Boston is a sports town. But as most fans of the Red Sox know, sports fandom does not end at the city limits.
Boston is a sports town. But as most fans of the Red Sox know, sports fandom does not end at the city limits, nor is it limited to the big four pro sports—baseball, football, basketball and hockey. In all corners of New England, sports are revered, athletes immortalized and great moments cast forever in the community’s collective consciousness. Celebrate some of the greatest moments in sports history, learn more about the games you love and maybe even work up a sweat when you visit these sports-history museums.
New England Ski Museum, Franconia Notch
The New England Ski Museum is not about skiers, it’s about skiing—the equipment, the technology, the fashion and the history. Here, visitors immerse themselves in one of the largest collections of ski photography and film in the country, chronicling 60 years of skiing. Taped interviews with ski pioneers, vintage clothing and equipment are also on display. The museum is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily in the summer and in ski season, and admission is free, which is more than you can say about your lift ticket. 603-823-7177, 800-639-4181; www.skimuseum.org.
International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport
The International Tennis Hall of Fame makes its home in the Newport Casino, the center of the social scene during Newport’s Gilded Age. It’s a fitting spot to house the history of this gentleman’s game. The building was the first major commission of acclaimed architect Stanford White, who also designed summer homes for the Vanderbilts. But it’s not the structure that draws you here, it’s the tennis. You can learn about how the game evolved, examine artifacts, including the original patent for the game, and get to know the 190 Hall of Fame inductees. From 1881 until 1915, this was the site of the U.S. National Championships—now called the U.S. Open. The hall still hosts the last remaining professional tennis events played on grass in North America, and amateurs can book time to play on the grass courts, in “predominantly white tennis attire, please.” 401-849-3990, 800-457-1144; www.tennisfame.com.
The Sports Museum, Boston
All major pro sports get their due at the Sports Museum, which preserves and honors the sports heritage of New England. The Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins all have exhibits. If you consider yourself a sports buff, try to identify all the local legends on the mural of Boston’s most recognizable athletes, or see a penalty box from the Boston Garden, and take a peek into the lockers of former Sox stars Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez. 617-624-1235; www.sportsmuseum.org.
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield
Basketball can arguably be called the most American of sports. It was invented here in Springfield where it is still honored at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The three-story building celebrates everything about the game—women’s and men’s, the pros, college, high school, international ball and even the antics of the Harlem Globetrotters. The Honors Ring pays tribute to almost 300 inductees enshrined since 1959. The history of the game is chronicled through memorabilia-packed exhibits and interactive shows, where you can go one-on-one against basketball greats, including Jason Kidd and Dawn Staley. Or compare your wingspan to legendary Celtic Kevin McHale, call your own play-by-play and test your reflexes. You can also lace up your high-tops, step onto the court and shoot some hoops. 877-4HOOPLA (413-781-6500); www.hoophall.com.
Volleyball Hall of Fame, Holyoke
The game of volleyball has New England roots, which may be why the sport’s history is preserved at the Volleyball Hall of Fame just a few blocks from the Holyoke YMCA where it was invented in 1895. While smaller than the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame nearby, the Volleyball Hall of Fame features an interactive video presentation, model half-court with life-size player silhouettes and displays and tributes to the game’s greats, including Olympic players and professionals from around the world. 413-536-0926; www.volleyhall.org.