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Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley Offers Heart Of New England And Variety Of Attractions For Meeting/Convention Visitors


Meeting/convention planners seeking a meeting site that offers easy access, top facilities, great values and a wide array of fun attractions should consider Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley.

Located in western Massachusetts just east of the Berkshires, and 90 miles from Boston, the Valley is known as “The Crossroads of New England.” It sits at the intersection of Routes 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) and 91 and is easily accessible by car. Downtown Springfield includes both a Peter Pan Bus Lines terminal and an Amtrak station, and air travelers can opt for nearby Bradley International Airport, less than 20 miles south of Springfield in Windsor Locks, CT.

Once here, visitors have a variety of attractions to frequent in their leisure time. For history buffs, a trip to the Springfield Armory National Historic Site ( www.nps.gov/spar) in Springfield is a must. America’s first armory, commissioned by George Washington, is filled with a fascinating collection of ancient weapons and artifacts. Living museums such as Historic Deerfield ( www.historic-deerfield.org) and Storrowton Village Museum ( www.thebige.com) in West Springfield offer a firsthand look at New England life centuries ago, and the Titanic Historic Society Museum ( www.titanichistoricalsociety.org) in Indian Orchard features rare items that convey the story of the doomed ocean liner.



Many visiting convention and meetings groups take advantage of the Valley’s numerous locations for recreational pursuits, including Zoar Outdoor ( www.zoaroutdoor.com), Crab Apple Whitewater Rafting ( www.crabapplewhitewater.com) and Moxie Outdoor Adventures ( www.moxierafting.com). All three are located in Charlemont and offer rafting, kayaking and canoeing along the Deerfield River. Also in Charlemont, visitors can participate in zip lining at either Berkshire East Canopy Tours ( www.berkshirezip.com) or Deerfield Valley Canopy Tours ( www.deerfieldzipline.com). All of these locations can be utilized for team-building activities and offer half-, full- or multi-day packages. Another outdoor warm weather option is a relaxing cruise along the historic Connecticut River aboard either the Lady Bea ( www.brunelles.com) or the Quinetukut II Riverboat ( www.firstlightpower.com/northfield), or experiencing the thrill of free-flying a trained Harris Hawk at New England Falconry ( www.newenglandfalconry.com).



Sports fans visiting the Valley have plenty of choices, but would be wise to make a trip to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ( www.hooophall.com) in Springfield, which dazzles guests with its interactive exhibits and collection of rare artifacts that trace the history of the beloved sport that was invented in that city. Less than 10 miles away in Holyoke is the Volleyball Hall of Fame ( www.volleyhall.org), a living memorial to the sport of volleyball, which began there. For those who want to cheer on some live action, the Springfield Falcons ( www.falconsahl.com), an AHL league team, play in the MassMutual Center’s arena, which is also home to the Springfield Armor ( www.armorhoops.com), a D-League basketball team.



In addition to the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside ( www.holyokemall.com) which contains more than 100 top retail stores, restaurants and vendors, shoppers have plenty of other great destinations to enjoy. South Deerfield’s Yankee Candle Village ( www.yankeecandle.com) is one of Massachusetts’ top attractions and a tourism draw as much as a shopping experience with its interactive exhibits and ongoing lineup of events. Downtown Northampton is home to Thornes Marketplace ( www.thornesmarketplace.com), a retail adventure set among five floors of a charming historic building.

A trio of quaint country stores, Old Deerfield Country Store (www.olddeerfieldcountrystore.com), the Williamsburg General Store ( www.wgstore.com) and Storrowton Village Gift Shop ( www.thebige.com) in West Springfield offer everything from antique kitchen gadgets, specialty crafts and unusual gifts to homemade treats and cast iron figures. A quick trip west to the Berkshires leads to Lee Premium Outlets ( www.premiumoutlets.com/lee) where shoppers can explore more than 60 brand name designer outlet stores.



There is no shortage of cultural attractions in the region, and truly something for every traveler. Springfield is home to the Springfield Museums and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden ( www.springfieldmuseums.org), as well as CityStage & Springfield Symphony ( www.citystage.symphonyhall.com). Ten of New England’s foremost museums, including the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the Emily Dickinson Museum and the Smith College Museum of Art are part of Museums10 ( www.museums10.org), a collaborative that offers exhibitions, collections and programs that delight and inform visitors about some of the world’s foremost treasures and talented people.

Each summer New Century Theatre ( www.newcenturytheatre.org) takes the stage at Northampton’s Smith College offering a diverse lineup of plays. For those seeking a more ethnicity-based cultural experience, the Polish Center for Discovery and Learning ( www.polishcenter.net) in Chicopee specializes in the history of Polish Americans, and Amherst’s Yiddish Book Center ( www.yiddishbookcenter.org) celebrates Yiddish and Jewish culture with programs, tours and exhibits.



Convention groups will also find a wide range of accommodations to suit their needs and budget, including full-service hotels, motels and inns throughout the area. There are also several first class meeting sites from which to choose, including the MassMutual Center ( www.massmutualcenter.com), the Eastern States Exposition ( www.thebige.com) and the Mullins Center ( www.mullinscenter.com).

Another important plus to booking meetings and conventions in the Valley is the range of hospitality services offered by the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau (GSCVB), including V.I.P. gift baskets, electronic welcoming messages, volunteer-staffed information tables at events and a myriad of other extras. The Bureau works closely with the meeting sites to stay apprised of the unique hospitality requests from each group, and ensure that they are fulfilled.

The GSCVB, an affiliate of the Economic Development Council of Western MA, is a private non-profit destination marketing organization that generates economic growth for Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley by marketing the region as an ideal destination for meetings and conventions, group tours and leisure travel.

To inquire about bringing your group to the region, contact Director of Sales Alicia Szenda at (413) 755-1346 or alicia@valleyvisitor.com. For additional information about leisure tours to enjoy the region while your group is in town, contact Hospitality Services Coordinator Lori Kolensky at (413) 755-1370 or lori@valleyvisitor.com. For regional information, visit the Bureau’s web site at www.valleyvisitor.com.
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