Holyoke is a small but bustling city in Hampden County, Massachusetts.
Situated between the Connecticut River and Mount Tom Range, Holyoke has many exciting outdoor activities.
However, its bread and butter is its rich industrial history, dating back to the 18th century.
The city's history also led to many more exciting things.
For instance, Holyoke is the birthplace of volleyball.
You can also find quirky museums and ruins in this gem of Massachusetts.
To help your plan your itinerary, here are the best things to do in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Take a Trip to Ashley Reservoir
The Connecticut River isn’t the only famous body of water in Holyoke.
The Ashley Reservoir is just as pretty, if not even better.
Offering spectacular views of Ashley Pond and Wright Pond, this place is an oasis in the city, accessible through Whitney Avenue.
Outdoor and nature photographers will love Ashley Reservoir, as you can see beautiful foliage and reflections of the sprawling trees along the lakes.
There’s also a lot of wildlife here; turtles, squirrels, snakes, and even eagles populate the area.
If you’re not into photography, you can enjoy the scenic reservoir by taking a stroll or cycling along its numerous trails.
See the Wildlife at Mount Tom State Reservation
Mount Tom State Reservation features a mountain range that stretches several miles north of Holyoke, offering beautiful views of the city at its highest points.
The valleys, cliffs, and ridges will make you want to explore this state park.
If you visit during autumn, the place is a haven for wildlife observation because it’s a prime destination for migratory birds.
The place even has a dedicated observation tower called Goat Peak Lookout Tower.
The park also has beautiful streams, along with Lake Bray, making it one of the best places to do some fishing.
Beautifully maintained with tons of exciting areas, Mount Tom State Reservation is a must in any Holyoke itinerary.
Explore the Creepy Eyrie House Ruins
Eyrie House Ruins is a strange attraction site inside the Mount Tom State Reservation area.
Its creepy history draws many visitors.
Previously a 19th Century hotel, Eyrie House was once a thriving establishment in the late 1880s because of its strategic location in Mount Tom.
Because of stiff competition, the ownership decided to construct a second, much better hotel to replace the deteriorating older one.
Here’s where it gets weird.
The two hotels were accidentally burnt to the ground because their owner, William Street, was cremating two of his horses, causing a forest fire.
After the fire, only the ruins remain standing for you to explore.
Surrounded by trees and unpaved paths, the stone base is the only thing left of the once mighty hotel, giving it a horror-like vibe that’ll excite any explorer.
Eyrie House Ruins stands along Christopher Clark Road, near Ranger Station.
Take Photos of the Historic Holyoke City Hall
Holyoke City Hall is a great attraction to see the architectural prestige and rich history of Holyoke.
As one of the prominent city's main landmarks, the building offers a great photo opportunity because of its height and beauty.
Built in 1871, Holyoke City Hall is a Gothic Revival-style building.
It has belonged to the National Register of Historic Places since the 1970s.
It includes a beautiful clock tower and loads of stained glass that complete its aesthetic.
Located along Dwight Street, the city hall stands in its downtown area, full of restaurants and shops.
The Holyoke City Hall is an ideal landmark for your city exploration.
Tour the Vintage Wistariahurst
Wistariahurst is an 1874 historical home that offers another glimpse of life in the city back in the 19th century.
It was once the home of William Skinner, a silk baron from the 1870s and one of the most iconic figures in Holyoke.
Now operated by the city, Wistariahurst is both a museum housing several collections and an architectural treasure of the city.
You can do house tours here, learning about William Skinner and the city’s industrial history.
Located along Cabot Street, Wistariahurst is an excellent addition to any history buff’s itinerary.
Bring the Family to Holyoke Heritage State Park
Holyoke Heritage State Park is one of the city’s top parks that lets you appreciate the canals leading up to the Connecticut River.
There are a lot of family activities to do here.
It’s particularly great for the kids because the city’s carousel, Holyoke Merry-Go-Round, is also at the state park.
There’s also a splash pad that’s great for families during the summer, along with a nice little playground.
Besides relaxing or having a picnic while enjoying the city’s scenic canal, Holyoke Heritage State Park also has a bit of history through its replica of the William Skinner Silk Mill.
Take time to visit Holyoke Heritage State Park to get a feel of the city’s local community while enjoying its scenic views and kid-friendly amenities.
You can find the park along Heritage Street.
Learn about the Origins of Volleyball at the International Volleyball Hall of Fame
Holyoke is the birthplace of volleyball.
In 1895, William Morgan invented the sport at the Holyoke YMCA.
At the International Volleyball Hall of Fame, you can see a great representation of the sport's rich history in Holyoke.
There are a lot of vintage and black-and-white photographs that document the sport's history in this museum.
Since it’s the Hall of Fame, you’ll see many names of professional volleyball players and coaches.
There’s also an excellent volleyball court that sets off the sporty but historical ambiance of the museum.
Located along Dwight Street, the International Volleyball Hall of Fame will give you a fantastic glimpse of the sport’s history.
Bring the Kids to Children’s Museum at Holyoke
The Children's Museum at Holyoke is beside the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.
It’s a fun museum for children ages two to eight, featuring many interactive exhibits and installations.
Sprawling with toys and puzzles, the Children’s Museum at Holyoke will stimulate and hone your kids' critical-thinking skills and creativity.
Likewise, one of its highlights is a large climbing area that’s safe and enjoyable.
Dinosaur-loving kids will also love the museum as it has a neat exhibit.
Visit the incredible Children's Museum at Holyoke when traveling with young children.
This place is one of the best children’s museums in Massachusetts.
Shop Till You Drop at Holyoke Mall
Holyoke Mall is the best place in the city to get your shopping fix.
Located along Holyoke Street, Holyoke Mall is an indoor mall with many fashion brands, dining establishments, and other recreational activities for the family.
Whether you’re window-shopping or buying stuff, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this large shopping mall.
There are a lot of entertainment centers here, such as a trampoline park, arcades, bowling alleys, and more.
You can also find a few salons and spas at the Holyoke Mall for relaxation.
Check Out the Historic Scott Tower
Scott Tower is on the northern end of Anniversary Hill Park, in the western part of the city.
The tower exudes an abandoned, eerie feeling, especially late in the day.
If you like exploring strange places that might have been forgotten over the years, you will enjoy this tower.
There’s a lot of graffiti art along the centuries-old brick tower.
While not intentional, people seem to have accepted the graffiti as part of the tower’s aesthetic.
Using Anniversary Hill Park’s trails, go to the tower and enjoy lovely foliage.
Join the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade
If you want to join the festivities at Holyoke, visit the city on St. Patrick’s Day and make memories.
The Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade once drew the presence of the late President John F. Kennedy.
The passion emanating during this parade isn’t surprising, as most of Holyoke’s residents are of Irish descent.
Some of the highlights of this parade are the Holyoke Caledonian Pipe Band.
This band goes way back to the early 1900s and has since preserved the tradition and atmosphere of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Besides this, there are many more activities to look out for, such as pageants and exciting competitions.
Residents usually celebrate Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day along the streets of downtown.
Check the Holyoke Dinosaur Footprints
Plenty of dinosaurs roamed U.S soil millions of years ago.
Over the years, Massachusetts has become a primary source of dinosaur fossils.
Along the bank of the Connecticut River at 1099 US-5 highway, the Holyoke Dinosaur Footprints remains well-preserved to this day.
There are a ton of dinosaur footprints here, explained through the site’s information boards to aid explorers in understanding the prehistoric history of the area.
Some fossils are the Eubrontes, Grallator, and Anchisauripus, along with other insects and plant fossils.
The Eubrontes fossil is a must-see, as it’s a large carnivore once thought to be a gigantic, prehistoric bird.
Since you’re going along the Connecticut River, wear proper footwear, as it can get slippery near the Holyoke Dinosaur Footprints.
Play Sports or Swim at Roberts Field Sports Complex
Roberts Field Sports Complex is an excellent place to exercise or play sports in Holyoke.
Vast and well-maintained, the sports complex has many amenities for athletes or casual visitors.
A large public pool, ice skating, and hockey rink in Roberts Field Sports Complex are perfect for summer visits.
There are also plenty of tennis, handball, and volleyball courts here.
It’s also home to the Mackenzie Stadium, the city’s largest baseball field with tons of bleachers.
Visit the Roberts Field Sports Complex for a round of sports at 500 Beech Street.
Enjoy the Connecticut River at Pulaski Park
Pulaski Park is another historical attraction at Holyoke, established in the 1880s and currently part of the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s a scenic park that now meets history with a contemporary lifestyle and is known for its sizable playground and skateboard park.
If you do not mean to skate, Pulaski Park offers lovely views of the Connecticut River and the canals surrounding it.
With this in mind, the world-famous American architect John Olmsted designed it.
You can access Pulaski Park along Dwight Street.
Climb Mount Holyoke
Mount Holyoke is a 900-foot-plus mountain that offers terrific views of Holyoke and its neighboring cities.
Just across the Connecticut River from the city proper, the mountain stands along Hockanum Road, accessible after a few minutes via car.
There are a lot of trails leading to its summit, and you’ll see tons of exciting terrain and plant life.
The hike isn’t too tricky, allowing it to be a great family destination.
Campsites, inns, and several other amenities are also in Mount Holyoke.
Holyoke isn’t the first city that comes to mind for many tourists when planning a trip to Massachusetts.
It is, after all, a small city in a state with tons of globally recognized cities like Boston, Cambridge, and Worcester.
However, Holyoke is more than meets the eye, from dinosaur footprints and abandoned ruins to scenic lakes and mountains.
Before your trip, remember the top destinations on this list of the best things to do in Holyoke, Massachusetts.