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!
This post is part of two exciting travel stories collections: #WeekendWanderlust at Casual Travelers and #TheWeeklyPostcard at Travel Notes and Beyond.
23 thoughts on “Summer Celebrations in New England: Bikes, tents, concert chairs and a couple of good old friends not included but handy”
Vika, wonderful post, as always! We are heading to the Berkshires in a few days and will make sure to check out some of your suggestions!
Inna, thank you! With your crowd make sure to check out Jacobs Pillow; also kripalu- easy to park at the lower lot and walk around the grounds- or cross the street to the lake. Also have a drink and people watch on the terrace of Red Lion inn on main street stockbridge. And- if u run out of things to do- email me:) there is Chesterwood (sculptor estate and studio) and norman rockwell museum.
Thanks for sharing, we are going to use your Birkshires experience in the nearest time
I’ve never been to Berkshires, but always wanted to go. Now after reading your post and looking at the beautiful photos – I really have to go!
Happy coming Birthday, Vika!
We haven’t been back to New England for some time (we live in Old England, in London!) but we loved it when did go, especially the beautiful colours (and not just in the Fall).
My son lived in Connecticut for a while and I had the opportunity to discover the beautiful outdoors of New England at different times of the year. I think I prefer fall to any other season, when the trees’ colors are breathtakingly beautiful .there.
Anda summer is by far my favorite, in New England or anywhere else:)
My daughter recently moved to Boston so we have been enjoying visits with her plus seeing all that New England has to offer. This summer we will be heading to Mystic and Block Island. Hope we can hit some of those that you have mentioned in future.
I lived in New England for several years before I moved to the UK (and now in New Zealand) LOVED our summer there, really enjoyed Cape Cod and all the places, as you mention, only 2 hours drive away from Boston where I lived. Lovely post 🙂 Thanks for linking up with #weeklypostcard
Thank you, Samiya.
We haven’t been to the Berkshires for a while. Not since we had kids, in fact, so I’m thinking it’s time to make it a day trip this summer. And I hope we might be able to get to the Cape before the high season.
Jolanta, you certainly should make it to a Tanglewood Concert with kids this summer. the atmosphere is so easy going and family friendly.
I love going on driving trips to explore the places that are within a few hours from home and it looks like you found a lot of wonderful spots! This post makes me really excited for summer 🙂 Thanks for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust.
Thank you Lauren! I love being a part of travel blogger community!
I want to go! Looks like so much fun. 🙂
We don’t live near anywhere near New England (we’re in the Midwest), but your post definitely makes me want to visit in the summer. There looks like there is a ton to do! The gardens at Edith Wharton’s estate look amazing and makes me think we might need to do a road trip one summer.
I have never been to New England and I had no idea that it is so stunning, it looks simply beautiful! Definitely one for our travel wish list as and when we do a US road trip.
Growing up on the east coast, New England was always one of my favorite spots to vacation. I really hope to bring my family back east to experience it as well.
We really do have everything- the ocean and the mountains, (lots of) snow and sun.
I’m newly obsessed with New England. This looks incredible
Thank you, Sarah. I am revisiting most of these soon:)
My husband and I are planning a road trip through the New England states this fall. This post definitely gave me some ideas for when I begin to plan our trip. I’d really like to visit the gardens of Edith Wharton’s estate. I’ll be interested to read your post on the Berkshires as well.
Tonya, this would be a lovely trip for you. Fall in the Berkshires is quieter but beautiful. I have been couple of times- for a yoga retreat at Kripalu in Lenox.