35 Best Fun Things to Do in Hartford, Connecticut


11 min read
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A skyline with green trees, grass, and a road the foreground
Hartford is a charming New England destination with many things for visitors to do

Hartford is found on the East Coast of the United States and is the state capital of Connecticut. The charming town has a rich history, friendly locals, and beautiful scenery. You can also find an array of fun and interesting things to do in Hartford, Connecticut.

The destination is home to many landmarks, such as the Mark Twain House and Museum and the Harriett Beecher Stowe Center. There are also parks to explore, great bars and restaurants, and attractions like arcades and bowling alleys.

If planning a trip to Hartford or looking for new things to do in the area, read on for 35 exciting ideas!

  • 35 Hartford things to do

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35 Fun Things to Do in Hartford, CT

  1. Visit the Ancient Burying Ground
  2. Learn CT history at the Connecticut State Library and State Archives
  3. Go to the Connecticut Historical Society Museum and Library
  4. Take a cruise on the Connecticut River
  5. Discover something new at the Connecticut Science Center
  6. Stroll along the river at Charter Oak Landing
  7. Travel back in time at Connecticut's Old State House
  8. Smell the roses at the Elizabeth Park Conservatory
  9. Wine taste at Vinted Wine Bar
  10. Watch the Hartford Symphony Orchestra at Bushnell Performing Arts Center
  11. Walk along Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
  12. Play arcade games at Nomads Adventure Quest
  13. Spend some time at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
  14. Attend an event at XL Center
  15. Immerse yourself in Polish culture at the Polish National Home
  16. Admire artworks at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
  17. Explore the Museum of Connecticut History
  18. Appreciate the architecture of Cathedral of St Joseph
  19. Hang out at Riverside Park
  20. Get some fresh air at Bushnell Park
  21. Find out about life in the 1700s at the Butler-McCook House & Garden
  22. Wander around the Cedar Hill Cemetery
  23. Enjoy a performance at TheaterWorks
  24. Tour the Connecticut State Capitol
  25. Have a delicious meal at Carbone’s Ristorante
  26. Relax with a cocktail at Trumbull Kitchen
  27. Share a casual dinner at Division West Bistro and Bar
  28. See the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch
  29. Look around the New Britain Museum of American History
  30. Savor high-quality dishes at Artisan
  31. See the Iwo Jima Memorial
  32. Grab beers at a local brewery
  33. Challenge your friends or family to a bowling game
  34. Treat yourself to something sweet at Montecarlo Bakery
  35. Make a trip to the Mark Twain House & Museum

Show all

Hartford Things to Do Map

A map of Hartford. Use the map to explore all the things to do.

© Alexander2323 via Depositphotos
A cemetery with gravestones and an obelisk with trees surrounding
The Ancient Burying Ground is a unique historical site

Visit the Ancient Burying Ground

The Ancient Burying Ground is on the National Register of Historic Places and features a church and cemetery. The church is also the oldest church congregation in all of Hartford, having been founded in 1636.

When visiting, you can look around the cemetery, go into the church, and find out some facts about the site.

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Learn CT history at the Connecticut State Library and State Archives

The Connecticut State Library and State Archives is one of the educational places to visit in Hartford. Located across the street from the State Capitol building, the library preserves artifacts and teaches visitors and locals about the history of Connecticut.

This attraction allows you to discover something new about the state via fascinating exhibits.

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Go to the Connecticut Historical Society Museum and Library

Established in 1825, the Connecticut History Society aims to teach locals and visitors the history of Connecticut. At the museum and library, you’ll learn about Connecticut's past, with periods covered dating back to the 1500s. You also get the chance to see numerous artifacts and pieces of memorabilia.

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A skyline with a bridge and a river in front of it under a blue sky
Taking a cruise is a fun way to get out on the Connecticut River

Take a cruise on the Connecticut River

One of the best things to do in Hartford, CT, is taking a cruise on the Connecticut River. Lady Katherine Cruises is one of the most popular river cruise operators that departs from Hartford.

You can choose from a variety of cruises, including brunch or lunch trips, 80s night cruises, and chocolate and wine cruises.

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Discover something new at the Connecticut Science Center

A top educational attraction in Hartford is the Connecticut Science Center. The nine-story venue has exhibits on various scientific phenomena. Topics covered include physics, engineering, wildlife, and DNA, among others.

The Connecticut Science Center is the perfect place to visit if traveling with kids, although adults are sure to enjoy it too!

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Stroll along the river at Charter Oak Landing

Charter Oak Landing is a riverside park to the south of downtown. You can stroll along a scenic river path while here, admiring the views. You can also boat at Charter Oak Landing, and there are picnic areas, allowing you to enjoy a meal amongst the pretty surroundings.

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A statehouse with domed-roof illuminated at night
Connecticut's Old State House is a must-see landmark

Travel back in time at Connecticut's Old State House

Connecticut’s Old State House was opened in 1796 and is said to be the first building designed by architect Charles Bulfinch. It was home to all three branches of the Connecticut government until 1878.

When visiting this National Historic Landmark, you can find out more about the building and what policies were passed there.

