By: Sheila Gaudet
Last week I needed to travel to the Springfield area. More specifically, my teenager needed to be in Springfield for the day and required a ride. I took the opportunity to explore the area with my younger son and my college-aged niece who was visiting. I thought I’d share some of the attractions in the area that make it a very reasonable day trip for a family of various ages. We didn’t do all these activities during this trip, but we have tried all of them during past travels.
The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Gardens – located in the middle of the Springfield Museums complex in downtown, the sculpture garden contains several large bronze statues of the characters familiar to us all. The collection of bronze sculptures were created by Theodor Seuss Geisel’s step-daughter and includes a 14 feet tall Horton (from Horton Hears a Who). The area is shaded and has plenty of benches on a green space surrounded by the Springfield Museums. Free. www.catinthehat.org for more information.
Springfield Museums – Surrounding the Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden are several museums that are great for younger kids:
- Science Museum with a planetarium and plenty of dinosaurs
- The D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts with paintings and other works by both American and European artists
- The Connective Valley History Museum
- The GWV Smith Art Museum with displays of Asian and Middle Eastern decorative arts and historic treasures
- The Wood Museum of Springfield History
These museums are literally steps apart and most of them are open for visitors between 10 am and 5 pm. Generally, admission for adults is $15 and for children 3-17 is $8. This covers all the museums. The planetarium shows are an extra $2-$3. More information can be found at www.springfieldmuseums.org.
Basketball Hall of Fame – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is also located in downtown Springfield. If you have a sports fan in your group, this is worth the trip. Located in the “Birthplace of Basketball,” the Hall has permanent and limited-time exhibits all year round. Many additional events take place throughout the year so it is best to check the calendar. Beware, there is a really neat gift shop, just giving fair warning! Admission for adults is $19, youth is $12, and children under 4 are free. Discounts are available for AAA membership and others. www.hoophall.com.
Volleyball Hall of Fame – Did the recent Olympics get your family psyched about volleyball? The Volleyball Hall of Fame is located just up the road from Springfield in Holyoke, MA. After this year, 112 members will have been inducted since the Hall of Fame opened in 1987. Inductees include both indoor and beach players, as well as coaches and leaders in the sport. Makes for a neat side trip. www.volleyhall.org
Dinosaur Footprints Reservation – Did you know that the first dinosaur footprints found in North America were found in South Hadley, MA? For a unique stop for the kids, head up onto Route 5 in Holyoke. Look for a sign on the right side of the road with a small parking lot. Just about 50 yards down the easy trail, near the edge of the Connecticut River are dinosaur tracks. Real, “put your hand in it and see how big they are” footprints left in the mud of the river. Some are clearer than others but there are several groupings that kids can see, play with, and imagine dinosaurs walking the same space. There are 130 footprints in a very small area as well as other fossils of plants and fish. We did this trip last summer and both of my boys enjoyed it! Visit www.trustees.org for additional information and directions.
From my house it is slightly less than 90 miles, 495 to 90, directly into Springfield. The beautiful foliage makes it a beautiful drive at this time of the year. I recommend the area, especially to those who have a large range of ages in their group, since the area has something for everyone to enjoy.