15 Best Things to Do in Hartford, CT

15 Best Things to Do in Hartford, CT

The capital city of Connecticut- Hartford is the epitome of American literature and culture. Housing two of the most famous American authors, Hartford is a heavenly delight for all history buffs and book lovers equally. With a lot of historic places up its sleeves, the spot serves as a family attraction and is a perfect place to plan for your next vacation. Let us take a look at all the top 15 things to do in Hartford.

Check out the Mark Twain House

Mark Twain House
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Are you a book-worm? Then this historic location will be especially important to you as this one saw the birth of some of the most famous books in the world.
Anyone knows the name of Mark Twain and his very famous The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But, would you like to witness the place where this all happened? Say no more and head out to The Mark Twain House and Museum! The house was entirely built in a Gothic style and is massive. Having 19 rooms it now serves as a museum too. The museum has all the facts about the famous author, stories related to his books, his unpublished writings.

It was in this house that Mark Twain wrote both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn along with a couple of other famous pieces of his. The architecture of the house is from the 1800s era but it is still standing strong and continuing to amaze people.

View the art collection at Wadsworth Atheneum

Wadsworth Atheneum
Shanshan0312 / Shutterstock.com

Wadsworth Atheneum is an extremely important art figure in the entire history of America. You could say that this is one of the most important things to do not only in Hartford but in all of the States. But, what makes it so special?

Being founded in 1844, Wadsworth Atheneum is not only the oldest museum in Hartford, but it also happens to be one among the oldest in the U.S.A. They have some of the finest art collection in all of the world and houses more than 50,000 pieces in just their permanent collection.

In the European section, the museum hosts 7,000 pieces from different famous European artists. The Decorative Arts Section is especially beautiful with a whole lot of works on bronze, glass pieces, and ceramics. The name of this museum is enlisted on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places too.

Gaze at the intricate detailing of the State Capitol

Connecticut State Capitol
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com

Connecticut State Capitol is one of the major tourist attractions in Hartford. And, it is indeed a visual treat. Built in the same Gothic Structure as that of the Mark Twain House, the State Capitol was constructed back in 1879.

It also serves as the house of Representatives and the State Senate too. Apart from its significance in history and the politics of Connecticut, the house is extremely beautiful with some striking features. State Capitol without any doubt also happens to be one of the National Historic Landmarks. The windows are made of glass that has been stained and the floors are of white marble. You can find a lot of tours and guides who will show you the interesting points as well as tell you the history behind them.

Smell some roses at Elizabeth Park

Rose arches at Elizabeth Park in Connecticut
Jennifer Yakey-Ault / Shutterstock.com

Now, let us head over to another important location in the city- Elizabeth Park. The park might just look like a normal city park from outside, but wait till you take a step in! Not only is the park quite alluring, but there is also another important thing inside it.

You will walk inside to find a gorgeous rose garden. But, wait till you hear the historic part- this also happens to be the oldest one in the city! The government maintains this garden with 15,000 rose bushes of different variants. Needless to say- it is extremely pretty as a picture. Apart from the many gorgeous flowers that bloom throughout the year, snow falls during the winter. The park is used as an ice-skating rink in the winters.

Learn about the weather in Connecticut Science Center

Connecticut Science Center
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com

Are you ready to see some science stuff and get your minds blown away now? Welcome to the Connecticut Science Center located just beside the Connecticut River. It is a massive science museum of Connecticut that one not one but nine floors filled with science stuff. This has the biggest collection in Connecticut with more than 168 scientific displays. Trust us- kids fall in love the moment they enter this interactive space filled with science and technology.

You will learn about the weather as there is always a section that forecasts weather live and even shows you how to understand it! There is also a display focussed on the beginning of the Planet Earth. Do visit this educational institute that teaches useful things through its various exhibits and presentations.

Pay your respects at Bushnell Park

Soldiers and Sailors memorial arch in Bushnell Park
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com

It’s time to get back to some nature now. We welcome you to Bushnell Park- a public park that has both beauty and heritage as well. But, what is it most famous for? Before Bushnell Park, there were not any public parks in America. So, you can practically say that this one of the first.

It is situated inside the State Capitol properties and has many interesting spots. Most famous among these are the statues and the memorials entirely dedicated to the Civil War heroes. There is also a gallery that has pictures related to the Civil War. You can even find various hand-carved sculptures. Bushnell Park is one of the major tourist attractions that you can check out after visiting the State Capitol.

See the artifacts at the Connecticut Historical Society museum

Connecticut Historical Society museum
Sage Ross, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Want to know more about how Connecticut became an important part of the history of America? Visit the Connecticut Historical Society Museum.
The Connecticut Historical Society Museum is the best place to learn about the important people and the local history of Connecticut. Located in a pretty Colonial Revival building, the Connecticut Historical Society Museum is one of the major tourist attractions of Connecticut. You can find everything about the city here as it has almost 4 million items in its display!

