15 Best Things to Do in West Springfield (MA)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Locally known as the “West Side”, this city faces off across the Connecticut River from Springfield, which is the core of a large metropolitan area in the Pioneer Valley.

Even though there’s a big city just across the river, large swaths of West Springfield are remote and ripe for adventure, whether you’re hiking the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail or exploring the secluded banks of the Westfield River.

In the 1910s West Springfield was picked as the location for the Eastern States Exposition, and this annual six-state agricultural fair brings in 1.5 million visitors across 17 action-packed days in September.

Within shouting distance, you can treat yourself to some art and culture at Springfield’s acclaimed museums, or head down to Six Flags New England for DC and Looney Tunes-licensed attractions.

1. Eastern States Exposition (The Big E)

Eastern States ExpositionSource: Keith J Finks / shutterstock
Eastern States Exposition

West Springfield is home to one of the largest agricultural events in the country, giving a platform to all six New England states.

The Eastern States Exposition goes back to 1917 and is open for 17 days from the second Friday after Labor Day.

Inside and outside are hundreds of events, from 4-H and FFA agricultural displays and competitions to scores of trade and consumer shows, including the EASTEC machine tool trade show and the Western Massachusetts Home Show.

The 6,000-capacity Xfinity Arena has hosted concerts during the fair by the likes of Johnny Cash and Destiny’s Child, while one of the most memorable sights is the Avenue of the States, with replicas of the six original New England Statehouses.

Every day at 6 pm there’s a Mardi Gras-style parade with dazzling floats, antique vehicles, marching bands, horses, ponies and special throws.

2. Storrowton Village Museum

Storrowton Village MuseumSource: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism / Flickr | CC BY-ND
Storrowton Village Museum

One year-round attraction at the fairgrounds is this outdoor museum, reproducing a rural village in the 19th century.

Nine of the buildings at the Storrowton Village Museum date back to the 18th and 19th century, and have been reconstructed at this site.

A highlight is the Atkinson Tavern (1789) from the defunct town of Prescott, Massachusetts, adorned with fine original wood paneling and serving traditional New England cuisine.

The museum is especially animated during The Big E and one of its seasonal events. So you can come for a guided ghost tour around Halloween to hear about the staff’s brushes with the paranormal, or take a horse-drawn carriage wide in a winter wonderland during the Yuletide festival in December.

3. Majestic Theater

TheaterSource: Matusciac Alexandru / shutterstock

One of the landmarks along the stately Elm Street in the town center is the Majestic Theater, a dynamic hub for community arts and professional musical theater performances.

The venue dates back to the 1920s and for the first 60 years of its existence was a movie house before a transformation into a stage theater in the 1990s.

When we compiled this list the Majestic Theater had recently celebrated its 25th anniversary season.

A selection of recent productions includes Blithe Spirit, Mamma Mia!, 9 to 5: The Musical, Betty & The Patch and Love, Milly & Murray. In the summer there’s a special schedule of live music shows, improv comedy and an annual children’s theater production.

4. Metacomet-Monadnock Trail

Metacomet-Monadnock TrailSource: Donna Carpenter / shutterstock
Metacomet-Monadnock Trail

Volcanic eruptions some 200 million years ago gave rise to an epic basalt (traprock) fault that extends north to south from Long Island Sound in Branford, CT, to the north of Franklin County in Massachusetts.

Almost the entirety of the Metacomet Ridge is tracked by the 114-mile Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, and there’s a section on the northwestern side of West Springfield.

Taking you north into Holyoke, this follows the ridge along East Mountain, offering distant views of Western Massachusetts, with Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport in the foreground below.

There’s another section to the southwest of the City, where the trail hugs the Provin Mountain ridge, for rural countryside views to the west and vistas of the Springfield skyline in the east.

5. Mittineague Park

Mittineague ParkSource: Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos / Flickr | CC BY
Mittineague Park

This 325-acre park combines an extensive parcel of conservation land with typical community park facilities, all on the bank of the Westfield River.

