Eons ago, I remember my mom whispering this Dr. Seuss quote in my ear before bedtime: Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! It has stayed with me, and today I recite the very same thing to my kids, Brock, 4, and Connor, 9. So you can imagine their reaction when I told them we were going to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, MA. (Springfield is the birthplace of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss himself.) They fist-pumped their arms in the air and shouted, “Dr. Seuss! Dr. Seuss!”
It was just one of many fun stops on our tour of the Pioneer Valley region. The area runs along the Connecticut River and is full of quaint towns and cities. The kids were also ecstatic to visit the famous Six Flags New England amusement park, filled with world-class coasters and separate areas for little kids’ rides. I knew this beloved expanse had a ton of museums and art galleries—but I didn’t know there was literally something for everyone.
Did you know…
- Springfield is touted as a city of firsts because of all the innovations that took place there, including the creation of America’s first motorcycle (Indian, 1901).
One of our favourite places was the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst. As soon as you walk in you’re greeted with incredible floor-to-ceiling artwork created by Carle. It was as though we had walked into a real-life picture book. We spent a leisurely afternoon at this unique attraction that celebrates Carle’s canon including The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It also hosts exhibitions highlighting the work of other kids’ authors. We loved the Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems exhibit, where the boys were able to add their signatures and drawings of Pigeon (from Willems’s popular book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus) to an impressive kid-created collage on the wall. We also spent a lot of time in the art studio where they enjoyed making Carle-esque images of their own from an assortment of colourful paper in finely cut shapes and sizes.
Place for Sports Fanatics
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (pictured above). Check out the NBA memorabilia (like Shaq’s size-23 shoes!).
Cute temporary tattoos from the Eric Carle Museum.
The Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens is an 8,000-square-foot indoor cornucopia of nearly 4,000 butterflies.
Dippin’ Dots ice cream at Six Flags.
A version of this article appeared in our February 2014 issue with the headline “Pioneer valley,” p. 22.