Fringe Benefits: Hartford is all about history! We visit colonial American sites, a historic railroad, and the home of one of America’s most famous authors.
Our city tour showcases the history and heritage of Hartford. One of the oldest cities in the United States, Hartford lies on the banks of the Connecticut River. There’s beautiful and diverse architecture, including a stunning gold-domed state capitol building. Hartford experienced an economic downturn in the mid-1900s, but is again a city on the rise, with job growth in the medical and insurance fields. There are great museums and an art and culinary scene to explore.
Katie heads just to the outskirts of the city to meet a curator at the Mark Twain House. It was at this stunning 25-room masterpiece of a home that Samuel Clemens – better known by his pen name of Mark Twain – wrote some of this most famous works. Twain and his family lived in the home, not far from downtown Hartford, for 17 years. An adjacent museum center houses exhibits and explorations of Twain’s life and work.
We then head south, to Essex, Connecticut, for a step back in time aboard a steam train and riverboat. The Valley Railroad Company operates the historic 1892 Essex Station, two fully refurbished steam locomotives, and an impressive collection of rolling stock. They even offer evening dining car excursions! Katie enjoys a relaxing train ride along the Connecticut River on a beautiful fall day, followed by a steamboat ride up the river. We see protected wildlife habitat, an opera house, and historic homes along the route.
The largest aviation museum in New England – the New England Air Museum (NEAM) is located in Windsor Locks, Connecticut – just 20 minutes from downtown Hartford. Here, Katie gets a close look at historic WWII aircraft, an engine used by the Wright Brothers, and an exhibit dedicated to aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky. We end our visit by climbing in a real P-47 Thunderbolt – the first all-metal fighter plane.
Three of Connecticut’s Oldest settlements lie within Hartford County; Windsor, the city of Hartford, and Wethersfield – founded almost 400 years ago in 1634. Katie spends the day exploring the historic, pre-colonial homes and buildings dotting the main square, visits a historic cemetery, and learns about George Washington’s time spend in Wethersfield.
Hartford is full of pleasant surprises and interesting, historic places to visit!
For more information on Hartford area attractions, visit the Destination Guide.