You may not be flying but we can help make time fly with some local distractions. There are a bevy of things to do within 20 minutes of the airport that will have you out of range of the concourse speakers announcing another delay and into a well deserved better state of mind. Calling ahead to check hours, availability or to make reservations is strongly suggested before venturing into any of these Connecticut sites.
Since airline peanuts never held a stomach over you may be thinking classic New England seafood and in particular “lobstah.” For some it’s nothing but a vehicle for butter. For others the delicate sweet taste of a tender lobster is heaven with nothing but a dash of vinegar. Either way, you can have it at the USS Chowder Pot (165 Brainard Rd, Hartford. (860)-244-3311.) Or sample other authentic New England flavors including steamers, clam ‘chowdah,’ or fried clams. Even if some of your traveling troupe isn’t up for seafood they’ll find something on the landlubbers menu.
More in the mood for a micro-brew? Check out City Steam or Hooker Brewery. Comedy, brews and food are all in at City Steam Brewery (942 Main Street, Hartford. (860)-525-1600) Housed in a converted 9 level factory this 15 barrel brewery offers an upscale but casual menu that won’t break the bank. Most Thursdays through Saturdays stand-up comics from Boston and NY take the stage in their Brew-Ha-Ha Comedy Club. Attendees for the funny stuff must be 21 or older. Stranded on the weekend? Small batch brewing can be sampled at Hooker’s (16 Tobey Road, Bloomfield. (860)-242-3111) the first and third Friday and every Saturday of the month. Join fellow beer lovers Fridays from 5-8 p.m. for a tasting, a pint glass and a tour – $10. On Saturdays 12- 5, get the brewery tour and full brew tasting for $5.
Maybe some fun stuff for the kid- or culturally-minded is what it takes to banish the doldrums of overcrowded and untimely airport service. Architecture, literature and history are wrapped into one at the Mark Twain House and Museum. (351 Farmington Ave., Hartford. (860)-247-0998) Visits through the Gothic home are by guided tour only and bring to life the author, his family life, and his marriage. See the half hour Ken Burns film, Mark Twain. Ideally allow two or more hours where well informed docents full of anecdotes make a worthwhile and engaging visit. See favorite Twain holiday decorations circa 1874-1891. Call ahead to determine availability as school groups often visit weekdays between 9 – noon. Tickets $9-15. Still have time on your hands? The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is practically next door. 77 Forest Street, Hartford, (860)-522-9258
Think you’ve got it tough with a little layover? Take a look at the Electra at the New England Air Museum (on the Airport Perimeter Road though you’ll still need transportation to get there. (860) 623-3305) and get a feel for how Amelia Earhart felt tackling her around the world flight in this no-frills plane. The museum has over 200 aircrafts from both civilian and military life. Allow about an hour and a half. Tickets: $6-10.
If you’ve really got a lot of time feel free to spend a day’s worth of energy at the Connecticut Science Center (250 Columbus Ave, Hartford. (860)-SCIENCE, (860-724-3623). Otherwise you can limit yourself to one or two points of interest and indulge your senses. All hands-on exhibits are engaging to the point of not knowing that you’re starting to know something. Also check out Imax and 3D movies. A café offers locally produced foods. Admission $14 – 22. (closed Mondays.)