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Top Things To Do In Hartford

Mark Twain once said about Hartford, “You do not know what beauty is if you have not been here.” Known as “New England’s Rising Star,” the state capital of Connecticut is picturesque, friendly, and easy to explore on foot, by bike, or by car. Art museums, science centers, and music venues are around every bend, placing creativity at the heart of this historic riverfront city.  

As one of the oldest metro areas in America, Hartford has a rich history that carries into modern Connecticut. Explore its rolling hills to find cultural gems, entertainment venues, vineyards, and state parks.

Here are some of the best things to do near Hartford:

  • Explore the life of Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, at the immaculately preserved Mark Twain House
  • Discover Bushnell Park, the first publicly funded park in the United States and the park that set a precedent for public parks nationwide
  • Grab a map and locate your favorite masterpieces at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
  • Become one with nature at the butterfly exhibit inside the Connecticut Science Center
  • Take your pick of shopping destinations, restaurants, live music, and entertainment at the Center in the Square downtown

Hartford has been home to famous painters and writers alike. Explore their lives at a museum, then take a once-in-a-lifetime photo from the top of one of the tallest buildings in the world.

Other popular attractions near Hartford:

  • A thrilling live musical performance at Theaterworks Hartford
  • Peruse the XL Center arena event center and attend a concert, convention or basketball game of your choosing
  • See the city from the top of the 7th-tallest building in the world on the 24th story of the Travelers Tower skyscraper downtown
  • Jump around to a touring act at the breezy outdoor XFINITY Theatre amphitheatre
  • Step inside a hurricane force wind tunnel and introduce yourself to a turtle with its own Twitter account at the Connecticut Science Center

There is always something happening in Hartford. Pick up a pint of freshly brewed beer or enjoy the view at the water’s edge of the Park River.

Exciting activities near Hartford include:

  • Taking a guided tour of the historic Harriet Beecher Stowe House and learning about the life of the famed author and abolitionist
  • Sipping a sumptuous craft beer from the family-owned Hog River Brewing Co.  
  • Rowing a boat along the Connecticut River at Riverside Park
  • Checking out one of the Wadsworth Atheneum collections, known for its cutting-edge exhibitions
  • Enjoying an afternoon of leisurely play at Keney Park Golf Course

When the sun goes down, the party is just getting started in Hartford. Quench your thirst on a pub crawl of the city’s most loved bars, or dance through the night to live music downtown.

Here are some ideas for nighttime activities near Hartford:

  • Score a balcony section seat in the The Bushnell Performing Arts Center
  • Grab a to-go growler of beer from the Hanging Hills Brewery tasting room
  • Enjoy delicious pub grub and theme nights on the rooftop bar of the Russian Lady
  • Laugh at a Sea Tea Improv comedy company show
  • Dance the borracha on Latin Night at Symmetry Ultra Lounge, a cool and casual nightclub downtown

Travelling with kids requires activity to keep the whole gang happy. Fun is a given during these Hartford activities that are both educational and exciting.

There are some family-friendly things to do near Hartford:

  • Break out your jazz hands at a Newington Children’s Theater
  • Shake out the wiggles on a hike along the Amistad Trial
  • Wave to the beluga whales at the Mystic Aquarium
  • Climb to new heights: zip line, hike, and cliff dive at the Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park
  • Pick fresh apples, blueberries, flowers, and pumpkins while soaking up the sunshine at Lapsley Orchard

If weather is putting a damper on the day or you’re looking for low-key destinations, consider staying inside!  Try one of these indoor activities in Hartford on for size.

Things to do indoors in Hartford:

  • Admire wall-to-wall stained glass inside the Cathedral of St. Joseph
  • Buy tickets to Tony award-winning dramas, classics, and musicals at Hartford Stage
  • Tour one of Hartford’s last 18th-century homes, the Butler McCook Homestead
  • Wander inside the old Pump House Gallery, which features contemporary pieces by local artists
  • Grab a front row seat to a performance at the Bushnell Performing Arts Center

Pursue adventure around Hartford by hiking a local trail, or soak in the beautiful river sights by kayak. Whatever you choose, one of these outdoors activities in Hartford is sure to suit your fancy.

Active things to do or see in Hartford:

  • Stretch your muscles during outdoor yoga on Tuesday and Thursday nights on the Rose Garden lawn at Elizabeth Park
  • Walk along the Sculpture Walk at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in view of the Connecticut River
  • Goof around on the playground or enjoy a packed lunch at Charter Oak Landing  
  • Take a day trip to the Old Wethersfield historic district to explore its three distinct landmarks and half-mile town green perfect for picnicking
  • Stroll along the waterfall at Kent Falls State Park