Pioneer Valley’s Historic College Culture

Four great campuses in one beautiful valley

Visitors can always find wonderful things to do in Springfield, MA, because this scenic setting on the Connecticut River offers it all. Whether you’re here for exciting nights on the town or rugged camping outside the city limits, take the time to visit one of our great historic college campuses. Put these four sites at the top of your must-explore list.

Springfield College: History and Hoops

If you love basketball, picture strolling across the quad and imagining how it all began back in 1885. That was the year the college was established, but the game came along six years later thanks to alumni James Naismith. If you’d rather recline, drop a fishing line in languid Lake Massasoit while taking in acres of stunning architectural campus gems ranging from Neo-Gothic to Renaissance Revival.

American International College: Yellow Jackets on Ice

Reverend Calvin E. Amaron established this Massachusetts institution in 1885 for the community’s French Protestant minority, and it proudly grew to become one of the most all-inclusive colleges of its time. Even women were welcome, and those prestigious beginnings now support schools of business, arts, science, education, and medicine. Team spirit roars when the fierce Yellow Jackets hit the ice, so grab your tickets, and cheer on this winning NCAA hockey team.

Western New England University: Cats in Hats

Adults looking for extended education in 1919 found it here studying accounting, law, and business. Those who stayed on in Springfield watched their kids graduate with full degrees starting in 1951. Today, the university boasts 26 buildings of higher education and more than 40 programs in undergraduate studies. Five nearby museums beckon with opportunities to explore, but don’t miss the famous cats in hats at the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden.

Springfield Technical Community College: One of a Kind

Established in 1967, Springfield Tech is the youngest kid on the campus block, but it stands tall as the only polytechnic community college in Massachusetts. Its original buildings sprang up on the site of Springfield Armory National Park which was founded by a certain Mr. George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Every semester kicks off a two-day campus fair featuring musical entertainment accompanied by delicious local dishes, and you’re cordially invited.

You’ll always find a shady spot for relaxing in the City in a Forest where our historic districts weave a beautiful urban tapestry accented with lovely college campuses. If you need directions, just contact us here at the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. We’re always happy to show you around our favorite town in Pioneer Valley.

5 Great Places to Grab Lunch in Pioneer Valley

Pioneer Valley is home to a rich culinary heritage, especially in Northampton and Springfield. From spicy ethnic cuisine to fresh organic dishes, here are five great places to grab lunch in the area:

Grab lunch in Pioneer ValleyLuxe Burger Bar

1200 W. Columbus Ave., Springfield, MA

Located along Springfield’s Riverfront, Luxe Burger Bar lets you build any burger you can dream up. Ranging in price from $9 to $13, you get your choice of meat, cheese, toppings, sauce, bun, condiments, and sides. Meat options include Gold Label, American Kobe and wagyu beef, as well as lean bison, turkey, and ahi tuna.

River Valley Market Quarry Café

330 N. King St., Northampton, MA

The menu at the Quarry Café is filled with organic ingredients sourced from local farms. The daily hot bar includes a wide selection of homemade specialties, including three award-winning soups, and sandwiches that range from $6–$8. The café also features monthly regional artisanal cheese specials and rotating exhibits of local artwork.

Café Evolution and Oh Sweet Mama’s Vegan Bakery

22 Chestnut St., Florence, MA

Offering an eclectic mix of delicious vegan dishes and delectable gluten-free desserts, Café Evolution serves up large portions of fantastic organic food for just $4–$9. The menu includes savory daily soups served with organic sunflower oat bread, a vegetarian chili burrito and a wheat pasta with peanut or coconut curry sauce topped with a healthy heaping of fresh vegetables. The attached bakery sells fresh cookies, cakes, and other sweet vegan treats, including a mint chocolate chip cupcake and apple cardamom scone that patrons rave about.

Panjabi Tadka

1688 Main St., Springfield, MA

Cozy and aromatic, Panjabi Tadka offers a selection of dishes that reflect the diverse heritage of spicy Indian cuisine. The reasonably priced menu includes appetizers that cap at $6, a cup of lentil or coconut soup for $2.50, and daily lunch specials that average $6.50. The restaurant also offers an extensive selection of Indian vegetarian options, authentic desserts, and refreshing yogurt beverages. The vegetable samosas, Chicken Curry, and chickpea Aloo Chole come highly recommended.