If you’re here for active recreation, amenities include a disc golf course, baseball/softball diamonds, tennis/pickleball courts and a children’s playground.

The parks and recreation department has also created a self-guided nature trail through the conservation portion of the park, comprising no fewer than 23 interpretive sites.

Much of this trail is on the former Aschenbach Farm, which closed in the 1950s, symbolically marking the end of agriculture as a way of life in West Springfield.

6. Bear Hole Reservoir

Bearhole ReservoirSource: Cynthia Georgandis / Facebook
Bearhole Reservoir

At the foot of the Metacomet Ridge in the west of the city things become pretty remote, and you can hike in the woods to this reservoir on Paucatuck Brook.

From the late 19th century this was the site of a resort established around the Massasoit Spring and waterfall, and with a restaurant complete and an accompanying cage for bears.

These are long gone, but close to that stunning waterfall you can still find the restaurant’s grand fireplace. The main loop is 3.6 miles, and the going is light enough for families, requiring about an hour to complete.

7. West Springfield Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway

CyclingSource: AStolnik / Shutterstock

All through the Pioneer Valley, long stretches of the Connecticut River’s banks have been made accessible to cyclists and people on foot.

This is also true of West Springfield, where more than 1.5 miles of the wooded west bank are lined with a trail.

This can be reached in the north at the intersection of Wayside Avenue and Ashley Avenue, and in the south at Tom’s Launch.

Ten feet wide and paved, the trail is most atop the levee system, which gives it a satisfying river overlook at one section where you can take a seat and contemplate the view for a while.

8. Springfield

Springfield, MassachusettsSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock
Springfield, Massachusetts

Just across the Connecticut River, Springfield has all of the culture, history, entertainment and visitor attractions you would expect from the largest city in western New England.

Springfield has been the site of numerous innovations, from the first American-English dictionary (1806) to the first gasoline-powered car (1893) and the first commercial radio station (1920), earning it the nickname, “The City of Firsts”.

It was here in 1891 that James Naismith invented basketball, and this history is celebrated by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), better known as Dr. Seuss, was born and raised in Springfield, and is remembered with the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the neighboring Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden.

The latter is at the center of the Quadrangle, enclosed by the city library, St. Michael’s Cathedral and no fewer than four other museums, including the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, with works by Monet, Degas and John Singleton Copley in its collection.

9. White Hut

White HutSource: White Hut / Facebook
White Hut

Surrounded by strip malls along Memorial Avenue, this restaurant stands out for its Art Deco lines and candy stripe awnings. A vintage burger joint, White Hut has been in business since 1939 and shows no sign of slowing down.

As is to be expected from a place with such a long past, the restaurant has a few little quirks. One is that burgers are called “Hamburgs” and “Cheeseburgs” here, and they’re both made to a recipe that has changed little in the past 80+ years.

Be sure to get your burger with White Hut’s signature fried onions, onion rings on the side and one of White Hut’s famous shakes.

Come early in the day and there’s a roster of breakfast sandwiches, the go-to being The Hut, with egg & cheese and a choice of burger, bacon ham or sausage.

10. Josiah Day House Museum

Josiah Day House MuseumSource: Doris Dittmer / Wikimedia | CC BY-SA 4.0
Josiah Day House Museum

The oldest brick building in Hampden County sits at the north end of West Springfield’s attractive town common.

Maintained by the Ramapogue Historical Society since 1903, the Josiah Day House is thought to have been constructed around 1754, and is the oldest known example of a brick-built Saltbox house.

From the day it was built until it was sold to the local historical society, the property belonged to the Day family, and the interior is still furnished with their possessions.

The society organizes events throughout the year, such as a Strawberry Festival in June, when there are guided tours, craft demonstrations and “Living Historians”.

