22 Fun and Indie Things to Do in Hartford #hartfordhasit

Hello!  For my launch post, I felt it would be best to riff of a well known theme – the glorious to-do in list.  Kudos to my own beloved Hartford Advocate (the artist formally known as CTNow) for their 2012 list of 25 Things to Do in Hartford,as well as the lovely Emily Cahill, who last year compiled the ultimate to-do list challenge for her Yelping community with the Greater Hartford Bucket List Challenge.

Edit: this is now a list of 25, as I immediately thought of three more must-dos upon publishing.  Enjoy!

  1. Blog at Tisane – this one seems like an obvious place to start, seeing I’m currently sitting in Tisane, blogging.  Offering an amazing selection of tea and cocktails with quiet nooks for writing and spacious social spaces and a patio, Tisane is a beloved hipster hang out… for all the right reasons.
  2. Stroll the rose garden at Elizabeth Park, before or after brunch at the Pond House Cafe.  It’s hard to imagine right now when the world is a gritty wasteland of end-of-winter brown and white, but in a couple short weeks spring will bloom and we in the northeast will rejoice in the most perfect of seasons, which is our recompense for a long, cold winter.  Bring on the roses (and the mimosas).
  3. Catch a Creative Cocktail Hour at Real Art Ways. This happens on the third Thursday of every month and features an eclectic cross section of Hartford’s thriving art scene.  The upcoming CCH will feature arts and crafts, in the form of making jellyfish for Trashion Fashion and the opening of Nervatura by local artist and Artspace resident Michael Madore, as well as the opening of Amplified Stages by Allison Krause.
  4. Segwaying nicely from number 3- attend Trashion Fashion April 19th at City Hall.  The brainchild of Amy Merli, this one of a kind runway show features a showcase of gowns made of recycled materials donated by local businesses – for a frame of reference, think ‘unusual challenge’ on Project Runway.  Raise awareness for all things green and look fabulous doing it – tickets are on sale now.
  5. Happy hour at On20.  If LeeAnne says it’s good, then it’s good.  If Brent is mixing the cocktails and Jeff is designing the menu, then it’s quite possibly fabulous.  I was fortunate enough to attend a press party recently at On20 and more details will be upcoming about their revamped menu in my next post!  Stay tuned for delicious details
  6. Save the date – April 26th to be exact! – for Playing with Food by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.  I attended last year’s debut performance and experienced the wonderfully creative integration of dishes from some of Hartford’s top chefs.  Each chef is given a piece of music and designs a dish around it – the results is an auditory and visual feast for the senses – one that can be tasted in person at the participating restaurant prior to or after the performance.
  7. Chase down the G Monkey and NoRa Cupcake food trucks at Billings Forge Farmer’s Market on ThursdayNoRa is a year round fixture at this year round farmers’ market –  G Monkey makes a welcome appearance at the summer market.  Both markets are part of the Billing’s Forge non-profit community, focusing on sustainable farm to table cuisine at Firebox and the Kitchen, affordable housing, community outreach, and making agriculture accessible in an urban setting.  NoRa provides the most delicious cupcakes in all the realm.  G Monkey focuses on sustainability and awesome Vegan cuisine, so their ‘grilled cheese’ sandwich is almost guilt free.
  8. Attend the Billing’s Forge Farmers’ MarketAhem, see post 7.  This is a must.
  9. Sign up for a Cooking Class at Billings Forge and learn all the secrets of their amazing team.  There is a new Facebook page you can tap for up to date info, and you can also check out my write up of their jam class here if you’re so inclined.
  10. Brunch at Firebox.  It’s really, really amazing – from the grapefruit mimosas to the eggs benedict with asparagus (or whatever is in season on the farm to table menu curated by the masterful Sean Farrell).  There is more – much more – to do at the Billings Forge community, but these are my personal favorites, so there you have it.
  11. Attend the Greater Hartford Art’s Council’s annual Go Red Fundraiser.  Lucky you – the first date was postponed due to snow, so the new date of March 26th is fast approaching and you should probably get your tickets now before it sells out.  This signature event features food and beverage pairings from the areas top restaurants, as well as a premiere wine tasting with Chef Jacques Pepin – I’m really stoked for Big Red, not going to lie.
  12. Attend First Thursday at the Wadsworth.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for anything involving art and cocktails, and Hartford has plenty of both!  As the name probably gives away, First Thursday takes place on the first Thursday of every month (think happy hour with a classy twist), and each event features an original theme based around their rotating Matrix exhibit or some other wonderful museum happening.
  13. Live music at Arch St Tavern – home to some of the most original acts in CT and an official site again this year for the CT Music Awards.
