Summer Celebrations in New England: Bikes, tents, concert chairs and a couple of good old friends not included but handy
If you live in New England (or are visiting in the summer), there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate every summer weekend – within a two hour drive.
Our family’s summer celebrations last summer started with a last minute getaway to the lake house on Long Pond in East Lempster, New Hampshire during the last weekend in June. Unplanned celebrations do happen – thank you, dear O. and M. for inviting us to share the breathtaking lake sunset with you!
And while boating, fishing, and kayaking are all pretty typical New Hampshire’s activities given the state’s many beautiful lakes, I cannot guarantee that you will be as lucky as we were with a view from your deck. I am sure it will be still worth your drive.
The Cape Cod weekend was next. I never stop being grateful for this (mostly) unpretentious piece of vacation land nearby with its numerous lakes, forests and ocean beaches to satisfy almost every beach goer style. During this particular weekend in July we revisited our “old time” favorite pass time- camping in the Nickerson State Park in Brewster ($15 overnight per site).
There are several lakes with sand beaches at the park ($5 daily pass if you just want to spend the day). The park is so popular with campers from the US Northeast and Canada that you have to make a reservation six months in advance. We did not have a reservation but our long time camping “buddies” invited us to join them for a weekend of campfires, guitar singing and long morning philosophical coffee talks. (It is possible to put up two or even three reasonably sized tents at one site.) Nearby Sweetwater Forrest is a private campground and is much easier to book (nightly family rates start at $35; there are no lakes).
Nickerson’s another advantage is its location on the family biker’s paradise- Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT). CCRT is a relatively flat paved bikeway that runs 25 miles from South Dennis to Wellfleet along scenic lakes, meadows and ocean vistas. There are some elevations in Orleans and Wellfleet where it nears the sea but we have not actually made it that far on the trail yet. We usually start at the trail entrance in Dennis and bike for 6 miles to the pond in Brewster where we picnic and sometimes swim. If we are especially hungry we may make it to Cobie’s (11 miles one way) for some fried seafood right off the trail (beware: cash only).
There are several bike rental place on the trail, the biggest one is Barb’s bikes at the trail entrance in Dennis on rt 134.
Our next “traditional” summer celebration stop was Berkshires mountains in Western Massachusetts – summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and numerous dance and theater companies from around the world.
The plan was to go on a day trip (from Boston) early in the morning, but a change in the forecast forced us to leave home the night before our planned departure, so we could rush to the evening concert in Tanglewood instead. (Tanglewood houses Boston Symphony Orchestra and numerous guest musicians for the summer).
Summer day concerts in Tanglewood are suitable for families with kids of all ages (lawn tickets start at $10, free for kids under 17), and if you are romantically inclined –opt for an evening concert under the stars. Regulars bring their dinner tables set for six (glass goblets including), but a lawn chair and some snacks will do for the first timer. Check out Tanglewood’s summer schedule and note special family concerts with instrument Playground and live performances for the kids.
On this trip last July we enjoyed the Ravel under the stars before settling in an overpriced motel “from hell” for the night (I would strongly consider day trip next time; it is not easy to find an accommodation for a summer weekend in the Berkshires, let alone a budget one).
In the morning we walked the beautiful grounds of Kripalu yoga center across the street from Tanglewood (some of you may remember my Kripalu retreat post ) and swam in the nearby Stockbridge bowl.
Hungry for some more culture, we headed to the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio (a contemporary art museum and educational center in Lenox) but did not make it far into the grounds. Be prepared for the fees even to walk the woods to the main property (we were not, and decided to come back another day). Judging from this glimpse of the collection in the parking lot, the visit should be enlightening.
Instead we opted for the gardens of the “Age of Innocence” writer Edith Wharton’s estate ($18 admission for adults includes guided tours of home and gardens- $12 for grounds only, kids under 18 are free).
And that just about made our day.
But- if that was not enough to fill up yours, I suggest visiting a free dance performance at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Center in the nearby Becket. Jacobs Pillow is home of summer dance festival with participating best dance companies from around the world. We took this photo during a free summer concerts there- a couple of summers ago.
Stay tuned for more of our Berkshires summer celebrations – COMING UP THIS SUMMER!