Hartford has some of the most beautiful parks, museums, restaurants, performing arts, and attractions. As the capital of Connecticut, it has something for everyone, whether they are history buffs, performance art hobbyists, or outdoor lovers.
Downtown Hartford is one of the favorite destinations for locals and tourists with an enormous selection of places and activities to engage in. We have made it easy to explore Downtown Hartford with our complete guide on what to do in the area. Check it out.
Museums to Explore in Downtown Hartford
The Mark Twain House & Museum
351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, 860-247-0998
The Mark Twain House & Museum has been a historical center for years. It is where Samuel Longhorne Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, lived between 1874 and 1891. During his time here, he wrote the famous books “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” amongst other literary works.
The house has not only become popular because of the famous author but also because of its architecture. Opened for public viewing in 2003, The Mark Twain House & Museum sports Victorian Gothic architecture from between 1873 and 1874. It has 19 rooms in it.
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
600 Main Street, Hartford, Connecticut, 860-278-2670
Founded in 1842, the 196,000 square feet Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art wasn’t opened to the public until 1844. It is one of the oldest art museums in the United States. The museum offers an extensive array of American and French art, from impressionist paintings to works by contemporary artists of American and French backgrounds.
The museum also has some impressive landscape paintings from the members of the Hudson River School. Art lovers will also appreciate the collection of modernist artworks, American decorative arts, and an impressive furniture collection across different art eras.
Museum of Connecticut History
231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, 860-757-6535
The Museum of Connecticut History is housed in a building dated back to 1910. Although it has been restored, the building maintains its originality and offers a glean into historic architecture. Sharing the same building with the State Library and Supreme Court, the Museum of Connecticut History offers access to much of Connecticut’s history across its military, industrial revolution, and state government transformation over the years.
The museum offers a wide range of temporary and permanent exhibits that showcase the State’s growth and development over the years. Visiting the museum begins with the display of portraits of former Connecticut Governors across the Memorial Hall. The hallway also offers access to boxes containing important historical documents like the State’s 1662 original Royal Charter.
Visitors can also explore the various state collections, including flags, weapons, portraits, uniforms, and many more of the State’s rich history.
Connecticut Science Center
250 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, Connecticut, 860-724-3623
The Connecticut Science Center is a nine-story building offering rich science artifacts and details. The 40,000 square feet science museum offers a range of interactive science exhibits across all areas of stimulation, from audio to visual and tactile exhibits.
Some important exhibits to watch out for while exploring the 154,000-square-foot facility include the moon craters and moon rocks, river of life, black hole, picture of health, and more. You should also explore the Sights and Sounds, which combines different types of stimuli, including science, art, and music.
Connecticut State Capitol
210 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, 860-240-0222
The Connecticut State Capitol is the seat of the Connecticut State Senate, House of Representatives, State’s General Assembly, and the Connecticut State Governor’s office.
The capitol building was opened in 1871 and was built with granite and marble. Designed in the Eastlake Movement Style, the building has been named among the major historical landmarks in the United States.
Parks to Explore in Downtown Hartford, CT
Bushnell Park & Carousel
166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, 860-987-6000
Bushnell Park is sprawled across over 50 acres of land and is located next to the Connecticut Capitol. The park is notable for being America’s first and oldest publicly funded park. Visitors will enjoy access to various memorable structures like the Civil War Memorial, the Israel Putnam Statue, the Pump House Gallery, and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch.
The park is ranked among the most visited places and has one of the three surviving Stein and Goldstein carousels. It also offers various other attractions like paths for walking, ponds, trees, Corning Fountain, and a performance pavilion.
Elizabeth Park Rose Garden
1561 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, 860-231-9443
This city park covers over 102 acres of land. The Elizabeth Park was donated by Charles M. Pond, who gave his land, in 1894, to the City of Hartford, asking for it to be turned into a park named after his wife, Elizabeth Pond.
The park has become one of the famous destinations for tourists and locals, especially because of its Rose Garden. The park’s rose garden is famed as the oldest municipal rose garden in the United States, with over 800 rose varieties and over 15,000 rose bushes.
Elizabeth Park is a family-friendly place to visit for parents in Hartford and the surrounding areas. In addition to its rose garden, the park also offers other attractions like lawns, pathways, greenhouses, ponds, and tennis courts.
20 Leibert Rd, Hartford, CT 06120, United States, 860-713-3131
Riverside Park is another famous spot for outdoor lovers and outdoor activities. The family-friendly park affords visitors a chance to choose from wooded or waterfront paths, depending on what they love the most.
The park offers several fun activities to participate in, including rowing, biking, jogging, and more. Dance lovers can also partake in the Moves and Grooves dance classes or exercise their upper bodies by signing up for rowing lessons at Riverfront Boathouse.
Visitors can also explore the sandy courts for volleyball or take a relaxing evening walk down the river boardwalk.
Arts and Performance in Hartford, CT
The Bushnell Performing Arts Center
166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, 860-987-6000
Formerly known as the Bushnell Memorial Hall, the Bushnell Performing Arts Center was built during the great depression between 1929 and 1930. The center is home to many performing arts and consists of several theaters, including Maxwell M. and Ruth R. Belding Theatre and the original Mortensen Hall. The center is also home to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, TheatreWorks, and more.
50 Church Street, Hartford, Connecticut, Phone: 860-527-5151
Established in 1970, Hartford Stage has become a well-known name among many locals and tourists. The theater is home to many revivals, stage performances, classic plays, and musicals. The theater also hosts several educational outreach programs, including after-school programs for children and adults.