Figuring out fresh and fun activities to entertain your kids for three hours can be a struggle. Fortunately, you can keep them away from screen time with a wealth of activities in Pittsfield. Many of these are free or are very low cost. And your kids will want to come back for more.
Have fun learning.
Year-round family fun (and great rainy day activities) can be found at the Berkshire Museum. The hands-on Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation is full of activities and interactive exhibits that celebrate the many innovators and innovations that have originated in the Berkshires and transformed the world. The Museum also hosts the Berkshires’ only aquarium with 35 tanks filled with tropical and freshwater fish from clownfish to piranha, snakes, chameleons, geckos, turtles, amphibians, including poison dart frogs, and insects including scorpions and a tarantula.
Hancock Shaker Village on Pittsfield’s west side is the oldest working farm in the Berkshires. Meet the goats, sheep, donkeys, pigs, and piglets that call the Village home. Try “talking” with the roosters and chickens in the Wood Poultry House – if you “baah” at them, they’ll often reply! The famous round barn, the only round barn in the world, is filled with dozens of farming tools, including an ox shoeing frame. “Fun Finds” posters are displayed throughout the complex with trivia kids will enjoy. Complete your visit with an easy stroll down the Farm & Forest Trail, a one-mile, universally accessible loop that winds through the forest highlighting interesting Shaker facts along the way with interpretive panels.
The children’s library at the Berkshire Athenaeum, the largest library in the Berkshires, has a wide selection of childrens’ books, clubs, playgroups, crafts, quizzes, and fun challenges to help you and your family stay entertained. Anyone who lives in Massachusetts can get a free library card at the Athenaeum to check out books.
Are your kids gamers? Try the Gaming Lounge on Tyler Street, a meeting place for video game enthusiasts. From Noob to Pro, all skill levels are welcome and support autistic children from grade school to college. They have multiple systems ranging from retro gaming to the current generation.
Try a nature caper.
Pittsfield is a wonderful place to get outdoors and into nature. You can spend an hour or two immersing yourself in the Berkshires with family-friendly hikes.
Hike in Herman Melville’s footsteps, maybe even Sarah Morewood’s and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s too, at the Arrowhead Nature Trail, the home of Herman Melville during his most productive writing years. The easy half-mile trail is great for the little ones. Pick up a copy of Stanwix Scavenger Hunt to spy on interesting items along the way. (Stanwix was the son of Herman and Lizzie.) You can just imagine the boy running through the woods as Dad wrote Moby Dick.
For those with strollers and carriages, the paved three-quarter-mile Tranquility Trail in the Pittsfield State Forest is a great way to get outside. Its smooth surface, picnic areas, and nearby restrooms make it an ideal place to bring the kids.
For older kids, the 11,000-acre Pittsfield State Forest includes 30 miles of trails and the state’s highest body of water, Berry Pond. Whether hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, or exploring the mountain range to Berry Pond, you’re sure to find the perfect outdoor adventure.
The Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, which is well-maintained by Mass Audubon, contains three miles of gentle, flat trails that wind through scenic woods, fields, and wetlands, and along the edge of the Housatonic River. Children love to run up the trails to see what’s around the next corner. The Sacred Way Trail is an easy 30-45 minute walk past an old oxbow pond. The Wolf Pine Trail is an easy 45-60 minute walk through leafy hardwoods. A side trip to the humble Wildlife Observation spot is a must. You may see a wide variety of bird and animal life, including warblers, turtles, ospreys, otters.
Older kids will love to climb the observation tower at the Wild Acres Conservation Area to watch the planes take off and land at the adjacent Pittsfield Airport. There are two miles of easy trails and fishing is allowed for children 14 years old and under at the pond (or “Holman Lake” as it was once called) a site for anglers for nearly 100 years.
Make a splash and cool off in the water.
Burbank Park on Onota Lake is ideal for a family swim. In season, lifeguards from the Berkshire Family YMCA are on duty in the well-protected area.
Splash pads with spray basins are a hot item for your summer to-do list and Pittsfield has two of them! The pads at the Pittsfield Commons and Clapp Park are exciting with water sprays and fountains. Each is adjacent to exciting newly constructed playgrounds.
Rent a boat for an hour or a day. Boat rentals are available on both the 653-acre Onota Lake and the 511-acre Pontoosuc Lake. Onota Boat Rental offers kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats. Or, take the entire family out on their family-sized runabouts and pontoon boats. Berkshire UDrive Boat Rentals at Pontoosuc Lake offers family-sized pontoon boats.
Hit the slopes.
The sledding hills at Clapp Park and Osceloa Park are a great way to get the kids out into the snow. They are free.
With eight tubing lanes, more than 200 tubes, and 100% snow-making coverage, Bousquet Mountain has snow fun even when there is no snow in your backyard. Hop on a tube and listen to yourself laugh with joy. Getting back up is easy with their carpet lift.
For older kids, ski lessons and ski slopes for many ability levels are available at Bousquet Mountain. Their extensive snowmaking makes it the best place in Pittsfield to bring your skis and boards.
Burn off that energy at a playground.
Pittsfield’s 29 parks offer a wide variety of fun for kids to burn off energy. The most popular playgrounds are at Burbank Park, Clapp Park, and The First Street Commons.
The newly upgraded Pittsfield Skate Plaza brings in skateboarders, scooters, rollerbladers, and BMX riders from across the Berkshires and neighboring counties. Stop by The Garden on North Steet first to find the coolest skateboards (and snowboards) around, including trendy sneakers and clothing the kids will love.
Catch a game.
It is always fun to take the kids out to the ballgame. The Pittsfield Suns, a summer collegiate baseball team, play from early June to early August. Unlike many other collegiate leagues, the teams compete using professional rules and equipment, giving them experience and allowing professional scouts the opportunity to observe players under such conditions. The games are at historic Wahconah Park, one of the last remaining ballparks in the United States with a wooden grandstand. Fun trivia fact: it is one of only two professional ballparks in the nation to face west. Games are sometimes paused at sunset for a sun delay.
Finish off with a frozen treat.
There is no better way to finish off three hours of fun than with ice cream or frozen yogurt. Pittsfield locals argue over which is the best. Perhaps you will want to try them all and weigh in.
Ayelada is an extremely popular year-round spot for high-quality, locally crafted frozen yogurt and vegan frozen yogurt. They use dairy, flavors & toppings from local farms & artisans. Each week features a new set of seasonal flavors from local sources when possible and made in small batches.
Lakewood Creamery, featuring soft serve, hard serve, milkshakes, and banana splits, looks like a retro ice cream stand, complete with tubs of toppings, pastel colors, and a chalkboard menu listing their soft and hard ice cream flavors. Ice cream is sourced from nearby High Lawn Farms, well known in the Berkshires for its high-quality milk products.
If you love ice cream from roadside stands that have served generations of Pittsfield locals, you should seek out King Kone on First Street and Dairy Cone on Tyler Street. Each has a loyal following and lines can be long on a warm summer night. King Kone is known for offering generous portions with a lot of options. Don’t miss their candy boats. Dairy Cone offers a wide variety of flavors, with vegan, non-fat, gluten-free, and dairy-free options. Both are open only during the season.
No ice cream list would be complete without mentioning the only Ben & Jerry’s in the Berkshires. It’s open year-round and its well-known flavors have fans around the world.