Springfield, Massachusetts
Photo: digidreamgrafix/Fotolia

Visit the beautiful Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, explore the Springfield Armory and tour the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Best things to do in Springfield, MA with kids include the Springfield Science Museum, the zoo in Forest Park and the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum.

»Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden

Did you know that Dr. Seuss, actually Theodor Seuss Geisel, was born in Springfield? He grew up running around Forest Park, where his father was in charge of the Forest Park Zoo. Therefore, it is fitting that the memorial park for Dr. Seuss is located in Springfield, a city that inspired so many of our favorite Dr. Seuss stories.

As you stroll through beautifully designed garden in the quad of the Springfield Museums, you will see sculptures of 14-foot Horton the Elephant with Sam-I-Am, Thing One, Thing Two, Sally, her brother, and Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose. Near the Springfield Library you can see the sculpture of Dr. Seuss with the Cat in the Hat.

The cast iron Lorax stands on a tree stump in front of the imposing Springfield Science Museum, warning us all with "Unless...." The sculptures, designed by the sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Geisel's step-daughter, make up the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, one of the best things to do in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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»Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Springfield Armory National Historic Site preserves and interprets the colorful and turbulent history of the Springfield Armory and the role it played in providing the US Armed Forces with superior firearms through innovative engineering. The museum is located in the armory’s original buildings located on the historic grounds.

It has a range of exciting displays, notable collections, public programs, activities, and online resources. The armory started as an important arsenal under General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. It began producing muskets in 1794. In 1978, the Armory reopened as the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, and it now houses the largest collection of American historic military firearms in the world.

This National Historic Landmark holds regular programs, events, and exhibits. Visitors can take a ranger-guided or self-guided tour of the grounds as well as a tour of the historic collection of arms and military machinery.

1 Armory St #2, 413-734-8551

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»Springfield Museums, Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield Museums, Springfield, Massachusetts

The Springfield Museums complex is the heart of cultural life and one of the top Springfield attractions. Located downtown, it consists of five independent, very different world-class museums: the Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the Springfield Science Museum, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, which is located in the quad between the buildings.

Each museum has a lot to offer depending on your interests, and you can see all of them in one day. There are permanent collections, temporary exhibit galleries, various special events, and traveling exhibitions of art, science, and history. You can go on regular guided tours or stroll around at your own pace.

21 Edwards St., 800-625-7738 Photo: mehizm/Fotolia

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»Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a sports and history museum devoted to the history of basketball and is dedicated and named after James Naismith, the Canadian-American doctor who invented the game of basketball. Established in 1959, the Hall of Fame later opened the doors of its new building at Springfield College in 1968.

The popularity of the attraction resulted in construction of a new facility in 1985 along the Connecticut River; it moved again in 2002 to another larger building with 80,000 square feet of space. There are many exhibits, some of which are interactive.

1000 Hall of Fame Avenue, 877-446-6752

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»Free things to do in Western Mass: Forest Park

Free things to do in Western Mass: Forest Park

In a city that has nineteen parks, Forest Park in Springfield, Massachusetts, is the jewel of the city’s crown. With 735 acres of lush, green land on the banks of the Connecticut River, Forest Park is one of the biggest urban parks in the country. It has something for everyone – spectacular views, a zoo, an outdoor amphitheater, an aquatic garden, and quaint wooded trails winding between the trees.

There is always something in bloom in the well-maintained flowerbeds, and some kind of special event is normally taking place. The best time to visit the park is during the Christmas holidays when the park hosts a spectacular high-tech lighting show entitled Bright Nights. Photo: jdwfoto/Fotolia

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»Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

The Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts is an art deco style museum opened in 1934 thanks to a bequest from Mr. and Mrs. James Philip Gray who donated their pieces of art and also funded the construction of the building.

The museum’s collection features American and European artworks, including works by Degas, Gauguin, Monet, O’Keeffe, Pissarro, and Massachusetts native John Singleton Copley.

The European art spans several periods from Late Medieval and Renaissance to Baroque and later periods. The museum also has a large collection of Currier & Ives lithographs and hosts temporary exhibits in one of its galleries.

21 Edwards Street, 800-625-7738 Photo: Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

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»Springfield Science Museum, Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield Science Museum, Springfield, Massachusetts

The Springfield Science Museum displays objects from the natural and physical sciences. Founded in 1859 as the Springfield Ethnological and Natural History Museum, the collection was housed in several places including City Hall and the City Library until 1899 when a new museum building was constructed. If you are wondering what to do in Springfield with kids, this is a great place to visit.

In 1937, the Seymour Planetarium opened and the name of the museum was changed to the Springfield Science Museum in 1961. Some of the exhibits include Astronomy Hall, Dinosaur Hall, Native American Hall, the R.E. Phelon African Hall, and more. Education outreach programs include children’s camp-ins and the Chosen Critter Adoption Program.

21 Edwards Street, 800-625-7738 Photo: Springfield Science Museum

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»The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center

The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center

The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center features more than 150 domestic and exotic species and is one of the attractions found in the large 735-acre Forest Park.

Animals at the zoo include amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. The zoo focuses on education and offers many programs and events for visitors. Programs include zoo camps, Crew in Training, Zoo on the Go, tours, and much more.

The zoo’s Adopt an Animal program helps children understand animals and conservation by bringing the children closer to the animals.

302 Sumner Avenue, 413-733-2251

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»Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

A donation in 2005 from Mr. M. Allen Swift allowed for the purchase of the Verizon building next to the Springfield Museums.

