20 Things To Do In New Haven

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New Haven in Connecticut is home to the world-renowned Ivy League Yale University. If you are in Connecticut and searching for a place that feels a tad more like England than America, check out this city. There’s a really young college vibe to this city, and it’s jam-packed full of cultural activities. New Haven is a vibrant and architecturally stunning coastal city on Long Island Sound. There are plenty of things to do in New Haven that will keep the whole family entertained.

If you’re keen on history and architecture, you will love marvelling at Yale University’s gothic buildings and museums. There are museums for children and several parks to get some fresh air. Although the prestigious Ivy League school is at the heart of life in New Haven, there are so many other beautiful vistas and things to do in the city. Check out these top 20 things to do in New Haven.

New Haven, Connecticut

20 Things To Do In New Haven Ct

1- Wander Around Yale University

things to do in new haven ct this weekend
Wandering around the historical buildings of Yale University campus is one of the top things to do in New Haven, CT.

You can’t go to New Haven without visiting Yale University.

The prestigious school was founded in 1701 and is the country’s third-oldest educational institution.

Despite being a private institution, you can still walk around the campus and grounds of Yale University.

Wander through the grounds, grab a coffee, and see where some of the brightest minds in the world study.

There are many impressive buildings on campus, such as the Sterling Memorial Library, Connecticut Hall, and the Sterling Law Building.

Be sure to look up Yale University’s football schedule, and maybe you’ll be in town for the Harvard versus Yale game, one of the most historic university sporting games in the country.

Just make sure you aren’t wearing crimson; you should be supporting the blue Yale Bulldogs.

Yale University is at 433 Temple Street, New Haven, CT 06511.

2- Shop At The Boulevard Flea Market

Who doesn’t love a good flea market? They’ve got everything you could need at the Boulevard Flea Market, so brush up on your haggling skills and get a couple of good bargains.

Whether you are looking for jewellery, clothing, shoes, or souvenirs, they’ve got it all.

There is also a myriad of food trucks lining the neighbouring streets for post-shopping delights to tuck into.

Boulevard Flea Market is at 500 Ella T Grasso Blvd, New Haven, CT 06519.

3- Visit The New Haven Museum

things to do in new haven at night
A vibrant city, you’ll find plenty of cool things to do in New Haven at night.

There are plenty of museums in New Haven to keep you well and truly entertained.

The New Haven Museum is a great place to learn about the history of this New England city.

There are a ton of larger and grander museums in New Haven, but this one is far more budget-friendly.

It’s a small museum but ideal if you are looking to while away an hour or so.

As well as permanent exhibitions, there are several rotational exhibits too.

Be sure to ask about the talks that they are hosting, which are highly informative and thought-provoking.

New Haven Museum is at 114 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06510.

4- Connecticut Children’s Museum

Are you looking for the perfect New Haven activity for kids?

Look no further than the Connecticut Children’s Museum, which is a children’s museum that is perfect for those aged between 3 and 9 years old, though other ages can visit too.

The museum is filled with interactive exhibits that will keep the children entertained for hours.

It’s also home to the second-largest planetarium in New England.

There are tons of picture books for kids to enjoy, and the space is inclusive for those with visual and hearing disabilities.

Watch as your kids are amazed by dial-up phone booths, play with books, and create their own plays, complete with props.

Yale University’s child development experts created the exhibits at this museum, so they are not only fun but stimulating too.

Connecticut Children’s Museum is at 950 Trout Brook Dr, West Hartford, CT 06119.

things to do new haven elm street
If you’re looking for things to do in New Haven, start by admiring the city’s historic architecture. Pictured here is Elm Street.

This is one of New Haven’s longest-running art galleries and is run by a collective of local artists.

Head to the Westville village, where you will find the Kehler Gallery as well as an assortment of other authentic shops and cosy restaurants.

There are a variety of artworks showcased throughout the year, as well as group exhibitions.

The gallery prides itself on displaying censorship-free work and encourages artistic self-expression.

Kehler Liddell Gallery is at 873 Whalley Ave, New Haven, CT 06515.

6- Watch A Performance At Shubert Theater

The Shubert Brothers were once big-time New York theatregoers who decided to branch out of their NYC theatre and open up the Shubert Theatre in New Haven.

