Things to Do in Hartford for Students

Students walking around Hartford

Situated in the heart of Connecticut, Hartford is a vibrant capital city which offers both a rich local culture and a center of academic excellence. Things to do in Hartford range from thrilling nightlife and shopping sprees to contemporary cultural venues. Whether you're keen on exploring the city’s rich past or an art enthusiast eager to dive into its dynamic art scene, Hartford has something for everyone.

The range of cultures, cities, and countries that international students come from ensures that every day is a new learning opportunity, both inside and outside the classroom. The university's vibrant community is reflected in its student life, where friendships are formed with peers from all corners of the world.

Stepping out of the academic routine is essential for a fulfilling university experience. It’s important to balance your studies with exploration and enjoyment—discovering new places to visit in Hartford, trying out different stuff to do in Hartford, and immersing yourself in the local culture. Embrace these experiences, because they are as important to your time as a student as your academic pursuits.

Keep reading for our insider guide on all the top things to do in Hartford that students won’t want to miss.

Dive into academic excellence

The University of Hartford, known for its diverse programs and vibrant campus life, makes Hartford an ideal destination for students seeking both quality education and an enriching collegiate experience.

The university’s commitment to academic excellence has earned accolades from prestigious publications such as U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and Eduniversal. It’s perfect for career-driven students, with a focus on equipping students to tackle real-world challenges. Innovative teaching methods and hands-on experience helps students acquire the skills necessary for a successful career in their chosen field.

Students develop the skills to study for renowned degree programs under expert faculty staff, all the while being encouraged to experiment, innovate, and graduate ready to pursue their dream career.

The blend of a stimulating academic environment and a lively city life ensures that students at the University of Hartford have a well-rounded experience, striking a balance between their studies and exploring the many things to do in Hartford.

Explore the cultural landscape

You’ll never run out of cultural activities to pursue in Hartford, Connecticut. Attractions are plentiful in this city rich in cultural heritage and artistic vibrancy.

Here are some of the most interesting cultural places to visit in Hartford:

  • Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art: As America’s oldest public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum is a must-see for art lovers. Its extensive collection, spanning over 5,000 years, showcases a breathtaking array of artworks.
  • Real Art Ways: Real Art Ways is a dynamic cultural hub. In this gallery, contemporary art meets community, offering rotating exhibitions, film screenings, and live performances.
  • Connecticut Museum of Culture and History: Dive into the rich tapestry of Connecticut’s past at this museum. It’s an ideal spot for history enthusiasts to explore the state's heritage and gain a deeper understanding of the local culture.
  • The Bushnell Performing Arts Center: The Bushnell is the heart of Hartford’s performing arts scene. Hosting a diverse range of shows, from Broadway musicals to classical concerts, it offers students a chance to experience world-class performances.

Relax in Hartford’s green spaces

Whether you’re looking for a quiet corner to unwind, a place to engage in sports, or just to soak in the beauty of nature, there are plenty of outdoor things to do in Hartford.

Hartford’s green spaces provide a tranquil escape from busy campus life. Elizabeth Park is a favorite spot for students seeking a peaceful retreat or a picturesque study spot, with enchanting rose gardens and serene pathways. Hartford’s oldest park is Bushnell Park, a lively gathering place with an historic carousel and lush landscapes. For those who love waterfront views, Riverfront Park offers a scenic backdrop for a walk.

For the active student who loves sport, the city provides basketball and pickleball courts, ideal for friendly matches and honing your skills. Bicycling enthusiasts will find ample trails weaving through the city, offering a blend of urban and natural vistas. Tennis courts and lessons cater to both beginners and seasoned players, while walking trails are perfect for those seeking a leisurely stroll or a vigorous hike.

Restaurants and cafes

You don’t want to forget about places to eat when you’re planning things to do in Hartford. Hartford is a haven for food enthusiasts, with an array of dining options that cater to every palate and preference.

The city's international food scene is particularly noteworthy. From the savory spices of Indian cuisine to the delicate flavors of Japanese sushi, Hartford has it all. Chinese restaurants dot the city, offering authentic dishes that go beyond the usual takeout. Middle Eastern eateries provide a taste of exotic spices and flavors, with dishes like hummus, falafel, and kebabs that are both delicious and affordable for students.

