Top things to do near Bradley Airport
Visit a legendary writer's home
When venerated author Mark Twain moved into his large family home in Hartford, Connecticut, he remarked: It is a home – and the word never had so much meaning before.
Living there between 1874 and 1891, Twain clearly found inspiration in his stunning neo-gothic Hartford house. Indeed, this was where he wrote his most revered works, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and The Prince and The Pauper.
Take a tour of the house to see the large library as well as the grand billiard hall where Twain used to write. On the house's Living History Tour, six actors play different real-life characters (including Twain himself), each with their own captivating story to tell.
Whether you’re a fan the author’s work or not, the Mark Twain House and Museum transports you to a bygone era. Down in the basement, you’ll even find the period laundry room, where you get to test out the washboard, ringer and plunger as part of a fun family day out.
Explore the deep sea and outer space in one afternoon
Connecticut Science Center offers insight into pretty much every facet of scientific discovery and delivers it in a manner that makes this unique museum a fun day out for adults and kids of all ages.
Venture into the ‘Forces in Motion’ exhibit to design and build a heli flyer, gain an understanding of the many types of energy around us and discover how to put different forces to good use.
At ‘Sight and Sound’, you’ll experience the odd feeling of seeing yourself in 360 degrees, while ‘Planet Earth’ encourages you to walk into the eye of a hurricane to better understand the awesome power of nature.
Located on Ella Grasso Turnpike just down the street from BDL, Bradley Bowling is a convenient and fun way to pass some time during your layover. The balls come in lots of different weights for your comfort and the lanes are in tip-top condition. There are also plenty of food and drink options available and you'll have the chance to meet the locals as you bowl at this popular hangout.
If you’re with children, you can make use of the gutter barriers to help make bowling more fun for them; during the summer months, kids can bowl for free.
Take a relaxing stroll along the canal
The Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail is a 4.5-mile (7.2-kilometer) route that takes you from the Connecticut River to the Windsor Locks Canal.
Conveniently located off the I-91, the trail is ideal if you’re looking for a little peace and quiet away from the noise and commotion of the airport terminal.
Along the route, you will discover beautiful stone Victorian-era bridges and aqueducts and come across a variety of wildlife; if you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of an eagle. You’ll also find nice spots to do some fishing or have a picnic if you fancy bringing along some treats.
Learn all about tubes, TVs and walkie-talkies
The Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut is a veritable haven of the history of communication.
As you walk through, you’ll see early record players and radios and discover what TV pictures looked like when the medium was first invented. These historical items aren’t hidden away behind glass cases; what’s great about this particular museum is that you get to touch the displays.
Shop for vintage treasures
The Vintage Shops in East Windsor, just 12 minutes away from BDL by car, is an aptly-named building full of – you guessed it – vintage shops. Chipping with Charm is one of the outlets you'll find selling a range of old furniture and, true to the name of the store, the furniture on offer there is a little rough around the edges, but that’s precisely the charm.
The Clock Man sells a large number of antique clocks, some of which date back as far as the 18th century. All clocks in the shop have been lovingly restored and serviced.
The Reflections of the Past shop is dedicated to all types of small historical items. Inside, you may find anything from ancient oversized cigars to Mickey Mouse magazines from the 1930s.
Enter the corridors of power
With its High Victorian-Gothic design, the State Capitol is a national landmark. Go on tour of the building to see statues of some of Connecticut’s historical figures, such as Nathan Hale, the designated ‘Hero of Connecticut’ who is renowned for his outstanding service during the American Revolutionary War.
Move on to watch proceedings of the General Assembly, before walking through the Connecticut Hall of Fame, created to honor celebrated natives of the state.
If the history and politics don’t interest you, the breathtaking architecture surely will. The exterior gold-leaf dome itself is remarkable. Standing at 32 feet (9.8 meters) tall, it is surrounded by 12 remarkable statues. Each of these figures represents an important pillar of society, such as commerce, agriculture, war, education, music, law, science or justice.