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36 Hours in West Hartford: A Tour Through the Eyes of Hall High School Freshmen

Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Hall High School English teacher Carol Blejwas challenged her freshmen classes to look at West Hartford through ‘new eyes,’ through their teen perspective, and to compose a tour through town (and a few nearby spots) of ‘must-visit’ places for an imagined audience of their peers who have been brought here ‘unwillingly’ by their parents. 

Below find three tour submitted by Carol Blejwas and her students.

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Tour No. 1

By Divine Edwards, Josh Castro, and Drew Seguro

You need to visit the one-of-a-kind West Hartford. This community has many activities and food choices that you need to experience with your family. You will find countless experiences that you don’t want to leave behind when you go home. There’s a reason why so many people want to be here. You will never be bored here there’s always something new around the corner.

FRIDAY

  1. 5:30 p.m. ➤ “BEST ICE CREAM IN TOWN”

You first arrive in West Hartford and you are looking for a quick and easy place to eat dinner. A.C. Petersen Farms is the best option for your first meal in West Hartford. A.C. Petersen is a family-friendly restaurant that offers every type of meal. From Sunday through Thursday, A.C. Petersen’s is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Friday and Saturdays, A.C. Petersen is open from 7 a.m. to midnight. After you eat dinner, you must try their famous ice cream with over 30 different flavors. A.C. Petersen is the ideal first meal when you visit West Hartford.

  1. 7 p.m. ➤ WALK IN THE PARK

After dinner on your first night in West Hartford, you have to visit Elizabeth Park. Elizabeth Park is perfect for hanging out, and playing sports such as baseball, tennis and basketball. There are always other people there to play sports with. Elizabeth Park is also the perfect place to clear your mind and relax. Occasionally there will be small singing performances. And of course, the world famous rose gardens. Opened over 100 years ago, the rose garden has attracted thousands of people. Therefore, you cannot visit West Hartford without going to Elizabeth Park.

SATURDAY

  1. 9 a.m. ➤ DINER FAMILY

Once you walk through the doors and see a smile from the friendly folks at Quaker Diner, you’re greeted by your waiter/waitress who brings you to your seats in style. You stare in awe at the menu and finally decide to get something to eat out of the many delicious choices. You barely wait for your mouthwatering food, as the cooks are the best in town. You sniff the air as your food arrives. As you take your first bite, you wish you had this amazing place in your town. When you finish your meal, you receive your check and are shocked on the low prices listed on the final receipt. This place has been one of your best experiences so far!

  1. Noon ➤ PLAY BALL!

Who doesn’t love an American classic, baseball? Popcorn, hot dogs, fans and a desire to catch a foul ball – the Yard Goats has it all. Attending a Yard Goats game is an incredible experience for you and your family. Even if the team loses, it’s still a great place to experience. Take a seat, grab some peanuts, and enjoy the game. Newly built in 2016, Dunkin’ Donuts Park is one to remember.

  1. 4 p.m. ➤ FUN AND LEARN ABOUT WEHA

If you visit in June, you need to stop by Celebrate West Hartford. The activities, food, rides, culture, and community are all great ways to experience West Hartford. You will go home happy knowing you learned something new today and you had fun doing it. To avoid long lines, what you should do first is go to all the different cultural booths, then get your tickets to go on great rides. The people are so friendly and just want you to have a great time.

SUNDAY

  1. 8 a.m. ➤ EARLY MORNING HIKE

After a full day of activities on Saturday, you will be looking for relaxing way to start your Sunday morning. There’s only one option: Heublein Tower. Heublein Tower is located in Simsbury, CT. No money is needed to hike up the mountain. Opened in 1914, it has been an attraction to many visitors of Connecticut and is a personal favorite of many people in the area. Once you’ve hiked up the mountain, you are greeted by the tower., In addition to places where you can have an early morning picnic, the Heublein Tower has a great view where you can see most of Avon, Simsbury, and Hartford.

  1. 11 a.m. ➤ PANCAKES FROM HEAVEN

After an adventurous Saturday morning, you should make your way to Pond House Cafe for an 11 a.m. brunch. Most meals have some sort of egg variation. The Pond House Cafe has many choices to select from. They sell anywhere from breakfast sandwiches to pancakes. Whether it be scrambled eggs or an omelette, you are guaranteed to enjoy this early afternoon meal. This by far will be one of your best experiences in the beautiful town of West Hartford.

  1. 12:30 p.m. ➤ CONNECTICUT SCIENCE CENTER

After an amazing brunch, you should head to the Connecticut Science Center at 12:30 p.m. The Connecticut Science Center has 165 hands-on exhibits. They have a 3D digital theatre, 4 educational labs, plus daily programs and events. Physics, Geology, Astronomy, and more interesting topics are taught at the Science Center. This unforgettable pace is fun for all ages and you can have the experience of a lifetime!

