At a Glance Embark on a journey of discovery through the Berkshire Hills and the Hudson River Valley. Meander through the Connecticut River Valley past mountains, meadows and idyllic villages to Stockbridge, one of the oldest settlements in the Berkshires. Experience natural beauty that inspired Melville, Wharton and Rockwell, and examine how the utopian ideals of the Shakers shaped the community. Then, like the early settlers, turn westward along the Hudson River to learn this route’s role in the history of the nation and New York City. Absorb the mood of the river valley that inspired the first regional art movement in America and examine the historic and cultural treasures that line its banks.
Keep the Pace: Walking up to two miles, standing up to two hours at a time on walking explorations and in museums.
Best of all, you'll...
* Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum to see the largest collection of the artist’s original pieces and learn how Rockwell reflected American culture in his work.
* A lecture on Shaker settlements explains what sets them apart from traditional New England settlements.
* Enjoy expert-led visits to President Franklin Roosevelt’s home, Val-Kill and artist Frederic Church’s home.
DAY 1 – Boston, Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
(D) Arrive in Boston and take the hotel shuttle to the hotel. 3:00 p.m. hotel check in. Come to the Road Scholar table to register and get your welcome packet containing your up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and when and where the Orientation session will take place. The Group Leader will review the up-to-date program schedule and answer questions. At the hotel, enjoy a buffet welcome dinner. Hotel: Embassy Suites by Hilton Boston at Logan Airport
DAY 2 - Boston Field Trip, Transfer to the Berkshires, Stockbridge
Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile over uneven ground; Driving 130 miles, approximately 2 hours.
(BLD) We will explore the highlights of Boston and learn about the history and famous stories that make this city so beloved. As you walk along the Harborwalk see the sites of Charlestown, travel up hill to Copp's Hill Burying Ground and the Old North Church, and view the statue of Paul Revere and his house. Learn about the Revolution, Black History, and the history of Irish, Eastern European, Italian, and Sicilian immigrants with an expert.
Lunch is at a local restaurant. Then we’ll board our motorcoach and depart for Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The scenic countryside gradually becomes more varied until we reach the Berkshire Hills highland of western Massachusetts. Upon arrival, we will check in at the historic Red Lion Inn on picturesque Main Street in Stockbridge.
At the Red Lion Inn, you may choose to dine at either the Lion’s Den where there is entertainment seven nights a week, or the cozy Widow Bingham’s Tavern. Plated meal vouchers will be available so you may choose what appeals to you most.
Evening at leisure. You might like to stroll through this quaint New England village, relax in rocking chairs on the inn’s front porch, or enjoy informal activities with Road Scholar friends. Hotel: Red Lion Inn (3 nights)
DAY 3 - Mission House, Norman Rockwell Museum, The Mount
Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles; walking and standing in museums up to 2 hours at a time.
(BLD) We will walk to one of the Berkshires’ National Historic Monuments known as the Mission House. On Main Street in Stockbridge, this was the home of the first Christian missionary to communicate with the Mohican Native Americans. A docent will lead us through the site, illuminating the intricacies of the historical relationships between the colonial English settlers and the Mohicans, as well as their attempts to work together in this quaint settlement.
We will head to the Norman Rockwell Museum complex for a Road Scholar exclusive experience. We will go behind the scenes with curators to see and learn about the art and creative process of this influential visual communicator of the American 20th century. As we study original paintings, enjoy a private look at Rockwell’s personal archive from carefully directed photographic references to rarely-seen props, art supplies, and correspondence that will offer fresh insights into the world of this renowned artist. This interactive experience will examine the deep links between imagery, culture, and history, inspiring consideration of the unique power of the artist as a commentator in his/her time.
At the museum, we’ll have boxed lunches. Then we will go to town of Lenox to visit Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount. Designed by Edith herself and built in 1902, the house embodies her interests in the literary arts, interior design and decoration, garden and landscape design, and the art of living outlined in her influential book, “The Decoration of Houses” (1897). We will explore the house and its beautiful formal gardens with a docent. One of America’s greatest writers, Wharton, (1862-1937) is the author of “The Age of Innocence,” “Ethan Frome,” and “The House of Mirth.” She wrote more than 40 books in 40 years, including authoritative works on architecture, gardens, interior design, and travel. Wharton was the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and an honorary Doctorate from Yale University. Dinner is on our own.
DAY 4 - Hancock Shaker Village, Free Time
Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile; standing up to 1 hour. Driving approximately 26 miles; 1 hour throughout the day.