Sylvester’s

111 Pleasant St., Northampton, MA

Housed in the historic home of Sylvester Graham—who invented the Graham cracker—Sylvester’s caters to meat lovers and vegetarians with its award-winning menu. While “Grahamites” happily wait for service on crowded weekends, the homey restaurant also serves up a delicious lunch menu that includes the triple-decker BLT Calvin Coolidge Club Sandwich, a hearty Gorgonzola Bacon Burger, and a homemade oatmeal sunflower seed roll with the soup of the day.

Be sure to browse the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website for a wide selection of fun things to do in Springfield, MA, after enjoying your lunch!

Pioneer Valley’s Strong Art Culture

Pioneer Valley’s Strong Art Culture

Throughout Pioneer Valley, you’ll uncover a variety of treasures that pay tribute to the arts. Nestled among the unspoiled forests and rolling hills are an exciting mix of galleries and museums featuring intriguing paintings, sculptures, illustrations, photography, pottery, and glass works. Here are some of the best places to explore during your visit to The Valley:

Must-See Art Galleries

While in Springfield, your art adventures will lead you directly to The Quadrangle, an extraordinary cluster of five museums located in the heart of the downtown district. As you weave your way from the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts to the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum to the Springfield Science Museum, you’ll delight in the full-size bronze sculptures that bring Dr. Seuss’ whimsical characters to life.

The Pioneer Valley has a strong arts cultureThe region’s educational institutions have amassed impressive arts collections. The Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton displays a permanent selection of distinguished works by Picasso, Degas, Renoir, and Van Gogh as well as rotating contemporary galleries. In South Hadley, you can explore a diverse collection of ancient and modern cultural artwork for free at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. Founded in 1876, this cultural laboratory offers lively, kid-friendly installations and an expansive botanical garden next door.

If your travels take you into Amherst, set aside some time to visit the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, the Hampshire College Art Gallery, and the three-gallery Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art next door. The Carle is filled with more than 10,000 illustrations from beloved children’s books, including “Madeline” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Art aficionados can spend days exploring the numerous galleries that have taken up residence in Northampton. Proudly known as the “#1 Small Arts Town in America,” this thriving creative community is home to hundreds of eclectic artists who display their works in museums, galleries, and on the streets. The renovated bank vaults that make up the R. Michelson Galleries on Main St. feature an extensive collection of Barry Moser wood engravings, Leonard Nimoy black-and-white portraits, Dr. Seuss original lithographs, and other painted pieces by local artisans.

Just a few doors down the street, you’ll find the A.P.E. Gallery, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting contemporary artists in the area, ranging from high school students to renowned photographers. In the exquisite Don Muller Gallery down the block, you can shop for unique jewelry, sculptures, and glass artwork for your home under an enchanting sky mural.

For more ideas on things to do in Springfield, MA, browse our website, contact us online, or stop by for a personal chat. We’ll help make your visit to the valley an unforgettable one!

A Brief History of Pioneer Valley’s Rich Culture

It’s no secret that the Pioneer Valley is a top destination for travelers who wish to discover New England’s historic and cultural assets. Although it wasn’t the first place in the New World to see European settlement, our region has played an important role in the economic, political and cultural development of the United States. If you’re visiting soon, you’ll want to learn more about our unique history and culture.

Early Origins

Although the Pioneer Valley has been inhabited since prehistoric times, the first record of colonial settlement dates back to the mid-1630s. Back then, a group of settlers led by a prominent magistrate named William Pynchon discovered the fertile valley and established the first forts, trading posts and farms. Shortly thereafter, the predecessor settlement to the city of Springfield was established. The region elected to join the Massachusetts Bay Colony shortly thereafter.

Developing Cities

The virtually limitless power afforded by the Connecticut River was a powerful force in the Pioneer Valley’s early economic development. The area was one of the first parts of the United States to feel the benefits of the Industrial Revolution, and numerous artifacts from that heady period can be found here.

