9 Fun Things to do in Springfield, MA for the Whole Family

Whether you are looking for a New England day trip or a weekend getaway, think beyond Boston and consider a visit to Western Massachusetts and the greater Springfield area. Dubbed the “City of Firsts”, there are many fun things to do in Springfield MA — for kids, sports fans, museum lovers, and more. Springfield has been on a revitalization track for the past few years, bringing new restaurants, breweries, and attractions to Massachusetts’ third-largest city.

Over my 20 plus years of living in New England, I’ve visited Springfield many times, in all seasons. Sitting at the intersection of Interstate 90 and 91, it is a good stopping point on your way to the Berkshires or Vermont. You can also get to Springfield by train or bus (did you know that the Peter Pan bus line was started in Springfield?). But ideally you will visit on a road trip so that you can get out of downtown to experience some of the things to do near Springfield too.

Things to do in Springfield MA

Did you know that Springfield was the birthplace of basketball and Theodor Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss”? Explore this legacy and more with these top things to do in (and near) Springfield, Massachusetts.

If you are visiting in the fall, plan to try to escape Mike’s Maze, a large themed corn maze in nearby Sunderland, and attend “The Big E” at the Eastern States Exposition. Running for 17 days, this fair-like event features parades, live entertainment, animals, crafts, and tons of food stalls. For holiday events in Massachusetts, check out Bright Nights at Forest Park with a three-mile long drive-through holiday lights display.

Play at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

You don’t have to be a diehard basketball fan to enjoy the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It has history, interactive exhibits, a playable basketball court and memorabilia from all the greats of the game.

You may be surprised to learn that basketball was created right there in Springfield by James Naismith at a local college. The museum also covers the evolution of women’s basketball and even dips into sportscasting.

When you visit, you can try your hand at dunking a basketball and stand in the footprints of some of the greatest players. With 40,000 square feet of basketball history, you can easily spend an entire afternoon there, especially those who are invested in the game (don’t miss checking out the size of Shaq’s shoes!!)

They also host clinics and shooting contests and you can find out about those special events along with admission times and prices here. If you get hungry, Plan B Burger is located just next door for some tasty burgers.

If volleyball is more your sport, check out the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in nearby Holyoke instead.

Read at The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

Image courtesy of Explore Western Massachusetts

The Springfield Museums are a big draw in downtown and an absolute must visit for families is the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. As the newest museum of the collection, the museum features interactive exhibits (in Spanish and English) in true Dr. Seuss style. On the second floor, Theodor Geisel’s (aka Dr. Seuss) studio and living room has been recreated with the furniture and art materials he actually used.

Each room in the Dr. Seuss Museum is full of fun photo opportunities. There is also a Dr. Seuss sculpture garden, a cafe, a gift shop and plenty of space for sitting about enjoying the day or to have a picnic lunch. This is a must for anyone that was a fun of Dr. Seuss’s books.

Learn at the Springfield Museums 

Africa exhibit at Springfield Museum

Located in the heart of downtown Springfield, the Springfield Museums offer visitors the ability to enjoy five museums on a single-admission ticket. This truly makes traveling with a group with different interests easy, as there is something for everyone.

There are two art museums, one focuses on fine art while the other showcases more eclectic pieces. There is a science museum, a history museum and the most popular one, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, mentioned above. In each, there are plenty of hands-on activities and fun exhibits for kids to enjoy.

Explore Fresh Paint Springfield

Dr. Seuss mural
Fresh Paint Mural in Springfield MA – Image courtesy of Joy Adamonis

Springfield is a very walkable city. Whether you want to walk to the Italian district for lunch, the business district for work, or to the waterfront for leisure, Springfield is very easy to navigate on foot. While walking from destination to destination, pay attention as you might find murals that seem larger than life behind each turn.

Fresh Paint Springfield aims to make art more accessible to the public by managing and creating murals and public art festivals. My favorite mural features Dr. Seuss, but each mural is unique in its own way. 

