Historical buildings and Yale university campus in downtown New Haven

Things to do in  New Haven

More than a university town

Once synonymous with Yale University, New Haven has outgrown its Ivy League origins to become a destination in its own right. Outside the neo-Gothic campus, you’ll find a bustling downtown filled with boutiques and first-rate restaurants, a historic city green, museums and theaters that give New York City a run for its money, and an emerging cultural scene that spotlights local BIPOC talent. With so many things to do in New Haven, you don’t need to be an academic to enjoy all that the city has to offer. Now, what was that about an ivory tower?

Top 1 attractions in New Haven

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Recognized as one of the oldest (and largest) natural history museums in the world, theYale Peabody Museum of Natural History is home to an impressive collection of dinosaurs, as well as permanent exhibits that showcase human evolution, Egyptian history, Native American artwork and a wide array of birds and mammals. Several labs and learning stations are connected to the building, which has been at its current location since 1925.Visitors say the vast museum is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon, or enjoy a hands-on learning experience with kids. And while the paleontology halls are truly remarkable, travelers agree the Mayan exhibits and life-size dioramas are pretty spectacular as well.Please note: The museum closed for renovations in June 2020. Construction is expected to last for three years.More

All about New Haven

When to visit

New Haven is easily a year-round destination, but you’ll want to avoid graduation and reunion weekends unless you’re visiting for that very reason. (If this is you, be sure to book your accommodation as early as possible, as hotels get booked months in advance.) Summer is quieter with Yalies away, and the short ride to local beaches and seafood shacks make the season even more enticing. You’d do well to avoid the winter unless you’re used to snow—black ice can make even navigating the sidewalks an exercise in peril.

Getting around

New Haven has its own train station, with direct Amtrak links to New York City and Boston. It’s also connected to Grand Central Terminal via the Metro North commuter line, making it an easy and affordable day trip from the Big Apple. For getting around New Haven, downtown is about a 15-minute walk from the station or a quick city bus ride away. If you have your own transportation, then coming either north or south along I-95 is a piece of cake, although expect a hair-raising turn-off.

Traveler tips

Head on over to Wooster Square—New Haven’s very own Little Italy—for a chance to experience one of the city’s most vibrant and historic immigrant communities. And what better way through food? You’ll find shaved ice joints to cool off during the summer months, but the standout here is pizza, known locally as apizza. Order up a fresh and gooey white clam pizza from Pepe’s for the full “only in New Haven” experience—you’ll quickly understand why this iconic pie shop has been an institution for over a century.

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People Also Ask

Is New Haven worth a visit?

Yes, New Haven is worth visiting. While many people who visit New Haven are affiliated with Yale University, the town has long since stepped out from the shadow of its famous employer—particularly for art lovers. In addition to world-class Yale-affiliated museums (Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art), you’ll find plenty of local galleries showcasing local talent.

What is New Haven known for?

The Yale School of Drama boasts a litany of famous alumni—from Meryl Streep and Lupita Nyong’o to Frances McDormand and Paul Giamatti—and New Haven remains an excellent place to see Broadway-quality performances at a fraction of the price. Check out upcoming shows at the Yale Repertory Theatre, the Shubert, and the Long Wharf.

Is New Haven a walkable city?

Yes, New Haven is walkable. The city is compact and can be easily navigated on foot. That said, you’ll want to opt for a rideshare and exercise basic caution when out at night, as thefts and muggings have been known to occur, especially outside of the downtown area.

Does New Haven have a beach?

Yes and no. While the city itself isn’t located on the water, and you won’t get much of a beach feel while in New Haven (no seagulls here), the Greater New Haven area has plenty of coastline. If you’d like to hit the waves, just head on over to East Haven, West Haven, or the nearby town of Milford.

Does New Haven have good nightlife?

Yes, New Haven has good nightlife. Yale University has around 15,000 students enrolled in any given year, and with that many young people in town, you can imagine that the weekends can get pretty buzzy. Don’t expect much in the way of ritzy clubs, but you’ll find plenty of bars and pubs, plus an old-school concert venue—Toad’s Place—and even a cigar lounge (The Owl Shop).

How do I spend a day in New Haven?

Start with a visit to a museum; depending on your interests, you can either check out the Yale Peabody Museum for its botany and anthropology collections (plus dinosaur bones) or the Yale Center for British Art to see an impressive display of UK art. Save time for a meal at a historic restaurant (Louis’ Lunch is one standout, although not veggie-friendly), then wind down the night at the theater or the delightfully offbeat Yale Cabaret.

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