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Smell the roses at the Elizabeth Park Conservatory

One of the most beautiful attractions in Hartford, Connecticut, is the Elizabeth Park Conservatory. The park covers 102-acres and is another place in the city on the National Register of Historic Places.

At the conservatory, you’ll discover many gardens, including the renowned rose garden which features 800 rose varieties. There are paths linking all the gardens, so you can easily wander around admiring the floral displays.

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Wine taste at Vinted Wine Bar

Vinted Wine Bar is a must-visit spot for wine lovers. Vinted has an extensive wine menu, with one oz. tasting options available. After tasting, you can order a glass or bottle of your favorite wine.

Cocktails are also on the menu, as well as a vast selection of food, including snacks and sharing plates. Happy hour offers are available too from Tuesday to Saturday.

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A redbrick structure with columns and a tower and a road in front of it
Classical music lovers have to see the Hartford Symphony Orchestra perform

Watch the Hartford Symphony Orchestra at Bushnell Performing Arts Center

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra plays at the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts. If you enjoy classical music, watching the orchestra perform is a must when in the city.

You can attend many Symphony Orchestra concerts throughout the year at the venue, and performances by other classical musicians and musicians of other genres can also be seen.

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Walk along Mortensen Riverfront Plaza

Mortensen Riverfront Plaza is a small park on the edge of the Connecticut River. You can find some walking and biking paths around the park that take you along the river.

There are also outdoor performance facilities where shows and events are held. In addition, you can find seating steps right by the river edge, which are a great place to sit and relax while admiring the views.

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Play arcade games at Nomads Adventure Quest

Nomads Adventure Quest is the ideal place to take your kids but is fun for adults too. The amusement venue has arcade games, plus bowling, mini-golf, basketball hoops, bounce houses, and more! After you’ve checked out all the attractions, there’s a grill on-site to grab some food.

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A small redbrick home with grass and trees surrounding it
Going to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is interesting and educational

Spend some time at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is housed in the author’s former home. Harriet is known for being an abolitionist and writing the 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was heavily anti-slavery.

Those that visit the center, will get to learn about the author’s life and works. There are also exhibits and programs that encourage visitors to take action on social justice issues.

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Attend an event at XL Center

XL Center is an entertainment venue that hosts a range of events. Watching Hartford’s sports teams play here is one of the best Hartford, CT, things to do.

Teams to see are the Hartford Wolf Pack AHL team, the UCONN men’s or women’s collegiate basketball team, and the UCONN men’s collegiate ice hockey team. You can also see events like music concerts, ice skating shows, and more!

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Immerse yourself in Polish culture at the Polish National Home

The Polish National Home is an 85-year-old social club focused on Polish culture. You don’t have to be Polish to enjoy the club and discover more about the country. When visiting, you can eat at the on-site restaurant and try a range of delicious dishes while conversing with long-time club members.

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A mansion-style museum, a statue, and green grass
The largest collection of Hudson River School art is at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum

Admire artworks at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is found in Downtown Hartford and features an array of approximately 50,000 artistic pieces. The gallery was the first public art museum in the US and houses the world’s largest collection of Hudson River School paintings.

A trip to this renowned art museum is an absolute must while visiting Hartford!

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Explore the Museum of Connecticut History

Another of the places to learn about Connecticut’s past is the Museum of Connecticut History. This attraction has exhibits on Connecticut’s industrial and military history, as well as displays about politics in the state. You’re guaranteed to discover something new about Connecticut after a trip to this museum!

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Appreciate the architecture of Cathedral of St Joseph

One of the most beautiful buildings in Hartford is the Cathedral of St Joseph. Originally built in 1872, the cathedral is the mother church and seat of the Archdiocese of Hartford. While the original cathedral was destroyed in a fire, the one you see today is in the same style.

Cathedral of St Joseph is especially renowned for its breathtaking stained glass windows that feature religious imagery in vibrant colors. Mass is held each week at the cathedral too if you want to attend.

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Hang out at Riverside Park

Another of the parks to visit in Hartford is Riverside Park. This scenic space has walking trails, picnic areas, and great views of the river. If interested in getting out on the water, you can launch boats on the river. There are also playgrounds for kids, volleyball courts, and football fields to play on.

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One of many things to do in Hartford, Connecticut, is exploring Bushnell Park
Exploring Bushnell Park is one of many things to do in Hartford, Connecticut

Get some fresh air at Bushnell Park

Bushnell Park was one of the first public parks in the United States. Today, it remains a much-loved outdoor attraction with green space, over 150 varieties of trees, and an iconic carousel, installed in 1914.

Other things to see in the park include memorials to soldiers of the Civil War and Spanish-American War, plus sculptures and water features.

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Find out about life in the 1700s at the Butler-McCook House & Garden

Constructed in 1782, the Butler-McCook House & Garden is one of just a handful of buildings remaining in Hartford that was built in the 1700s. At the house, you can view old antiques, art, and furnishings. You can also find out about the house’s owners and life in Hartford in the 18th century.