Taste Craft Beer at White Lion Brewery

Beer flight at White Lion Brewery

Despite Springfield having a rich history in brewing, The White Lion Brewing Company is the only brewery that is brewing downtown today. This Black-owned brewery opened in 2014 with a goal of providing a place for the community to come to together over good beer, food, and events. Today, you can enjoy trivia nights, live music, or just sit and people watch when the garage doors roll up in the summer.

White Lion is the official beer of the Thunderbirds hockey team and they also have a collaboration with basketball star Marcus Camby. The beers range from the Chocolate vanilla stout to fruity sours with lagers, pilsners, and IPAs in between. The brewery has also partnered with Springfield native and local restauranteur Andrew Brow (of Jackalope and High Brow) to create a delicious menu of unique small plates and hearty main dishes. Don’t miss the sticky ribs and Brussels sprouts!

Get Thrilled at Six Flags New England

swings at Six Flags New England
Six Flags New England

The thrill capital of New England, Six Flags, has something for everyone. Whether you enjoy the games and concessions or want to ride the roller coasters until your heart’s content, they have you covered. The park covers 200 acres with over 100 rides including 12 roller coasters, shows, attractions and New England’s largest waterpark, Hurricane Harbor.

In the summer, Hurricane Harbor keeps guests cool with over 15 water rides and a 500,000 gallon wave pool. In the Fall, Fright Fest returns to scare all the souls who dare to enter the gates in New England’s largest haunt event.

Yankee Candle Village 

The Yankee Candle Village, located in nearby Deerfield, MA, houses more than just candles. Inside, you can expect to find over 200,000 candles and 200 scents. Far more than just a candle outlet, Yankee Candle Village has hands-on activities, a country store, toy shop, restaurant, and a visit-worthy Bavarian Village.

You can try out Wax Works, where you can make a mold of your hand, personalize the candle wax colors for your own candle and dip a critter. Wax Works is very popular with the younger crowd.

For those with steadier hands, be sure to visit the candle making bar. Here is where you can really get specific on the personalization of the candle. You choose the color jar and you actually custom blend the scent yourself using essential oils and mixing them into a soy based wax, which is known to burn longer and cleaner. No two candles are the same. This experience is worth every penny and leaves you with your own candle to remember the trip by.

For Christmas fans, it is worth stopping just to see the Christmas Bavarian Village, where it snows every four minutes and is full of everything Christmas. The toy shop, candy shop, general store, gift boutique along with a cafe and a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream round out this amazing store.

Be Inspired at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Eric Carle Museum Hungry Caterpillar cut out

The Eric Carle Museum in nearby Amherst is another must for families with young children, especially those that appreciate some of his classic like The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?.

The Carle Museum collects, preserves, and presents picture books and picture-book illustrations. At the museum, visitors can experience picture books in many ways including listening to stories, reading a favorite book, making art, taking a wildflower walk, and studying the craft of picture book illustration. Be sure to check online for hours and special event dates too.

Get Aflutter at the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens

Girl with blond hair in braids holding yellow flower with black and white butterfly
Image courtesy of Explore Western Massachusetts

Another popular attraction for kids is the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens in nearby Deerfield, Massachusetts. This 8,000-square foot indoor conservatory is
home to 4,000 exotic and domestic butterflies. The tropical environment makes for a nice visit year round!

If you do visit during warmer weather, the one-acre outdoor garden area has many types of native flowers and trees that attract native butterfly species. There is also a gift shop and food court on site.

Where to Stay Near Springfield MA

Note: Accommodations were hosted by the Great Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, all opinions are my own.

MGM Springfield

MGM Springfield
MGM Springfield – Image courtesy of Joy Adamonis

The MGM Springfield is the perfect choice of accommodations when visiting Springfield. Spacious guest rooms, a casino, dining of all calibers, a movie theater, bowling alley, outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a spa make this the perfect home base for out of town visitors.

The hotel even boasts a spacious outdoor area where free concerts can pop-up, they host food truck events or you can just enjoy the fresh air. The outdoor courtyard is built where Dr. Seuss was born, as his childhood home once resided steps from the casino doors. You can even see the floorboards of his childhood home on display at the TAP Sports Bar located at MGM Springfield. 

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Things to do near Springfield MA

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