6 Reasons to Visit Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley

6 Reasons to Visit Massachusetts Pioneer Valley

When someone mentions Massachusetts to you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Boston? Cape Cod? Those places are both great, but there is a lot of fun located in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, too. There are so many fun-filled attractions in the western part of the state and they are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for some family fun this summer.

1. Six Flags New England

Did you know that Six Flags New England is the Coaster Capital of New England? Six Flags New England is home to the New England SkyScreamer, Flashback, Pandemonium, Mind Eraser, Batman the Dark Knight, Goliath, Wicked Cyclone and the brand new Fireball, which just opened this year. Six Flag New England also relaunched the BIZARRO coaster this season. It’s now SUPERMAN(TM) the Ride.

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If coasters aren’t your thing, you are not alone. I don’t like them either, but fear not – there is a ton of other stuff to do at the park. For the little ones, there are four areas specifically dedicated to kids including Looney Tunes Movie Town, Kidzopolis, Whistlestop Park and Splash Island (in the water park). There are tons of rides in those areas including bumper cars, a carousel, the scrambler and many more classics.

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In the summer Six Flags New England is also home to New England’s largest water park, Hurricane Harbor. Hurricane Harbor is a true tropical oasis with two sandy beaches, two wave pools, numerous slides and my kids favorite – the lazy river. All of this is included FREE with your park admission, so it’s two parks for the price of one!

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If you get hungry, there are lots of food options within the park and if you are lucky you might just run into one of the Looney Tunes characters walking around or putting on a show.

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Six Flags New England is located at 1623 Main Street in Agawam, MA. Be sure to plan ahead & check their website for directions, ticket prices and park hours.

2. The Springfield Armory

The Springfield Armory, located in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, is a free museum operated by the National Park Service.

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“In 1777 George Washington ordered the creation of Springfield Armory to store revolutionary ammunition and gun carriages. In 1794, The Armory began the manufacture of muskets for a young country. For the next 150 years, Springfield Armory functioned as a supplier for every major American conflict as well as a “think tank” for new firearm concepts. In 1968, citing budgetary concerns, the U.S. Government closed Springfield Armory. Now the walls of Springfield Armory would house historians, paying homage to the past rather than those with an eye to the future”.

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The Springfield Armory features the world’s largest collection of historic American firearms. Even if you are not into guns, at the armory you will get a chance to learn about the manufacturing process and it’s quite interesting. The museum has many of the original manufacturing machines that were used in the industrial section of the museum.

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I would recommend visiting if you enjoy military history or have an interest in historic guns. Their collection is extensive. Plus there are Park Rangers on site who are knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions you have.

The Springfield Armory is located at One Armory Sq, Suite 2, Springfield, Massachusetts 01105. Oh and if you missed it, the museum is free!

3. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Did you know that Eric Carle is the author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar? I have read that book thousands of times and I’m fairly certain I can recite it word for word without looking at the book.

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The Eric Carle Museum was started by Eric and his wife. The museum showcases his picture book art and provides hands-on activities for kids. In all honesty, I do not think the Eric Carle Museum is really a children’s museum. It’s an art museum that just happens to focus on children’s books.

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There is a wonderful art gallery at the museum, but everything is at adult height, so I had to lift up my youngest son to look at it. While my husband and I truly enjoyed looking at the approximately 80 pieces of art on display at the museum, the kids were not as interested in that area. They were interested in the children’s art room, though. It’s a fantastic area in the back of the museum where the kids can express their artistic creativity. The museum also has an amazing library with an extensive amount of children’s picture books. My boys probably could have spent hours in there looking through everything. There is also a large caterpillar and butterfly from The Very Hungry Caterpillar that you can take pictures with – and of course we did!

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Honestly the bookstore at the museum was our favorite part of the visit. The bookstore is small in size, but it’s filled will all types of children’s (and a few adult) books. We could have spent the whole day in there.

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If you are a fan of picture book art, you should definitely make the trip to this museum. It’s worth every penny. The museum is located at 125 W Bay Rd, Amherst, MA 01002. Check their website for hours and ticket prices.

4. Basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a fantastic destination for everyone from lifelong basketball fans to families with children who are just beginning to explore the sport. The Hall of Fame is located in Springfield, MA, which is “The Birthplace of Basketball”.

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is home to more than three hundred inductees and more than 40,000 square feet of basketball history.

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There are fun interactive exhibits located throughout the museum for visitors to enjoy. There are skills challenges, live clinics, shooting contests and a court for people to shoot hoops & practice their slam dunks on the lower level.

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The Basketball Hall of Fame is located at 1000 Hall of Fame Avenue in Springfield, MA. Right now The Hall of Fame is open Sunday through Friday – 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday – 10 am to 5 pm. They do have special events from time to time & close early, so be sure to check their website for current hours.

5. Lupa Zoo

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The Lupa zoo is a small family owned zoo in Ludlow, MA. It is a true hidden gem and my family absolutely loved our visit there. They have a large array of animals, many which you can pet and feed through feeding tubes in the fences. You can buy bags of food for a few dollars at the ticket window and I highly recommend doing so because it gives you an opportunity to see many of the animals up close.

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Really close.

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In addition to all the animals, there is a playground and many animal sculptures for the kids to climb on at the zoo. Make sure you bring extra camera batteries because there are lots of photo ops at this zoo.

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The Lupa Zoo is located at 62 Nash Hill Rd, Ludlow, MA 01056. Check their website for hours and ticket prices before you head out.

6. Yankee Candle Village

At the Yankee Candle Village store you will find 400,000 candles in over 200 different famous Yankee scents. In addition to enjoying all of the fabulous candles, you can shop for home decor and even do a little Christmas shopping there. While you are at the store, be sure to grab some freshly-made fudge and other sweets from their fudge shop.

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At the Yankee Candle Village, it’s Christmas every day. There are animated characters who will sing to you, so you’re entertained while you shop! And don’t miss the Wax Works while you’re there. It’s an interactive activity center that includes candle dipping, making wax hands and you can even make your own jar candle. It’s fun for the whole family. Plus there are a bunch of seasonal activities year round. Hay rides are starting Memorial day weekend and run all summer long.

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The Yankee Candle Village is open Monday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, 363 days a year (they are only closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). You will find the store at 25 Greenfield Road South Deerfield, MA 01373.

Of course there is much, much more to see and do in the Pioneer Valley – these are just a few of the highlights. So what are you waiting for, head out west to get a taste of what Western Massachusetts has to offer.

**Note: My family was provided with accommodations, some meals and complimentary admission to all of the places featured in this post. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

About Taylor Nikaci

99 comments

  1. Toni | BoulderLocavore.com

    Who knew all these places were in the same area?! Such diverse attractions too. Bookmarking this for future travel.

  2. Theresa

    Looks like they have a lot to offer. I’d love to visit all, with the exception of the Basketball Hall of Fame, simply because I’m just not a fan of the sport. The rest? Bring it on!

  3. Inspiring Kitchen

    I agree, they have a lot of fun activities for the whole family. I am not a fan of basketball also, but my husband and son would surely love to visit the Basketball Hall of Fame.

  4. Inge Snip

    So interesting! Especially the Eric Carle museum. Need to visit! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Liz Mays

    I know right! We still have so many of his books. My kids loved them.

  6. Inspiring Kitchen

    That beetle is gorgeous! This is an interesting museum. We need to visit this.

  7. Alli

    I grew up going to Six Flags over GA, so I know I would love visiting Six Flags New England. I don’t do coasters these days, but I love some of the milder rides.

  8. Annemarie LeBlanc

    I’d love to visit the Basketball Hall of Fame! I am a big basketball fan and this would really make me squeal with excitement.

  9. DadofDivas (@dadofdivas)

    I think we will be coming to Springfield this summer so your post is perfect! Thanks so much for all of the great information!

  10. Terri Steffes

    I don’t know where to start! I love Eric Carle! I would so go there even though I am 50+ (cough) and would love it. Now, any suggestions for Williamsburg?