This 40,000 square foot space became the home of the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, which focuses on the history of Springfield in the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits.

It is also the home of the Springfield History Library and Archives, which is a large collection of books, manuscripts, and photographs as well as computer databases for researchers such as those interested in their family genealogies.

21 Edwards Street, 800-625-7738

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»George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum is devoted to decorative and fine arts. Built in 1895 in the style of an Italian villa, the museum opened in 1896.

Mr. Smith was a wealthy collector of Asian artwork including pieces from China, Japan, and the Middle East; he also had a large collection of 19th century American paintings, many of which were landscapes such as those painted by artists of the Hudson River School.

Today, visitors can see all of these works of art at the museum. The museum also houses the Hasbro Games Art Discovery Center, which is a hands-on center to help introduce the museum’s works of art to children and families.

21 Edwards Street, 800-625-7738

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»Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts

Visit Springfield College where you will find the Springfield College Museum, featuring exhibits, displays, historical documents, and memorabilia from the 130-year history of the college. The college has a strong athletics department and is known as the Birthplace of Basketball because alumnus James Naismith invented the game. You can view his handwritten application to Springfield College at the Springfield College Museum.

Springfield College is a private institution that offers undergraduate, post-graduate, and doctoral degrees. The college began in 1885 as a department of the School for Christian Workers. It began buying land, and by 1895 several buildings had been constructed. Known originally as the International YMCA College, it changed its name to Springfield College in 1954. The college offers 40 BA majors, 12 master’s degree fields, and several doctoral programs. In addition to the main campus, it also has nine regional campuses.

263 Alden Street, 413-748-3000

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»Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall

The Symphony Hall is a concert venue located on Court Street in Springfield. Originally referred to as The Auditorium, the hall was built between 1911 and 1913 in the Greek Revival style and was renamed Symphony Hall in the 1940s. The hall has a seating capacity of 2,611 people and is known for its excellent acoustics. If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Springfield, watch a performance at the Symphony Hall.

It is the home of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and it also hosts other events such as children’s productions, Broadway-style theater productions, lectures, and more. Symphony Hall is used for graduation ceremonies for public schools and also serves as the venue for the annual Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

34 Court Street, 413-788-7033

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»Chef Wayne's Big Mamou, Springfield, MA

Chef Wayne's Big Mamou, Springfield, MA

Chef Wayne's Big Mamou has a reputation for being the best Cajun restaurant in Western New England. Chef Wayne brings a touch of New Orleans to Massachusetts with more than just his fabulous, hot, hot Cajun food. The place is small, bustling, and lively in atmosphere.

You’ll see a huge mural on one wall and a good number of photos and artworks. Visitors can also see the open kitchen where chef Wayne works wonders and makes delights such as Les Bons Temps Rouler - the good times roll. The appetizers are all fabulous, and you might be tempted to order one of everything.

Leave some space for Chef Wayne’s large plates, which include dishes like Louisiana Lenny's Sausage'n Chicken YaYa, made with Andouille sausage wrapped with chicken breast and generously seasoned with Creole spices. The dish comes with Cajun country tomatos, herbed rice, cornbread, and mushroom gravy.

63 Liberty Street, 413-732-1011

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»Red Rose Pizzeria

Red Rose Pizzeria

It all started in 1963 when Mama Edda Caputo opened her small Neapolitan pizza parlor, which was such a hit that the Caputo family has expanded their restaurant four times since.

Red Rose Pizzeria is now in the hands of the fourth generation of Caputos, and they are still making four batches of fresh pizza dough every day to satisfy all those hungry pizza lovers. Their recipe is simple, and it all starts with pepperoni, green and red peppers, and a lot of mozzarella cheese. You can add all the other toppings you want.

The dining room is elegant and friendly with gleaming wood paneling and a crystal chandelier, and the menu has a whole range of Italian dishes, all of which are made using Mama Caputo’s family recipes. Naturally, the pizza is still the star of the show.

1060 Main Street, 413-739-8510

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»Titanic Museum

Titanic Museum

Located on Main Street in Indian Orchard, the Titanic Museum is a history museum that is home to the Titanic Historical Society Collection. Founded by Edward S. Kamuda, the president of the society, the museum features many artifacts and displays related to the Titanic and its 1912 voyage.

Survivors of the ship’s sinking donated many of the items, and some of the artifacts include the original blueprints of the ship’s tank top, lifejackets such as the one worn by Mrs. John Jacob Astor, and many more. A large model of the ship can be seen at the entrance to the museum.

208 Main Street, Indian Orchard, MA 01151, 413-543-4770

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»Max's Tavern, Springfield, MA

Max's Tavern, Springfield, MA

Sports fans are more likely to discover this jewel of a restaurant than other people, as it is located at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Gleaming wood, leather chairs, and banquettes create the chic yet comfortable atmosphere of a reputable club. The menu is contemporary American and features classic favorites that are perfectly prepared to delight all the senses. Their list of house specials is excellent: try Caribbean Jerk Chicken Sandwich with pineapple aioli, grilled red onion, fried cherry peppers, arugula, and sweet potato fries.

Their wine list, which offers selections by the glass, is superb and so is their craft beer selection. Check their calendar of events, as there is always something going on, from Sunday jazz to wine tasting and wine pairing.

1000 Hall of Fame Ave, 413-746-6299 Photo: Max's Tavern

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16 Best Things to Do in Springfield, Massachusetts