Our Berkshires vacation

27 July 2020

While I’m so (SO) grateful we were able to travel at all this summer, our annual trip to Maine did look different in big and small ways. I’ll talk more about some of them in my next post covering our time at the Island, but one change was that we weren’t able to get into our cottage until the Monday after the Fourth of July. Since John and I both had Friday the 3rd off, we opted to drive to New England on Friday and spend the long weekend in the Berkshires. We figured it would break up the drive and give us a chance to experience a new part of the Northeast! It ended up doing all of that and more, and I thought I’d share a few photos, if you’d like to see!

I do mean that – I imagine there are lots of you missing special places or nursing hurt over canceled plans this summer, so I’d understand if you’d rather skip today’s post!

We packed the kids in the car at 6am and arrived in Lee, Massachusetts about 12 hours later. We stopped for a picnic lunch at our usual spot – the Concord Point Lighthouse Park in Havre de Grace, Maryland. I HIGHLY recommend it if you find yourself traversing the Eastern seaboard by car! Three MVPs of our trip:

1. This Octonauts coloring book. WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD. June is deep into an Octo phase and this was literally the only entertainment she required for the car ride (and most of the following week, ha).
2. This small, lightweight lap desk. Perfect for Octonauts coloring.
3. A reacher grabber. Call me crazy or call me genius – but if you have a child who insists on throwing his stuffies in hard-to-reach places and then immediately screaming for you to get them, this will allow you to retrieve them without risking life and limb by unbuckling at top highway speeds. I put a little video of the grabber in action on my Stories today :)

In Massachusetts, we opted to stay at the Lakehouse Inn. (Our first preference would have been an Airbnb, but we could not find one that fit our criteria.) We were both a bit nervous about staying in a public space, but we felt comfortable for a few reasons:

— They had just opened the week before – we may have been the first ones in our room!
— The inn is small, and seemed to be at about half capacity. We saw about 6 other parties over the weekend and never saw anyone else besides staff inside.
— The staff was vigilant about wiping down surfaces, distancing, creating one-way flows through the common spaces, and more. They also had made accommodations like not offering breakfast or cheese at wine and cheese hour. There was no housekeeping during our stay.
— Among other precautions, our family wore masks in all common areas, regularly sanitized, and kept our windows open.

Everyone has a different level of risk they’re comfortable with right now, which I completely respect. We were grateful to be able to stay within our risk tolerance for this trip!

The inn itself was lovely – perched on a little cliff above a small, warm, clear lake. Adirondack chairs dotted the lawn and there was a fire pit and small beach area with a dock and kayaks and paddle boards to use for free (those were wiped down after every use, too!). We also were able to stay in two adjoining rooms, which gave us room to spread out and relax after the kiddos went to bed.

Though the Inn is technically in Lee, it is about 100 yards from the Lenox border, and almost all of our trips “into town” were to Lenox. Lenox’s adorable, historic downtown is about 5 minutes away (it’s where Tanglewood is located!). I wish I could have spent time exploring the cute shops, although I’m sure John was grateful COVID prevented it :)

On Saturday, we brought muffins, croissants, and a breakfast burrito back to the Inn from Haven Bakery & Cafe and ate them overlooking the lake – a pattern we’d repeat many times in our short stay! Then, we hopped into a pair of kayaks and paddled around for a bit before drying off and driving a few minutes to The Mount, Edith Wharton’s homestead.

My beloved sunhat – I go almost nowhere without it! Love my swimsuit, too (order a size up!).

Though the house was closed, the grounds were absolutely gorgeous, with formal gardens, fountains, tree-lined avenues, and wooded paths. We bought lunch from the little cafe on site and picnicked in the garden and pretended we were on our private estate :) It wasn’t hard – there were only a handful of other guests. Admittance to the grounds is free.

When you’re trying to get one child to take your photo and the other child steps in – ha!

We headed back to the Inn in the afternoon for Shep (and John, as it turns out) to take a nap, while June took her BGQH outside. I think this made her feel very special and grown-up, and it was a sweet time for just the two of us. She colored while I read my book, and then we took a dip in the lake. It was the perfect temperature – so delightful!!