  1. 6 p.m. ➤ LET’S TACO ‘BOUT HOW GOOD THIS PLACE IS

Finally, take a ride out to Ocho Cafe at 6 p.m. to experience incredible Mexican cuisine. Ocho Cafe is located in Bishops Corner and is known for tacos and tequila. It is located at 330 Main St. and serves all kinds of Mexican food. This fabulous restaurant can satisfy anybody’s hunger. They serve tacos, burritos, quesadillas. Anything you can think of, they have it. Each entree comes with large amounts of high quality food that you and your company are sure to enjoy.

IF YOU GO, here’s how to find more information:

  1. A.C. Petersen Farms, 240 Park Rd.; acpetersenfarms.com.
  2. Elizabeth Park, 1561 Asylum Ave.; elizabethparkct.org.
  3. Dunkin Donuts Park, 1214 Main St., Hartford, CT; yardgoatsbaseball.com
  4. Celebrate West Hartford, West Hartford Center/Blue Back Square; celebratewesthartford.com
  5. Quaker Diner, 319 Park Rd.
  6. Heublein Tower, Simsbury, CT; friendsofheubleintower.org
  7. The Pond House Cafe, 155 Asylum Ave.; pondhousecafe.com
  8. CT Science Center, 250 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, CT; https://ctsciencecenter.org/
  9. Ocho Cafe, 330 North Main St.; ochocafe.com

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Tour No. 2

By Brandon Diaz and Javed Ali

West Hartford’s beautiful atmosphere, friendly community, and wide variety of recreation prompt a top priority visit. In this urban town with many attractions to choose from, such as Blue Back Square and Bishops Corner, we plan to have a rather fun 36 hours. From the parks, restaurants, recreation centers, we have a lot to choose from – not to mention the relaxing atmosphere in this town. Neighboring West Hartford is the capital and heart of Connecticut: Hartford. With so many adventures to choose from, we plan to visit the places we think you’d enjoy the most.

FRIDAY

  1. 3 p.m. ▶ A SCOOP OF FUN

Even before entering A.C. Petersen, we immediately enjoyed the fresh sunlight. We knew today will be a good day and walked in to enjoy a late breakfast, as well as taste their famous, fresh ice cream. After being greeted by the waiter, we were seated and given breakfast menus. Brandon asked for an ice cream menu, so we started deciding on our first meal. While deciding, we enjoyed the fresh, warm, summer breeze on the spacious patio. We decided on chicken tenders and fries, and agreed they were the best we’ve tasted. Following our meal, we ordered vanilla ice cream in a cone. The first thing we noticed was the flavor of their farm fresh ice cream. A.C. Petersen is open from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m.-midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

  1. 5 p.m. ▶ A WALK IN THE PARK

First off, we’ve never been to a park that’s as diversified as Elizabeth Park. From the gravel trail, the shiny pond, and the rose garden, we were astonished by what this park offered. We walked the gravel path on arrival, appreciating the clean and fresh grass. We couldn’t help but smell the aroma of fresh roses, and that’s how we found the rose garden. We spent around 30 minutes in this amazing garden, deciding to go on the big multi-person chair. We appreciated how much fun you can have without paying money. Elizabeth Park is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset.

SATURDAY

  1. Noon ▶ GREEK GOODNESS

We headed to Effie’s Place, famously known for their pancakes, to start the sunny Saturday well nourished. Walking in, you’ll be greeted by a kind and ready-to-assist waiter. They will guide you to your table and provide a menu, before asking what drinks you will start with. With 12 sections on their breakfast menu it was tough to choose, although we eventually decided on their Greek omelet and coffee. We highly recommend you to try Effie’s omelets, named the best in Connecticut.

  1. 2 p.m. ▶ WALKING THROUGH HISTORY 

When we decided to visit The Noah Webster House, it was because Noah Webster was born right here in West Hartford. As an American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer, editor, political writer, and prolific author, he’s been named as “The Father of American Education Scholarship and Education.” All this may sound boring to you; however, we think that visiting the Noah Webster House will change your mind. We were truly transported back in time. The Noah Webster House is open every day from 1-4 p.m.

  1. 4:30 p.m. ▶ THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

Sure enough, stuffing your face with amazing tasting food can be breathtaking, but the view from the top of The Heublein Tower is another level of breathtaking. Located just 15 minutes from West Hartford is Talcott Mountain, the structure of Heublein Tower. The Tower is located at the peak of the mountain, and contains a small museum based on the history of the park and the tower. We climbed the stairs and reached the observatory room with a 360 degree view of West Hartford and surrounding towns. This was truly well worth our while, and a great way to burn off some energy and get some exercise.

SUNDAY

  1. Noon ▶ NEW TACOS IN TOWN

Established in June, we’ve heard so much about this mouth-watering Mexican cuisine and couldn’t wait to dine in at Ocho Cafe. The new place in town received great reviews on their signature dishes, making this restaurant a must-go place during our visit. As soon as we opened the door, we could smell the fresh food being prepared, followed by the polite waiter seating us and getting us drinks. The meals were great and reasonably priced. We strongly recommend the French Tacos, a great meal. The waiters were friendly, and the atmosphere was fabulous. Ocho Cafe was a good place for us to be able to start our day feeling full. Ocho Cafe is open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

  1. 1:30 p.m. ▶ SCIENCE IN THE HEART

After experiencing the nature-filled hike at Heublein Tower yesterday, we decided to head towards the heart of Connecticut to explore more, and visit Hartford’s Connecticut Science Center, just 10 minutes away from West Hartford. As we rode up the escalator, we noticed the beautiful view of Hartford, CT. We spend the next few hours going from exhibit to exhibit, enjoying hands on fun while learning about things like, dinosaurs, and space. After viewing and exploring all of the exhibits, our chapter in West Hartford ended. We really love this town, and wish we could’ve had more time to experience it. Not only did we eat great food and visit amazing places, we had an amazing time. Hopefully, you’ll come and experience West Hartford, CT too.

