Between the twelve peaks of the Berkshire Mountains and the vast waters of the Quabbin Reservoir, Western Massachusetts offers an array of charming New England towns, rural pastures, forests and the state's third largest city, Springfield. From agricultural fairs and stargazing to quiet woodland trails and wild roller coasters, families visiting the area can enjoy the region's many activities for children.
Many Western Massachusetts towns hold fairs and festivals, each with their own local and seasonal flair, but there are two major fairs families can count on year after year. The Three County Fair is a Northampton Labor Day tradition, featuring a demolition derby and Renaissance jousting in addition to agricultural events and carnival rides. The Big E in West Springfield, which runs for two weeks every September, is the nation’s sixth largest fair, highlighting agriculture, entertainment, food and vendors from the six New England states.
2. Art and Story
For story- and art-loving children, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst curates a large permanent collection of original Carle illustrations as well as exhibit series' by other beloved children’s illustrators. In Theodor Geisel’s hometown of Springfield, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums, a quadrangle filled with whimsical bronze statues inspired by Seuss's characters, depicts the famous author’s life and inspires future storytellers.
Whether your child is inspired by the stars in the night sky or the NBA, Western Massachusetts has the perfect attraction. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame brings the history of the sport to life through interactive exhibits and memorabilia. The Seymour Planetarium at the Springfield Science Museum schedules shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For children whose interests lie closer to earth, the Springfield Science Museum offers science and nature exhibits for the whole family and the Children’s Museum at Holyoke encourages education and self-discovery through interactive exhibits and play areas.
4. Wild Creatures and Play
Western Massachusetts’ natural beauty is an ideal setting for for exploring wild creatures. At Magic Wings in South Deerfield, families become part of the butterfly experience, moving through the habitat’s 4,000 exotic and domestic butterfly species. Lupa Zoo in Ludlow is home to animals and birds from around the globe. Look Park in Florence offers a variety of family-friendly seasonal attractions, including a petting zoo, playgrounds, picnic grounds, bumper boats and miniature golf on a 150-acre parcel of land. For families craving more thrills, Six Flags New England offers rides for the whole family, a water park and entertainment schedule.
- The Three County Fair
- The Big E
- The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
- The Dr. Suess National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums
- Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
- The Seymour Planetarium at the Springfield Science Museum
- Springfield Museums: Springfield Science Museum
- Children’s Museum at Holyoke
- Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens
- Lupa Zoo
- William B. Plowman/Getty Images News/Getty Images