Free Things to Do in Hartford, CT

Nineteenth-century American writer, Mark Twain once said of Hartford “of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see this is chief” and heralded it as “the honestest [sic.] city in the world.” Founded in June of 1636, Hartford was first settled by English Puritans under the leadership of Reverend Thomas Hooker. Hartford has grown to be a lively cultural center with a strong historical legacy. Not only is it the capitol of beautiful Connecticut but also it boasts a number of stunning parks, popular museums, and historical memorials.

Fun and Free: Four Things to Do in Hartford

Are you looking to spend the day in Hartford? Check out these four free things you can do!

Connecticut State Capitol Tours

The Exterior of the Connecticut State Capitol
Address: 210 Capitol Avenue Hartford, CT 06106

Come visit the Connecticut State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark where you can uncover the state’s history. Here you can view statues of the great men who once called Connecticut home, learn about the state legislative process, visit the Hall of Flags, take a tour of the Legislative Office Building, and so much more. Opened only during the week, Connecticut State Capitol Tours provides visitors with free one-hour guided tours and self-guided tour booklets.

Self-guided tours are available from 8 am to 5 pm on Monday through Friday. Guided one-hour tours run Monday through Friday throughout the year: 9:15 am, 10:15 am, 11:15 am, 12:15 pm, and 1:15 pm. During the months of July and August, tours are as follows: 9:15 am, 10:15 am, 11:15 am, 12:15 pm, 1:15 pm, and 2:15 pm.

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

A front Exterior Shot of the Wadsworth Atheneum
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Address: 600 Main Street Hartford, CT 06103

Admission is free to this museum from 4 pm to 5 pm on Wednesday to Sunday for the general public, and free for Hartford residents any time of the week. Founded in 1842 by art patron Daniel Wadsworth, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is the longest running public art museum in the nation. It is said that Daniel Wadsworth intended originally to open a Gallery of Fine Arts but instead he decided to call it an Atheneum; a nineteenth-century term for a cultural institution with a library, works of art, and artifacts that was dedicated to learning science, history, art, and literature). Currently housing 50,000 works of art from over 5,000 years of human history, the Wadsworth Atheneum sees millions of visitors every year.

Bushnell Park

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at Bushnell Park
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Address: 15 Trinity Street, Hartford, CT 06106

Are you looking to get some fresh air? You are in luck. Hartford has a number of parks to choose from. Bushnell Park, not far from the Connecticut State Capitol, was created in the 1850s by Horace Bushnell who wanted open space for Hartford residents to visit. To this day, Bushnell Park is a popular park in the very center of Hartford where visitors can take tours, watch outdoor movies, play sports, and enjoy a picnic. Equipped with numerous playgrounds, children will have so many fun things to do. Are you hungry? Bushnell Park is within close proximity to eateries such as Salute, Agave, Black Eyed Sallys, and Vitos by the Park. Metered parking is available nearby but it is free on Saturdays and Sundays. Visit the Bushnell Park website to learn more about upcoming events.

Elizabeth Park

The Rose Garden in Elizabeth Park
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Address: 1561 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, CT 06117

Founded in 1897, Elizabeth Park boasts over 100 acres and is on the National Register of Historic Places. When wealthy businessman Charles Pond passed away in 1894, he bequeathed his land to the City of Hartford and requested that a park be named in memory of his wife, Elizabeth. Today, Elizabeth Park is a popular destination for wedding photos and is said to be one of the most photographed places in Connecticut. Open all year long, Elizabeth Park is operated by the Elizabeth Park Conservancy and is home to a number of gardens: the Rose Garden, the Perennial Garden, the Shade Garden, the Heritage Rose Garden, the Horticultural Gardens, and so much more. Looking for a bite to eat? The Pond House Café is a popular dining establishment in Hartford that features organic fare.

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