On Location: The Berkshires
COME SUMMER, MOST BOSTONIANS HEAD NORTH to the lakes or south to Westerly and the Cape, leaving the Berkshires gloriously crowd-free. Or that’s how it feels, anyway. In reality, the area is a hopping cultural mecca, with the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Mass MoCA, Shakespeare and Company, and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival drawing summertime visitors from all over the world.
[sidebar]But despite all the attractions, the pace here remains unhurried, the nature unspoiled. And that’s precisely what draws couples to places like Lenox’s Cranwell Resort (800-272-6935, cranwell.com) for country-luxe weddings. The 60-mile view from the terrace of this 100-plus-year-old Tudor mansion inspired the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, who purchased the land in 1853, to proclaim, "From here I can see the very hills of heaven." Host your reception in the historic ballroom, which boasts a marble dance floor and 16-foot-high windows, or under a tent outside on the lawn.
Equally breathtaking are two bucolic properties: Stonover Farm (413-637-9100, stonoverfarm.com) in Lenox, where parties for up to 200 are held in the hay barn and crowds of any size can be accommodated on the lawn near the spring-fed duck pond; and Gedney Farm (800-286-3139, gedneyfarm.com) in New Marlborough, featuring a three-tiered barn that’s the epitome of rustic elegance.
For a pre-wedding dinner, Old Inn on the Green (413-229-7924, oldinn.com), a former stagecoach relay in New Marlborough, serves up delectable dishes by chef-owner Peter Platt in the candlelit dining room or outside on a canopied terrace next to an herb garden. For a brighter, more continental setting, Bistro Zinc (413-637-8800, bistrozinc.com), with its warm yellow walls, striking black-and-white art, and paper-topped tables, welcomes your guests with the gastronomic version of a French kiss. It’s urbane dining in pristine natural surroundings — exactly what you’d expect in this part of the state.