  11. Kita

    The Eric Carle museum is definitely on my list if we visit Massachusetts. I love the amusement park too. My kids would definitely enjoy both.

  12. Ana De Jesus

    Oooh I love roller coasters and Six Flags is meant to be really exciting. My friend when when she did her Study Abroad program!

  13. Rachel Langer

    My boys would really enjoy visiting The Springfield Armory. And, of course, you had me at Candle Village.

  14. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    That looks like so much fun! My kids and my husband would love the roller coasters. I’d stick with the animals and museums.

  15. Dawn McAlexander

    I’m with you. I can’t handle roller coasters anymore. The animals and museums are more my speed nowadays.

  16. MJ. L

    These look like great places to visit if we go to Pioneer Valley. i will have to keep this in mind for the future.

  17. Pam Wattenbarger

    I would love to see the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book art. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of my favorite picture books.

  18. GlamKaren

    What a fun assortment of things to do – and all in one area! Great resources for those who live nearby or taking a trip this summer!
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

  19. Lisa Thompson

    We spend a few weeks in New Hampshire each summer and my dad usually takes the kids to Six Flags New England and The Basketball Hall of Fame each summer! My teens love both…especially my daughter who will be playing college basketball in the fall!

  20. Rorybore

    Oh my gosh, I’d buy all the candles. I am such a candle addict.

  21. Jay Simms

    This looks like a blast! Especially those Roller Coasters. Your Six Flags looks so much better than ours.

  22. Jeanette

    I have not been out that way. Looks like there’s a lot of things are missing so I need to get my little butt out that way in a vacation. I do not even know there was a Six Flags there.

  23. Catherine S

    This looks like a great place to visit. I would love to go to Six Flags with the family.

  24. Pam

    I love Six Flags! We go to the one in our state every summer. The roller coasters are so fun.

  25. momknowsbest15

    I love that there is a Six Flags there. Looks like a great place to visit.

  26. Laura Starner

    This looks like a great place to visit. I grew up going to Six Flags in GA and I love Eric Carle. I would love to visit that museum.

  27. Sarah Bailey

    What some amazing sounding places to visit – I have to admit I would love to visit that armoury it looks amazing. x

  28. Sheri

    The very hungry caterpillar!!!!!!! Love that book. I only know it in German and will have to read it in English someday. Pioneer Valley looks like a great place to visit. Nice!

  29. Melisa Bartlett Dodrill

    Looks like a lot of fun! You had me sold with the photo of the roller coaster! I will go anywhere for a good coaster.

  30. Jenny Finney

    We have a Six Flags, just 3 hours from us, in St. Louis, Mo. I LOVE the rides, especially the roller coasters. Since I’m a little older now…I can barely handle multiple rides on a coaster! I would love to visit the Yankee Candle Village. I am a big fan of their candles and would love to visit here.

  31. Liz Mays

    It sounds like families could have a ton of fun there! There’s just so much to do! These are great reasons to visit.

  32. Rocio Roque (ROCYc h e e k s)

    Such great places to see. My son would love the Eric Carl museum.

  33. Ana Fernandez

    Oh my! You got me at number one! i do love roller coaster!

  34. lastchance3

    I actually visit this area pretty often. I have family who lives near Mt. Holyoke College so I go up and hang out in the area.

  35. xoxobellablog

    I had no idea there was an Eric Carle museum. I love him and his artwork. If I am in the area, I will head there. I don’t like scary rides so I will stay away from Six Flags!

  36. tp keane

    woah, I love this. I live in MA and have heard of a few of these, But as a non-native, never really got to see much. Will def have to try the yankee candle village.

  37. Marcie W.

    So many hidden gems! I have always wanted to visit the New England area and these ideas just give me extra incentive.

  38. Cindy Ingalls

    So much to do and see. New England is one my favorite areas in the U.S. I love how the historical places you can visit, and these gems look amazing as well.

  39. aimlessmoments (@AimlessMoments)

    I was sold at Six Flags lol. We love theme parks so that is all I would need to know.

  40. Elizabeth O.

    They have a lot of activities for the kids and for the whole family. Each member will definitely have something to do here! I’m sure this is a great place to go to for some good old quality time with the kids!

