New Haven, Connecticut is known as the “Elm City,” and it’s easy to see why. New Haven has all the charm of an old-world town, with plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops to explore. While you’re here, check out some of these fun things to do in New Haven:
1. Yale University Art Gallery
Yale University Art Gallery is a museum in New Haven, Connecticut, that houses a significant and internationally renowned collection of art in its permanent holdings.
The Yale University Art Gallery was founded in 1832 as part of the Yale School of the Fine Arts under the name of “The American Gallery.” It was renamed to what it is today after receiving financial support from John William Sterling (1806-1844), son of Christopher George Caton (1778-1854) who was a very successful banker from Philadelphia. It opened its doors to the public on November 22nd, 1832 with 9 paintings by European artists such as Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Salvatore Rosa.
2. Yale University
Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut, and is the third oldest institution of higher education in the United States. It was founded in 1701 as a Collegiate School, making it one of the ten oldest universities in North America.
Yale has a student body of about 20,000 students and is made up of 13 academic divisions: Architecture; Art; Biomedical Engineering; Drama; English Language and Literature; Forestry & Environmental Studies (chair); Geology & Geophysics (chair); History; Music & Dance Center for Advanced Training (Dance Division); Musicology (chair); Natural Resources Management & Policy Center (NRMP) at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (NRMP-Yale SFFES) Public Health Nutrition Program at Yale School of Medicine; Philosophy Philosophy Dept.; Physics Physics Dept.; Political Science Dept.; Psychology Psychology-Neuroscience Group Brain Research Center; Theology
3. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
If you’re looking for something educational and fun to do in New Haven, check out the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The world’s largest collection of rare books and manuscripts is housed in this special library, which was designed by Gordon Bunshaft (the architect who also designed buildings like Lever House in NYC). The building itself is an architectural masterpiece—and the inside is just as spectacular.
The Gutenberg Bible is one of the most well-known items in their collection, along with Bibles from 16th-century Europe and medieval manuscripts written on parchment. They also have a gallery that displays some of their most famous items so you can get a closer look before visiting yourself!
The Beinecke Library has a café on-site as well as a gift shop where you can purchase unique gifts for yourself or friends back home (or even pick up some snacks for your road trip). And if you’re looking for more things to do with kids while visiting New Haven, check out our list below:
4. Yale Center for British Art
The Yale Center for British Art is located at 1080 Chapel Street in New Haven, Connecticut.
It is a museum that exhibits works by British artists, including paintings and sculptures.
The collection covers over 400 years of British art history and includes many famous pieces such as Van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait” (1889), Turner’s “The Shipwreck” (1798), and Stubbs’ Bartholomew Fair (1824).
Admission to the museum is free! You can either pay with cash or a credit card at the front desk when you arrive. There are also free tours available throughout most weekdays; check their website for tour times/dates before your visit so that you can make sure to be there when they run one during your stay.
5. Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
You’ll find the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History on Whitney Avenue, just a little west of downtown New Haven.
The museum offers three floors and more than 2,000 specimens from around the world. The exhibits include a fossil collection, an aquarium, live animals including birds and reptiles as well as mammals like bats to play with! And don’t miss the Dino Den where you can touch life-sized dinosaur bones or try to spot one in our hidden dino egg hunt!
There are also changing special exhibitions showcasing natural science subjects that change throughout the year—you might see sea turtles caught in fishing nets or explore how dinosaurs were discovered in China!
6. East Rock Park
- East Rock Park is a park in New Haven, Connecticut. It is located on an outcropping of gneiss and schist that towers above the city and is known for its unusual rock formations. The views from the top are fantastic, so it’s not surprising that it’s a popular place to go hiking or running.
- If you’re looking for something more low-key than East Rock but still want to enjoy some nature close by, head over to Hammonasset Beach State Park on Long Island Sound. This area has over 20 miles of beaches as well as bike trails along with plenty of wildlife (including bald eagles).
7. Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center
The Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center is a place of pilgrimage for many Roman Catholics, as it’s the site of the first recorded miracle in the United States. On January 5, 1878, a local newspaper reported that an elderly woman had been cured of cancer during her visit to the shrine. The miracle was investigated by John Cardinal Farley, who concluded that there was no medical explanation for this cure and ordered it to be recognized as such. Today, visitors to the shrine can see exhibits telling this story and taking them through Catholic history from early times up until today! This historic site is open daily from 9 am-4 pm
8. Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park
You’ll also want to check out the carousel at Lighthouse Point Park. A merry-go-round is a classic form of entertainment dating back to the 1800s, and it’s still just as fun today. The carousel features 48 hand-carved horses and two chariots, along with three jumping horses for little kids. You can ride for just a few dollars, or pick up an unlimited ride pass for 11 dollars.
The park itself is a beautiful place to spend some time outdoors, especially if you want a break from all the museums in New Haven! Lighthouse Point is right on Long Island Sound, so you can enjoy panoramic views of salt marshes while strolling around or challenging your friends (and yourself) on one of those jumping horses I mentioned earlier!
9. Long Wharf Theatre
Located in the Long Wharf Theatre Building, this theatre was built in 1920 and has 549 seats. As you would expect, it hosts musicals, plays, and comedy shows year-round.
10. Grove Street Cemetery
The cemetery is located at Grove St., off Elm St.
It was established in 1849 as a non-denominational burial ground for the city of New Haven. It was originally named “The Rural Cemetery” because it was situated away from the industrial center of town.
Notable people buried there include Samuel Hoadley (1673–1751), the seventh governor of Connecticut; Jonathan Edwards (1745–1801), a famous preacher who served as minister at Church Street Church for more than two decades; and John Cargill (1767–1843), an abolitionist and member of Yale’s class of 1887 who went on to serve in Congress from 1833 to 1839.
