Family Fun in New England, Part 6: Springfield, Massachusetts

This is my sixth post about our family's visit to New England. I suggest starting with the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts from the trip. Because I blog about educational travel, I received admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during our trip. A few places we went are free for everyone, while we paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I recommend without hesitation. If you see any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, restaurant, or hotel enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


Springfield, Massachusetts

I'm not a sports fan, but now that I've visited a handful of sports-related museums, I can confirm that I really like them. I absolutely loved visiting the College Football Hall of Fame, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the Kentucky Derby Museum, just to name a few. I can add another to my list, as the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is outstanding. It was our first destination on Saturday, June 17. And what a great way to start the day! 

The museum is named for James Naismith, who invented basketball in Springfield in 1891. 


There is a lot to love about the Basketball HOF. But I want to start with something simple that I wish every museum would do, and that is provide directional cues. From the moment you enter, it is clear where to go first, next, and after that. You can't miss anything if you follow the arrows, traffic flows in one direction, and there's no confusion about which way to go. So many museums could benefit from well-placed arrows directing their visitors.  

At the Basketball HOF, you start at the top and work your way down toward center court. The design is brilliant. 

We sized ourselves up against some basketball greats. Trevor is the same height as Yao Ming's ribcage, while I am a mere inch shorter than Muggsy Bogues. 


I'm quite a bit shorter than Brittney Griner. And look at the difference between our hands!

Trevor would need an extra set of knuckles to match Steph Curry's hands. And his handprint is one of the smaller ones!

Throughout the museum, there are lots of places to compare your size to that of basketball's greatest players. Look at the difference between my shoe and that of Shaquille O'Neal. I think I could literally fit four of my shoes side-by-side and toe-to-toe inside of one of his. 

Steve didn't even line his shoe up with the back of Shaq's and it's still ridiculous how small his foot looks. 

The Basketball HOF is packed with interesting stories and artifacts about the history of basketball and its pioneers and stars. It was particularly fascinating learning about early players and their creative hacks that resulted changes to the rules, like the introduction of the shot clock

The Hall of Fame itself lists all the inductees by year. 

Once you make your way through the museum and down to the basketball court, it's all about the hands-on activities. Here, Steve is shooting a basket into... an actual basket. 

The Basketball Hall of Fame is such a fun place for non-fans that I can only imagine how much fans would enjoy it. 

We had a quick lunch at Plan B Burger Bar, conveniently located at the HOF. The food was outstanding. 

Trevor had his own burger, while Steve and I split this amazing burger salad. 

Our next stop was the Springfield Museums. Notice the plural. One ticket grants you admission to five museums and a sculpture garden. Since it wasn't raining (but looked like it might), we started with the sculpture garden. It's filled with whimsical creatures from Dr. Seuss' most popular books. 



The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum is, in a word, amazing. 

The design is brilliant. The main floor is a young child's paradise, bright and colorful, with lots of activities and play areas featuring Dr. Seuss' characters. 


Upstairs is the museum portion. Here, you learn about the life of Ted Geisel, a native of Springfield. Numerous displays highlight his personal life and his creative work. There's a lot to see and it's really interesting. I appreciated signage that put Geisel's work into a historical context. 

Two of the five Springfield Museums are focused on art. They include the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum and the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. Both are well-done, filled with interesting artifacts. 

The Springfield Science Museum was the fourth we visited and our least favorite of the five by far. It was fine, but we've been spoiled by visiting some truly outstanding science museums recently

The fifth and final museum Springfield Museum we visited was the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History. What a treasure! I had no idea how many cool things were invented, created, or headquartered in Springfield. I already covered Dr. Seuss and basketball; others include Merriam-WebsterSmith & Wesson, Indian Motorcycle, Friendly's, and Milton Bradley, just to name a few. What fun to learn about all these things at the Museum of Springfield History! 

License plate: Grinch. 

I loved the whole museum, but the Milton Bradley section was my absolute favorite. 

We had a great time at the Springfield Museums, but by the time we finished we were more than ready for dinner. We ate at the Student Prince, which I highly recommend. We shared a classic schnitzel, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, applesauce, and a pretzel with beer cheese, plus apple strudel for dessert. It was fantastic. 

The large restaurant is packed with different beer steins on every flat surface. Even if you don't eat there (which you should), take a peek inside. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our time getting to know Springfield, MA. On Monday, I'll tell you all about where we went next. 

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