It took me until my junior year at Trinity College to realize that being a college student did not mean sacrificing being a functional, active, human being. The first two years of college, I felt some kind of unwritten obligation to be a clichéd lazy, always tired (despite sleeping in until 2pm), and homebodied kid. Time inbetween classes was taken up by slumping back into my bed and watching several already watched episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or maybe sitting in my common room with a few friends texting and staring at Instagram. Now that I’m a senior, that way of life could not seem farther away.
I think going abroad gave me the revelation that free time was not a time to rest, but rather a time to explore. Living in Rome for a semester, wasting time was not an option. What other time am I going to have a couple of hours to romp around the Roman Forum or sit at a café with a few friend drinking wine and talking about fallen civilizations? Never. And this idea was exactly the same when I got back to campus for the spring semester. I saw free time in a whole new light, as a time to explore, to try new things, and to be an interesting, curious, and active human being. It turns out, Hartford is the perfect place to do so.
In the past week, I have gone to a state park where I climbed a four mile hiking trail to the top of the mountain. I’ve gone apple picking with a bunch of my friends, and subsequently baked several apple pies using a friend’s kitchen. I visited an alpaca farm (never though I’d do that…), went to the most beautiful cemetery (which really looks more like a garden in Versailles then anything else) to see Katherine Hepburn’s gravestone, ate at four different restaurants in Hartford, two of which were ethnic cuisines that represented Hartford’s rich diversity. All that in one week. Think what you can do in FOUR YEARS.
I suppose it would be easy to write off Hartford. We’re sandwiched between Boston and New York, two cities that are much larger in size. But Hartford and the surrounding areas have an incredible amount to offer. The sheer beauty of the Connecticut landscape is enough to mesmerize you, but then you throw in the amazing cultural opportunities in Hartford, and you have a shockingly vibrant community to do all types of activities and exploring. Open your eyes beyond your dorm room, seek new things. Don’t settle for laziness. You have four years to literally do whatever you want. Sleeping through it simply cannot be an option.
Here are some suggestions for weekend or weekday activities:
Belltown Hill Orchards - An amazing little farm in South Glastonbury for all sorts of pick-your-own produce. I recommend going in mid October when all their orchards are open. Hayrides, apple cider donuts, and pumpkin picking are also very fun activities. Find this spot in South Glastonbury, a short 20-minute drive from campus.
This is a perfect little Macintosh apple I picked from Belltown Hill Orchard in South Glastonbury, CT
Talcott Mountain State Park – a moderate level hike with some incredible views. This is in Simsbury, CT. It’s a gorgeous drive to get to the mountain and such a great way to get your body moving and sweat off those Bistro sandwiches.
The view from the top of Talcott State Mountain in Simsbury, CT.
Cedar Hill Cemetery – A stunning and huge cemetery located right at the top of the Berlin Turnpike. Big names such a J. P. Morgan and Katherine Hepburn are buried here. The landscape is beautiful and a wonderful place to explore. It’s only about a mile away from campus.
Wadsworth Athenaeum – If you think the best art in the world is only in Paris, London, L.A., and New York, you’re dead wrong. As an Art History major, I’m astonished by the size and quality of the collections at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in downtown Hartford. Check out their collection of Hudson River School paintings. Prepare for your jaw to drop.
View of the Wadsworth in Downtown Hartford.