A Guide to Hartford
Here's all you need to know when visiting Connecticut's capital and surrounding suburbs.
Hartford is the heartbeat of Connecticut, with a pulse that’s quick to supply its residents and visitors with numerous eclectic opportunities. From diverse dining with ethnic eats, to destination hotels and cultural attractions, this is truly a must-stop, -stay, -dine and -play city.
The capital city lures history buffs as it is rich in culture and history. Many of Hartford’s historical sites and landmarks are some of our country’s “firsts”—such as the first public arts museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; the first publicly funded park at Bushnell Park; and the oldest public rose garden at Elizabeth Park. These historically significant and inspiring sites create a true urban oasis. The area also has ties to cherished American literary talents like Mark Twain and Noah Webster, plus social reformers like Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Known as “the insurance capital of the world,” Hartford boasts more than 100 insurance companies, but the city itself and its surrounding suburbs, like the town of West Hartford, have so much more to offer than insurance. A bustling music and arts scene, numerous cultural festivals, beautiful parks, diverse dining, professional sports and destination hotels help to create an environment that enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike.
Adventurous types will enjoy Riverfront Recapture with scenic strolls along the banks of the Connecticut River. This beautiful riverfront renovation project has completely revitalized the banks of the river and offers paved and lighted walkways, four separate parks, hiking trails and rowing.
Foodies will rejoice in the plethora of dining establishments. According to OpenTable, Hartford and West Hartford collectively have more than 277 restaurants. Adventurous eaters can savor extensive and diverse cuisines at Parkville Market, the state’s first food hall. Discerning eaters will find the most delectable donuts and drinks at Bar Piña, located inside the historic Goodwin Hotel, and foodies looking for alfresco dining will enjoy the transformative patio at Artisan Restaurant, Tavern and Garden in West Hartford.
With hundreds of summer events to choose from, it’s best to plan in advance of your trip. Hartford’s culture, arts, music and dining might even have you visiting the area more often or possibly persuade you to relocate here.
Where to Go
- Elizabeth Park Rose Garden: The nation’s oldest rose garden.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
- Hartford Athletic: Cheer on Connecticut’s professional soccer team as they compete in the USL (United Soccer League) championship. Enjoy tailgating in the “fan experience section” before the game or stop in at the Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt for a fun way to kick off the game.
- Hartford Yard Goats: Catch a game at Dunkin Donuts Park, named the best Double-A ballpark in America by Ballpark Digest.
- Mark Twain House & Museum
- Riverfront Recapture
- Summer in the City: Enjoy food, music, art and vendors at multiple area parks, June–September.
- Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art: Boasting nearly 50,000 works of art, and a castle-like Gothic Revival facade, it’s the oldest public art museum in America.
Where to Stay
Where to Eat & Drink
- Artisan Restaurant, Tavern and Garden, West Hartford
- Arugula Bistro, West Hartford
- Bar Piña, Hartford
- Max Downtown, Hartford
- Parkville Market, Hartford
- Restaurant Bricco, West Hartford
Where to Shop
- BK&Co, West Hartford
- Hartford Prints, Hartford
- Kimberly Boutique, West Hartford
- Small State Provisions, West Hartford. This bakery is a delight with homemade small-batch sourdough breads, olive oils, granolas, jams from Stone Hollow Farmstead, nut butters from Fix and Fogg and fresh flowers from Feather & Bloom.
- Westfarms Mall, West Hartford– Farmington
Marketing and public relations consultant and cofounder of Instagram account @eatinconnecticut, Kristen Fritz is our go-to source for all that’s happening in the Hartford area.
The print version of this article appears with the headline: Heading to Hartford?