The historic theatre opened in 1914 and it has hosted major productions such as Matilda and The Book of Mormon.

There have been more than 600 Broadway trial shows at the Shubert and 300 world premieres.

The Shubert Theater is bound to have something on the books that will tickle your fancy.

Shubert Theater is at 247 College St, New Haven, CT 06510.

things to do in new haven connecticut autumn leaves in yale
Yale university in autumn is a beautiful time of year to visit.

The Yale University Art Gallery is spread across multiple buildings within Yale University’s campus.

Wander through the art gallery and discover an array of genres and artistic eras.

The gallery is one of the city’s oldest, having first opened its doors to the public in 1832, and houses the works of impressive names, including Picasso, Lichtenstein, Rothko and Duchamp.

It’s home to an impressive collection of African sculptures and artifacts as well as art from the Mediterranean, which includes more than 13,000 pieces.

Yale University Art Gallery is at 1111 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510.

8- Relax In New Haven Green

things to do in downtown new haven a park in downtown New Haven, CT used for public events and bordered by Yale University.
Hanging out in New Haven Green is one of the things to do in New Haven to meet locals.

If you are looking for an outdoor space to relax and wander around, head to Church Street and visit New Haven Green.

This historic 16-acre (6.5 ha) park has three 19th-century churches, all architecturally pleasing to the eye.

If you’re visiting New Haven with friends, a relaxing thing to do is to head to the park for a picnic on the grass.

On the weekend, there are local events such as the New Haven Jazz Festival and the Festival of Arts and Ideas.

New Haven Green is at 250 Temple St, New Haven, CT 06511.

9- Learn About Natural History At The Peabody Museum

things to do with kids in new haven
Exploring museums is one of the top things to do in New Haven, Connecticut.

This science museum is a must-visit New Haven destination and is one of the oldest and largest natural history museums in the world.

One of the museum’s highlights is the Great Hall of Dinosaurs which includes ‘The Age of Reptiles’, while the museum’s permanent exhibitions include the local Native Americans of Connecticut exhibition.

There are also collections of Egyptian artifacts, minerals, and bird exhibits.

Peabody Museum is at 170 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06511.

10- Learn The Secrets Of The Knights of Columbus

Yet another New Haven museum, the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Centre, is dedicated to preserving objects associated with the Knights of Columbus Catholic organisation.

If you are interested in Catholicism, this is an interesting museum to spend some time.

Here, you can learn about the history and works of art displayed in many Catholic buildings worldwide.

Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Centre is at 1 State St, New Haven, CT 06511.

11- Go On A Food Tour

best things to do in new haven ct
Going on a food tour is one of the fun things to do in New Haven and a great way to make new friends.

New Haven is a student city, so there are plenty of options for eating and drinking.

New Haven offers a whole amalgamation of culinary tastes for you to enjoy.

Either take a guided food tour or plan a route and do it yourself.

Make sure you head to Little Italy for a slice of pizza or a dish or two of pasta and round off the evening by tasting some of New Haven’s best craft beers.

12- Explore The Yale Center for British Art

If you are an art lover, check out the Yale Center for British Art, where you will find the most extensive collection of British art outside of the U.K.

Paul Mellon, a Yale graduate from 1929, gifted his British art collection to the university; most of the items displayed today are from his collection.

Step inside and expect to find paintings by Hogarth, Reynolds, Constable, and Hepworth.

As well as a focus on British-based artists, there are paintings, drawings and sculptures of notable British historical figures.

Some of the works of prominent non-English artists include Canaletto, Holbein, and Rubens.

Yale Center for British Art is at 1080 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510.

13- Get Active On The I.T. Adventure Ropes Course

This is a seriously fun New Haven activity for kids, teens and adults too.

While at I.T., you’ll be up in the air jumping, climbing and whizzing down ziplines.

The course has more than 100 aerial challenges to hurl yourself across and if you’re worried about those height limits for the tiny tots, there’s a ‘Little It and Zip It’ course.

This super fun activity is a must-do for adrenaline junkies.

I.T. Adventure Ropes Course is at 40 Sargent Dr, New Haven, CT 06511.

14- Discover the Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments

yale university woolsey hall school of music dome against blue sky
Yale University’s Woolsey Hall School of Music dome.

