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Sometimes simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to keeping toddlers engaged. There are days when I will do all sorts of planning for one of our daily outings and it totally flops. Then there are days when something as simple as a trip to the grocery store turns out to be fun (well, especially if it is a trip to Stew Leonard’s!)
So, when last Friday afternoon rolled around and I didn’t know what exactly to do with the kids, I threw out a random idea to my husband (who fortunately was home and could help me with this adventure). I suggested, “Let’s take the kids on a city bus to downtown Hartford”.
Now, this isn’t a totally radical plan. I have several neighbors and friends who take the bus on a daily basis from West Hartford to downtown. My kids actually see these same people get on and off the bus each day and find it totally entertaining. As Bruiser likes to say, “Mama, yo bus” (apparently everything starts with “yo” these days. Where exactly he learned that, I’m not quite sure. But I like it.)
So I got my husband on board and we got ready for our trip while the kids were taking their afternoon naps.
The first thing we had to figure out was the bus schedule.
We started at the CT Transit website and looked up the route we were familiar with, Route 72. This route actually has two branches: 72A runs from Bloomfield (the CIGNA/MetLife buildings) to downtown Hartford and 72F runs from West Hartford (Fern Street) to downtown Hartford.
We took a look at the times for the 72F route from West Hartford to Hartford and found an estimated time when it would be at the stop we wanted to take. The bus stops run all along Fern Street in West Hartford and you can identify the designated stopping area when you see this sign:
If you don’t live within walking distance of Fern Street (or one of the other streets on the route), then a good place to drive to and park is Fernridge Park. There is a stop right by the park.
Ok. So we found the bus stop, figured out what time we need to be there, and made sure we were going to be on the side of the street heading into Hartford (Hey. I’m a newbie on CT Transit, so we are starting with the basics 🙂
My husband and I got the crew packed up and out the door and we headed to our selected spot.
Bruiser and Sparkles weren’t quite sure what to expect.
Then I told them the bus was coming and we were going to get on it. They were a bit excited.
The bus arrived and we got on board.
Payment is cash only (or a pre-purchased monthly ride or multi-ride pass). Dollar bills and coins are fine, just make sure you bring exact change or be ok with not getting any change. Adults are $1.30 per ride, youth are a discounted rate and kids ages 4 and under are FREE. Fare information can be found here.
Just feed your dollar bills and coins into the little machine and you are good to go.
Another important thing to note is that there are typically schedule changes on holidays. This route is basically a route for people working in Hartford during the week. It doesn’t run on the weekends and it changes during the holidays. Just make sure you double-check the site for any schedule questions.
So we paid and were getting situated on the bus. While I was busy taking pictures and getting myself and Sweetheart situated (she was riding in an ergo), the twins wasted no time finding a seat for themselves.
Did I mention they were excited?
So, we were settled and headed into town.
The bus was empty when we got on, but slowly started to fill up. If you go and want to avoid the busy times, don’t go during rush hour.
We had no plans for our time in downtown Hartford. It was a beautiful day and we were just going to walk around and explore.
We did have to make an immediate first stop for a bathroom break before we started our exploring, though. I wasn’t quite sure where to go, but I spotted State House Square and knew there had to be public restrooms in the food court area. Well, we found out that there are public restrooms there, but they close after lunch time. Yikes! We continued to wander around and then noticed that there is a brand new Panera Bread right around the corner. It was open and, of course, had restrooms available. Perfect! (also would have been a great kid-friendly spot to grab a bite to eat if needed).
If we had time, there would have been plenty of things to explore in downtown Hartford. Maybe a short walk to Bushnell Park for a ride on the carousel or to play on the playground. A visit to the Science Center or even a walk through the Wadsworth Atheneum.
We were on a time crunch, though, so we just did a little exploring.
After our brief tour, it was time to hop back on the bus.
For the trip home, we picked up the bus in front of the Travelers building on Main Street (right across the street from where we were dropped off). They are currently doing a lot of construction on the Travelers building, so we waited under the scaffolding for the bus to arrive.
The 72F bus arrived and we made our way on board, paid our fare and found a seat. The ride back was a bit more crowded because it was at 5:15, but really wasn’t too bad.
Sparkles got to ride with our tour guide.
We got off the bus and waited on the sidewalk until it went by, then we headed home.
We were done. Our surprisingly successful simple adventure was complete!
Now onto the next transportation excursion, a visit to the Essex Steam train in a few weeks. (Want to win tickets to join us? Enter our giveaway now.)
What simple summer adventures are you planning? Tell us in the comments section below.
City of Hartford Bus Trip
Route 72F – West Hartford to Downtown Hartford (or any route in your area)
Hours & Admission:
Weekdays between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm
Adults: $1.30; Youth: $1.05; Children Under Age 4 are FREE
Fare details can be found here.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- Look for the bus stop signage along Fern Street to find your preferred bus stop. A great place to start is the bus stop in front of Fernridge Park (parking available).
- Make sure you have exact change (or are ok with not getting any change back).
- Make sure to check the route schedule and be aware of days when the route is not running or following a different schedule (weekends and holidays).
- Strollers can be brought onto the bus, but I would suggest bringing one that is easily collapsible.
- Babies can be carried in a baby carrier (e.g. and Ergo or Bjorn)
- When your stop is approaching, pull the yellow cord to signal the driver to stop.
- Maybe prep your little one for the outing by reading books about buses or pointing out passing buses during your daily travels.
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