Explore the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com

Hartford is not only home to Mark Twain, it also served as the home-town of another famous author- Harriet Beecher Stowe. You must have read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But, did you know its author resided here? The house is now a museum that contains all of her information, unpublished writings, and many other unknown facts. But, the house itself is quite cute looking. It is in-fact a cottage that has two floors. Want to know something more interesting? It is opposite to the house of Mark Twain? Talk about two important authors residing in the same street!

Catch a show at Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage
Staib, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hartford Stage is a pretty old theatre in Hartford. It has been here for 52 years and is still going on quite strongly. There are always a lot of shows going on here. To catch a play in this theatre is indeed like experiencing or being a part of history. Nowadays, they host musicals too. The theatre also teaches drama classes for kids.

Visit the Old State House

Old State House
Laura Stone / Shutterstock.com

Time to go check out another landmark of Hartford- the Old State House. As you can see by now- Hartford is a pretty historic place filled with a lot of spots that served directly in shaping America’s history.

However, the Old State House is something that is even registered in the National Historic Landmark as it also happens to be the oldest state house of the entire nation. The building was constructed in 1796 and since then, it saw the rise and fall of several trials, political parties, and nations.

Did you know that this building is even rumored to be haunted? Go on, take a trip to this exotic location. You can even hire a guide if you want to know all the detailed history. The place now has a garden too and the interiors are decorated with old paintings and framed documents. The Connecticut General Assembly manages this place now.

Dine at Carbone’s Ristorante

So, we have seen a lot of places. There are still more to go. But, how about we dine at a fancy place before we commence on with our trip again? Carbone’s Ristorante is the perfect restaurant to choose for any special occasion. People mostly come here to propose to their significant others or to impress someone! And, let us face the facts- we are after all trying to impress you!

This restaurant has been there for the last 75 years and has seen all the popular faces of Hartford. The celebrities or politicians come here to take on a big decision or sign a contract. The restaurant has some of the best Italian foods you can get your hand on in America that are both delicious and authentic as well. The wine menu is too good to be true too.

Take a glimpse of the Cathedral of St. Joseph

Cathedral of St. Joseph
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Among the major attractions of Hartford- The cathedral of St. Joseph is quite a new thing. The fact is that it did not even exist before 1962. The cathedral is made as a replica of an old building that was destroyed. The building was entirely constructed in the Gothic style, and so the Cathedral of St. Joseph has the same architectural style as well.

No doubt, the exterior is quite gorgeous, but the interior is no less either. The ceilings are tall with bronze doors. You can find biblical scenes and structures decorated around the entrance and the main corner. Overall, the cathedral of St. Joseph is quite a sight to stare at!

Eat at the Polish National Home

Polish National Home
Dariusz Gryczka / Shutterstock.com

In Hartford, there is no need to be a Polish to visit a Polish-American community. That brings us to our next wonderful destination- the Polish National Home. Wanna know something more interesting? It has a restaurant inside with a menu full of delicious goodies.

If you are someone who loves Polish food, but cannot have it for the expense or the unavailability, Polish National Home is your go-to location. It serves some of the best Polish delicacies at an extremely cheap rate. Also, if you are a local, you could easily be a member here. The fee is negligible too. They also celebrate certain events and festivals of Poland. If you are a member, you can take part in those too.
This is a nice place to hang out for an afternoon, eat some delicious meals, and enjoy.

Learn a bit of history at the Museum of Connecticut History

Museum of Connecticut History
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com

In the Museum of Connecticut History, the only thing more interesting than its objects is its building. The building itself is a landmark in the history of Hartford. The building not only hosts the Museum of Connecticut History, but it also has the Supreme Court as well as the State Library in it. Talk about an important building, huh?

The museum mainly focuses on military history along with some other important documents that are quite important in shaping the history of Hartford.
It also preserves the heritage of Hartford and how its people played an important role in sculpting American History. It mainly displays weapons- firearms, pistons from various wars and years.

Revisit history Butler-McCook House & Garden

Let us take you to the last one in our list of top things to do in Hartford- Butler-McCook House & Garden. Visiting Butler-McCook House & Garden is like going two spots at a time as you can easily catch up on Ancient Burying Ground afterward. They are quite close to each other.

Butler-McCook House & Garden is no doubt the oldest home in all of Hartford. It is still here acting worthy of its rich history. The house was constructed back in 1782 and served as a home to the same family generation after generation.
Also, there is no other landmark as old as Ancient Burying Ground since it dates back to the 1600s. Visiting these two on the last day of your trip is like visiting the history of Hartford.

Here we are at the end of our lovely trip. We hope you have fun flipping through the different pages of history as Hartford is as historic as they come!