(BLD) Upon arrival to Hancock Shaker Village, we will enjoy an immersive walking field trip experience. This 750-acre living-history museum features costumed interpreters, authentic buildings, collections of furniture and artifacts, a working farm with extensive gardens, heritage-breed livestock, and much more. The Shakers sought to create a utopian society based on their precepts of pacifism, celibacy, and communal living. Originally from England, they were called the “Shaking Quakers” — which became Shakers — for expressing their spiritual feelings through singing and dance. The Hancock community was founded in 1783 and reached its peak in the 1840s with more than 300 members. We will explore the 1830 Brick Dwelling, the 1826 Round Stone Barn, and other highlights with a docent, prior to public opening hours. We will also hear an expert presentation explaining how Shaker communities “gathered”, their unique social structure and architecture, and how they differ from traditional New England settlements and villages.
Lunch is in the museum café. We will have time for independent exploration at the Shaker Village before returning to Stockbridge to enjoy a free afternoon. We have a plated dinner at the Stockbridge Inn.
DAY 5 - Hudson Valley, Olana, Huguenot Street / Mid Hudson Valley, NY
Activity note: Driving 100 miles throughout the day with multiple stops; walking up to 2 miles over uneven and dirt paths, standing up to 2 hours at field trip sites.
(BLD) We will turn westward, following the footsteps of early settlers and journey along the Hudson River. This route played a major role in the history of our nation and the trade empire that is New York today. We will make a stop at Olana, where we will visit the Moorish-style home of Frederic Church, a landscape artist of major importance to the artistic movement known as the Hudson River School. His grounds offer commanding views of the Hudson Valley that provided inspiration for the work of one of America’s foremost painters.
Lunch is at a local restaurant. We will then head to New Paltz, NY and arrive at the Huguenot Street Historic District. This area is representative of the Huguenot settlement from the early 18th century. It includes 30 buildings across 10 acres, offering a glimpse into the past. Led by an expert, we will see the seven original stone houses dating from 1705, the colonial-era burial ground, and a reconstructed 1705 French church.
At a local restaurant, we will have a plated and served meal. Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Poughkeepsie (2 nights)
DAY 6 - Val-Kill, FDR Home, Presidential Library, Vanderbilt Mansion
Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 2 hours at a time; climbing more than 100 steps at Vanderbilt Mansion. Driving 1 hour throughout the day; 50 miles.
(BLD) Mrs. Roosevelt’s personal retreat, Val-Kill Cottage, is also a National Historic Site and the only one dedicated to a First Lady. We will learn more about her life as we explore the modest cottage and grounds.
We'll then head over to the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. The home — officially named Springwood but called Hyde Park by the family — is the only site in America where a President was born, had a lifelong connection, and is buried. A Park Service Ranger will lead us through the house. We’ll also walk through the grounds including the Rose Garden where Franklin and Eleanor are buried, and have time for a self-directed exploration of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, America's first presidential library. It was designed and built under President Roosevelt’s personal supervision and opened to the public in 1941. It is the only presidential library used by a sitting president, as Roosevelt had expected to serve only two terms in office.
We will enjoy boxed lunches at the FDR Museum café. We will go to the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, unusual in the sense that it does not pay homage to a particular person or family, but represents the Gilded Age. Anyone familiar with “Downton Abbey” will recognize the similarities to an English country house with the accompanying social stratification. The 54-room mansion, designed in the Beaux Arts style by the country’s leading architectural firm, was built in 1898. The interior includes the finest antiques as well as specially made furnishings. The landscaped grounds feature a formal terraced garden, extensive lawns, carriage roads, and a 3-mile-long riverside hiking trail. Our visit will be narrated by Park Service staff who will lead us through this extraordinary edifice that was used only as a vacation home!
In New Paltz, enjoy dinner on your own. Evening at leisure.
DAY 7 - West Point, Boscobel / Danbury, CT
Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles and standing for up to 2 hours over the course of visits; at times ground is unpaved and uneven. Driving 90 miles throughout the day; approximately 2 hours; getting on/off motorcoach.*MUST return Pre-Security Form in advance to participate in West Point visit. MUST bring a driver's license or passport to be admitted.
(BLD) We will transfer to Highland Falls to meet a local expert at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Via motorcoach and our own two legs, we will uncover the history of West Point, its role in the Revolution, and stories of graduates who helped shape the nation.
In Cold Spring, lunch is on your own to enjoy the local fare. We’ll travel to the Lower Hudson Valley where the grand riverfront mansion of Boscobel sits on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. Led by a docent, we’ll explore the sumptuous interior’s finest collections of elegant Federal-period furnishings. We’ll learn about its history, how it came to be in its present location, its role in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the lives of the Dyckman family.
In Danbury, we will enjoy a plated meal at a local restaurant. Hotel: Hampton Inn of Danbury
DAY 8 - Transfer to Boston, Program Concludes
Activity note: Driving 160 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. We are expected to arrive at Logan airport at approximately 11:30 a.m., so we strongly recommend booking return flights that depart after 2:00 p.m.
(B) We will board our motorcoach for the return trip to Boston. The coach will make a stop at Logan International Airport.