With world-class art galleries, lush gardens, and historic buildings, there are so many amazing things to do in Hartford, Connecticut.
Packed with historic attractions and fascinating museums, Connecticut’s capital is one of the most captivating cities in the United States. Hartford was once home to literary greats like Mark Twain, and iconic campaigners such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, and this cultural legacy has left an imprint on the city today.
If you’re a fan of history, literature or art, you’ll find a whole array of brilliant places to visit in Hartford.
Best Time To Visit Hartford, CT
The best time to visit this fascinating city is in spring, when the flowers are in bloom and the town leaps into action. Indeed, there’s a lot to discover here beyond the famous museums and historic monuments, with a vibrant music scene, good shopping, and lots of unique and quirky places to explore.
Stay a while and let Hartford get under your skin, and you certainly won’t be disappointed!
If you’re looking for awesome things to do in Connecticut, and a little inspiration for your next trip, look no further. Coming up are my pick of the best things to do in Hartford. You’re guaranteed to find something that tickles your fancy!
Weather in Hartford, CT
Hartford’s weather is generally pleasant for travellers, with warm, sunny summers, and cold, crisp winters.
Temperatures in the summer months often reach 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and can plummet as low as -6 Celsius (21 Fahrenheit) in the depths of winter.
Spring and autumn can be wet and cloudy, so it’s best to arrive prepared for a variety of weather conditions, although remember – it’s the rain that makes the area so lush!
Things to Do In Hartford, CT
Visit the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
The oldest continually operating art museum in the United States, the Wadsworth Atheneum is one of Hartford’s cultural treasures, and a trip here is one of the most popular things to do in Connecticut.
The impressive building is a spectacle in itself. Inside you’ll find a broad range of Baroque, Impressionist, and Modernist masterpieces, as well as ancient bronze statues from Greece and Rome.
The museum is also home to an important collection of the works of the famous Hudson River School of artists. If you’re looking for things to do in Hartford in winter, this is a great place to leave the dismal weather behind and lose yourself amongst some inspiring artworks.
Take A Cruise On The Connecticut River
The Connecticut River passes through Hartford, and a trip on the water offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the city and its surroundings from a new perspective. You’ll pass by historic landmarks and pretty scenery, while enjoying an informative guide to the region’s history, or even a slap-up meal as you travel!
Departing from the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, most cruises quickly pass out of the city and into nature. This is a popular thing to do in Hartford in the summer months – you might even spot some wildlife!
Visit the Mark Twain House and Museum
A visit to Hartford allows you to step back in time and walk in the footsteps on one of America’s literary greats: Mark Twain. The Mark Twain House and Museum is dedicated to the author’s life and works and is set in his former residence.
Yep, that’s the very same house in which he wrote classics including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Prince and the Pauper.
This top-class museum showcases more than just Twain’s brilliance, it also sheds light on Hartford’s unique history, giving you a glimpse of daily life in the 19th century city. Today, it’s also an important cultural centre, and well worth a visit during your stay in Hartford.
Visit the Connecticut Science Center
Looking for a family-friendly activity in Hartford for a rainy day? Look no further than the Connecticut Science Center, which is packed full of intriguing exhibits and artefacts.
From dinosaurs to space travel, this museum has it all. There are plenty of hands on exhibits too, which are great for younger visitors. Whatever your age, you’re sure to find something here that interests you. It’s no wonder a trip to this award-winning attraction is one of the most popular things to do in Connecticut.
Visit the Connecticut State Capitol
With its beautiful gold-plated dome, the Connecticut State Capitol is a national historic landmark, and a must-see on any trip to Hartford. Not to be confused with the Old State House, the current Capitol was completed in 1878, and represents the unique fusion of Victorian Gothic style characteristic of the Eastlake Movement.
It’s possible to take guided tours of the interior, where you can learn about the early history of the state, and the famous figures that have shaped its destiny over the centuries.
Visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
Harriet Beecher Stowe was one of Hartford’s most famous residents, best remembered for her tireless struggle against slavery. Her 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin is considered a seminal work for the abolitionist movement, calling attention to the struggles and hardships endured by African American slaves.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is devoted to her life and inspiring campaigns. The small yet important museum fascinating place to visit, albeit to learn about a dark chapter in America’s past.
Go For A Walk in One of Hartford’s Beautiful Parks
Once you’ve ticked off all of Hartford’s museums and galleries, I’d recommend taking a peaceful stroll through the stunning landscaped gardens of Elizabeth Park.
With impressive formal gardens, lush greenhouses, tranquil ponds and a popular café, it’s a wonderful place to relax. Try to time your visit for late June, when the incredible Rose Garden is at its finest.
Alternatively, head for Bushnell Park, one of the first publicly funded parks in the US, and take a turn on the stunning vintage carousel. Hartford is known for its beautiful foliage and well-kept gardens, and this without a doubt one of the top things to do in Hartford when the sun is shining.
Explore The Ancient Burying Ground
Possibly the most unique attraction in Hartford is the ancient burying ground, close to the First Church of Christ on Gold Street. This church was founded in 1636 by the Puritan leader Thomas Hooker, and the accompanying burial ground was used as the main cemetery for the early community of Hartford for over 150 years.
While it may sound a little morbid, it’s actually a lovely place for a contemplative wander. Keep an eye out for the oldest gravestones (dating back to the 1640s) which give you a bit of info on some of the people who grew up in the city.
Where To Stay In Hartford, CT
This chic boutique hotel occupies a stellar location, not far from Elizabeth Park, and is the ideal base for exploring the city. It offers a state-of-the-art spa and is decked out with a wonderful collection of fine art, meaning that you’ll get a taste of luxury at very reasonable prices.
The Delamar also boasts its own herb and vegetable garden, which keeps the excellent restaurant stocked with fresh produce. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay on a romantic break in Hartford, this is a great option.
The Goodwin is an excellent option for travellers who like to be close to the action. It’s right in the centre of the city, so you’ll never be far from the city’s shops, restaurants and bars.
The hotel itself is in a quirky building filled with character, and includes a restaurant and a lively bar. Slick, stylish and immensely comfortable, you’ll feel right at home in this cool downtown boutique hotel.
Located just south of the city centre in a beautiful rural setting, the Silas W Robbins B&B is one of the most unique and interesting places to stay in Hartford. The hotel is set in an opulent mansion with lots of unique features and historic details. It’s been carefully restored to protect the architectural details.
Each room is en-suite and features antique furnishings. However, there’s no compromise on comfort here, and you’ll be extremely well taken care of during your stay. This is the ideal place to stay if you want the best of both worlds – from here you could head out hiking in the Connecticut countryside as well as explore everything the city has to offer.
This stunning, historic city is packed with artistic and cultural treasures – you’ll certainly never be short of things to do in Hartford, CT! I can’t wait to hear what you get up to on your trip.
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