Western Mass. Family Activities
Western Mass is a fabulous place to live with little ones. No matter the weather or time of year there is a wealth of fun, interesting, and stimulating activities going on.
The tricky part, especially as a new mom, can be finding all of these awesome baby friendly activities. Before you have kids of your own, it’s just not a realm you’ve explored yet.
Look no further! Whether you are a new mom who lives in Western Mass looking for something to do with your littles, or you’re planning a trip to Western Mass with your baby or toddler in tow, you’ll know where all the baby and toddler friendly spots are.
You can find the best activities for your baby or toddler in Western Mass in the following five categories:
- Swimming Holes
- Outdoor Activities
- Indoor Activities
Best Toddler Playgrounds and Parks in Western Mass
Jessica’s Playground – Belchertown, MA
Jessica’s Playground is one of the best in the Western Mass area. It was built to be an accessible playground for all children and has a really cool and unique design. The entire playground can be accessed by wheelchair. Because of this, it means that the playground’s structure and platforms are wide, have railings and can be approached via ramps.
This makes it a great park to take crawlers and newly walking toddlers as well as older toddlers and preschoolers. There are also baby swings, and a smaller activity structure perfect for babies just learning to pull-up, stand supported, or newly walking. The ground is soft and there a variety of small and slow slides. You’re going to love it here.
Mill River Recreation Area – North Amherst, MA
Mill River Recreation Area is a smaller playground, but for me, one of the best around for toddlers and babies. The structures are very friendly to new walkers, there are baby swings, and some smaller slides and a playhouse perfect for babies and toddlers.
The recreation area also has a short hiking trail and fields. You will find a bridge and stream bank perfect for stick races and toddler rock-throwing, and wading on hot summer days.
Look Park – Northampton, MA
Look Park is a fun and large well-maintained park in Western Mass. There is something for everyone here! While there is an admission to enter, you will have access to a variety of fun. You’ll find playgrounds, biking trails, picnic areas, a splash park, mini golf, a train ride, petting zoo and more.
Be sure to bring a stroller to take advantage of the extensive walking trails and easily travel between playgrounds and fun spots. You may also want to bring your bike with a tow-behind cart or toddler seat. You’ll love exploring everything this park has to offer.
Be sure to check out their website when you are planning your visit. There are often fun activities and events happening that you may not want to miss.
Forest Park – Springfield, MA
Forest Park is another lovely option for you and your baby or toddler. This park has beautiful and extensive grounds filled with many activities. Bring your stroller or bikes and explore different picnic areas and gardens. Pack some bread to feed the ducks in the large duck ponds. Play on the playgrounds, cool off in the splash park, check out the animals in the zoo, or take a train ride. A full day of fun with your baby can be had at this park.
Nonotuck Park – Easthampton, MA
Nonotuck Park spans over 250+ acres and has something for everyone. You will find two playgrounds, a spray park, various picnic sites, walking trails, sports fields, a public pool and more. It is free to visit on weekdays, but there is a daily parking fee associated with weekend visits. They also host events throughout the summer and fall, so be sure to check their calendar when planning your visit.
Baby and Toddler Friendly Museum in Western Mass
Eric Carle Museum – Amherst, MA
The Eric Carle Museum is truly a local treasure here in Western Mass. Your baby or toddler will love exploring the kid-friend exhibits. The exhibits feature picture book art and usually involve an interactive and explorative component accessible to babies and kids of all ages.
There is a library full of books including board books for little hands, and developmentally appropriate toys for all ages. You will find an art room with daily crafts tailored to all ages, and a fun busy-board area that my daughter has loved since she was learning how to pull up to stand.
The museum doesn’t serve food, but you should pack snacks to enjoy in their large and accommodating cafeteria area, or on a nice day have a picnic outside on the museum’s beautiful grounds.
The Springfield Museums consist of five different museums on one campus. The one that will be the most fun for your toddler is definitely The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. Admission to one museum gets you into all five. The Springfield Science Museum has many life-sized dioramas featuring North American animals, and an impressive African animal hall that your youngster will love.
The Springfield History Museum is a personal favorite of mine, and my daughter. And that is due to the HUGE Indian Motorcycle exhibit. If your little one loves trucks and motorcycles they will be in heaven.
For young babies, these museums offer a great place to bring your carrier or a stroller and enjoy a new place to explore as a mama.
Mass MoCA – North Adams, MA
While a bit of a drive north, this museum is worth the trip. Housed in an old mill building, Mass MoCA features larger than life installations of contemporary art. The giant galleries are great for your toddler to explore and your tiny babies will love the high contrast contemporary art found in their long-term Sol Lewitt Exhibition. They may also just love snoozing while you wear them in a baby carrier and enjoy the art.
Kids under 6 enter for free and they have an awesome Kidspace art studio that your older toddler may enjoy checking out.
