Adventure awaits mere minutes from your front door
PRIME June 2012
From top to bottom: Shadows cast on a Quadrangle walkway at the Springfield Museums; "The Lightbearer," a stained glass window designed by Edward Emerson Simmons and executed by Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios, on display at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum; and The Grinch peers around "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" at the Dr. Seuss National Memorial. |
PRIME photos by Carley Dangona
By Carley Dangona
At last summer has arrived don't have the money to escape? Don't fret, Western Massachusetts has an abundance of staycation possibilities; featuring exhibits, events and experiences in art, music, theater, sports and history, which are both educational and entertaining.
I decided to jump start summer by spending a day at the Springfield Museums, which features four distinct attractions (the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum is temporarily closed for reinstallation), and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial and Sculpture Gardens.
A lifelong fan of Seuss, I immediately headed for the Memorial, but first stopped to marvel at the "Stickwork" installation being created by Patrick Dougherty. Even in its early stages, onlookers could see intricate patterns beginning to unfold.
"It's like making a canvas and then drawing on it," Dougherty said. "My vision for the sculpture is somewhere between a castle and topiary gardens."
After parading around the Seuss sculptures, I attended the Museums la Carte Lecture, "Opalescent Images: The Stained Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge," presented by Julie L. Sloan, LLC, at the Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts.
In her presentation, Sloan described the rivalry between Tiffany and La Farge: "During their lifetimes, their antipathy for one another was bitter and their competition for the stained glass market was fierce."
The topic of the lecture complemented the recently opened Tiffany exhibits at the museum, which are breathtaking, to say the least. The stained glass window display closes Aug. 5 and the lamp display closes Sept. 9.
I ventured into the Springfield Science Museum next. Admittedly, I am quite spoiled having frequented the museums in Boston, but, I enjoyed the exhibits.
The LEGO "Castle Adventure" exhibit had opened mere days before and already groups of children flocked to the displays. While I didn't dress up as a resident of the "Castle," I did use the interactive catapult and tried to free the prisoner from the dungeon. Anyone, any age will undoubtedly enjoy this section of the museum.
The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum was my favorite. I spent much of my visit in its Sculpture Hall, marveling at the enormity, beauty and craftsmanship of the pieces in the collection. I've made a few Play-Doh sculptures in my day, but nothing that Michelangelo would consider wasting his time creating.
My last stop was at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History; I learned much from the features there. I never realized how much my everyday experience was influenced by companies based out of Springfield.
As I returned to my car, I was overcome with elation at the wonderful day I spent at the museums. I highly recommended them as a must for staycationers such as myself.
For information about the exhibits and events at the museums, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org.
For the summer, I have planned many staycations. Some destinations are old favorites and others are brand new adventures waiting to be had. Here are the top five locations I plan to visit this summer.
Six Flags of New England
A self-admitted coaster freak, I visit the park multiple times a year. I renew my season pass annually because I love amusement parks. Being born in California, I used to visit Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm regularly. Sometimes, I take it easy, and stick to the Buzzsaw and Tomahawk, but usually I hit the park at full speed. My favorite new ride: Goliath!
For information visit www.sixflags.com .
Magic Wings Butterfly
Conservatory & Gardens
I love science and bugs, especially pretty ones. Many friends have recommended Magic Wings for its beauty and the thrill of having butterflies encircle you in a colored whirlwind. I look forward to the experience. To learn more, visit www.magicwings.com .
Continuing with my tradition of visiting historical sites that literally bring patrons back in time, I can't wait to immerse myself into the vast site of Historic Deerfield. While there I plan to nose around the Memorial Libraries, take a Meadow Walk and survey the Old Burying Ground.
To plan a trip back in time, visit www.historic-deerfield.org .
Old Sturbridge Village
This is the one destination I meant to visit, but never did, while growing up in Connecticut. Pretty much everyone I know has gone to Old Sturbridge Village. My own mom used to love spending the day there. I look forward to carrying on the family tradition; touring the historic buildings and catching a historical re-enactment.
For a detailed look at all the village has to offer, www.osv.org visit.
Forest Park and its Zoo
I ventured to this park and its zoo numerous times as a child, and always enjoyed the scenery. I spent hours scouring the grounds for items to complete my grade school science projects. No matter how many times I go to the zoo, I always have fun.
For information, visit www.forestparkzoo.org .
For information attractions, visit the Visitor's Bureau information room at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
To plan your own staycation visit the following websites: www.mass.gov , www.valleyvisitor.com , www.nps.gov , and www.nps.gov
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