Calling all music lovers!

The Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments is part of the Yale School of Music.

Unlike much of America, many of the museums and galleries in New Haven are relatively old.

This instrument collection dates back to 1900 and is owned by Morris Steinert.

Innumerable instruments are on display, including pianos, organs, harpsichords, clavichords, and an array of wind instruments.

What’s even better is that this is a free admission museum, perfect for those on a tight budget.

Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments is at 15 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06511.

15- Explore Lighthouse Point Park

things to do in new haven connecticut lighthouse on a blue-sky day
Exploring Lighthouse Point Park is one of the fun things to do for outdoorsy types.

Lighthouse Point Park is a great outdoor escape from the city right near the New Haven Harbor.

Covering 82 acres, at the park, you’ll find a lighthouse (of course) and a mixed sandy-rocky beach where you can enjoy lovely scenery overlooking Long Island Sound.

The lighthouse itself first opened in 1847.

The octagonal-shaped lighthouse is now on the National Register of Historic Places list.

While visiting the park, be sure to ride the park’s carousel, which dates back to 1911.

This historic carousel is one of less than 100 working carousels in the world.

So, you should definitely embrace its history and give it a ride.

Lighthouse Point Park is at 2 Lighthouse Rd, New Haven, CT 06512.

16- Listen To The New Haven Symphony Orchestra

things to do in new haven, ct Illustration of symphony orchestra
Watching an orchestra performance is one of the things to do in New Haven CT.

Morris Steinert founded the New Haven Symphony Orchestra in the 19th century, and Woolsey Hall at Yale University is now the orchestra’s permanent home.

They have an excellent children’s orchestra program, which has been around since 1933.

Check out their concert schedule and go to one of their classic orchestral performances.

New Haven Symphony Orchestra is at 4 Hamilton St, New Haven, CT 06511.

17- Eat Good Food In Little Italy

things to do in new haven, ct, italian food
Eating in Little Italy is a fun thing to do in New Haven.

If you are craving Italian food and good wine, head to Little Italy, where you will find excellent nosh.

Pasta, pizza, bruschetta or ravioli, the streets of Little Italy are positively oozing with the indulgent smells of authentic Italian cooking.

For the most popular spots in town, check out any of the restaurants with a line of eager patrons waiting to get in.

After all, a long line is always a good reflection of culinary perfection.

After a day of exploring New Haven, you’ll be in desperate need of a hearty meal to round off the day.

New Haven’s Little Italy is based around Wooster Street.

18- Admire Art At Ely Center of Contemporary Art

Right near Yale University campus, you’ll find the Ely Center of Contemporary Art.

This art centre opened in 1901 and was constructed in the English Elizabethan style.

The former Yale School of Medicine chair John Ely and his wife lived in the property.

After Ely’s wife died in 1959, the houses were donated for use as an art centre in their honour.

Ely Center of Contemporary Art is at 51 Trumbull St, New Haven, CT 06510.

19- Look For Rare Books At Beinecke

Head to Yale University to the Hewitt Quadrangle, and you’ll find the ultramodern Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

This is one of the world’s largest, rare book libraries.

Inside, you can find rare books that include the Gutenberg Bible.

Other works include originals by Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, and Goethe, to name a few.

If you are a literary lover or studying English, you will be blown away by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Inside there is literary work from 1700 Japan and Korea, as well as original newspapers from the Civil War era.

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is at 121 Wall St, New Haven, CT 06511.

20- East Rock Park

things to do in new haven this weekend autumn trees among the rooftops
Hiking to the top of East Rock Park is one of the things to do in New Haven for the best views of the downtown.

East Rock Park, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, covers 427 acres (172 ha) and is a great place to escape the bustle of the city.

East Rock Park sits on a 200 million-year-old rock ridge, which stretches 1.4 miles (2.25 km) and stands 367 ft (112 m) tall.

A hike to the top of the rocky bluff takes around 45 minutes and is of moderate difficulty.

Head up the winding paved road path or the more rugged and steeper trail.

For a top spot to catch the sunset in New Haven, make sure you get to East Rock Park in time to hike up, and if you are into running, this is a perfect spot to exercise.

Run up one side of the bluff and down the other and back up again; it will surely get your blood pumping.

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!