Winter travel can be a bit tricky. Instead of freezing slope-side or risking a nor’easter nixing the flight for your beach getaway, now you can try your luck on a trip to MGM Springfield, smack in that staycation sweet spot of a 90-minute drive from Boston. Even if gambling’s not in the cards for you, there’s more than enough action to warrant a quick jaunt west.
MGM, which opened in August, came with a hefty price tag. It cost nearly $1 billion to construct the six-floor casino and resort that sprawls three city blocks and boasts 250 guest rooms and 16 suites—a sum that might suggest the spot’s only for high rollers. But MGM Springfield maintains a boutique feel, steeped in local history and the arts, from nods to the area’s industrial past to pieces by local artists that fill the hallways and rooms.
You can easily plan a trip around a booze-and-bites tour, trying to hit each of the property’s eight separate dining spaces and four bars. But first, shake off those Mass Pike jitters with a pit stop at the laid-back Lobby Bar, which offers literary-themed cocktails in a library-like setting. Make like Hemingway and toss back an Old Man and the Sea, a mint-and-cachaça concoction in a fish-head-shaped glass. For those looking to see and be seen, head to the art deco-inspired Commonwealth Bar, where you can lounge in intimate seating areas that overlook the gaming floor and sip Old-Fashioneds served from a tableside cart. That is, if you’re not up for a $25,000 Indian sidecar, which pairs Croizet 1901 vintage cognac, Grand Marnier Quintessence, fresh lemon and a motorcycle—yes, an actual chopper that’s delivered to your home.
Tucked away from the bustle of the casino, guest rooms await on the resort’s five upper floors. Handsome dark tones and textures like twill and leather infuse light-flooded apartment-like digs and suites with access to a private courtyard, while concrete-planked ceilings and Edison bulbs add an industrial edge to decor that nods to local literary legends such as Emily Dickinson, Theodor Geisel and Merriam Webster. Bric-a-brac—a vintage trophy here, an antique trunk there—sourced over months at the nearby Brimfield markets ensure that no two rooms are alike.
When you’re ready to roll the dice, the 125,000-square-foot gaming area is open 24 hours a day and is home to 2,550 slot machines and table games like baccarat and blackjack, with a VIP lounge and a pin-drop quiet poker room in the shuffle. Break from the commotion with a spa treatment or drop into the casual TAP Sports Bar—with its ceiling made of floorboards from Dr. Seuss’ old home—for indoor bowling and vintage arcade games. You can also cozy into an oversized recliner at the Regal movie theater, catching a flick while sipping on a ginormous mason jar cocktail. Or putt on over to Topgolf Swing Suite, where the lounge’s virtual golf courses will have you swinging even in the middle of a blizzard.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, the dining options range from the casual to the splurge-worthy. Michael Mina (Pabu) steers Cal Mare, a coastal Italian eatery that serves housemade pastas like squid ink tagliatelle with lobster alongside brick-oven pizzas and more. If you’re feeling more formal, Hell’s Kitchen season 14 champ Meghan Gill slings steaks broiled over mesquite charcoals at the Chandler Steak House located in the restored Union Building, featuring tufted booths and leather seating. For casual refuels, the South End Market’s six eateries are always open, including comfort food spot Bill’s Diner and Jack’s Lobster Shack.
When you’re ready to burn through some of your winnings (here’s hoping), drop by Springfield-based Hannoush Jewelers on the ground floor or shop road-warrior wear at Springfield-founded Indian Motorcycle’s only apparel shop at the outdoor gathering space dubbed the Plaza, just beyond the resort’s oversized glass doors. In the warmer months, the Plaza is expected to host concerts and farmers markets, but the area is currently awash with holiday decorations, entertainment and a 75-by-45-foot ice skating rink that’s open through March.
Beat back the chill of outdoor shopping and skating excursions with a boozy funfetti milkshake from the Kringle Emporium’s cafe. You’ll find candles and decor at the Massachusetts brand’s permanent storefront—inside an 1887 church that MGM uprooted and moved 600 feet to its current perch—with holiday gifts and ornaments hocked at a pop-up inside the Armory.
There’s still more to come from MGM Springfield, with the ROAR! Comedy club rollicking into the Armory in January and entertainers like Cher dropping into the MassMutual Arena beginning this spring. But—both close to home and miles away from Sin City’s marble’s monuments to excess—you might just find that this spot’s already a jackpot. ◆
— If you’re not springing for a spa treatment at MGM, a $15 day pass gives you access to the locker room, where you can bask in the sauna or lounge in a robe and sip infused water.
— The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is a half-mile from the resort if you’re looking to learn about the history of hoops.
MGM Springfield, mgmspringfield.com