Families often look for new destinations with entertainment, exercise or education, and Hancock Shaker Village in Western Massachusetts provides all three. The museum offers musical programs, interactive learning experiences, unique food, and many other activities, but the biggest draw this time of year is the baby animals. As if on cue, many animals delivered offspring prior to the April 15 opening, and others are nearly ready to give birth.

The Berkshire Eagle reported that about 1,000 guests visited on opening day, and that volume will continue on any day when school doesn’t interfere. With more than 25 buildings, the museum rarely feels crowded, and the history is both interesting and well presented. The baby animals can be viewed from 10:00AM to 4:00PM daily through May 7th, and the museum is open 7 days a week through November 12th. Check their web site for more information: hancockshakervillage.org

The baby animals include cows, goats, pigs, chicks, rabbits and sheep. Older animals are present as well on this working farm, and there is a lot to take in. The village began construction in the 1780’s and lasted until 1959 when it was sold to local preservationists. The focal point of this museum is the round stone barn. The two-story structure houses many of the animals and also features educational displays.

Around the village, one may watch the blacksmith making tools or a craftsman manufacturing oval boxes. Demonstrations in the shop and laundry connected to a water turbine or a farm tour are also fascinating. Additionally, there are areas for a picnic, a restaurant and walking trails.

It takes a bit over two hours to reach Hancock from Auburn, so this is a doable day trip, but an overnight in the Berkshires would yield the time to visit other sites like the Norman Rockwell Museum or the Clark Art Institute. Today’s slide show features a sampling from around Hancock Shaker Village on Patriot’s Day. Enjoy!