pond.
It’s much longer, but you won’t need to exert as much effort climbing the gentle route.
Make a Stopover at the Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum
Lenox is a neighboring town north of Stockbridge that offers similar attractions.
So if you can’t get enough of the beautiful colonial homes, then be sure to visit this community, as it is only a few minutes away.
One of the more well-known of Lenox’s attractions is Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum.
This stately property is built after the Jacobean style, with imposing architecture and facade composed mainly of brownstone.
Because of its beauty, it has been used as a setting for many movies and TV series, most notable of which is the Academy Award-winning film The Cider House Rules.
The home itself has been turned into a museum in order to preserve the artifacts and furnishing used by long-gone residents.
Join a tour and see the grand staircase, antique furniture, and other items that show glimpses of the Gilded Age.
Examine Abstract Art in Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio
George L.K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen were two prolific abstract artists nationally recognized for their intriguing works and lives.
They owned a home in Lenox, which is now listed under the National Register of Historic Places.
Built with influences from the Bauhaus movement, the immaculate-white structure is a work of art in itself.
Inside, you’ll see an interior with decor and furnishing left there by the artists.
During your tour, you will also find some of their work, such as cubist frescoes, paintings, sketches, and photographs.
Human talent and creativity are put in the spotlight here in Stockbridge, with its many galleries, architectural marvels, and performance venues.
The muse of these artists is often the beautiful natural features of the town, which has inspired many works of art, literature, and music.
To experience all these wonders for yourself, make this place your top option for a weekend getaway.