The city is also home to local tastes. Cozy cafes offer the perfect ambiance for a study session or a chat with friends over coffee. And let’s not forget Hartford's pizza places—from classic cheese to gourmet toppings, the pizza scene here is a must-try for any student.

Connect with the community

From joining international student organizations to participating in volunteer work, student life at UHart is a blend of learning, cultural exchange, and community engagement. International student organizations offer support and familiarity while you’re living abroad. The University of Hartford International Study Center and other organizations host various events, workshops, and outings, making them perfect for connecting with fellow international students and exploring things to do in Hartford.

The University of Hartford is additionally home to a range of Affinity and Identity Organizations. These clubs provide a platform for students to celebrate their unique identities and cultures, further enriching the diverse tapestry of student life.

And UHart’s friendly community extends beyond campus. Volunteering is another integral part of the UHart student experience. The Center for Community Service at the university offers numerous opportunities for students to give back to the community. These programs not only contribute positively to the surrounding area but also allow students to develop new skills and perspectives.

Entertainment venues

In Hartford, the options for student entertainment offer something for every interest. You’ll never find yourself wondering what to do in Hartford. Here’s just a few of the entertainment venues in the city:

  • Escapism Escape Room: Escapism Escape Room offers a unique, interactive experience where you and your friends can work together to solve puzzles and clues to 'escape' the room before time runs out.
  • Infinity Music Hall: This intimate venue hosts live music performances, featuring everything from up-and-coming local acts to renowned artists.
  • XL Center: Situated in the heart of downtown Hartford, the XL Center is a versatile arena hosting a wide range of events. Whether you're into sports games, concerts, or various live performances, this multi-purpose venue is the epicenter of Hartford nightlife and entertainment.
  • The XFINITY Theatre: Experience the thrill of live outdoor music at The XFINITY Theatre, especially during the warmer months. It’s a favorite among students for its vibrant atmosphere and fantastic music.

Study at the University of Hartford

Why choose Hartford, and specifically the University of Hartford? The answer lies not just in the quality of education but also in the vibrant life this city offers. Ranked as the #56 Best Place to Live by U.S. News & World Report for 2023-2024, Hartford offers an ideal blend of cultural diversity, academic excellence, and a lively urban experience.

You'll join a diverse student community representing 45 countries, enriching your educational experience with global perspectives. With an impressive 8:1 student-faculty ratio, the university ensures personalized attention and a supportive learning environment. It's no wonder the University of Hartford stands highly respected among U.S. universities.

The University of Hartford International Study Center offers a wide range of programs tailored to meet diverse academic interests and career aspirations. Understanding the entry requirements is also crucial for a smooth application process. Informing yourself  about fees is also essential, and you can ensure you're fully prepared before arriving by reading the pre-arrival guide.


How to spend a day in Hartford, CT?

  • Start your morning with a visit to the historical Mark Twain House & Museum, then head to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art to marvel at its extensive collections. For lunch, enjoy a meal at one of Hartford’s diverse eateries, offering everything from classic American fare to international cuisine. In the afternoon, take a leisurely stroll through Bushnell Park, and maybe catch a live performance or sporting event at the XL Center. As evening falls, experience the Hartford nightlife by exploring the city's vibrant bars and clubs. Your day in Hartford will be a blend of cultural enrichment, historical exploration, and urban entertainment. 

Is Hartford, Connecticut worth visiting?

  • Absolutely—there’s plenty to see and do in Hartford, Connecticut. Attractions include everything from historic sites like the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center to modern entertainment venues. The diverse cultural and entertainment options make it a worthwhile destination for anyone looking to experience a vibrant and dynamic city. 

What is Hartford most known for?

  • Hartford is often referred to as the "Insurance Capital of the World,” but it is also recognized for its rich cultural scene, historical significance, and vibrant arts and entertainment landscape. From renowned museums to attractive parks, you’ll struggle to run out of things to do in Hartford.