11. Shubert Theater
Shubert Theater is a historic theater in New Haven, Connecticut. Built-in 1880 by William Harris and John Torrey, Shubert Theater is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theater in the United States. It has been home to countless performances including many Broadway shows, off-Broadway plays, dance recitals, and lectures. In addition to being used as a playhouse for live events, it has also been used for political rallies and community meetings.
The building was originally constructed as a downtown opera house with seven private boxes on each side of the auditorium that could be rented out by wealthy patrons during performances so they wouldn’t have to sit with everyone else but still get an excellent view of what was happening on stage at all times without having anyone blocking their view since they would be sitting above everyone else! But today there are only two private boxes left which are now used mainly for special occasions like weddings receptions or corporate events where people pay thousands upon thousands each year just so they don’t have any neighbors sitting next to them either listening in on what might otherwise be considered confidential discussions such as business deals between executives etc…
12. Edgerton Park
Location: Edgerton Park is located on the west bank of the West River, and is a short walk from downtown New Haven.
Amenities: The park has a playground, boat launch, fishing pier, basketball courts, and picnic tables in addition to an interesting history.
History: Henry Seymour Edgerton was mayor of New Haven from 1911-1916. He donated his estate to the city upon his death in 1917 as a gift to be used as a park named after him. Be sure to check out the plaque that honors him!
13. Chapel Street
Chapel Street is a historic shopping destination and one of the coolest places to explore in New Haven. It’s home to many restaurants, bars, and cafes, making it perfect for a casual (or not-so-casual) stroll. You can grab a coffee or ice cream at one place before hopping over to grab lunch or dinner at another restaurant.
If you’re looking for more than just food on your trip, check out Scroll & Key (a secret society founded by Yale University students) where you can learn about the history behind this city’s most prominent buildings while also getting an up-close look at some of its most amazing architecture. If you love history as much as I do, then this museum will be worth checking out!
14. Little Italy
New Haven’s Little Italy is a great place to go for a walk, grab a bite to eat, and shop for gifts. The neighborhood hosts several shops that sell Italian food, wine, olive oil, and other items. The best part about this area is that it’s not just for tourists; it’s also frequented by residents who want authentic Italian cuisine. There are plenty of places to enjoy your meal as well, including outdoor seating at restaurants right on the sidewalk or inside at one of the many family-owned eateries that line Grand Avenue. You can bring your dog along with you (no cats) to enjoy this unique dining experience!
15. College Street Music Hall
College Street Music Hall is a performance venue in New Haven, Connecticut. Built-in 1890, it was the first music hall to open in New England and remains the oldest continuously operating music hall in America.
The venue has been hosting shows for over 125 years, so it’s no wonder that many of today’s artists have graced its stage (including James Taylor and Norah Jones). The building itself is also worth taking a look at—from the intricate wooden carvings on its exterior to its ornate chandeliers inside.
16. Yale Repertory Theatre
You can see everything from Shakespeare and musicals to contemporary shows at Yale Repertory Theatre. The main stage is an intimate venue that seats 100, while the black box theatre seats 90.
Theatre professionals have a home here too: Yale School of Drama students get to try out their new works in front of an audience on both stages.
You may also recognize some faces—if you’re a fan of “House” (Fox TV), they filmed several episodes here!
17. New Haven Railroad Station
Located in the heart of downtown, this historic building and its surroundings are a great place to explore. You’ll find several restaurants and bars nearby, so it’s a great spot to meet friends or family. There are also plenty of old buildings and statues that make for great pictures.
18. New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum is located in the historic Colt Armory, which was built in 1855 and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1974. The museum has over 1,000 objects related to the history of New Haven, including archaeological finds from the Native Americans who lived there centuries before Europeans arrived. Exhibits include one on historic architecture and another on famous artists who have lived or worked in this city. The museum’s permanent collection includes an impressive array of photography by local photographer Ted Cronin. The museum also hosts special exhibits throughout the year that are always free for visitors!
19. Five Mile Point Light
The lighthouse is located at the southern tip of New Haven and is still active today, so if you’re lucky enough to visit during the summer months, you can climb up inside it with a guide from the Coast Guard. It’s one of the oldest lighthouses in Connecticut; it was built in 1821 and has been guiding ships since then.
20. St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Church is one of the oldest churches in Connecticut, founded in 1641. The church is located on New Haven Green and was built by Thomas Hastings in 1793. The church was designed with a white-clapboarded exterior that was meant to be reminiscent of colonial times, but it also features some very modern touches like stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany. St. Mary’s Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it has been an important part of New Haven’s history for centuries; if you’re visiting New Haven, make sure you stop by this historic building!
21. Connecticut Children’s Museum
- Location: 100 James St, New Haven, CT 06511
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm
- Cost: $10 per person. The museum is free for kids under 1 and there are discounts for military families. They also have a membership program where you can get a free year of admission (worth it if you are going more than once) and discounts on classes!
- Age restrictions: none — but they recommend no younger than 2 yrs old. There is an infant area with toys that can entertain your little one while you enjoy the rest of the museum!
- Special exhibits include “The Bizarre and Wonderful World of Insects” which runs till January 14th, 2019…so don’t wait too long to check it out!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of fun things to do in New Haven. If you want to explore more of what the city has to offer, I recommend renting a car. There are plenty of museums and places of interest for tourists who want to learn about its history or culture. You can also visit some great restaurants and bars, shop at local boutiques, or stroll around town with your family on foot or bicycles.
I hope you enjoyed this list of fun things to do in New Haven, Connecticut. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know in the comments.