Springfield is the biggest city on the Connecticut River and the third-largest city in Massachusetts. It is known for being the birthplace of basketball, home to the largest historic American armory, and a place of origin of many exciting discoveries.
Springfield is also called the City of Firsts. Right here, George and Charles Merriam found the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and Charles and Frank Duryea introduced the first American gas-fueled car. Springfield was a starting point for many significant technological advancements, such as mass production and the first equipment needed to manufacture interchangeable parts. The city also played an essential role in the Civil War and is full of historical sights.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Springfield (MA)
1. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Did you know Springfield is called the Hoop City? It’s because here in 1861, James Naismith introduced basketball to the world. Today one of the city’s most famous sites is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a 40,000 square foot museum of basketball history.
Not only can you learn about the game itself, but also have fun and truly feel the sport at one of their interactive exhibitions. You can even try yourself out at the Jerry Colangelo Court of Dreams. Whether you’re a passionate basketball fan or know very little about the sport, you’ll be thrilled to explore the place.
2. Six Flags New England
No visit to Springfield can go without having fun at the Six Flags New England, the largest family park in the area. Located in Agawam, this place is called “The Thrill Capital of New England” for a reason. This giant park, 235 acres in size, offers 63 attractions with 12 roller-coasters and a water park Hurricane Harbor with nine tube slides and a 500,000-gallon wave pool.
Being the oldest park in the Six Flags chain, it opened in 1870 and was mainly a picnic grove for locals. In the early 1900s the owners added a few rides and a carousel. It is also home to two world-famous roller-coasters, Wicked Cyclone and Superman: The Ride, that both won recognition and are highly-ranked.
Each season there are special events like the Food and Brew Festival in the summer, the annual Fright Fest on Halloween, or the Holiday in the Park around Christmas time.
3. Eastern States Exposition
Eastern States Exposition, a.k.a. The Big E or New England’s Great State Fair, is the largest agricultural event locally and the sixth-largest fair nationally. Joshua L. Brooks initially organized it in 1916 to advertise agriculture and educate young people. Today it is a great entertainment place that features delicious local food, handicrafts, livestock displays, animal shows, live music, and many other attractions.
Located not far from the Memorial Bridge, the fair is held every fall on the second Friday after Labor Day and runs for 17 days straight. Each year the fair has around 1,5 million visitors.
Do you want to visit all six states at once? Then don’t miss out on the Avenue of States – a series of life-size replicas of all six New England state houses that stand on the land owned by each state.
4. Forest Park
If you get tired of the urban landscape and want to feel closer to nature, visit the Forest Park, an almost 800 acre Springfield gem, and one of the largest urban parks in the United States. It’s a perfect place if you’re traveling with kids or just friends.
Go for a picnic, enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of Porter Lake or take a stroll on one of the many long winding park paths. If you’re planning to visit sometime from Thanksgiving to the beginning of January, don’t miss out on the Bright Nights when the park is decorated with magical lights and is a holiday miracle.
5. Springfield Museums
Springfield Museums, found in 1857 and located in Downtown Springfield, represent five outstanding museums under one admission. These include the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, Springfield Science Museum, Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.
Everyone will find something to their liking. You can enjoy an entire day strolling through these engaging, educational, and informative sites. All year-round, you can find both special and permanent exhibits. The area offers free, convenient parking and a lovely Blake House Café where you can stop for some delicious refreshments.
6. Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center
Are you looking for a family-friendly place to relax? Check out the Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center, home to more than 200 exotic and native animals, many of which can’t be released back to the wild.
Located in the beautiful Forest Park and easy to find through from its main entrance, this place will be an exciting stop for people of all ages. Learn about wildlife through informative descriptions of each animal with fun and unique facts. You can feed the animals with food from the gift shop, ride through Forest Park on the Zoo Train, or enjoy a glass of beer in the local brewery.
7. Springfield Armory National Historic Site
Springfield Armory National Historic Site isn’t just a regular museum with arms. It’s an actual armory that was active from 1794 to 1968 and produced and tested weapons for the US Military. Now it’s home to the world’s most extensive collection of historic American firearms.
Because of the Armory, Springfield has the name of the City of Firsts. That’s where the first developments in mass-production and creation of interchangeable parts started and fueled the country’s technological progress. Here you’ll find some rare pieces of firearms and machinery, as well as enjoy a few short films and displays that are not all about guns.
8. Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden
Immerse yourself in the sweet childhood memories by visiting the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture, a tribute garden honoring Theodor Geisel, the beloved childhood characters’ creator and a Springfield native.
