Hartford is among the oldest cities in the United States and was the birthplace of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). Today, the capital of Connecticut is home to beautiful parks, art museums, historical sites, entertainment and culinary delights.
This manicured 50-acre (20ha) park’s main attraction is the vintage 1914 Stein and Goldstein Carousel, which was brought to Hartford in 1974 from Canton, Ohio, and features 48 carved wooden horses and two lovers’ chariots spinning around a Wurlitzer band organ. Kids will enjoy the playground, with its various structures, rope climbing and two rocking horses. The park also contains the 30ft (9m) marble-and-stone Corning Fountain, crowned with a stag statue; a large pond; the Spanish-American War Memorial; and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. The Performance Pavilion hosts theater, live music and dance productions.
Located just a few blocks from Bushnell Park, Capital Ice Cream is the perfect place to stop pre- or post-park visit for a sweet treat. Known as “The Happy Place in Hartford,” this cute and colorful shop serves ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes and customizable options, with a variety of mix-ins, using its cold-plate technology. Its sundaes have fun names such as Yankee Doodle Dandee, Cookie Monster and Tiramisu You. Customer-favorite ice creams include strawberry cheesecake, cookie dough, party cake and mocha chocolate fudge.
West Hartford is one of Connecticut’s best-known shopping districts and calls itself “one of the best little downtowns in New England.” This charming, traditional town center runs along Farmington Avenue and is the hub for shopping and dining, with everything from local boutiques to more familiar names. Shop at Kimberly Boutique for the latest fashions, Cookshop Plus for kitchenware and Bridgewater Chocolate for something sweet. Nearby is Blue Back Square, with more shopping, dining and a movie cinema.