Springfield Armory NHS Springfield, Massachusetts

I’ve visited Springfield, Massachusetts many times to meet up with my husband’s relatives and to explore some of the many family friendly activities (like the Dr. Seuss Museum and the Basketball Hall of Fame- tips coming at the end of the week) the city has to offer.  However, until recently, I haven’t had the chance to explore the Springfield Armory, part of the National Parks Service.  Since my family has been learning a lot about the the beginning of America’s formation (see my posts on Saratoga National Historic Site, Minute Man National Historic Park, and Fort Stanwix), I figured visiting the Armory would be the perfect complement.

Armories were places to create weapons and arsenals were places to store those weapons. After the Revolutionary War, George Washington proposed having armories built on the east coast so that the United States did not have to rely on other countries for production. He designated Springfield in Massachusetts and Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia ideal locations for armories.

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Minute Man National Historic Park Lexington & Concord, MA

Concord and Lexington Massachusetts are two towns located northwest of Boston steeped in the history of the “birth” of America. The National Park Service has done a wonderful job of preserving many important sites in these towns associated with the battle of April 19, 1775, when colonial milita fought British troops (called “regulars”) in a battle that began the American Revolution. Collectively, these sites are known as the Minute Man National Historic Park. It’s well worth your family’s time to spend a day (or two or three!) visiting the area. Here are my top picks:

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EcoTarium, Worchester, MA

During a recent trip to visit my dear friend, Sandy, and her family in Natick, Massachusetts, we spied rain in the forecast. Sandy found a great spot for us to meet in nearby Worchester, Massachusetts (more on family fun in Worchester coming soon!): EcoTarium.

EcoTarium participates in the Association of Children’s Museums and the Association of Science-Technology Centers reciprocity programs. This means that my friend’s membership to her local science center (or I could have used my membership to our local children’s museum) allowed her to bring us as guests- for free. This is a wonderful program that my family has taken advantage of dozens of times. Look for an upcoming post about all the benefits. 

Part science center, part zoo, part outdoor classroom,EcoTarium also has a planetarium, outdoor train ride, plenty of hands on exhibits, and is tons of fun for toddlers, children, and adults alike! Here are our favorite parts:

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Presidential Libraries & Museums

Don’t let the word “library” misguide you. While there are thousands of papers and personal records of the presidents to read, and spaces for scholarly research, there are just as many opportunities to explore, touch, see, listen, and learn about American history at the 13 presidential libraries located throughout the country. (President Obama’s Chicago library and museum is currently under construction.)

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to establish a presidential library, followed by each succeeding president, as well as predecessor Herbert Hoover. The National Archives and Records Administration oversee the 13 presidential libraries. I first wrote about presidential libraries for Kidventurous in 2014, but have since visited more libraries and museums and learned lots of new things! At your first stop, be sure to pick up the passport for all 13 libraries so you can collect the stamps.

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The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, Springfield, MA

Springfield, Massachusetts, located about 90 minutes west of Boston, is known as the birthplace of basketball and is home to the Basketball Hall of Fame; a post on the Hall of Fame is coming soon. However, there are plenty of other places to visit if you’re in town; especially if you’re visiting with young children.   

Since 2002, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden has been a popular spot for children to enjoy climbing and exploring 14 Seuss-themed sculptures.  Featured in a grassy “quad”, the sculptures are surrounded by five museums: the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, and the brand new Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.  Purchasing one ticket (or a membership) will allow you to explore all five museums and there is lots of free parking in nearby parking lots. 

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