This charming inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts is your base for a few days surrounded by art, music, theater, history, and natural beauty.
Relaxing in a white wicker rocking chair on the porch of The Red Lion Inn has always been my idea of the perfect New England. Located in picturesque Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshires, The Red Lion epitomizes the charm and hospitality of bygone times and, as one of the few continuous American inns dating from the 18th century, it has had lots of practice! Famous former guests include five presidents and American creative legends Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Thornton Wilder. Cultural attractions in the area further enhance the inn’s appeal.
With a variety of spacious rooms and suites located in the impressive main inn and in several small buildings on or near the property, the Red Lion easily accommodates and welcomes families. Its size is perfect – the 108 guest rooms keep it small enough to be cozy, but large enough to be truly professional.
Since 2006, 28 of the South Wing guestrooms were totally renovated to create handicap-accessible facilities, two large suites and renovated fireplaces with gas fittings. In all parts of the property, renovated plumbing and electrical features were designed to provide energy-efficient climate controls for guestrooms, all of which are equipped with a phone and cable TV, and suites supply VCRs and mini-fridges. A new sun porch and lanscaped garden complement the refurbished facade, brick walkways, and plantings that front the main street.
A member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America, and the Original Historical Inns of New England, the comfortable main parlor and room dÃ©cor are traditional, with restored original features, four-poster beds (some refreshed to make king-size beds for taller clients), 18th-century furnishings, pewter and china. Behind the scenes modernization led the Inn to win the 2008 “Good Earthkeeping Award” from the Massachusetts Lodging Association, for its innovative water conservation, landscaping with indigenous sustainable plants, modulating condensing boilers (to provide heat more efficiently), and new insulated windows that were retro-fitted into old windows matching the 19-century inn’s design, among other earth-friendly changes in operations.
While antique-filled display cases line the hallways, families will appreciate learning that the outdoor swimming pool has also been modernized to offer year-round heated waters, heated patio tiles and a fun hot tub. The children’s dining room menu and special Red Lion Inn children’s story and coloring books demonstrate a deeper commitment to families. And, the very pleasant exercise facility, tucked into one of the quaint outer buildings, gives you the opportunity to work off some of the delicious meals served in the formal Main Dining Room or more casual Widow Bingham’s Tavern and Lion’s Den.
The inn offers year-round special packages providing excellent values for such gracious service and surroundings. For those on a tight budget, the Inn even offers a unique Bed and Breakfast program which includes a good-sized room, and shared bath facilities.
Berkshire Mountains Area Attractions
Tranquil Stockbridge is the perfect hideaway throughout the year, with seasonal attractions of particular interest to older kids, from summer evenings with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood (413/637-5393), to Shakespeare and Company (413/637-1199) or the Colonial Theatre, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (413/327-1234) and other theatres, to fall foliage tours, nearby snowsports, and budding spring weekends.
Families with younger children, less experienced skiers and riders, and a desire for a small-scale mountain resort where no one gets lost, will enjoy a day at Butternut, Catamount, Bousquet or Jiminy Peak all within an hour of this charming inn. Nearby on Park Street is the town’s skating rink and the front desk can guide you to the nearest facility with enough snow cover for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
The Berkshires also boast several places of historic interest, including Chesterwood (413/298-3579), the summer estate of Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial, filled with his tools and models. Naumkeag (413/298-3239), a 19th century mansion, was designed by Stanford White and is surrounded by extensive gardens. The Berkshire Scenic Railway (413/637-2210) offers a museum dedicated to the history of railroading in Western Massachusetts, and a two-and-a-half-hour, round-trip narrrated excursion on vintage equipment between Lenox and Stockbridge. The Hancock Shaker Village (800/817-1137) in nearby Pittsfield is a living museum well-suited to pre-schoolers. Costumed guides offer craft demonstrations and tours of the community’s original living quarters, dining and work areas in over 20 buildings, including the famous Round Stone Barn.
Norman Rockwell’s Legacy
An especially popular museum, perfect for family enjoyment for all ages, in all seasons, is the nearby Norman Rockwell Museum (413/298-4100), the repository of the world’s largest and most significant collection of his works, including his “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas,” featuring the Red Lion Inn, and evoking small-town American life. Originally located in downtown Stockbridge, the museum moved to its current home, on 36 acres overlooking the Housatanic River Valley, in 1993, and now includes Rockwell’s studio building which was moved with easel, brushes, books and furnishings intact.
Other masterworks on display are Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” paintings, inspired by a 1943 address to Congress by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Entitled “Freedom of Speech,””Freedom to Worship,”” Freedom from Want” and “Freedom from Fear,” they traveled throughout the United States and raised more than $130,000,000 for the war effort through the sale of war bonds. Canvasses tracing Rockwell’s evolution from an illustrator of magazine covers and stories (The Saturday Evening Post featured 322 of his works on their covers from 1916-1963), to works for advertising, to the storytelling of American small-town life, and social issues such as integration, are engaging and fascinating. As they feature many children, his work is extremely accessible to all ages, from pre-schoolers through high schoolers. I really enjoyed learning the story behind the name I’ve heard all my life, and grew to appreciate his work.
In addition to presenting the permanent collection and related special exhibitions, the museum holds special Family Days and drop-in art classes for adults and children. Contact the museum for more details on their upcoming schedule and begin planning your getaway to picture-perfect New England.
For bookings, rate specials and more information, contact The Red Lion Inn (413/298-5545) located at 30 Main Street, Stockbridge MA 01262-0954.
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