Hartford - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Hartford


Hartford, the state capital of Connecticut, is often overshadowed by its more prominent neighbours, New York and Boston, or by the more 'touristy' destinations of New England, though the city sees multitudes of business travellers. It sits at the end of the navigable portion of the Connecticut River, and this waterway shaped the city's evolution into the 'insurance capital of the world'. Its location made it an important trading centre, and when groups of merchants began to share risks, the Hartford Insurance Company was born. It still operates in Hartford today, along with many of the nation's largest insurance corporations.

However, Hartford has much to offer those visitors with leisure in mind. Greater Hartford is home to more than 200 cultural, arts and heritage organizations. The Hartford Stage Company, one of many venues for live musical and theatrical productions, has been recognized by the Tony Awards and the OBIEs. During the warm summer months, many outdoor concerts are staged downtown, and various festivals, sporting events and performances are held at the new Riverfront Plaza throughout the year. The Riverfront stretches along seven miles (11km) of pristine shoreline and encompasses 148 acres of park grounds with walkways, biking trails and water activities. The state-of-the-art Connecticut Convention Center is also located here.

For history buffs, Hartford lives up to its responsibilities as one of the oldest cities in the nation. At the State Library, visitors can view the Fundamental Orders adopted in Hartford in 1639, the first document in history to establish government by the consent of the people. A few blocks away, the entertainment district begins west of Main Street, offering visitors no end of dining, pub and club options. Sports fans can revel in University of Connecticut basketball; year after year, the UConn Huskies are contenders in both the National and Big East Championships.

Information & Facts


Hartford has four distinct seasons. New England springs tend to be fleeting, arriving in early May and soon giving way to summer, which is warm, sometimes hot and humid. Autumn is chilly, but the landscape is at its most beautiful. Winters are quite cold, and snow is common.

Getting Around

Walking around the downtown area is possible, although visitors now have the option of taking the new Star Shuttle, a free shuttle service that loops the central business district, making 13 stops near hotels and major attractions. It operates Monday through Friday, 7am to 11pm, and Saturday, 3pm to 11pm. CTTRANSIT bus services operate regularly; standard fare is $1.25, but various passes are available.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

Mark Twain, one of America's most celebrated writers, lived in this stately house on Farmington Avenue between 1874 and 1891. The elegant, 19-room mansion - built in a Victorian Gothic style - was where Twain wrote many of his most famous and successful works (including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), and has since been declared a National Historic Landmark. Visitors to the Mark Twain Museum Centre can anticipate a fascinating Ken Burns documentary detailing Twain's life and work, and state-of-the-art exhibition facilities. William Faulkner once called Mark Twain "the father of American literature" - and anyone with even a passing interest in American culture, would be ill-advised to pass up a visit to this significant, and memorable museum.

Mystic Seaport, just under an hour's drive from Hartford, allows visitors to experience the classic New England seafaring community. Its four sections include a restored 19th century village, comprising more than 30 shops and businesses; the waterfront, featuring tall ships and other historic vessels that visitors can climb aboard and explore; the preservation shipyard, where antique vessels are restored using traditional methods and tools; and a collection of galleries and exhibits. Mystic Seaport is the perfect family destination, with several restaurants, boating activities and children's programs.

The Old State House was built in 1796. It is one of the oldest state houses in the country and has been named a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can tour the magnificently restored rooms, listen to the audio tour and visit the education centre and museum shop.

Riverfront Recapture is a non-profit organization working to reconnect metropolitan Hartford with the Connecticut River. It has established a network of four beautiful parks and public recreational facilities along seven miles (11km) of shoreline. Here, free events are staged year-round, and visitors can walk, run, bike, picnic, enjoy boating and rowing activities, fish or set sail on a river cruise.

The Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest public art museum in the United States, and the highlight of its permanent collection exposes visitors to a unique American movement: the Hudson River School. These fine paintings, originally obtained by Daniel Wadsworth, are now considered American masterpieces.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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