Business travelers in Hartford, Connecticut, will find plenty to do after work, from historic architecture to modern art and resort casinos.
If you’re heading to Hartford for business, you won’t have time to be bored outside of work. Connecticut’s state capital is known as a thriving business center for the insurance and government industries, but it also overflows with can’t-miss attractions that are perfect for your downtime. From architectural treasures and museums with a “wow” factor to an array of restaurants and entertainment venues, the city in the heart of the Nutmeg state does much more than simply take care of business.
Hartford’s historical gems include famous homes and a burial ground. Mark Twain House and Harriet Beecher Stowe House offer magnificent glimpses into a more refined past.
Samuel Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, moved his family to Hartford in 1874 when it was Connecticut’s wealthiest town, and he stayed in the house until 1891. The custom-designed home is quirky with elegant features that include an eccentric, hand-carved headboard in the master bedroom and Twain’s billiard room, where he penned “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” inspired social justice and positive change, and her namesake home and historic collections are all preserved for posterity. The author lived in the Stowe House from 1873 to 1896. It was refurbished in 1924 when Stowe’s grand-niece, Katharine Seymour Day, purchased the home. The 18th century family heirlooms blend in with Empire and Victorian furnishings highlighted by Stowe’s own oils and watercolors.
If you love old cemeteries, Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground is a treasure trove for tombstone tourists. The oldest surviving historic site in Hartford from the 1600s, the cemetery is the final resting place for the town’s founders, colonial leaders, and nearly everyone in the town who died through the early 1800s.
What’s a business trip without learning something new? Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, founded in 1842, reopened in 2015 with new and refurbished exhibition space that houses approximately 50,000 major works of classic art, plus new works and interactive technology. Inside, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture houses a collection of 7,000 items documenting the area’s African American heritage.
If your family accompanies you on your trip, stimulate their senses as well as your own at The Connecticut Science Center, where 150 hands-on exhibits, a state-of-the-art 3D digital theater, four educational labs, and daily programs and events offer exploratory experiences for kids and adults.
If you’re searching for a place to burn off some energy between meetings, you have a choice of lush parks and gardens. Bushnell Park is 37 acres and frames the golden-domed state capitol building. The park’s attractions include The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch with carvings depicting scenes from the Civil War and the vintage 1914 Bushnell Park Carousel.
If you’re a gardening enthusiast, wander through the Rose Garden at Elizabeth Park, the third largest rose garden in the country with more than 15,000 rose bushes and 800 varieties of old and new roses. The rose arches are in full bloom every mid-summer.
Head to Mortensen Riverfront Plaza for a little more action. The plaza is a multi-activity park with a performance stage at the river’s edge that seats 2,500 people, excursion boats, and a promenade for power walks with a view.
The Local Scene
If you’re passionate about the theater, find out what’s happening at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts while you’re in town. Built in 1930, the Art Deco theater hosts some of the world’s greatest performers from Broadway tours, international dance companies, and orchestras.
If visual arts are your thing, the former Underwood typewriter factory has evolved into Real Art Ways, one of the country’s outstanding contemporary art spaces with a rotation of unique films, concerts, performances, readings, and exhibits.
If you have a full day free in your schedule, hop in your rental car and head to nearby Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, two famous casino resorts, each about an hour away from Hartford. Both are known for a lively atmosphere filled with gaming, entertainment, eateries, exhibits, and shopping.
If you’ve already discovered other great attractions in Hartford, share your insight and photos with us on Instagram.