Samuel Langhorne Clemens—the writer who become known to the world as Mark Twain—is more often associated with the wide, muddy flow of the Mississippi River than with the relatively sedate surroundings of urban Connecticut . But many of his masterpieces, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, were penned in the Victorian Gothic Mark Twain House & Museum (351 Farmington Ave., 860/247-0998, www.marktwainhouse.org , 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5:30 p.m. Sun., closed Tue. Jan.–Mar., $14 adults 17–64, $12 seniors, $8 children 6–16, free children under 6) just outside of downtown Hartford .
Twain lived here for 16 years, between 1874 and 1891, at a time when he was achieving fame as a master—and as some would later say, the creator—of American literature. (Among those who credit Twain with being the first real American author are Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner.) While he was here, he formed the nucleus of a literary group that included Harriet Beecher Stowe  (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), Booker T. Washington, and other giants of the Gilded Age.
Twain’s home has now been opened as a fine literary museum. Inside, docents give tours of the house, including the billiards room where Twain did most of his writing; the elaborate Middle Eastern–inspired decor by Louis Comfort Tiffany; and Twain’s telephone, one of the first installed in a private residence. In 2003, a modern museum containing exhibits that tell of Twain’s life and career was attached to the residence.