Amherst College Museums – Amherst, MA
Amherst College is a quaint and charming college located right in downtown Amherst. The campus itself is a great place to walk with a stroller or explore on bikes. We love taking our daughter to run on the lawn and picnic while enjoying the stunning views of the Holyoke Range.
But, many locals don’t even know that there are two great museums on campus that are free to enter! The Beneski Museum of Natural History has a variety of prehistoric mammal and dinosaur skeletons to view and an impressive collection of gems and minerals. N loves to run around in here and talk about the giant teeth on the skeletons while yelling snap, snap, snap.
There is also a Fine Art Museum on campus with an impressive permanent collection including a Monet, and interesting rotating exhibits as well. When N was a baby we would often go here and I would wear her through the museum. As a toddler, she’s a bit too rambunctious though we have gone. So I’d stick to babies in the art museum, or calm toddlers (is that a thing? Ha!).
Holyoke Children’s Museum – Holyoke, MA
Holyoke Children’s Museum is a great spot for babies and children of all ages! There is a giant water table-esque play area and huge climbing structure. You will find an entire toddler-sized town of stores and restaurants for endless pretend play. There is a real ambulance and tractors as well as a fire station, mail room and more.
They have a tot lot designed for babies 6 months old and up who are not yet walking. It gives them a place to explore a quiet, carpeted and matted play area.
Before you visit it is worthwhile to call and see if there is a field trip or camp attending. It can get really crowded during school vacations as well so try to find an off-time if possible to get the most out of your visit.
Best Swimming Spots for Toddlers and Babies in Western Mass
Lake Wyola – Shutesbury, MA
Lake Wyola is definitely the most ‘remote’ of the swimming holes included on this list. Nestled on the Shutesbury and Leverett border, this lake is a beautiful spot in summer. There is a good-sized, guarded, sandy beach for playing and hanging out. The water gets deep very gradually, making it a great place for splashing, sitting babies and new walkers.
You pay to park for the day, or get a season DCR parks pass. The lake area has picnic tables, grills and bathroom facilities. One thing to be aware of is that no floatation devices are allowed (tubes, rafts, floaties) but life jackets and ‘puddle jumpers’ are okay.
This was my FAVORITE spot in Western Mass during the end of my summer pregnancy. So expectant mamas will delight in the cool water. Definitely pack the sand toys and get ready for a fun beach-like day.
Belchertown Beach – Belchertown, MA
Belchertown Beach is located on Lake Arcadia. It is a small lake and beach area, and a great spot to bring your baby. One thing I love about Belchertown beach is the fact that the beach area has shady areas thanks to large trees. There is also a grassy lawn area with shade where you can set up a picnic blanket to avoid sand in your food with the little ones.
Your babies will love splashing on the shoreline and your toddlers will be able to walk and wade in the water because this lake also gets deep very gradually. Belchertown beach is a guarded lake front with a snack shack. There is a fee to enter for the day or you can get a season pass, residents and non-residents are welcome.
Musante Beach – Leeds, MA
Musante Beach is located on a river not far from downtown Northampton. This is another guarded beach area that your baby or toddler will enjoy. There is a large sandy beach area and great swimming. Be sure to bring your sand toys, a blanket and snacks.
Green River Recreation Area – Greenfield, MA
The Green River Recreation Area is a nice spot because there is a playground, picnic pavilion and a guarded riverfront beach. You can easily fill an afternoon here with your toddlers and babies with playground fun and cooling off in the Green River for a swim. Nearby downtown Greenfield has an excellent co-op to get snacks, fresh local produce, and delicious pre-made food.
Puffers Pond – Amherst, MA
Puffers Pond is a great swimming hole located in North Amherst that is a favorite among locals. It is a clean and sandy beach front on a large pond. It is the only free swimming spot mentioned on this list.
Puffers pond has a fun sandy area for digging and playing and some shallow space to splash around, but does get deep more quickly than other places on this list. Tubes and rafts etc. are welcome here, but I should mention that this is an unguarded swim spot.
Baby-Friendly Outdoor Activities in Western Mass
Norwottuck Rail Trail Amherst – Northampton, MA
The Norwottuck Rail Trail is a paved ‘bike’ path that spans around 13 miles from Belchertown to Northampton. This is a wonderful walking path for new moms. Bring your stroller and enjoy a flat and peaceful walk. I love to start at the Lawrence Station in Amherst, because this stretch includes views of the Holyoke range, meadows, and an active beaver dam. There are also many benches and picnic areas along the way and many of the ‘stations’ or access points have restrooms.
As a new mom this is a great activity to meet up and do with other new moms. Meet up and walk and chat. Take breaks to nurse your baby on one of the many benches along the way. We use the bike path now with our toddler all the time. We love our tow-behind bike trailer and N has a blast.