Industry and Popular Culture

Springfield and the surrounding communities are also well known for their forward-looking embrace of popular culture and education. Dr. Seuss, the beloved children’s author, grew up in the city and wrote several of his most important works here. Visitors can check out the Dr. Seuss Memorial, an homage to his life. Milton Bradley, the founder of the company that produced games like Life and Monopoly, also grew up in the area. For highbrow culture, art museums like the Smith College Museum of Art and the Norman Rockwell Museum – which celebrates another former resident – offer an incomparable look at the Pioneer Valley’s creative energy.

Sports and More

As the Pioneer Valley’s economic and cultural might increased, the area became known for its innovative approach to athletics. The sport of basketball was invented in Springfield, and the city now hosts the Basketball Hall of Fame. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the region’s top tourist attractions.

The Pioneer Valley has long embraced LGBT rights and culture. The area now boasts a thriving LGBT population as well as a number of institutions and events dedicated to the cause, including Northampton Pride.

Find More Historic Things to Do in Springfield, MA

Are you excited about all the cultural opportunities that await you in the Pioneer Valley? Don’t worry: One blog post couldn’t possibly encapsulate all the amazing things to do and see during a visit to our beautiful, historic part of the world. If you’re ready to plan your trip to Springfield and the rest of the Pioneer Valley or wish to learn more about what you’ll find here, contact us or visit our website.

Great LGBT Destinations in Pioneer Valley

The Pioneer Valley has many LGBT options for gay dudesThe Pioneer Valley has long been known for its, well, pioneering spirit. Although the area wasn’t settled as early as coastal Massachusetts, it quickly became a proud homeland for an independent, fair-minded group of people whose descendants remain to this day. The area is also known for its welcoming attitude and cultural openness. Nowhere is this more evident than in the wealth of attractions and opportunities available to LGBT visitors.

Haymarket Cafe

The Haymarket Cafe is a popular Northampton establishment that serves up hearty breakfast fare, healthy lunches, and an array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The bourbon-infused French toast and the beet and goat cheese salad are especially popular. It’s a great place to hang out in the afternoon or evening before venturing out in search of nightlife.

Northampton Pride

One of Massachusetts’s largest and most beloved pride festivals happens right here in our backyard. If you’re planning on visiting during the first week of May, you can’t miss this annual event. Nearly 20,000 people from surrounding states descent on Northampton for a madcap day of festivities and free expression that you won’t soon forget.

FitzWilly’s

FitzWilly’s is a popular Northampton establishment that’s part neighborhood pub, part intimate performance venue, and part world-class gay bar. The decor will make you feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of Cheers, but the crowd will remind you of the most cosmopolitan venues in New York and Boston. Don’t miss the weekly musical and comic performances.

Diva’s Nightclub & Bar

Diva’s is arguably the historic hub of Northampton’s LGBT culture, and the place doesn’t disappoint. Whether you enjoy pulse-pounding techno music or intimate gatherings of friends, you’ll find a space to spread out and be yourself at Diva’s. For the younger crowd, watch for occasional college and 18+ nights.

Club XStatic

Club XStatic is Diva’s Springfield-based sister. On weekend nights, this place is reliably packed with dancers and revelers looking to let loose. After a long day of sightseeing and shopping, Diva’s is the perfect place to blow off a little steam in a friendly environment.

Find Fun Things to Do in Springfield, MA

Whether you’re looking to hit all the LGBT-friendly hot spots in the Pioneer Valley or have a particular destination or two in mind, you can’t start your trip without a friendly guide by your side. We’re proud to offer business listings, directions, advice, and insight about the hundreds of businesses and historic locales that make up the fabric of our beautiful corner of the world. To get your vacation off on the right foot, visit us online or call (800) 723-1548.

Start Your Own Holiday Tradition

Making new traditions in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley

Things to see and do during the holidaysDuring the holidays, families gather to celebrate cherished traditions and spend time together. As you grow older and start your own family, you may find yourself wishing that you could craft traditions of your own. Thankfully, making new traditions with your family doesn’t have to be tough.

