Category Archives: Arts

Vacation Time! To the Berkshires from Niagara

Hancock Shaker Village,  Pitsfield, Mass. A must do !
Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, Mass. A must do!

When my daughter and I started this blog, a couple of years back, we promised several things as intentions. Obviously, we love featuring Niagara Falls, it’s beauty, seasons, ‘delectabilities’, restaurants, and things to see and do. But this is also a travel blog; for those of you who travel here, to Niagara, but also for our travels too! Far & near!

If you look back, one of the chicks shared her travels to Europe, Venice, Italy and Germany.

Another has shared about places closer, and often within a day’s journey of Niagara.

The Berkshire Mountains are one of these closer destinations. If you intend on a bit of a road trip, and you have some time on your hands, it is totally ‘doable’. The Northeastern USA, including any of the cities of Boston, New York City and Philadelphia can be reached by car, easily within a day’s drive.

The Berkshire’s are to the west (or northwest) of these cities and on the way towards Niagara.

Why I love the Berkshires so much, is not only their beauty, but the unlimited history made so accessible, simply by driving, or stopping at so many of the sites, homes and museums!

The Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is simply a ‘must do’! It is a living museum, giving a peek into the past lives of the industrious and innovative Shakers. You know them as furniture makers, but there is more to the story!

http://hancockshakervillage.org/

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Hand quilting still takes place at the village.
Hand quilting still takes place at the village.

There are live farm animals there, folks who do demonstrations of crafts and other activities, gardens, walk through tours and lots for the entire family to enjoy.

Beautiful gardens, the way they used to be.
Beautiful gardens, the way they used to be.
Threaded throughout the countryside, remembrances  through architecture. This is an old schoolhouse.
Threaded throughout the countryside, remembrances through architecture. This is an old schoolhouse.

As you drive throughout the countryside, the preservation of historic buildings will surprise you, just around the bend.

Beautiful countryside.
Beautiful countryside.

Lakes, rivers, creeks, woodlands and mountainsides are all a part of the charm of the Berkshires.

Along the roadside.
Along the roadside.

This unexpected beauty caused us to pull over, for just a moment to take it in.

The tallest peek in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock.
The tallest peek in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock.

Mount Greylock is not only the tallest peek in Massachusetts, but it has historic significance, walking and hiking trails, hang gliding accessibility and magnificent vistas.

Time for a bit of historical fun, Massachusetts style.
Time for a bit of historical fun, Massachusetts style.

Just make sure you don’t get tied up in the spirit of it all!

Stockbridge. Full of quaintness.
Stockbridge. Full of quaintness.

Mom & Pop businesses, restaurants and shops abound in the region.

One of the Stockbridge buildings. Can you find this in a Norman Rockwell?
One of the Stockbridge buildings. Can you find this in a Norman Rockwell?

We enjoyed the town of Stockbridge and searching the buildings to find the similarities in Norman Rockwell’s paintings.

http://www.nrm.org/

Norman Rockwell's Studio, at the Rockwell Museum near Stockbridge.
Norman Rockwell’s Studio, at the Rockwell Museum near Stockbridge.

The artist in me adored lollygagging along the paths and buildings of Rockwell’s Museum complex.

There's great scenery and some nice buildings on the Rockwell property.
There’s great scenery and some nice buildings on the Rockwell property.

This is inspiring me to do a bit of painting of my own!

Naumkeig, also in the Stockbridge area. A really fun place to explore!
Naumkeig, also in the Stockbridge area. A really fun place to explore!

There are so many historic elegant, massive, and intriguing homes to choose to tour. We spent the better part of a day at Naumkeig. http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/berkshires/naumkeag.html We brought a picnic lunch and ate looking over the vast and beautiful landscape. A better location to build a home in the Berkshire’s, would be hard to find.

Around every corner, gateways and gardens appear.
Around every corner, gateways and gardens appear.

We loved the niches, corners, eclectic collections, and limitless personality Naumkeag presented.

A lovely viista.
A lovely vista.

A great place to have our lunch and take in the pristine gardens and breathtaking expanses.