11. Ashley Reservoir

Ashley ReservoirSource: Karen Grigoryan / shutterstock
Ashley Reservoir

A few minutes away in Holyoke there’s a mosaic of ponds that form the secondary drinking supply reservoir for the city.

Ashley Reservoir is a short way west of I-91, and ensconced in beautiful forest, with little sign of development beyond a perimeter road.

This can be traveled on foot, creating a looping trail around 4.5 miles long. Because of the sensitivity of the location, no recreation activities apart from walking and jogging are permitted at Ashley Reservoir.

In terms of flora, there’s maple, oak and pine forest on the high ground, and wetland species like red osier and alder closer to the water.

You stand an excellent chance of seeing wildlife on your visit, in particular turtles, geese, beavers and herons.

12. Robinson State Park

Robinson State ParkSource: Jeff Holcombe / shutterstock
Robinson State Park

The Westfield River forms West Springfield’s southern boundary, and on the south bank, opposite Mittineague Park, is the 1,025-acre Robinson State Park.

This space has an historical connection to the Eastern States Exposition, one mile to the east, as the land was donated in the 1930s by one of the exposition’s early champions, John C. Robinson.

The park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and there are numerous structures surviving from that time.

For hiking there’s a long and wide paved road along the Westfield River, while mountain bikers can explore some of the best terrain in this part of Massachusetts, with 20 miles miles of smooth and fast trails.

13. Six Flags New England

Six Flags New EnglandSource: James Kirkikis / shutterstock
Six Flags New England

By the Connecticut River in the neighboring town of Agawam is the largest theme park in New England. This Six Flags location is in fact the oldest in the chain, going back to a picnic grove founded in 1870 and known as Gallup’s Grove.

Naturally things have changed a lot, and there are now more than 60 attractions on these 235 acres, including a slew of state-of-the-art, DC-themed roller coasters.

If you’re into white-knuckle rides The Riddler Revenge, Superman The Ride, Flashback, Wicked Cyclone, Batman: The Dark Knight, and the new-ish The Joker, will meet your needs.

Included with admission is Hurricane Harbor, the largest water park in the region, with huge wave pools, lazy rivers, high-speed water slides and lots of fun for smaller children.

14. Holyoke Mall

Holyoke MallSource: Emma'sPhotos / shutterstock
Holyoke Mall

The third-largest enclosed mall in all of New England is just across the town line in Holyoke. When we wrote this article, Holyoke Mall was a rare example of a thriving mall, with upwards 150 national and international shops, department stores, eateries and entertainment options.

For a small cross-section of the retail selection there’s JCPenney, Macy’s, Target, Old Navy, Forever 21, Sephora, The Gap, H&M, Foot Locker and an Apple Store.

In keeping with the rest of the mall, the food court has a wide choice, whether you’re in the mood for sushi, gyros, pizza, noodles, teriyaki or something sweet.

15. Cinemark West Springfield 15 and XD

Movie TheaterSource: photastic / shutterstock
Movie Theater

At the time of writing, this giant multiplex had just been given a complete renovation, and stands as a movie destination for the entire metropolitan area.

This spot also has a fascinating history, first opening in 1964 as Redstone Cinemas’ Showcase 1 & 2, becoming one of the first multiplexes in the United States.

The current building is from 2002, and that recent update has equipped every one of these 15 digital screens with luxury loungers. Try to catch a movie at the RealD 3D screen, which is the next best thing to IMAX.


15 Best Things to Do in West Springfield (MA):

  • Eastern States Exposition (The Big E)
  • Storrowton Village Museum
  • Majestic Theater
  • Metacomet-Monadnock Trail
  • Mittineague Park
  • Bear Hole Reservoir
  • West Springfield Connecticut Riverwalk and Bikeway
  • Springfield
  • White Hut
  • Josiah Day House Museum
  • Ashley Reservoir
  • Robinson State Park
  • Six Flags New England
  • Holyoke Mall
  • Cinemark West Springfield 15 and XD