Silvio Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge – Hadley, MA
Silvio Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is a smaller conservation area here in Western Mass but seemingly lesser known, and so awesome for new moms and toddlers! The entire path is wheelchair accessible, which also makes it perfect for strollers and new walkers.
You will find gravel paths and boardwalks through a variety of habitats including fields, woods, wetlands and river. The loop is exactly one mile and is a great way to get back into fitness after baby or meet up with new mom friends.
If you go to the right when you start the loop, you will quickly get to a look-out area with benches that is great for picnicking or exploring with your toddler without going too far.
Mt Sugarloaf – South Deerfield, MA
Mt Sugarloaf is a small mountain here in Western Mass but offers incredible views of the Connecticut River Valley. There is a paved road to the top that is very stroller friendly, or drive up and enjoy the views. The top has a well-maintained lawn, gardens, and picnic pavilion. There are also public restrooms and a look-out tower.
After N was born, I walked up Mt. Sugarloaf many times with the stroller, or wearing her, as a way to get active again after birth.
Flayvors Ice Cream at Cook Farm – Hadley, MA
Cook Farm is a really fun place to take your older babies and toddlers. Not only can you get delicious handmade ice cream, but you can also meet many friendly cows. You will see full-grown and baby cows, chickens running around, and sometimes pigs. There are picnic tables and a grassy lawn, as well as an indoor eating area. This is a favorite spot for many Western Mass families.
McCray’s Farm – South Hadley, MA
McCray’s is a family-friendly farm with a free petting zoo that your toddler or older baby will love. Seasonally, this is a go-to spot for pumpkin picking and hayrides. They also have mini-golf and ice cream for when your littles get a bit older.
Best Indoor Activities for Babies and Toddlers in Western Mass
Mill 180 – Easthampton, MA
Mil 80 is a must for you and your baby or toddler on a rainy or cold day in Western Mass! This is an indoor park located in a renovated mill building. Inside you will find tall ceilings and wall to wall turf. There are various platforms and ramps covered in turf that are perfect for crawlers and new walkers to explore. For young babies, set up a blanket and relax. Tons of families with youngsters take advantage of this awesome free indoor park, and you will never feel uncomfortable breastfeeding here.
In the center of the park there is a café that serves hot food, snacks, smoothies, coffee and even alcohol. One thing to be aware of, because the facility is free to enter, they do ask for no outside food to be brought in, so plan to eat and drink beforehand or buy food and drinks there.
SunnyTown Place South – Hadley, MA
SunnyTown place is an indoor play space that is set up like small town or village for your little one to explore. You will find scoot cars, spaces for imaginative play, dress up supplies, a small ball pit, slides and more. This indoor space is perfect for getting the wiggles out on cold, rainy, or snowy days.
Yankee Candle Village – South Deerfield, MA
Yankee Candle Village is the large flagship store of Yankee Candle. This store is a sight to behold! You need a map just to get around the place. Outside you will find beautiful gardens and places to picnic. Inside, each room has a different theme. There is a top-notch toy store area and a Christmas area that actually feels like the North Pole. It even snows in one of the rooms.
This is a fun place to take your toddler to get some energy out, and for little babies, a really nice climate controlled place to walk around with them in the carrier or stroller. Seasonally, it can get pretty crowded here. So going at off-times will make the outing more enjoyable with your baby or toddler.
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory South – Deerfield, MA
Magic Wings, this large, indoor butterfly conservatory truly feels magical. You will be in a warehouse-sized green house that feels like stepping into a rainforest. During your visit, you will walk through gorgeous gardens surrounded by thousands of butterflies. Your toddler will love running around and exploring the greenhouse and your baby will marvel at the bright colors.
Wear bright colored clothes to attract more butterflies to you!
Libraries – Various Towns of Western Mass
A list of indoor activities in Western Mass wouldn’t be complete without listing some of our favorite libraries with baby and toddler-friendly spaces and programs. From playgroups, to baby singing groups, to story time, or just drop in play, libraries are the best!
For library hours and kids program details, be sure to check each library’s website before your visit
- Forbes Library Northampton, MA
- Edwards Public Library Southampton, MA
- Emily Williston Memorial Library Easthampton, MA
- Jones Library Amherst, MA
- Goodwin Memorial Library Hadley, MA
- South Hadley Public Library South Hadley, MA
- Pelham Library Pelham, MA
- Leverett Library Leverett, MA
Get out and explore baby and toddler friendly Western Mass!
There is so much to do in this part of Massachusetts. Your family now knows all of the great spots for babies and toddlers. No matter the season or weather, there is something to enjoy as a family and keep that growing little one of yours busy and engaged.
Have another great spot in Western Mass for babies and toddlers to add to the list? Please leave a comment below, I love to hear from readers.