One Day in HartfordAAA editors suggest these activities for a great short vacation experience.
Morning Start your morning by going to Main Street to visit Connecticut’s Old State House (800 Main St.). The stately brick building was the site of the first Amistad trial in 1839, an important event in the history of slavery in the U.S. Time your visit to fall on a Tuesday or Friday morning (June-October) and you’ll be able to wander the Old State House Farmers’ Market, held in the surrounding plaza.
Head south to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (600 Main St.), the nation’s oldest public art museum. Inside the castlelike building you’ll find works from the 50,000-piece collection which includes Hudson River School landscape paintings and pieces by Picasso, Pollock, Monet and Matisse.
After touring the oldest art museum, get some fresh air in Bushnell Park (Trinity and Elm streets), one of the nation’s oldest public parks. Benches, sculptures and walking paths draw crowds in spring and summer, and a Coney-Island-style carousel is open all year. In the center of the park is another of the nation’s firsts—the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. The first triumphal arch in the country, it spans Trinity Street and pays tribute to the 4,000 Hartford men who served in the Civil War. If weather permits, climb to the top of the arch via a 97-step staircase for a bird’s-eye-view of Hartford.
Head toward the shiny gold dome of the Connecticut State Capitol (210 Capitol Ave.) to see the House and Senate chambers in action. Decked out in marble and granite, the impressive building stands as a stately symbol of a time when Hartford was the richest city in the country.
Afternoon Wondering where to eat lunch? Downtown is Trumbull Kitchen (150 Trumbull St.), where a globally inspired menu includes everything from sushi to tapas to pizzas cooked in a stone oven.
Spend the afternoon in Hartford’s West End, a residential neighborhood about 1.5 miles from the center of town. Your first stop is the Mark Twain House and Museum (351 Farmington Ave.) for a guided tour of the home where Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. “Mark Twain”) and his family lived. Right next door is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (77 Forest St.), where the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” lived until her death in 1896. The Elizabeth Park Rose Garden (1555 Asylum Ave.) is just a short drive away in West Hartford. The gardens are most fragrant in mid-summer when thousands of roses in hundreds of varieties are at peak bloom.
Evening For live blues, cold brews and Southern-style comfort food, make reservations for dinner at Black Eyed Sally’s (350 Asylum St.). Cajun and Creole barbecue is the specialty here, with finger-lickin’ options like sweet cornbread, cheddar cheese grits, pork ribs with Sally’s slaw and pulled pork sandwiches on Texas toast.
Check performance schedules ahead of time and plan your night to include one of Hartford’s award-winning theater productions. Performances at the Hartford Stage Company (50 Church St.) are presented from September to June, while the schedule for off-Broadway shows at TheaterWorks (233 Pearl St.) runs year-round. Summer events at Hartford's riverfront venues (Riverside Park, 20 Leibert Rd., and Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Blvd.) run the gamut from outdoor music concerts to movies after dark.
For hockey buffs, the XL Center (1 Civic Center Plaza) is ground zero for Hartford Wolf Pack hockey games from October through April. Wear red, white and blue and join the locals in supporting their home team.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Connecticut sales tax is 6.35 percent. Room occupancy tax in the greater Hartford area is 15 percent. The car rental tax is 9.35 percent with an added $1 per day tourism tax.
Hartford Hospital, (860) 545-5000; Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, (860) 714-4000.
One Constitution Plaza 2nd Floor Hartford, CT 06103. Phone:(860)256-2800
Bradley International Airport
Hertz, at the airport and at several downtown locations, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (860) 627-3850 or (800) 654-3080.
The Amtrak station, (860) 727-1776 or (800) 872-7245, is downtown in the Union Station Transportation Center at 1 Union Pl.
Greyhound Lines Inc., (860) 724-7080 or (800) 231-2222, Peter Pan Bus Lines/Bonanza Bus, (800) 343-9999, and other intercity buses operate out of the Union Station Transportation Center at 1 Union Pl. Taxis and CTTransit buses also are available.
Taxis hired at the airport taxi stand charge $45 to downtown (for up to four people). Cab companies include Yellow, (860) 666-6666. Base fare (for up to four people) is $3.00 for first one-ninth mile, then 30c per each additional one-ninth mile.
The buses of CTTransit, (860) 525-9181 or TTY (860) 727-8196, run on more than 30 routes servicing Hartford and its surrounding towns. The buses operate daily, with reduced schedules weekends and holidays. Regular fare $1.75; all-day pass $3.50.