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Take a walk by the lake, have a picnic, or ride on the vintage 1914 carousel that is housed in one of America's first municipal parks. Since the mid-1850s, Bushnell Park has offered citizens a comfortable place to unwind away from the hustle-and-bustle of downtown Hartford. On the registry of National Historic Landmarks since 1970, the famous Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch dedicated to those in the Civil War is one of the major highlights as well as the Horace Wells Monument and the Corning Fountain.
The Olmstead Brothers' architectural firm created this park which includes 90-acres (36-hectares) of manicured public space, ponds and paths. Founded by Colonel Albert Pope as a place for his employees to go during their off-hours, the park is particularly friendly to bike riders thanks to Colonel Pope's business: the Pope Manufacturing Company - which made bicycles. And although the park has seen its share of ups-and-downs throughout its history, it still functions as what it was aimed to be, a park for all of Hartford.
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza is located in the heart of downtown Hartford and it is a popular recreational destination among locals and visitors alike. You can explore this park on foot, admire public art installations, take a boat tour on the Connecticut River, go fishing, and more. The stage at the edge of the bank comes with a picturesque backdrop and throughout the year (weather permitting), it hosts concerts and live performances.
Mrs. Elizabeth Colt was the wife of famed gunmaker, Samuel Colt. As a local benefactor, she donated 106-acres to the city of Hartford in 1900. Today, that land has been transformed into the beautifully manicured Colt Park, which contains pools, playgrounds, handball and racquetball courts, baseball diamonds as well as Dillon Stadium overlooking the Connecticut River. In the summer, Colt Park is usually packed with sun-starved Nutmeggers trying to enjoy the Great Outdoors before winter comes.
Riverside Park is one of Hartford's oldest public parks and its location on the waterfront invites all for a relaxing stroll or bike ride next to the water. The series of four, 148-acre parks on both sides of the River are popular picnicking and excursion spots for Hartford's residents and the many people who work Downtown during the week. Visitors can use the boathouse for rowing along the Connecticut River, get permits to go fishing or during the summer months, and even attend one of the numerous events at the riverfront venue, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza.