NOTE: This Post was written in 2016. As such, the content and exhibits in the review below may be outdated. Please look out for updated content on this location in the near future!
I have lived out in this area since 2001. I attended college in Amherst. Yet, I had never been to Look Park before. After visiting with my child, I asked myself, “Why haven’t I been here before!?”
The Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, or more commonly known as Look Park, is located up in Florence, Massachusetts (Florence is actually a village of Northampton so if you are wondering if this post refers to the park in Northampton, yes it does). The Park is owned by the City of Northampton but it receives no state or municipal funding – it runs solely on private donations, event fees and admission fees.
Look Park is huge- it consists of over 150 acres of land. There are streams and lakes, acres of beautifully maintained lawn, rows of trees and forested areas, a covered bridge, walking trails and bike baths. It also has a number of fun family activities- paddle boats and bumper boats, mini golf, a train ride, a zoo, a spray park, covered pavilions, three playground areas, and a grill and sweet shop.
We visited on a Wednesday morning… a hot summer Wednesday morning. It didn’t seem to matter that we arrived at 10 a.m., it was still nearing 90 degrees. Thank goodness we brought our swimsuits for the spray park.
The drive from Connecticut to Look Park was about 45 minutes. We hit a little traffic in that mess in downtown Springfield and again, after we got off the highway in Northampton, but otherwise, it was pretty smooth sailing.
The entrance to Look Park is on the opposite side of a rotary. So as you are coming down the road, and your GPS tells you to turn right, don’t! The park is RIGHT in front of you, and you’d have to be as blind (and directionally challenged as me) to miss it. Yes, we missed it. It’s the story of my life. We LOVE having to turn around a quarter of mile down the road, have you not noticed that yet?
Anyway, when you finally do make your way to the entrance, there’s a big sign that welcomes you to Look Park, and when you see it, you will wonder, how did SHE miss this??
When you enter Look Park, you first arrive at the admission booth. From January 1 to March 31, there is no charge to enter the park on the weekdays; on weekends it is $5. From April 1 to Columbus Day weekend, the cost to enter the park is $7 on weekdays and $9 on weekends and holidays. After Columbus Day until December 31, the cost is $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends.
I paid my admission free, and in return I was given a map of the park, as well as great advice on where to park for the train and zoo, as well as the spray park.
The entire drive around Look Park is one way. So if you miss the entrance to the paddle boats, or the zoo, you have to drive all the way around. We actually circled around a few times, just to keep checking out new things. There is a lot to do here! Also, the speed limit through the park is 15 mph, so please drive slow and carefully.
The first stop when you enter Look Park should be the visitor’s center. There you will be able to find information about the park and ask any questions. This is also where you can purchase tickets for mini-golf and bumper boats.
Worth mentioning, if you do plan to spend a whole day here and do all the activities, Look Park offers attraction bracelets. For $15, you get a wrist band that allows unlimited access to the paddle boats, bumper boats, mini golf and the train. Since those four activities add up to over $20, it is definitely worth it! You can purchase your wrist bands at the visitor’s center.
Since we were skipping the mini golf, bumper boats and paddle boats, we opted to not buy a bracelet. My child is a little too young for those activities right now.
The park is beautiful! I enjoyed just driving around and taking it all in.
Our first order of business when we arrived was to find the train. Because, what else does my Thomas the train obsessed child care about? It’s choo choos, all the time. And let me tell you, I will pay to enter this park every week, and ride the train over and over again because it made my child so incredibly happy. It’s all he talks about still, after visiting days ago. “Momma, Choo Choo Woo Woo!”
There is a large parking lot right near the train station. Since it was a weekday and not too busy, we found a front row spot.
The train station sells tickets for the train rides. Train tickets cost $2.75 for adults, $2.50 for kids, and children 2 and under are free. The train ride is roughly 1 mile long around the zoo, and runs regularly. The ride is about 10 minutes long.
We bought our tickets, but had to wait for the next ride, so in the meantime, we took a quick stroll through the Christensen Zoo. The zoo is included with your park admission. It is home to a number of animals, including deer, chickens, goats, a bald eagle, hawks, owls and more. It’s a small zoo, so you can cruise through it rather fast with a little one. Older kids will definitely like petting the animals and taking time to really check things out. My child was more interested in the upcoming choo choo ride so we were in and out of the zoo within 5 minutes.
Finally, it was time for our long awaited train ride. Like I mentioned above, best $2.75 I have ever spent in my whole life!
After the train ride, we checked out the playground located right next to the zoo and train station. It’s a smaller play structure but it definitely entertained my boy! This is actually one of THREE playgrounds in the park. Three playgrounds!!
As of June 2017, there is a NEW playground structure located at the train station. The older structure was damaged during a storm; and it has since been replaced! This photo was taken during a 2017 visit.
We stayed in this area for a while, considering there was so many things to do. We eventually headed out in our car to drive around the park again and scope out more activities.
We found the second playground but decided to skip it. It did look fun!
We then found some ducks in a little stream, which was actually next to the pedal boats. My child was a little too small for the pedal boats , so we just checked them out instead.
We loved the stream and the ducks though!
We had to get back in our car again to head to the next destination, the water spray park! On our way, we spotted the Sweet Shoppe! They serve ice cream and other frozen desserts! Yum!
We finally reached the spray park, and found parking right along side the road.
Before we went in to the spray park, we checked out the third playground here at Look Park. This one was huge! It had two separate playscapes (for the little kids and for the big kids) and swings! There were also a ton of picnic tables and pavilions available for rent. This area was wooded, and with a stroller, a little bumpy to travel on. It was definitely doable but it was a little tough to push in a few areas. But it’s a park, so that’s kind of expected.
This was the playscape for the bigger kids. It had a few slides, monkey bars, lots of things to climb and a bridge.
And this was the playscape geared towards the little kids. It had three slides, some easy to climb stairs and some fun activities built into the playscape.
We liked the slide!
They had a few swing sets, with regular swings and infant swings.
After we played for a while and worked up a little sweat, it was time for the spray park! First, we had to find the changing rooms. I had called before we came and was told there were places to change into your swim suit for the spray pad (and it’s even on the map). I must have missed it because the only thing I found was the bathroom. But they did have a changing table, in the handicapped stall, so we made it work! Next time I go, I will find the changing rooms!
Finally, we made our way to the spray park!
The spray park runs every day in the summer from 10 am to 7 pm. Use of the spray park is included with your park admission.
It is sensor based, like most water spray parks. However, I am not sure if it was just an off day, but only one or two things would go on at a time. So all the kids would huddle under one water spray, and then it would shut off. Once another thing turned on, they would all run over and cram under that. I overheard some kids and moms talking about how it was not running normal that day. It had some really great features though, and I am sure they are super fun when they all work at the same time!
The one thing I LOVED about this spray park? The covered seating!
After we had fun in the water for a while, we got back into our dry clothes and did some more scoping. Right next door to the spray park, we found the Grille Shop. They have a pretty impressive menu, and everything is made to order! It all smelled so good, especially since it was lunch time. But we had a lunch date planned with Grammie, so we skipped this time. When you visit, if you forget to pack a lunch, or prefer to eat out, this is a great spot to eat!
As for picnicking at Look Park, you do have to acquire a picnic permit if you wish to use their picnic tables. Small blanket picnics are allowed near the spray park and near the ballpark field. However, use of a picnic table or pavilion requires permission, and a fee of $15 to $20 depending on the day of the week .
Our excursion at Look Park was nearing an end. We had only spent about 2 and a half hours at the park. Not nearly enough time if you want to do all the activities the park has to offer. You can easily spend the whole day here. Once we are done with naps, I can see us doing just that (but for now, I will keep my naps even if that means shorter outings!).
We never did make it to the miniature golf. The current price for the 18 hole miniature golf course is $6 for adults, $4 for children and $4.50 for seniors.
We are really excited to go back to Look Park in the near future. In the summer, they run all the activities every day of the week. After Labor Day certain activities are open on the weekend only, and eventually close with the cold weather. The downside of the four seasons in New England… They do however offer special events during the year, including Breakfast with the Easter bunny, a Pumpkin Fest, a Winter Wonderland Light Display, Santa’s Train and a Breakfast with Santa. Check their website for information regarding these special events.
If you live in Connecticut or even close by in Massachusetts, this is definitely a must visit place! I hope you get to check it out soon!
This about sums it up…
Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park
300 North Main Street, Florence, MA 01062
Hours: Park is open 7 am to sunset, every day of the week, 365 days a year.
The hours of the individual activities vary, please check website for the hours as they change seasonally.
Costs: From January 1 to March 31, there is no charge to enter the park on the weekdays; on weekends it is $5. From April 1 to Columbus Day weekend, the cost to enter the park is $7 on weekdays and $9 on weekends and holidays. After Columbus Day until December 31, the cost is $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends.
General admission includes use of the playgrounds, spray park, walking and biking trails, and the zoo.
The costs of the individual activities (pedal boats, golf and train) vary, please check the website for these costs. Picnic table and pavilion rental is also available at a cost.
- Stroller accessible
- 3 playground area
- Spray Park
- Train Ride
- Pedal boats
- Mini golf
- Tennis and Volleyball courts
- Walking and bike trails
- Benches found throughout park, picnic areas and pavilions available for rent.
- Plenty of parking available throughout the park
- Bathrooms throughout park
- Food available for purchase
- Open sunny areas throughout park, bring lots of sunblock! There are also many covered, shady areas.
A few additional tips:
- Water shoes for you and your child are a must in the spray park! The pavement, where not wet, is HOT
- Wear a bathing suit, mom! Do not be afraid to have fun in the water with your child!
- Remember your sunblock. There is no cover in the spray park, it is easy to get burnt!
- Bring lots of towels for the splash park
- Bring money for the train! And any other activities inside the park, as well as for food.
- Definitely bring a snack or lunch, and plan to stay for a while!