Pope Park Brings History Into the Modern Day

There's plenty to do at Hartford's Pope Park. You and your family can splash and swim in one of two pools—one indoors and one outdoors—or simply dip a toe on the park's noticeably pristine pond or the river that runs through it. Head to the playground instead if you have a big group of youngsters. It's been recently renovated for families, as has much of the park.

A renovation was in order since the park was built right around the turn of the 20th century. In 2000, a new plan was put into action to completely refresh Pope Park. It's well underway and has already begun to restore the park back to its original glory when Colonel Albert Pope donated the space to Hartford. Pope Park even boasts a forested area for snowshoeing and ample, convenient parking to make trips for the whole day or just an afternoon easy ones.

Pope Park
30 Pope Park Drive
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 722-6481

Bushnell Park Brings History to Hartford

Bushnell Park has existed for more than a century in Hartford, a 37-acre enclave from the busy city. It's the oldest public park in the country, and so culturally rich that it's claimed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, particularly as a result of its historic artwork.

The artwork shows up in several forms throughout the park, some of them functional. For instance, Bushnell Park's carousel is a work of art in and of itself. It was built in 1914 with 48 wooden horses and two chariots hand-carved by locally renowned carvers. Wooden roses sprinkle the horses and chariots.

Other masterpieces appear more traditionally, as statues. Once such statue pays homage to Horace Wells, the Hartford dentist who invented modern anesthesia, and another monument commemorates the local soldiers and sailors who have fallen in war. Visit the pumping station to get a peek inside a functioning anti-flood mechanism and explore the adjacent art gallery, or head to the brown-stone-edged pond for some time of quiet reflection.

Bushnell Park
100 Wells Street
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 232-6710

Blaze and Bloom: Your One-Stop Shopping Spot for the Fun and Funky

Four friends with a love of fun, funky, and classic furnishings and decor is what inspired Blaze and Bloom. Vintage jewelry and accessories are also part of what goes on here. If that’s your passion too, be sure to stop in to peruse the collection here. Looking for a dresser that rises above the boring and mundane pieces you’ll find at most furniture outlets? They’ve probably got it. Restored antique mirrors for your wall? They’ve got those, too. How about a vintage, mid-century molded desk and chair? Check that one off your list, as well. Bookshelves, hutches, chairs of all types, fireplace mantels, wall art, lamps… it’s all here at your one-stop shopping spot for unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Blaze and Bloom
50 Bartholomew Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Bikram Yoga Hartford: Stretch It Out

Not your usual mellow, contemplatively paced yoga, Bikram Yoga combines intense heat with 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises in a way that requires both mental and physical stamina. In other words, it’s a rigorous workout that will take all but the most advanced practitioners out of their comfort zones.

Bikram classes last 90 minutes are conducted in a 90 degree room. Practitioners say the heat gives the muscles more flexibility, improves range of motion, and prevents injuries. Improving strength and flexibility is one of the goals of this style of yoga. Other reported benefits are improved core strength, detoxification, improved circulation, and increased mental clarity.

Visit Bikram Yoga Hartford's website for class schedules, pricing information, and to learn more about this unique fitness activity!

Bikram Yoga Hartford
915 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 244-0085

Public Domain/Openclipart.org

The Claypen: Sculpt It

You can look at art, or make your own creations at the Claypen. Located in West Hartford, the Claypen puts creativity right into your own hands. Everyone from kids to adults can come to the Claypen, have fun and wind up with a creative treasure. First, you pick out your own piece of pottery from the Claypen’s large collection. Then, pick out your paints and go crazy! What a great way to make a special present for someone. The Claypen is also a wonderful place for groups! Looking for a new idea for a kid’s party? The Claypen is the place! It’s also a terrific venue for scout troops and other kids’ groups. And adults can have just as much fun – what a neat idea for a bachelorette part, ladies’ night out, birthday or even a date night. The helpful staff will even help you to “cater” your own event.