  41. Karlaroundtheworld | Karla

    I believe I missed out on this place when I went to Massachusetts. Gotta love those different and interesting sights, especially that basketball hall of fame location since I love the sport!

  42. Dawn McAlexander

    Yep, they all sound like good reasons to me. Tell that zebra I said hello.

  43. Amanda Love

    I’ve never been to MA but after reading all your posts I have to pay MA a visit. So much to see and do and I think the Eric Carle museum might be our fave.

  44. franckxethee

    I would love to visit the Naismith Hall of Fame museum to honor the game’s greats. Of course, the rides at 6 flags would also be worth trying.

  45. Lexie Lane

    Wow, that’s a whole bunch of roller coasters! I love the Six Flags New England and hope to be there someday!

  46. Swa-Rai (@swaraimedia)

    My son would love to d this. I’m adding it to my list. Looks like fun times.

  47. Lisa

    Those are 6 great reasons to visit. I’d like to check out the armory. I bet that would be really neat to see.

  48. Nicole Escat

    The roller coasters looks so fascinating! I would love to visit the Massachusetts Pioneer Valley too! Crossing my fingers when will it happen!

  49. Shannon P

    I would want to come just for the Eric Carle! Love him!

  50. Ryan Escat

    I love the Lupa Zoo, I’m going to bring my son here someday and we will buy a bag of food so we can feed the animals there!

  51. Akhil Sharma

    Great pictures, as well as the reasons. I am enticed to visit Pioneer valley, especially Yankee candle village to check out the scented candles.

  52. saradwrites

    Such a lovely array of options for visiting Pioneer Valley. I would enjoy a visit to the yankee candle store.

  53. Seattle Travel Blogger

    Thanks for the eye-opening travel ideas here.
    As you mentioned, we were mostly travel-orientated to Boston and Cape Cod!

  54. Anosa

    My visit to the states has not extended as far as Massachusetts Pioneer Valley but I want to visit the zoo and the baseball hall of fame.

  55. Rebecca Swenor

    The Springfield Armory and the Yankee Candle Village are indeed the places I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing this awesome list of places to visit in Massachusetts.

  56. Julie Syl Kalungi

    Pioneer Valley Massachusetts sounds Awesome Robin, I havent been Boston yet I have lots of friends over there an dfamily! And I would love to see it someday. Thanks for sharing

  57. Krystle Chaney Cook

    I bet my husband and boys would love visiting the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Especially my husband and grandfather. They are sad basketball is over right now.

  58. Marvelous Mommy

    Wow, lots of fun things to do there! We are going to Six Flags Over Georgia the day after the kids get out of school.

  59. Bonnie @wemake7

    These all sound like really great places that hopefully we can visit this Summer. We have been to Six Flags New England and hope to go again soon.

  60. Joyce Brewer (@MommyTalkShow)

    We love Six Flags over GA. I can imagine Six Flags in NE would be great to visit in the summer, not as hot as it is here!

  61. Rebecca Bryant

    what a cool place to visit. I am so coming to hang with you guys you find the best places to hang out at.

  62. Sara Buckner

    There’s so many cool places to visit up there! I’d love to go some day!

  63. Kathy

    Sounds like a great place for a vacation. I would love to visit there someday. My girls would have so much fun too.

  64. Terri Ramsey Beavers

    I’d love to visit there one day and see all of these attractions. I bought the grandkids their The Very Hungry Caterpillar books when they were small and they learned to read with many of Eric Carle’s books.

  65. katyashadeofteal

    I love 6 flags and the Yankee Candle Village looks awesome as well. I hope to someday visit Massachusetts.

  66. Leslie Hernandez

    I have family there but have only been there once for a wedding. Looks like there is a lot to do over there in Massachusetts I will definitely have to plan a trip over there.Leslie xoxo

  67. Rosey

    They all sound good to me, but I’m a 6 Flags girl through and through. I love to go there!