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Wander around the Cedar Hill Cemetery

Cedar Hill Cemetery was designed by Jacob Weidenmann who designed Bushnell Park, plus many other iconic parks around the world.

The cemetery is open to the public, and you walk around looking at the memorials and appreciating the green surroundings. Burials began taking place in 1866, so you’ll spot some very old gravestones.

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Enjoy a performance at TheaterWorks

If you like theater performances, one of the fun activities in Hartford, CT, to partake in is watching a show at TheaterWorks. The off-broadway-style theater hosts a selection of plays covering different genres.

No matter which shows you choose to see, you’ll have a great night out at one of Hartford’s prime performing arts venues.

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A Gothic-style building with a gold-domed roof, green grass, and trees
The Connecticut State Capitol is one of the most important buildings in Hartford

Tour the Connecticut State Capitol

Located near Bushnell Park, the Victorian Gothic style Connecticut State Capitol is one of the most famous buildings in the city. It’s notably home to the state senate and house of representatives.

When in Hartford, you can take a tour of the building to learn about its functions and political history in Connecticut.

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Have a delicious meal at Carbone’s Ristorante

If you love Italian food, a must-do in Hartford, CT, is having a meal at Carbone’s Ristorante. You can order a selection of classic Italian dishes to eat in a relaxed and sophisticated space. Delicious wines and cocktails, plus decadent desserts can also be enjoyed.

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Relax with a cocktail at Trumbull Kitchen

Trumbull Kitchen is a trendy eatery and bar. At the restaurant, you can order from an extensive menu of seasonal cocktails and wines.

To accompany your drinks, you can order dishes like salads, flatbreads, and stone baked pizzas. There’s also a great happy hour at Trumbull Kitchen, with discounted drinks and tapas-style dishes.

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Share a casual dinner at Division West Bistro and Bar

Another of the best eateries in Hartford is Division West Bistro and Bar. This casual and lively spot serves dishes like fresh pasta, burgers, and salads, plus sharing plates like chips with guacamole and arancini. Division West also has a daily happy hour and offers brunch on Sundays.

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An archway with two towers and a road running through it surrounded by trees
The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch is another significant landmark to see

See the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch

The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch is a Gothic-style monument located in Bushnell Park. It pays homage to 400 Hartford citizens who perished fighting for the Union. There’s also a plaque specifically honoring the 128 African American residents of Hartford who fought for the Union.

You can visit the arch yourself when in the park, or take a tour to understand more about the landmark.

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Look around the New Britain Museum of American History

Another of the interesting things to do around Hartford, CT, is going to the New Britain Museum of American History. The museum is located in the town of New Britain, which is 20 minutes from Hartford.

This art gallery is dedicated to artworks by American artists and was the first of its kind in the United States.

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Savor high-quality dishes at Artisan

Artisan is in West Hartford, located ten minutes from downtown. This award-winning restaurant serves outstanding dishes in its indoor space and charming outdoor patio area. You can dine during brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Dishes available include chowder, roasted cauliflower, and lobster tagliatelle. A drinks menu with wines, craft beer, and bourbon can be ordered from too.

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A memorial statue of soldiers lifting an American flag with a park surrounding
The Iwo Jima Memorial is dedicated to soldiers who fought in the WWII battle

See the Iwo Jima Memorial

Also located in New Britain is the Iwo Jima Survivors Memorial Park. The park and memorial, which shows soldiers lifting a US flag, are dedicated to survivors and those lost in the battle of Iwo Jima during WWII. You can also see the names of the soldiers from Connecticut that lost their lives in the battle.

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Grab beers at a local brewery

Hartford has a selection of great breweries to get a beer at. Just a handful of the recommended breweries to check out include Hog River Brewing, City Steam Brewery, and Phantom Brewing Company. At each spot, you can relax with freshly brewed craft beers in a laid-back environment.

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Challenge your friends or family to a bowling game

Whether you’re with friends or family, a friendly bowling game is always a good idea! At Hall of Fame Silver Lanes, you can bowl and play arcade games too. After some games, you can grab snacks, like pizza or nachos, and watch the game in the sports bar area.

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Treat yourself to something sweet at Montecarlo Bakery

Montecarlo Bakery is a charming pastry shop selling delectable sweet treats. Desserts to try include cupcakes, dulce de leche pastries, and creme brulee. You can also get savory snacks, like pastelitos and pressed sandwiches.

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An old-fashioned home with a path and green grass and trees in front of it
At the Mark Twain House & Museum, you can learn more about the iconic author

Make a trip to the Mark Twain House & Museum

Another of the interesting places to see in Hartford is the Mark Twain House & Museum. The American Gothic-style house was home to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain, from 1874 to 1891.

At the museum, you can find out some facts about the author, his famous works, and his life in Hartford.

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In Summary

Hartford is a great destination to visit in New England. The city has a multitude of attractions, including museums, historic homes, outdoor spaces, and top eateries. Whether you're in Hartford for a while or just passing through, you'll find some interesting things to do during your stay.

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell WRITER Currently based in Canada, I've also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and travelled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I love finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever I go!


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