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6 great things to do in the Berkshires with kids

There’s a lot to do at Jiminy Peak in the summer, with rides such as the Mountain Coaster (above) and the Alpine Super Slide.

Rob Bossi/Jiminy Peak

There’s a lot to do at Jiminy Peak in the summer, with rides such as the Mountain Coaster (above) and the Alpine Super Slide.

The Berkshires are celebrated for their cultural, culinary, and outdoor splendors, and for kids there is fun aplenty in the rolling hills of Western Massachusetts.

Dance lovers flock to Becket for Jacob’s Pillow, the country’s longest-running dance festival. There is no better — and affordable — way to introduce children to the world of live dance performance than the Inside/Out series. Offered every Wednesday through Saturday at 6:15 p.m. during the festival season, the free public performances take place in an outdoor amphitheater with a panoramic view of the Berkshires Hills. Touted as a family-friendly event (you can bring your own food and beverages), the performances are sure to entertain the most antsy ones in the audience. Previous years’ offerings have included classical ballet, tap, jazz-musical theatre dance, hip-hop, flamenco, traditional dance from Korea and India, and many other genres. Want to dance? Check out Community Dance Day (July 1), and Families Dance Together, community dance classes for all ages offered on select Thursdays during the summer. Becket, 413-243-0745, jacobspillow.org, free

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Kids will stop asking, “Do we have to go to another museum?” when you take them to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) for some hands-on cultural fun. Housed in the former state-of-the-art Sprague Electric Co. plant in North Adams, the 13-acre Mass MoCA “campus” includes enormous galleries with changing art exhibitions, a bookstore, restaurants, and shops. The museum also features Kidspace, a contemporary art gallery and studio that promote educational learning through kid-centric exhibitions and art-making opportunities. This summer’s show, “Curiosity,” is an eclectic, multimedia exhibition that explores themes designed to engage young imaginations, such as dinosaurs, cowboys, ninjas, monsters, and more. Children can look (but not touch) and then — with parental supervision — engage in their own creative endeavors with pipe cleaners, paper, paint, and other art supplies at cafe-style seating at The Art Cabaret. North Adams, 413-662-2111, www.massmoca.org, daily 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free

No snow? That is not a problem at Jiminy Peak in Hancock where ski and winter activities morph into summertime fun at two parks: Mountain Adventure and Aerial Adventure. In fact, there are so many rides and activities it is hard to choose what to do. The Mountain Coaster twists for thousands of feet through the woods, or take a ride on the Alpine Super Slide. There is a rock climbing wall, Euro-bungy trampoline, a giant swing, and six-person chairlift to the scenic summit. Each activity has a minimum age, height, and weight requirement, so there is no need to worry about what is or is not appropriate for a child. Younger kids will enjoy the inflatable slide, bouncing playground, and harnessed climbing adventure. Jiminy Peak also offers mountain biking, hiking, and — new this season — zip line rides and mountain Segway tours. 800-882-8859, www.jiminypeak.com, prices vary

Get out in nature with Berkshire Outfitters, a rental company with bicycles, kayaks, canoes, and more. If you like to bike, the paved Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is only 300 yards from the shop in Adams, and off-road trails are nearby at the base of Mount Greylock. Canoe and kayak rentals include life jackets, paddles, and a rooftop carrier. The staff can advise you on where to find area ponds, lakes, and rivers. If you prefer, the company will shuttle your boats to Cheshire Lake for an additional fee. 413-743-5900, www.berk shireoutfitters.com, prices vary

No need to worry about rainy days when you can take the kids bowling at Cove Lanes in Great Barrington, a family-owned and operated 24-lane facility. In addition to bowling, there is a full-service lounge (with sporting events featured on eight large-screen TVs), a snack bar serving burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers and more, a large selection of arcade games, plus an 18-hole, indoor upstairs-downstairs mini-golf course complete with a dragon, wolf, mountain, and other fanciful diversions. 413-528-1220, www.covelanes
.com, bowl $3-$4.50 per person, per game, shoe rentals $2.50, mini-golf $5

Kids ages 10 and older can mount and ride horses along with their parents and a professional guide at Aspinwall Adult Equestrian Center in Lenox. Trails lead from the barn to Kennedy Park, a 500-acre town park with shaded old carriage paths and views of Lenox Mountain and Berkshire County. (On a clear day you can see the Catskill Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont.) Rides are tailored to all ability levels. Open every day from mid-May through October, reservations are suggested as most excursions are limited to six people. Extend the experience by booking a night at the private campsite, complete with tents on platforms, air mattresses, and sleeping bags. Your guide will cook a meal and clean the site before leading you back to civilization. All you need to pack are personal items (guitars encouraged) and don’t forget to tip your guide. 413-637-9090, www.berkshire horseback.net, one-hour ride $50 per person, half-day journey $150, overnight adventure $250

Necee Regis can be reached at neceere
gis@gmail.com.
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