Hartford is the capital city of Connecticut and one of the oldest cities in America. Over its long history, it gave birth to industries like insurance and printing, creating a diverse and healthy local economy.
Greater Hartford merges into Springfield to the north, creating what has become known as the Knowledge Corridor: an area of 29 colleges and more than 120,000 students that creates a youthful and vibrant atmosphere in the city.
Historic buildings sit alongside Hartford's modern skyline and reflect this city's diverse and cosmopolitan community.
Hartford was home to Mark Twain when he wrote some of his most famous works, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, lived right next door. The poet Wallace Stevens was also a resident. You can visit the Mark Twain House and Museum, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and take the Wallace Stevens Walk to soak up all this local literary history.
The city has a large Italian population and this is reflected in the number and quality of Italian restaurants. Many of these can be found in the South End, while Park Street is home to some great Puerto Rican eateries. The Caribbean population has resulted in some excellent West Indian restaurants, especially around Albany Avenue in the North End. The Downtown area, meanwhile, hosts a growing number of upscale restaurants.
All of those college students contribute to a great nightlife in Hartford, with lots of pubs, clubs, and music venues. Try the Pour House for great beer and dancing or The Agave Grill for a more elegant feel and excellent tequila; both are on Allyn Street. The Webster Theater on Webster Street is a great venue for Indie music.
No, not those huskies. Hartford is home to the University of Connecticut Huskies college basketball team. The city is mad for the Huskies, and attending a game is a highlight of any visit to Hartford. The season runs from November through March, and even if you can't get a ticket, the atmosphere during games in the city's sports bars is fantastic.
The Connecticut countryside has it all: beautiful lakes, stunning forests, and one of the prettiest coastlines in America. All of it is easily accessible from Hartford, making the city a great base for a touring vacation.
Hartford is a year-round destination. Summer is warm and a good time to visit the coast with its cooling breeze, while fall brings a splendid display of colorful foliage. Spring has beautiful flowers and winter, although cold and snowy, has the best of the college town atmosphere and all of those Huskies games to enjoy.
Hartford's major airport is Bradley International Airport (BDL), which has extensive connections across the USA and Canada. There are also scheduled flights to Puerto Rico. The airport is located 15 miles north of the city at Windsor Locks. The 30-Bradley Flyer bus leaves hourly for the city and costs just $1.75 for the 30-minute journey. A taxi will cost around $35 and takes 20 minutes.
Amtrak operates regular services from Hartford Union Station, close to the State Capitol Building. Trains run to Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, where you can catch connections to New York City. A single ticket from NYC to Hartford costs from $39 for the 3 hour 30 minutes trip.
Hartford is well connected by road to surrounding cities. The I-95 runs south to NYC, while the I-84/I-90 route will take you northwest to Boston. The I-90 also runs west to Albany and the I-87 goes north to Vermont and on to the Canadian border.
Greyhound and Megabus operate bus services from Boston, NYC, New Haven, Amherst, and Burlington to Hartford. A pre-booked fare from NYC to Hartford can vary between $10 - $25. The bus station is located on Union Place in the Downtown area.
The Mark Twain Hostel is a good budget option in the historic West End. It's just around the corner from the Mark Twain House and Museum and is only a few minutes from Downtown. Hartford Marriott Downtown is a new hotel at the Connecticut Convention Center, with a pool, spa, and fitness center. The Radisson Hotel Hartford is a good mid-range option.
Old Wethersfield - this is the city's historic district, with more than 100 homes that pre-date the Civil War. It is an original neighborhood, rather than a touristy village, and is home to a number of good museums, such as the Webb Deane Stevens Museum.
West End - West End is Hartford's most prominent residential district, with lots of beautiful Victorian houses. It is home to Elizabeth Park, the University of Connecticut School of Law, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The area around Farmington Avenue has lots of shops, restaurants and bars.
Upper Albany - this is one of the city's up-and-coming districts, with some wonderful historic streets, such as Burton Street and Deerfield Avenue. It is becoming an arty area and is home to the University of Hartford's Handel Performing Arts Center and the Artists Collective. Albany Avenue is rapidly becoming and excellent shopping and entertainment center.
CTtransit operates the bus service in the city. Fares are reasonable, with a two-hour ticket costing $1.50 and a day ticket costing $3. CTfastrak operates a rapid transit system to neighboring towns, with the same fare structure. There is also a free bus service, the Dash Shuttle, which services a circular route including most of the main city center attractions. It runs every 15 minutes during weekdays, from 7 am - 7 pm.
Taxis in Hartford are plentiful and reliable. You will be charged an initial $3 for the meter drop and first 1/9th of a mile, and then $0.30 for each additional 1/9th of a mile.
While Hartford's public transport network is excellent, a car may be a good idea if you plan to visit the surrounding towns and countryside. Car rental is available at the airport from companies like Avis, Enterprise, and Europcar, and in the city center from around $140 per day.
The West Hartford Center is a good mall to the west of the city, designed as a New England Village. It has more than 140 stores, with a focus on local ownership, and is good for fashion, jewelry, books, and food. Westfarms Mall at Farmington is more mainstream, with big chain stores such as Macy's, Nordstrom, and JCPenney. Downtown Manchester is another good area for local shops, including antiques, collectibles, outdoor gear, and bicycles.
A quart of milk in Hartford is priced at around $0.86, while a dozen large eggs will cost $3.28. Major supermarket chains in the city include Greenway Market, Associated Supermarkets, and Bravo Supermarkets.
Capa di Roma on Burnside Avenue in East Hartford is a local institution, with some of the best Italian food in the city. Main courses start from $10.99. Jahm Ske's is a casual Caribbean restaurant on Albany Avenue with dishes from under $10, while Max Downtown is one of the city's best regarded upscale restaurants, serving excellent seafood and steaks from around $25.