  68. HilLesha O'Nan

    I have never visited Massachusetts, but these are good reasons to visit! The Yankee Candle Village would be on top of my list. – HilLesha

  69. workoutwithdi

    We have a Six Flags here in Southern California and it’s so cool! Sounds like we have similar rides too (our batman ride is “the riddler”) but Goliath is my favorite!

  70. The Mad Mommy

    I love visiting smaller, local museums and finding out the history of the place I am visiting. It is always so much fun!

  71. Jesenia Montanez (@JeseniaMontanez)

    Massachusetts is only a short road trip away from me. I never thought of visiting, but it looks like a fun place for families.

  72. Amber NElson

    Those look like some great reasons to visit! I would be a big fan of the Six Flags for sure!

  73. Mimi Green

    The The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art looks really cool. We have a Six Flags here in our area but we’ve never been. Maybe we will check it out this summer.

  74. Jill Conyers (@jillconyers)

    This looks like a place my whole family would like to visit. Including the in-laws.

  75. Debra Hawkins (@wifeeclectic)

    I have been to a lot of places, but for whatever reason never massachusetts. It is on the list for sure!

  76. SixFeetUnderBlog

    Hose look like a lot of fun things to do. I would love to visit some day.

  77. Kiwi

    Wow I never thought to visit Massachusetts Pioneer Valley before this post so thanks for showing us all the different things to do there! Who could resist a trip to Six Flags?

  78. Vidya Sudarsan

    We have been to Massachusetts – but visited only Boston and suburbs. This place looks awesome and is family friendly.

  79. Jen

    Pioneer Valley looks like a blast for the kids! And it looks like you were having fun, too. Cheers!

  80. Nikki

    I heard a lot of good things about this place, I’m sure my son will going to enjoy those roller coaster rides!

  81. Stephanie Pass

    This looks like it would be a great place to visit. There’s so much to see and do!

  82. serenityyou

    Did you say yankee Candle village?! OMG would love to visit there!!! And I have always wanted to go to the six flags theme park

  83. Kayleigh @ Sugar in My Texas Tea

    I’ve never been to Massachusetts. My mom was born there and there’s still a lot of family there, so I’d love to visit. This looks like a great place to start!

  84. Dhemz Apdian - Dias

    oh, cool! Looks like a fun adventure for the whole family. Thanks for sharing!

  85. pjkuhn

    What fun! I’m a fan of zoos. Luckily I have grands that are too!

  86. alissa a apel

    We don’t have a 6 Flags here. I have been to different ones twice – one in Texas and one in Georgia. Worlds of Fun and Adventure Land are the closest. My kids would love any or all of them.

  87. kayla

    Wow so much to do! If i ever get to America I’ll keep it in mind! Looks like a great place to go with kids!

  88. Eva / Kid Minds

    We are huge fans of Eric Carle. I think it would be fantastic to visit The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art! Thanks for putting it on my radar.

  89. Nikki Jenner

    The roller coasters really catch my attention. I remember when I was young, I love riding to one of those. Massachusetts Pioneer valley sounds amazing!

  90. Denea

    Wow! This looks amazing to go visit. When we go visit our friends we will have to take a trip. Thanks for sharing this!

  91. Aurora

    Those are scary rides! I used to be able to take crazy rides like that, but when you get fat… haha

  92. Nicole Torres (@DesignItVintage)

    Looks like so much fun. We were supposed to head that way in June, but plans changed, I’m definitely visiting Mass some time this year for sure.

  93. Mhaan Arambulo (@momyrockinstyle)

    Looks like a lovely place to visit with the whole family!

  94. Brianna George

    What a fun day with the kids! So glad you guys had a great time!

  95. dawn

    this day looks so much fun and i love the little bug car so cute and very creative.

  96. Cathy

    I think I need to go there! So many great things to do and see for the whole family! Sweet!

  97. Lalia Frolick

    My family would enjoy each and every one of the activities you mentioned! I’m sure there’s so much more to see in Pioneer Valley as well.

  98. HealthierSteps (@Healthiersteps)

    Sounds like something for each member of the family to enjoy. I would especially love the candles and the animals.

  99. dawn

    this looks like such fun and i love that car. so colorful and creative.

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