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A Day at the Park

rose gazebo at Elizabeth Park

Courtesy of Friends of Elizabeth Park

A beautiful gazebo amidst the Rose Gardens at Elizabeth Park.

BUSHNELL PARK
Located in downtown Hartford near to the state capitol grounds, Bushnell Park offers visitors a piece of scenic utopia among the skyscrapers. Beautiful architectural monuments, statues and fountains, including the Gothic-style Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, complement the park’s open grassy areas and various types of rare and native trees.

What Makes it Special: From May to mid-October, park visitors can ride one of the 48 hand-carved wooden horses on the Bushnell Park Carousel, nestled in a 24-sided pavilion in the center of the park. The carousel was crafted in 1914 but made its way to Hartford in 1974. It is one of the three remaining works of Stein and Goldstein, who also built the carousel in New York’s Central Park.

Grab a Bite: Vito’s by the Park, located just across the street on the east end of the park, offers traditional Italian fare in a comfortable setting intended to mimic a relaxing picnic in the park.

ELIZABETH PARK
When successful businessman and former state treasurer Charles M. Pond passed away in 1894, he left his generous estate to the city of Hartford to be transformed into a historical park named after his wife. Today, the 102-acre Elizabeth Park on the eastern edge of West Hartford houses several recreational areas, greenhouses, pathways and garden areas.

What Makes it Special: Elizabeth Park is anchored by its Rose Garden, the oldest municipally operated rose garden in the country. Visitors can see two-and-a-half acres filled with 800 varieties of roses on more than 15,000 plants. Roses of all shades and sizes can be found on arched walkways, garden beds and along fences. For the best smells, head to the park in early to mid June while the roses are in the peak of their blooming.

Grab a Bite: Enjoy a rotating seasonal menu with a focus on organic produce in a quaint, comfortable dining room at Pond House Café in the center of the park beside the pond. Guests are invited to bring along a favorite wine, beer or champagne to enjoy with your meal, or choose from their beer and wine list—all of Connecticut origin.

MORTENSEN RIVERFRONT PLAZA
This strip of land along the south side of the Founders Bridge offers the best of both worlds: bustling downtown Hartford and the scenic Connecticut River. Mortensen Riverfront Plaza connects to two walking trails along the river, provides access to public boat cruises and is just steps away from the Connecticut Science Center.

What Makes it Special: Its gorgeous river backdrop makes Riverfront Plaza the perfect place for special events. Throughout the year, the park hosts several cultural festivals, live music and more.

Grab a Bite: Mediterranean fare crafted with fresh, seasonal ingredients is served just a few blocks away at VIVO Seasonal Trattoria, located in the Hartford Marriott Downtown.

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