From its origins as a Connecticut River trading post in 1633, Hartford has become not only the state capital but also the insurance capital of the world, with a slew of historical attractions, a thriving arts and entertainment center, a revitalized riverfront and beautiful parks and public gardens. It was here that the lovable Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were born in the imagination of celebrated author Mark Twain and immortalized on paper during the writer's Hartford years. Twain's home and those of fellow literary figures Harriet Beecher Stowe and Noah Webster are open to the public. The Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public art museum in the U.S., houses Pilgrim-Century furniture, the Amistad collection and a special treasure hunt system to entice kids to explore the museum's works. If your timing is right (end of June, beginning of July), you'll catch the Elizabeth Park rose gardens in bloom, but fall is also great for brilliant leaf colors, and spring yields colorful gardens and blossoming trees. For a bird's-eye view of the city, visit the observation deck of Travelers Tower, where you might also spot two resident falcons.