Things to do in Elizabeth Park in Hartford Ct

Wealthy industrialist and statesman Charles M. Pond willed his estate to the City of Hartford, declaring that the land must be used as a horticultural park and named for his wife Elizabeth, who preceded him in death. Today, the park encompasses 102 acres in Hartford/West Hartford and includes many pathways, greenhouses, garden areas, lawns, recreation areas, a picnic grove, and a pond.

Elizabeth Park was designed by the well-known landscape firm of Olmsted and Son. The first Park Superintendent was Theodore Wirth, who created a rose garden as one of his first projects in the park. The initial planting of 100 bushes has grown to over 15,000 bushes that encompass two and a half acres of gardens today and are the focal point of Elizabeth Park. The rose garden has given the park international recognition.

Many small weddings take place in Elizabeth Park, with a guest limit of 75 persons. The rules dictate that no chairs, electricity, or decorations are allowed in the Rose Garden; however, up to 50 chairs may be utilized in paved areas of the Perennial Garden location. Other special events, such as family reunions and birthday parties, are permitted in Elizabeth Park, free of charge. However,applications are required for weddings and photography shoots in the park, and a city permit is required for gatherings of more than 50 persons.

Several other gardens are found in Elizabeth Park, such as the Herb Garden, the Perennial Garden, and the Rock Garden. Elizabeth Park hosts 100-year-old Lord and Burnham greenhouse structures used to grow annuals and other plants for the park’s gardens and other areas of the City of Hartford. Each winter, the greenhouse showcases an extensive display of poinsettias. A flowering bulb show is held each spring. There is an extensive permanent collection of trees and plants such as cacti, palm trees, bird of paradise, a Ponderosa Lemon tree, and a banana tree. Except for the special shows held each winter and spring, the Greenhouses are now closed to the public.

Known for their flowing pathways and integration of meadows, fields, water and arbors, the Olmsted Firm and Theodore Wirth planned enhancements to Elizabeth Park, such as roads, pathways, bridges, the greenhouses, and more – including The Tree Trail. Just under a mile in length, this easy flat walk guides visitors to specimens of more than forty trees, many planted 100 years ago, and some appearing naturally. The trees are labeled and represent common varieties, as well as some that are quite unusual. Several of the trees are designated as the largest of their species in Connecticut by the Connecticut Botanical Society.

The City of Hartford owns and maintains Elizabeth Park. However, significant efforts by The Friends of Elizabeth Park, a group of volunteers organized in 1977, provide vital support to the city and have helped to renovate and improve the park and restore it to its original lustre. The Friends of Elizabeth Park sponsor tours and educational workshops, while also raising funds to boost the city’s efforts to maintain the park.

Elizabeth Park is open dawn to dusk every day of the year. Admission to the park is free, and free parking is available next to the Greenhouse. Additional activities at Elizabeth Park include lawn bowling, tennis, roller blading, biking, picnicking, croquet, concerts, and use of baseball fields. Dogs are allowed in Elizabeth Park but must be leashed, and owners must clean up after them.

There is even a restaurant at Elizabeth Park – The Pond House Cafe. Hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. for lunch; 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. for dinner; and Sunday brunch 10:00 a.m – 2:30 p.m.

Complete information about Elizabeth Park, as well as photos and a calendar of upcoming events, can be found at the Park’s website: Elizabeth Park is a botanical treasure in an urban setting – one that will likely delight the senses of its visitors time and again.