The garden opened in 2002 and displays 30 life-size sculptures of Dr. Seuss’s characters. All of them are full-scale pieces of bronze and copper created by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, Geisel’s step-daughter. Take a picture with the author himself, the Cat in the Hat, Lorax, Grinch, Thing 1 and 2, Yertle the Turtle, and others.
9. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum
Springfield was the birthplace for many talented people, including Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. The city and its features inspired much of the author’s work. Bring out the child in you and visit The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.
The museum was built 15 years after creating the Memorial Garden and is full of interactive exhibits and installations that will ignite your creativity and imagination. There you’ll find a recreated Dr. Seuss’s studio and living room with items from his actual house, lots of his books, and many other memorabilia.
10. Van Horn Park
Van Horn Park is the second-largest park in Springfield and is a favorite of many locals and tourists alike. If you need a break from city life, head to Liberty Heights neighborhood and enjoy a brief 2-mile hike, a picnic, or a relaxing time near its lovely pond and a few small lakes.
The park underwent a massive renovation process and offers a playground for kids, an outdoor public gym, baseball, soccer, and basketball fields. Enjoy some wildlife by watching the ducks in the pond or even spot a deer. The Van Horn Park Pond-River will be a great find for fans of fishing.
11. Storrowton Village Museum
Storrowton Village Museum is a reconstructed Early American village with nine buildings of the 18th and 19th century Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Helen Osborne Storrow founded this living historical museum by donating the buildings in their original structure.
You can explore the museum all year-round. There are guided tours and educational programs about the history and traditions of New England. Travel back in time by examining an old-style schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, a meeting house, an outdoor gazebo, a tavern, and a few other places. Enjoy the atmosphere with the guides dressed in period costumes and all the buildings fully functioning.
12. Heritage Park
Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of Heritage Park, a nice place to relax near the two town shopping plazas. Take a walk on one of the park’s trails, bring a snack for a picnic or, if traveling with a pet, take your furry friend for some fun in the dog park.
Feel closer to nature and relax near the park’s pond and watch the ducks, Canada geese, and swans. The park also has a playground for kids, two baseball diamonds, and a few soccer spots.
13. Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway
Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway is one of Springfield’s hidden treasures. It’s a lovely promenade, a park, and a bikeway that stretches for 3.7 miles along the Connecticut River. If you’re into biking, jogging, or roller-blading, this is an ideal place for you.
Take a romantic walk and enjoy the picturesque view of the Connecticut River and the Springfield city skyline. There are a few benches and a picnic area available, and the Park gives you access to the Basketball Hall of Fame of Springfield.
14. Pynchon Point
One of the most prominent historic sites in Springfield is the Pynchon Point, dedicated to William Pynchon, an English colonist and a trader, and the founder of Springfield.
In 1635 he led an expedition to Springfield, fertile land, and a potential trading point, and in 1636 he returned to buy the land and establish Springfield. Thanks to his attitude and abilities, Springfield aligned with Massachusetts Bay Colony rather than the Connecticut Colony.
Today Pynchon Point Park, located at the intersection of the Westfield and Connecticut Rivers, is the historical location of the ferry that used to connect West Springfield and Agawam. It’s a famous path to the waterfront and a popular fishing spot.
15. MassMutual Center
Formerly known as Springfield Civic Center, MassMutual is a multifunctional complex located in Downtown Springfield in the city’s Metro Center right across from Court Square. Opened in 1972, it serves as a venue for various events – concerts, sporting events, exhibitions, and meetings.
Go for a concert or a hockey game as MassMutual is home to Springfield Thunderbirds and the American International Yellow Jackets. Depending on when you travel, you can catch a family show, a comedy tour, a celebrity concert, or an exciting sporting event. MassMutual is a significant place, and a beloved hang out spot of many Springfield Residents.
16. Titanic Historical Society
Are you a fan of the world-famous Titanic? Head to the Indian Orchard and look for a small local jewelry store, “Henry’s Jewellery.” At the back of this store, you’ll find an exceptional museum by Titanic Historical Society.
Although small in size, this museum is full of Titanic collectibles, artifacts, and correspondence. For a small admission fee, you can satisfy your history craving by looking at one of the world’s biggest collections of Titanic-related memorabilia. You can also speak to a very knowledgeable shopkeeper and view a 9-foot model of the Titanic ship. On your way out, buy some books and souvenirs to keep the pleasant memories of the trip.
17. Symphony Hall
Originally built as the Municipal Auditorium in 1913, the Symphony Hall is home to Broadway-style theater and numerous events. It’s also a venue for the performances of Springfield Symphony Orchestra, the greatest Massachusetts symphony outside of Boston and the Springfield Public Forum.
Thanks to its top-quality acoustics, comfortable seating, and intimate interior, the Symphony Hall holds an annual induction ceremony for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The building will be an excellent find for architecture lovers, as its exterior is one of the finest examples of the Greek Revival.