IF YOU GO here’s how to find more information:

  1. A.C. Petersen, 240 Park Rd.
  2. Elizabeth Park, 1561 Asylum Ave.
  3. Effie’s Place, 91 Park Rd.
  4. Noah Webster House, 227 South Main St.
  5. Heublein Tower, Simsbury, CT
  6. Ocho Cafe, 330 North Main St.
  7. Science Center, 250 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, CT

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Tour No. 3

By Emily Nash and Madeline Alzamora

With beautiful gardens and thrilling activities, West Hartford provides a lively environment to all who come.

West Hartford is an extraordinary place with so many things to do and so many places to meet up with friends. The wonderful parks resemble ones from a fantasy and there is an activity around every corner. Between the bustling town center and the calming atmosphere of Westmoor Park’s animals, West Hartford is truly a sight for sore eyes. With delicious food and tasty ice cream, West Hartford is the place to be.

FRIDAY

  1. 3 p.m. ➤ NATURE RELAXATION

Relax and go for a long walk. Westmoor Park is a nice and calming place to be whenever life gets in the way. It has many different gardens and wildflower meadows. You can go on peaceful trails called the Woodland Trails. It also has a farm and nature program for all ages. The park trails and grounds are open from 7 a.m. until dusk. The park business office is open at 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

  1. 7 p.m. ➤ ICE CREAM DELIGHT

The best way to end the day is at AC Petersen. Their prices are fairly reasonable with an amount of food that’ll fill you up. What they are best known for are their delicious and unique ice cream flavors. You’re able to be seated inside the restaurant or on their outside patio. There is no need to pay for parking because it is free, and there is plenty of room for many to come. You can order breakfast, lunch, and dinner whenever you want. If it’s 10 p.m., they’ll still be serving their lunch and breakfast from full course meals to tasty treats. When you leave, you will have a sweet taste in your mouth.

SATURDAy

 9 a.m. ➤ ANIMAL RETREAT

Take a long walk through the winding paths of the Reservoir and enjoy the nature around you. It is a great place to get exercise for you and your furry companions. The trails are open at sunrise and close at nightfall. There is so much wildlife living in the trees and lakes. And to wrap it all up, there are many picnic areas near the water and the trails.

4. 12:30 p.m. ➤ FLOWERS GALORE

Start out with a bite to eat at the Pond House in Elizabeth Park. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you will love their options. Make sure you get a chance to visit the rose gardens; they are simply gorgeous. There are also tennis courts and baseball fields where you may play to your heart’s content. Elizabeth Park is also a really nice place to take a walk and enjoy what is around you, and it is the perfect place for you to hang out with your family.

5. 2 p.m. ➤ ART OF SCIENCE

Go and explore. The Children’s Museum is a place to go with your little siblings or even by yourself. No matter your age, you will find a way to still have fun. They will give you lessons about science and they will have animal demonstrations. It’ll cost you $14.75 if you’re an adult. Children (2-12) cost $13.75 and anyone under 2 years old is free. Seniors (63+) are also $13.75.

SUNDAY

6. 11:30 a.m. ➤ ICE STROLL

The Veterans Memorial Ice Rink is an amazing place to just let go and have fun. You can skate along with the music playing in the rink or participate in a little game of tag on the ice. The prices for skates are reasonable. The concession provides delicious slushies and other yummy treats while you take a quick break. The rink is a fun way to bond with your family and a nice way to cool down from the heat outside. The Veterans Memorial Ice Rink’s friendly staff make the experience much more enjoyable as well.

7. 1 PM ➤ TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME

Relax and enjoy a game of baseball at the Dunkin’ Donuts Stadium. You can purchase all types of souvenirs at the gift shops. Take your photo with the Yard Goats mascot so you never forget the memory. And enjoy the many food options such as fun sweets and delicious hamburgers. After the game is all over, you may want to head over to the children play station to go down the large slide or throw a football to end your night with one last hurrah.

IF YOU GO here’s how to find more information:

  1. AC Petersen, 240 Park Rd.
  2. Westmoor Park, 119 Flagg Rd.
  3. Reservoir #6, 3022 Albany Ave.
  4. Elizabeth Park, 1561 Asylum Ave.
  5. The Children’s Museum, 950 Trout Brook Dr.
  6. Veterans Memorial Ice Rink, 56 Buena Vista Rd.
  7. Dunkin’ Donuts Park, 1214 Main St., Hartford, CT

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