When you grow weary of hearing “There’s nothing to do!” take the kids to the Springfield Museums in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Hint: Don’t say “museum.” Better: “We’re going to where Dr. Seuss grew up.”) Within minutes after you arrive, that “nothing” will flip to “everything.”
Five destinations in one — a pair of art museums, a terrific science museum with a full-size replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex, and a historical museum — cozy around the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, which commemorates native son Theodor Seuss Geisel.
Posing with Yertle the Turtle, Horton the Elephant, and the Grinch is free. On a mild day your children may want to do nothing else except crawl in and out of these figures created by Geisel’s stepdaughter. But coax the kids inside, where one single ticket gets you into all the attractions.
The Science Museum includes an observatory and a planetarium, a Springfield-built Gee Bee airplane, and a hall devoted to African wildlife. The hits of the day, though, may well be the video game where meteorites crash into Earth and the earthquake shake table, where you build a model house and then see it collapse when the earthquake strikes.
If your children are ready to be inspired by fine art, two beautiful museums stand only steps away. The Museum of Fine Arts contains the country’s only permanent gallery devoted to lithographs by Currier & Ives, a grown-up nostalgia fest. But the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, with its world-class collection of Asian art, will be where the children head. Tucked into a dazzling room is the Hasbro Games Art Discovery Center, lined with murals capturing the spirit of the Orient and Samurai costumes to try on. And there is always a staffer ready to help with hands-on crafts projects.
The Connecticut Valley Historical Museum tells the story of the area from 1636 through today, using documents, furniture, motorcycles, and firearms from legendary Springfield manufacturer Smith & Wesson. And, of course, it tells about its native son whose books have sold more than 200 million copies. Its “SeussScape” play area is painted with scenes from Geisel’s books; push a button and listen to a reading of The Cat in the Hat. Nearby is an exhibit showing young Theodor and his family, as well as the local places that inspired so much of his work. When you step back outside, the day ends where it began: the children shouting in delight as they scamper to hug a Horton, a Yertle, a Grinch.
To learn more about the area, visit valleyvisitor.com.