18. The Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History
Opened to the public in 2009, The Museum of Springfield History has multiple galleries with an impressive collection of Indian Motorcycles, Smith and Wesson guns, and restored antique cars. You’ll find some planes and a few artifacts, too.
Exhibits presented in the museum show the history of the Connecticut River Valley and its development as Springfield used to be a manufacturing center, a birthplace for many important inventions, and a critical player in the American Civil War.
19. Memorial Bridge
Constructed in 1922, the Hampden County Memorial Bridge is one of Springfield’s most essential infrastructure items. It goes over the Connecticut River and serves as a connecting bridge between Springfield and West Springfield. You can watch the sunset and take beautiful pictures.
The bridge is a memorial to those who fought and died in the Revolutionary, Civil, and Foreign Wars. There are four plaques on the central towers honoring the original colonists. Every year on July 4th, the city also launches the fireworks from the bridge.
20. Springfield College
Either you’re a Springfield casual visitor or on the lookout for opportunities, you can get a real feel of student life at Springfield College.
The main campus is about 100 acres big and has residence halls, fitness, science and academic facilities, an arts center, a food court, and the College bookstore. Springfield College’s East Campus, located about a mile from the main campus, is 82 acres of green forest, a perfect recreation place.
This college is the alma mater for many talented musicians, athletes, educators, and more. In this college in 1861, James Naismith, a Canadian-American graduate student, invented basketball. Sue Thomas, the first deaf person to work undercover for the FBI, was also a student here. Springfield College is in the top 20 in its category in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings.
21. Court Square
A unique site in the center of Springfield, Court Square has been the only constant location on the city’s map since its founding in 1636. Court Square is a historical hub of Springfield and is in the closest proximity to the Old First Church, the Court House, and the Springfield Municipal Group. It’s a beautiful square with some statues, a few benches, and some trees to provide shade.
The square is also home to two other Springfield’s attractions – the Court Square Theater and the Hotel. Built in 1892, the theater used to be the grandest theater of the city and hosted many leading performers of that time. The Hotel is a six-story building that has been empty for over a decade but will soon be restored and redeveloped.
22. The Puritan
A fun fact about The Puritan – many people mistakenly think that it’s the statue of William Pynchon, Springfield’s founder. In reality, the figure is of Deacon Samuel Chapin, one of the co-founders of the city. The Puritan is an official symbol of the town displayed on its flag.
Placed initially in Stearns Square on November 24, 1887, the statue was later moved to the corner of two streets next to the Quadrangle. The sculptor’s name was Augustus St. Gaudens, and he created the sculpture on a commission from Chester W. Chapin. The statue became very popular and was reproduced and slightly altered for over 25 spots around the world. The Puritan is a reminder of Springfield’s rich heritage.
23. MGM Springfield
There is no need to travel to Las Vegas to have fun and gamble thanks to the MGM Springfield. It is a massive entertainment complex that covers three blocks downtown and is full of fun things to do. The complex opened in 2018 and has more than 125,000 square feet of gaming space, a boutique hotel, a luxury spa area, an exciting cinema complex with many places to shop and eat.
MGM Casino alone, with its slot machines, table games, and a poker room, is worth the visit. Have a drink or two at the bars, dance at the Commonwealth nightclub, take your family and friends to the arcade, go bowling or play golf all year-round at Topgolf Swing Suite.
24. Stacy Building
Have you heard about Charles and Frank Duryea, who built and road-tested the first American gas-powered car? Well, they did it in Springfield in 1893 in the Stacy Building. Located at 41-43 Taylor Street, this place is a famous historical spot of the city and is an official part of the National Register of Historic Places.
The building itself was built for Edwin S. Stacy in 1893 and served as a place for his business with other floors available for rent. That’s where the Duryea brothers made the first Duryea Motor Wagons. You can find a model of the 1893 Wagon outside of the building.
25. Theodore’s Blues, Booze, and BBQ
Theodore’s Blues, Booze, and BBQ is very famous in Springfield and the surroundings. The restaurant has been running for 41 years and serving BBQ since 1999. It is the number one restaurant in Springfield and a gem of the local community.
With its authentic decor, rustic interior, and high ceilings, Theodore’s is the Best Blues Club in the country (recognized by the Blues Foundation in 2004). The walls with retro pictures and hand-painted murals enhance the restaurant’s exceptional atmosphere. They have live music, a fantastic beer selection (including craft beer), and the best BBQ in the area served in large portions. Vegetarians will enjoy plenty of delicious options, as well.
The restaurant is attached to Smith’s Billiards that opened in 1902, and is the oldest functioning pool hall in North America.