Travel Guide: 5 things to do when you visit Lenox, MA
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Lenox is home to historic mansions and museums, world-class resorts and local restaurants, and the world-famous Tanglewood music venue.
But what visitors might not know about the well-known Berkshires city is how fabulous its parks are, said Kerry Sullivan, city clerk for five years and a Lenox staffer for 28 years.
“The parks are generally a hidden gem, the parks all over the city,” she said.
Find out ahead of time some of Sullivan’s tips on where to go and what to do in Lenox.
Plan a nature vacation.
A Lenox park loved by locals – and Sullivan’s personal favorite – is 500-acre Kennedy Park, which features old carriage roads and nearly 15 miles of marked hiking trails. Visitors can go hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain biking in the park. Tripadvisor reviewers have described the park as “beautiful and peaceful and serene” and “a fantastic place to escape civilization”. Here is a map.
Sullivan also loves spending time in smaller parks like Lilac Park, a charming 1.5-acre site in the Lenox Historic District that’s filled with lilacs and benches and which usually hosts community events like summer concerts and craft fairs. The Lenox Garden Club restored the park from 1908 in the 1990s and planted 100 lilacs, 10 Canadian hemlocks, small shrubs, and 1,500 daylilies. 5¼ acre Tillotson Park is also a Sullivan’s favorite as it has a baseball field named after her father-in-law, Bob Sullivan, a local baseball star.
The Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Mass Audubon is always a treat, Sullivan said, with its 1,300 acres of forests, meadows, and wetlands, and seven miles of well-marked trails. Outdoor activities at the sanctuary include bird watching, canoeing, snowshoeing, and hiking. Hikers can choose between beginner trails and more challenging hikes to the summit of Lenox Mountain at 2,126 feet.
“We are so happy,” she said. “Everything is OK here.”
Discover a historic mansion.
One of Sullivan’s favorite places to experience culture in Lenox is The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home, a 1902 Gilded Age mansion, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s former home. The property, a national historic landmark, welcomes more than 50,000 visitors annually.
“Who doesn’t love historic houses?” Sullivan said.
Visitors can walk through the halls of the white stucco villa with 35 rooms and look into the rooms in which the author once lived, view her library, take historical photos and artifacts, stroll through the gardens and view newly designed rooms used by former workers were like the kitchen and sewing room. This summer, thanks to a collaboration with SculptureNow, guests will encounter large-format contemporary sculptures across the property.
Sullivan also loves the mansion’s year-round artistic and literary programs, whether it’s live music on the summer nights or a virtual book club with author talks on Zoom.
Eat like a local.
If all of this exploring gets you hungry, do yourself a favor and have a bite to eat at the River Dale Market and the deli, Sullivan said, where the sandwiches are fantastic. She loves the vegetarian hummus wrap, which is made from homemade hummus. Customers can put together their own sandwiches and choose from different types of meat, cheese, bread and toppings or order homemade pasta, chicken and tuna salads.
Sullivan said she will most likely meet a friend at the Olde Heritage Tavern in downtown Lenox, which offers indoor and outdoor dining. Known for its burgers, the restaurant also serves wings, soups, sandwiches, and wraps.
“Legacy is where you meet people,” she said. “You will see the people who make Lenox so special. This is where the locals gather. “
– Ben Garver / The Berkshire Eagle via AP
Consider the time of year you want to visit.
When planning a trip to Lenox, consider the time of year that suits you, Sullivan said.
“It’s very busy in the summer,” she said, noting that Tanglewood concerts and other cultural activities are usually in full swing.
Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has canceled its 2020 live season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will have a shortened concert season this summer from July 9 to August 16, with about 50 percent of its usual seasonal offerings.
In the fall, people come to town to see leaves, fall festivals, and the Josh Billings Triathlon, Sullivan said. The latter is considered to be one of the oldest and largest cycle-canoe triathlons in the country and makes money for the Berkshire United Way. Josh Billings is the pen name of the 19th century humorist and Berkshire-born Henry Wheeler Shaw.
“Autumn is very busy,” she said. “And we’re also a destination for weddings.”
Winter and spring are the quieter seasons, Sullivan said. However, there is still plenty to see and do for Lenox visitors, from museum tours to restaurants to biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
“It’s a wonderful community,” said Sullivan. “I think it really has it all. And people will welcome you. “
What readers say about Lenox:
When we asked readers what they love about Lenox and the best things to do in the area, one response was very popular.
Michele Hurt replied simply, “Tanglewood.”
“Tanglewood,” wrote Marla Murphy Smith, then added, “Breakfast at The Haven, pizza at Betty’s Pizza Shack, and then a short drive to Pittsfield for anything on tap at the Wandering Star Craft Brewery.”
“Tanglewood definitely,” wrote Pia Margareta Kyto. “Many wonderful memories over the years.”