Naumkeag's iconic blue steps.
Naumkeag’s iconic blue steps.

Nope. Never have seen steps quite like this before…

Naumkeag's renowned Chinese Gardens with it's authentic artifacts
Naumkeag’s renowned Chinese Gardens with it’s authentic artifacts

Perhaps we should have brought egg rolls and chop suey for a snack?

Williamstown
Williamstown

Williamstown is a neat & tidy town, home to Williams College. It is a nice place to stop and see the mix of a college town, historic churches, buildings and B & B’s. We really loved the wide avenue leading to the college.

A stately cathedral in Williamstown.
A stately cathedral in Williamstown.
One of many towns loaded with charm.
A statue along the way in one of the many historic Berkshire towns.
Pittsfield. Another stop along the way, for lunch and shops.
Pittsfield. Another stop on our roadtrip.

Pittsfield is the largest city in Berkshire County, offering a mix of old and new, with many amenities available.

There are many places to find locally sourced food. This was a cute little serve-yourself shop with artisan cheese, jams & jellies and meats, near Pittsfield.
There are many places to find locally sourced food. This was a cute little serve-yourself shop with artisan cheese, jams & jellies and meats, near Pittsfield.
We loved the trusting serve-yourself cash out!
We loved the trusting serve-yourself cash out!

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If you want a relaxing vacation and you have some time to explore, if you enjoy history and lovely mountain views, then the Berkshires might be for you.

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A Plethora of Festivals in Niagara

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Western New York has five seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and the season of festivals. Most of the festivals take place from May through October, but there are a smattering during the off season as well. If you come for a vacation, you really should find out which festivals are occurring during the time you’re visiting, and plan to attend at least one, if not more. And you might even want to plan your vacation around the festival(s) of your choosing.

The Buffalo Waterfront is a constant source of activities, as you can see in the link.  http://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/things-to-do/canalside/events/

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Canal Fest, which takes place in July, is a time-honored gatherings in North Tonawanda, and it has really grown over the years, be sure to check it out! http://www.canalfest.org/

Lockport has an outdoor arts and crafts show in June. They have many vendors, food, and even some displays.

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Dave McKenna was one of the vendors at the show. He makes wine cork birdhouses and feeders, which are hand crafted from reclaimed lumber, cedar shingles, and wine corks. His website is www.mckbirdhouses.com

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Vintage Advertisment Reproductions have some great historic reproductions. Go to their website at www.BuffaloHistoryBuff.com.

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The next festival is one we just love: the Lewiston Art Festival. This would be our pick for one of the best that Niagara County has to offer.

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Thomas Paul Asklar is quite a well known artist in the area, and his work is beautifully executed. One of his favorite subjects is of Niagara Falls (and we can understand why!) He does not have a website, but you can reach him at 716-531-2668. Also, his studio is in Lewiston, if you’d like to take a look at his work. (433 Cherry Lane, Lewiston, NY 14092.)

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Shawn Kosmala is an incredibly talented photographer, and he takes the coolest close-up photos. He photographs ordinary objects and turns them into works of art. You can visit his website at www.newbeginningsstudio.com and his email address is nontoxicartist@hotmail,com.

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Juliana Drumheller makes lovely “pottery for everyday elegance” and can be found at www.jmdrumheller.net/pottery 

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Niagara Falls has its own festivals, including the upcoming Oktoberfest on Saturday October 4th, 1-8 pm. You can check out last year’s blog from 2chicks2go: https://2chicks2go.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/oktoberfest-at-the-falls/

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Finally, there is the Niagara Falls Music and Arts Festival, which takes place in June. It is a wonderful combination of live bands, arts & crafts, and delicious foods. We also wrote a blog on this one: https://2chicks2go.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/the-niagara-falls-music-and-arts-festival/

For more activities and festivals, visit http://www.niagarariverregion.com/calendar/list/current_page,1/per_page,10. Another great resource is http://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/things-to-do/calendar-of-events/. Lastly, visit the Old Falls Street webpage or things to do in Niagara Falls. http://www.fallsstreet.com/1000/FallWinterSpecialEvents.asp .

We’ll see you at one of the festivals!