We grabbed a yummy Italian dinner from Frankie’s and brought it back to our Adirondack-chair home base, eating it as the sun began to set. (Lest you think this sounds a little too perfect, both kids were covered in bolognese by the end of the meal!)

The next morning, we grabbed breakfast to go from the No. 6 Depot in West Stockbridge on our way to Bash Bish Falls.

The hike to the waterfall was about 45 minutes gently uphill, and though we were able to avoid people on the trip in, the waterfall itself was mobbed. So, instead of making that our destination, we turned around and splashed in one of the many exquisite pools alongside the path. Hardly a sacrifice! We picked up lunch at the No. 6 Depot on our way back to the Inn because we’d enjoyed it so much that morning!

After another indoor/outdoor quiet hour, we took the paddle boards all the way across the lake and then swam some more by the Inn’s beach. Is there anything better than an early evening swim, a shower, and dinner outside?!

On Sunday night we brought our Alta takeout to the Lenox town green so that we could get ice cream afterwards. John did indulge me with a walk around some of the historic neighborhoods once we had our cones, which was lovely.

After a last cliff-top breakfast, we were off to Maine the next morning with very grateful hearts and sweet memories! I don’t know if our schedule will always allow it, but I really hope we get to return to Lenox to break up the drive on future trips to Maine! Still gotta peek in those boutiques :)

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July 27, 2020 6:52 am

This looks lovely! I’m so glad you got to enjoy some family time away with such a beautiful backdrop. While we are still taking precautions and being mindful whenever we leave our home, I’ve felt fairly safe exploring different pockets of New England this summer! :)

July 27, 2020 8:05 am

Lenox, MA is one of my favourite places! We’ve had the good fortune to visit Tanglewood a few times over the years for John Williams Film Night. If you get a chance to go once it reopens, I highly recommend! It’s worth it just to people watch and check out the elaborate picnic spreads that Tanglewood is famous for. Seeing your photos brought back wonderful memories of our time in Lenox and Stockbridge, so thank you for sharing!

July 27, 2020 9:23 am

I love these posts! They always remind me to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Like evening swims, and ice cream strolls through historic neighborhoods. Thanks for sharing a peak into your vacation! :)

July 27, 2020 12:37 pm

This looks amazing! I am so grateful for your N.C. to Maine posts—we drive to Maine every summer from Richmond, and we are always grateful for new places to stop!

July 27, 2020 7:24 pm

I loved this post and have added Lenox and Lee to my New England adventure bucket list. :) One question for you…would you elaborate a bit more on how you keep your kiddos happy and occupied in the car for such a long trip? I have a 20 month old and the thought of driving 12 hours with him does not sound…fun. If I’m being honest! We can easily tackle 2 hour trips with a handful of books, music and snacks, but I’m not sure where to begin with such a long trip. In this COVID world of avoiding air travel, I’m anxious for some real life advice!

July 27, 2020 8:09 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Em! Reading the description of your adventure combined with the sweet photos helped me feel as though I got a little getaway just as a reader! :) Excited to add another location to visit that falls off the beaten path to my New England vacation dreams!

July 28, 2020 8:58 am

This little stop was such a delight to read about! Your pictures are lovely. The wine and Italian by the water is so picturesque. Glad your family was able to get away and enjoy some time together!

July 28, 2020 3:48 pm

Lee is such a cute town! My husband and I went to college in Albany and he lived in CT, so we always drove right through Lee when we went to visit his family. Living just outside Raleigh now, we sure do miss New England! We had planned to visit this summer but of course, our plans were canceled. Thank you for sharing these other spots, especially the lighthouse in MD! We’ll try to stop there on our next drive up.

July 31, 2020 1:40 pm

What a lovely time! It looks like the trip was both relaxing and adventurous: my kind of trip!

August 2, 2020 8:44 am

Time away make look very different but these photos are beautiful – and such special family time and memories. So glad you went, Em x

August 3, 2020 9:42 am

This looks like such a sweet getaway! Whenever we think about future trips I know to always reference EFM because you have such gems recapped on your blog. Miss you, friend!

[…] adventure/travel/trip: Our detour to the Berkshires (en route to Maine) stands out. Situated in early July, it was our first big adventure after […]