The Claypen
997 Farmington Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 233-3322

The Bushnell: A Hartford Classic

One of the most gorgeous spaces in Hartford to enjoy live performance is The Bushnell. Built in 1930 by Dotha Bushnell Hillyer as a “living memorial” to her father, noted Connecticut minister and public speaker the Reverend Doctor Horace Bushnell, it’s spent almost a century as the home for some of the city’s most revered performing arts institutions. Most notable is the Hartford Symphony, which holds multiple concerts every year in the theater’s Mortensen Hall.

The visual appeal of this building is something truly special – in addition to the stunning Art Deco interior, the 1929 hand-painted ceiling mural by Barry Faulkner is the largest of its kind in the United States. Regulars rave about the exceptional amenities available to showgoers, from comfortable seats with excellent sightlines to the crystal-clear acoustics, no matter where you’re sitting! Visit the website for a calendar of upcoming events, along with information on ticketing and more.

The Bushnell
166 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 987-5900

Real Art Ways: A Hartford Art Space

Founded in 1975, Hartford's Real Art Ways was one of the earliest alternative arts spaces to spring up in the U.S. It’s the place to see new and innovative work by emerging and established artists, watch the latest alternative films and congregate for innovative seminars and workshops. They also play host to poetry readings, concerts, dance performance and dramatic productions. In short, it’s a place to experience the latest in cutting edge creativity in a wide array of disciplines. Stop by for the monthly Creative Cocktail Hour on the third Thursday of each month, featuring book readings, live music and other activities, complete with a cash bar. See the Real Art Ways website for a schedule of exhibitions, events and films.

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor Street
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 232-1006

Theaterworks: A Hartford Playhouse

A community theater is an essential part of a town’s creative life, so the minds behind Hartford’s Theaterworks are to be commended for creating a comfortable, inviting space for local writers, directors and actors to present their material. Patrons rave about the intimate nature of the performance space – at just around 150 seats, you’re guaranteed an excellent sightline and pitch-perfect acoustics.

The programming is diverse and intelligent, with a variety of plays, monologues and other performances. Opening night is the time to go, as after the show there is a catered reception where you can meet the cast and crew. A small bar also serves beer and wine during intermission. Outside of the theater there is a gallery that shows work by local artists for you to browse while you wait for the doors to open. The staff is friendly and courteous as well, and ticket prices are a real bargain.

Visit Theaterworks's website for more information!

233 Pearl Street
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 527-7838

Bow Tie Cinemas: Movie Experience

Remember when going to the movies was a special experience? So does Bow Tie Cinemas. With two locations in the greater Hartford area, Bow Tie Cinemas has been a family owned operation for four generations. Bow Tie’s goal: to bring a feeling of class and elegance back to your movie going experience. Come to the Cinema City at the Palace or try the Palace 17 and Odyssey Theater in town. Relax in the stadium seating and enjoy the digital sound – it’s in every auditorium. The movie choices are eclectic, with first-run movies, art films, documentaries, and independent films. Special showing are always happening at the Bow Tie Cinema. Cinema classics are on the big screen every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m.

Bow Tie Cinemas
330 New Park Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 549-0030

Elizabeth Park: Downtown Beauty

Consisting of over 100 acres in West Hartford, Elizabeth Park gives residents and visitors a beautiful respite from city life. 2012 celebrates the park’s rose garden, the oldest and certainly one of the most beautiful in the country. Over 15,000 species of roses line walkways, fences and arches. The sights and smells are not to be missed! The rest of the park boasts thousands of species of trees, shrubs and flowering plants. What a great place to take a stroll. It’s why Hartford natives know that Elizabeth Park is perfect for something as simple as a picnic, or as special as a backdrop for wedding photos. The popular garden lecture series changes with the seasons. Learn about how to make your own garden beautiful with classes on planting, composting, landscaping and even party planning.

Elizabeth Park
150 Walbridge Road
West Hartford, CT 06119
(860) 231-9443

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