Summer in the Berkshires: Hancock Shaker Village

The Berkshires is a wonderful region in Massachusetts to explore with kids, and summer in the Berkshires can’t be beat! Parents will appreciate the rural, countrified setting with farmer’s markets, rolling hills, and quaint towns, and kids will find plenty to do in the form of roadside ice cream stands, gentle streams and rivers, and museums and gardens.

hancock-shaker-village

The Hancock Shaker Village is located outside Pittsfield (the county seat), near the New York state border. This sprawling property is preserved beautifully from the time Massachusetts Shakers communed here, with gardens, lawn, and buildings to explore. The Shaker way of life was peaceful and industrious, with an emphasis on equality, hard work, and kindness that is still taught at the property today.

summer-in-the-berkshires

 

Families can start with a short video, or make their way immediately to a self-guided tour, which includes the famous round barn (ideal for milking productivity), the main Shaker living quarters (with dining rooms, kitchens, infirmary, laundry rooms, children’s rooms, and more), a blacksmith shop, tannery, and coops of chickens, turkeys, and sheep.

shaker-village

Kids will not want to miss the Children’s Discovery Room, in which docents will help kids make bracelets of yarn, learn Shaker games, and milk a replica cow. Dress up clothes from the period are on-hand to try, as well as a Shaker chair to mend.

hancock-shaker-village

 

In every building, ask a docent to tell you more about the place! In most buildings, experts are demonstrating different types of Shaker work; during our trip, we had a great conversation with a local blacksmith, who made the five-year-old in our group his own handmade nail. In another section, a man was spinning wool, and in a third, stablehands were mucking out stalls. Holstein cows grazed nearby.

summer-in-berkshires

Plan to spend a few hours in the village, with time to check out the shop (kids can buy old-fashioned simple games or candy) and have a picnic. There’s a cafe on-site, plus space for bringing in outside food. We opted for a combination: picnic food complimented by hot dogs bought on-site.

Date last visited:

June 20, 2014

Distance from the interstate:

Right off Route 20, not far from I-90.

Admission:

Adults are $18, teens are (13-17) $8, and kids 12 and under are free!

Hours:

Open seven days a week (including holidays) from 10 am to 4 pm in winter, 10 am to 5 pm in summer.

Directions:

If using GPS, plug in the address instead of the name of the destination: 34 Lebanon Mountain Road, Hancock. Get full directions here.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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