Creating New Family Traditions for the Holidays

Creating new family traditions for the holiday isn’t only easy, it’s also a great deal of fun. As you look for ideas for new traditions, be sure to keep the cherished traditions of your own family in mind. You might not want to repeat your family’s Christmas Eve ritual in full, but it’s a good idea to incorporate parts of cherished traditions into your new holiday plans.

It’s also essential to look to what your family loves when crafting new holiday traditions. If your family loves being outdoors, consider choosing activities such as having a snowman-building contest or spending a day sledding and drinking hot cocoa. Celebrating what your family already loves is a great way to build new traditions.

Traditions in the Making in Springfield, MA

If you’re looking for new things to see and do with your family this holiday season, you’ll find a wealth of opportunities in the Pioneer Valley. From shopping to light shows to gallery displays, the local area boasts many opportunities for visitors and residents alike. Check out some of our favorite ideas below.

Enjoy Bright Nights in Springfield. The Bright Nights light display offers an awesome opportunity to see some of the best lighting in the local area all in one place. The display is open from November 26 to January 4. Pack snacks and a thermos with warm drinks so that your family can make the most of the drive through this winter wonderland.

Jump into hoops history at the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame celebrates one of the nation’s most beloved sports year round. During the holiday season, the Hall of Fame also hosts a Holiday Showcase that gives visitors an opportunity to see some of the most exciting collegiate teams in the nation hit the hardwood.

Head out on a shopping adventure and meet Santa. Shopping for gifts together can be a great holiday tradition. Head to the Holyoke Mall with your family to catch great sales and give the kids an opportunity to meet Santa.

Bask in winter at local museums. Many of Springfield’s local museums host special, winter-themed events during the holiday season. Find displays that will be of interest to your family and plan a day out enjoying art.

Looking for more ideas of fun things to do in and around Pioneer Valley this holiday season? Call or stop by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau today.

7 Places to Enjoy Pioneer Valley’s Vibrant Nightlife

Things to do and places to party in Springfield and the rest of the Pioneer Valley

Pioneer valley nightlifeThe Pioneer Valley might be known for stunning scenery and quaint cities, but our region also has more than its share of nightlife. From world-class blues clubs to pulse-pounding discos, you can find just about any type of establishment here, and without the pretension and expense of New York or Boston. Check out seven of the hottest spots in Springfield and the surrounding communities.

1. Fort Hill Brewery

Fort Hill Brewery sits in a beautiful bend of the Manhan River, but it’s the fresh craft brews that have everyone talking here. Stop by for a pint or two and a tour of this spiffy space. Friday and Saturday evenings are particularly busy, so be sure to arrive early!

2. Hoops Sports Bar & Grill

When you’ve got 10-cent wings, 18 generously sized TVs, and all the pool you can play, there’s not much more you need. During football season, stop by Hoops Sports Bar & Grill in West Springfield for a little Monday Funday action. Did we mention the 10-cent wings?

3. Champions Sports Bar

Champions sits near the heart of Springfield and boasts a setup that does its prime location proud. Twenty TVs and a projection screen are guaranteed to capture the day’s sporting events with room to spare.

4. MVP.pub

Who doesn’t like burgers and beers? At MVP.pub, you can count on this quintessentially American combination in just about every style imaginable. For more serious gatherings, you’ll find a host of top-shelf liquors on display here.

5. Paper City Brewery

Paper City Brewery is one of the oldest breweries in the Pioneer Valley. Make the drive up to Holyoke and discover what it means to be a true craft brewing original!

6. Plan B Burger Bar

Every night needs a “plan B.” Thanks to its can’t-miss burgers and generous pints, though, Plan B Burger Bar is many locals’ “plan A.” See what everyone has been raving about for yourself!

7. Theodore’s Booze, Blues & BBQ

Springfield is a long way from the Mississippi Delta, but Theodore’s has earned a national reputation that’s the envy of many “authentic” bars and clubs. In fact, it was recently voted the country’s best blues bar by the Blues Foundation.

Find Even More Things to Do in Springfield, MA

Are you ready for a night out on the town? These seven happening hot spots are just a few of the many venues, bars, and clubs that call our fair valley home. If you’re looking for even more ideas for what to do when you’re in town, contact us today!