  14. Catch the CT Music Awards live at the Bushnell on June 10th.  How often do you have a chance to attend a live, Emmy style awards ceremony?  Oh all the time?  Excuse me, I don’t know your life.  For the rest of us, this is an amazing chance to get out there and support the local music community in CT.  From folk to metal, everyone is well represented at this event, and you can start voting for your favorites in April over at www.ctnow.com
  15. Hodgepodge Market oh – this one we have to wait for, as it’s only for six weeks out of the year and in the fall to boot!  But it’s well worth the wait to see Pratt St transformed into an open air market for some of the freshest, coolest, most original local vendors in the state.  You can catch Brazen Betties here perhaps, or the Vintanthromodern vintage truck.  One week I saw live alpacas.  Each week is quite different, so just go for yourself and you’ll be pleasantly surprised no doubt.
  16. Also calling Pratt St home is Hartford Prints! the letterpress studio that is run by three local Hartford sisters.  You can buy bespoke stationary, tiny terrariums, onesies – heck, there’s quite a variety of totally original and artsy items available for purchase here.  There are also frequent live events, such as:
  17. Syllable Series – the beloved writers’ group curated by the local wordsmith Julia Pistell took a brief hiatus after La Paloma Sabanera unfortunately closed its doors last year.  Anyone can submit to Syllable, and each reading has a theme… catch “Hidden” on April 9th – to either read your own works or enjoy those of others!
  18. Carolyn Paine makes this list because of course she does.  She’s a Hartford fixture in her own right (check out her funny and informative blog, Cheeze & Whine), but she is best known perhaps for the CONNetic Dance: a ballet studio with a deliciously modern edge.  Catch her interpretation of the Odyssey this year – and ‘like’ their Facebook page for up to date information on all performances.
  19. Write in Samuel Clemens’ library!  Oh boy, does this one have me nerding out.  Kudos – again – to Julia Pistell for opening up the historic Mark Twain House library on March 23rd for any local writers seeking a little peace and quite – and perhaps a little inspiration from one of the many spirits rumored to inhabit the mansion! Inspiration, ho!
  20. Venom Vintage recently opened its doors on Park Street and boasts a fine collection of the types of cool finery one looks for in a vintage shop.  As well as one of  kind dresses, shoes, sweaters, and jewelry galore, there are numerous live events to enjoy.  Check it out and get shopping.
  21. Let’s do lunch, darling.  And if I’m choosing, chances are excellent we are headed to Trumbull Kitchen.  There are many great lunch spots in Hartford, but this one wins for me, due to its eclectic mix of sushi, American fare, and fresh farm to table options, not to mention the unique cocktails and mixology the Max Restaurant Group is known for (ahem, not that I’m daydrinking… often)
  22. Head to Playhouse on Park for the world premiere of Higgins in Harlem!  Running through March 23rd, it’s an excellent adaptation of Pygmalion (which also inspired My Fair Lady).  Through my duties as one of the many bloggers for the Playhouse, I recently sat down with the cast and interviewed them, then stayed for a performance.  So look out for more info in an upcoming post!
  23. Enjoy a slice of tasty, thin crust pizza at Sorella on Pratt St.  A relative and welcome new comer to the Hartford dining scene, Sorrella’s big sister Dish is right across the street if you’re in the mood for American fare.  For Italian and wood fired pizzas, however, Sorella is the place to be.  They also boast an excellent antipasta menu featuring some truly magnificent fried brussel sprouts – which my good friend Cait and I obsessed over when we went to a late dinner together (her blog write up is here if you’re interested)
  24. Quaff a beer at City Steam – where fresh brews are the norm.  Due to its proximity to the Hartford Steam Company, City Steam is able to follow a steam brewery method which was developed in the 1800s.  The Naughty Nurse is my personal fav.
  25. Head to the CT Science Center for their next Liquid Lounge on April 4th!  Science Centers may be the realm young and eager to learn but the young-at-heart and eager to drink can delight in this 21 + event.  The upcoming LL will feature a ‘Party by the Pyramids,’ courtesy of the Science Center’s current exhibit.

6 thoughts on “22 Fun and Indie Things to Do in Hartford #hartfordhasit

  1. Amazing first post and this is a great list! You didn’t leave off any of the fab and I love the trend of arts and cocktails. Such a great pairing. That chefs HSO thing sounds awesome and Carolyn definitely deserves her own place on the list. Might I also suggest Downtown Yoga’s Yoga in the Park, which I bet will be starting soon! Once it warms the eff up. I can’t wait to read the expanding post about ON20!

  2. Right on! I’m so excited to be a part of this !! Thank you! ! Venom vintage 2074 park st! Open Wednesday through Sunday 1-7

    1. ahh thanks! well deserved and sorry for the late reply I just realized how to approve and view comments! thanks for sharing on the Downtown Hartford page too, that was cool

    1. Hi there – thanks so much for connecting – I’m really excited to meet you! Will check my calendar and if this one doesn’t work out – def soon. I’ll be in touch 🙂

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