Hartford, Connecticut City Guide: 10 Family Friendly Spots
Hartford, the capital city of Connecticut, is located smack in the middle of the Nutmeg State- less than two hours to Boston, New York City, and Providence, Rhode Island. First settled in the mid 1600s, Hartford has become known over the centuries as the home of authors Mark Twain and Harriett Beecher Stowe, the insurance capital of America and home to several colleges and universities including Trinity College, University of Hartford, and the University of Saint Joseph. We’ve lived in Connecticut since 2004 and since having children, we have explored dozens of family friendly attractions and restaurants- see our index of CT blog posts. This week we are sharing 10 great spots in (or super near) Hartford the whole family will love.
Playing “I Spy” at the Connecticut State Capitol
Visiting state capitol buildings is one of the first things we do when visiting the capital city. It’s a little ironic that it took our family, who has lived in Connecticut for almost 20 years, this long, but we recently, finally made it to the CT Capitol for a tour. Connecticut was founded in 1662 and is known as the Constitution State, as it was the first state to adopt a constitution. Built in 1878, the Connecticut Capitol building, located in downtown Hartford, was designed by Richard M. Upjohn to replicate a Victorian Gothic style. The building overlooks Bushnell Memorial Park’s 41 acres in the heart of Hartford and was restored in the 1980s to the original colors and design. The addition of the Legislative Office Building (LOB), which opened in 1988, allowed for office space for Connecticut’s 151 Representatives (each representing approximately 25,000 constituents) and 36 State Senators (each representing approximately 90,000-100,000 constituents). The “LOB” also allows for more public meeting spaces and opportunities for state officials to meet as committees and with public interest groups. The first and second floors of the LOB and the first floor of the Capitol are both open to the public; upper level floors house private offices and chambers and guests must be accompanied by officials.
The Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum in Hartford, CT
The longest, continuously open public art museum in America (yes, it beats even the MET in New York City!), the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art was founded by Daniel Wadsworth in 1842 and opened to the public in 1844. The term “atheneum” refers to a “cultural institution that includes a library, works of art and artifact, which is devoted to learning history, literature, art, and science.” Today, the museum has a collection of over 50,000 pieces of art, ranging from paintings and sculptures to furniture, installations, and china.
30 Places We Love in Connecticut
Connecticut may be the third smallest state (5,543 square miles), but what it lacks in size, it makes up with so many fun places to explore and so many family friendly activities. I have lived in Fairfield County in Connecticut for 20 years. And over the past 20 years my family has explored most of the Nutmeg State, from Greenwich to Mystic and Fairfield to Torrington. Since our daughter was born over a decade ago, we’ve found just about every spot to be kid friendly. While we plan on adding to this list each month, and will share annual updates, this is our first round of places we love in Connecticut.
20 Indoor Places to Explore in New England in the Winter
New England is my home. I love it. Every trip I take outside New England is wonderful- and a wonderful reminder of how much I love where I grew up and where I now live with my family. New England is known for its beautiful beaches and ocean water in the summer, stunning foliage in the fall, countless places to ski and skate in the winter, and open spaces to enjoy the outdoors in the spring. However, if you’re prone to sunburns, frostbite, and allergies, consider these places to visit for plenty of indoor fun (and yes, they’re just as great in the summer too!)
Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut
Sometimes, we travel out of state so much, my family forgets to visit all of the great spots right in our own “backyard.” With that in mind, we decided to check out a popular spot in Hartford: The Mark Twain House & Museum. For our tips on visiting the nearby Connecticut Science Center, read our post here.
American author Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, moved around the country, but spent 17 years raising his three daughters in the Nook Farm neighborhood of Hartford. The late 1800s was a time when Hartford was a thriving industrial city and Nook Farm was one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the city. Fellow author Harriet Beecher Stowe lived next door (and penned Uncle Tom’s Cabin 20 years before Twain came to town). During the family’s time in Hartford, Clemens wrote dozens of his most popular novels and stories including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.