New Haven, CT is home to beautiful parks, excellent museums, unique attractions and a diverse choice of restaurants. Visit the Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the New Haven Museum.
Best things to do in New Haven, Connecticut with kids include the Connecticut Children's Museum and the Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park.
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1. Yale University Art Gallery
© Yale University Art Gallery
Located on Chapel Street, the Yale University Art Gallery is an art museum housed in several buildings on the campus of Yale University in New Haven. The museum’s collection spans all periods and cultures, but is especially strong in its works of African sculptures, American decorative and fine arts, Italian paintings, and modern art.
Founded in 1832, it is the oldest university art museum in the western hemisphere and one of the top New Haven attractions. The museum displays works by well-known artists such as Degas, Duchamp, Lichtenstein, Miro, Mondrian, Picasso, Rothko, and many more. Special programs are available for university students, schools in the area, and the general public.
Yale University, 1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-432-0600
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2.New Haven Green
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Located on Church Street, the New Haven Green is a historic park in downtown New Haven. Consisting of 16 acres, it is a privately owned park that originally served as the central square of a nine-square settlement plan designed by John Brockett, one of the original Puritan colonists. Today, the park is bordered by Chapel, Church, College, and Elm Streets, and divided by Temple Street into the northwest half and the southeast half.
If you are wondering what to do in New Haven CT with kids, this is a great place to explore. The park, along with three architecturally important 19th century churches, was designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark District. There are many events that take place in the park such as the Festival of Arts and Ideas and the New Haven Jazz Festival.
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3.Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
© Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is housed in Yale University’s Hewitt Quadrangle on Wall Street, and it is the literary archive and rare book library of the Yale University Library. Built in 1963, the library was a gift to the university from the Beinecke family. Interestingly, the library is one of the world’s largest buildings dedicated exclusively to rare books and manuscripts.
The library has some of its most prized possessions on display, including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Some of the library’s other collections include works by James M. Barrie, Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Goethe, and many more. The library also presents temporary exhibits of books from its collection.
Yale University, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-432-2977
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4. Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
© Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is a science museum located on Whitney Avenue at Yale University. Founded in 1866 by philanthropist George Peabody, it is one of the world’s oldest and largest natural history museums. The museum’s Great Hall of Dinosaurs is well known and includes The Age of Reptiles, a 110-foot (34 meter) long mural, as well as a mounted Brontosaurus.
The permanent exhibits contain birds, minerals, and artifacts of the Native Americans of Connecticut, Egyptian artifacts, wildlife dioramas, and much more. The museum’s collection of fossils is one of the largest and most important in the U.S.
170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-432-5050
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5. Taste of New Haven
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Taste of New Haven is a walking food tour based in New Haven. Knowledgeable tour guides lead the tours and teach visitors about the culture and history of the city during the walks. The company offers several kinds of tours such as the “On 9 Tour,” which focuses on eateries around the Ninth Square in downtown New Haven.
The tour begins at the Elm City Market and continues to Tikkaway Grill, Skappo Italian Restaurant, Skappo Merkato, Thali Restaurant, and finally Fornarelli’s Ristorante. Other tours include “Apizza Feast” and “Ride, Taste and Stay Package” as well as several Chef’s Cooking Classes like “Bun Lai of Miya’s Sushi.” Phone: 203-807-8284
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6.East Rock Park, New Haven, Connecticut
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Located on Cold Spring Street in Hamden, East Rock Park is a city park operated by the city of New Haven. Consisting of 427 acres, the park is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The park is named for East Rock, a mountain ridge located within the boundaries of the park.
From higher elevations in the park, visitors can take advantage of excellent views of New Haven, Long Island, and Long Island Sound. Developed as a natural landscape, the park is a popular place for bicycling, bird watching, dog walking, hiking, and picnicking in the warm summer months and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter.
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© Goodfellas Restaurant
Whether you want to meet some celebrities or you want to be treated like one, having dinner at Goodfellas is an excellent choice. This upscale, elegant Italian restaurant greets every guest like a long lost relative, and the spacious, comfortable furniture and simple old-fashioned décor only add to the feeling that you are in the scene of the Sopranos or even the Godfather. Which, by the way, typically play silently on one of many flat screens around the room.
Chef/owner Gennaro "Gerry" Iannaccone prepares cuisine that is Italian at its very best, with a nod to our modern tastes – everything is sourced locally, and ingredients are often organic and seasonal. The flavors are exquisite, and the dishes are traditional, generous in portion, and made to perfection. Goodfellas also has an incredible wine list.
702 State Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-785-8722
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8.Things to Do in New Haven: Yale Collection of Musical Instruments
© Yale Collection of Musical Instruments
Located on Hillhouse Avenue, the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments displays a large collection of musical instruments. A part of the Yale School of Music, the museum was founded in 1900 with a gift of historic instruments owned by Morris Steinert. Later collections from Belle Skinner and Emil Herrmann enlarged the museum’s holdings in 1960 and 1962, respectively.
The museum’s collection is housed in a historic Romanesque building constructed in 1895. The permanent collection features important keyboard instruments such as clavichords, harpsichords, pianos, and organs, as well as historic wind instruments. The museum hosts a concert series where performers often use instruments from the collection. Admission is free.
15 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-432-0822
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9. Olea, New Haven, Connecticut
Olea is a downtown Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant, superbly decorated in earthy colors with very modern details; everything is elegant and in good taste. The cuisine is Chef Manuel Romero’s modern version of Spanish favorites made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. He lets the basic components of his dishes speak for themselves without relying too heavily on spices.
If you are looking for romantic date ideas in New Haven, Connecticut, this is a great place to try. The presentation is superb, and the portions are adequate but not miniscule. You might want to try the Vieiras - grilled sea scallops served with Israeli coconut couscous, mango and passion fruit purée, edamame, parsley and grape tomatoes infused with balsamic vinegar. Desserts at Olea are an absolute must, while the wine list has some excellent Spanish as well as New World choices.
39 High Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-780-8925
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10.New Haven Museum
© New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum and Historical Society has a mission is to preserve and present the history of the local area. Founded in 1862, it was originally known as the New Haven Colony Historical Society. The museum’s collection includes art, artifacts, furniture, photography, and other historic objects that cover New Haven history from the first settlement up to the present.
Its exhibits focus on local features like East Rock, Winchester, and Yale and on historic people such as Benedict Arnold, Noah Webster, Eli Whitney, and many more. The museum is housed in a 1929 Colonial revival style building.
114 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-562-4183
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11.Union League Cafe
© Union League Cafe
Located in the beautiful Beaux-Arts Sherman Building in downtown New Haven, Union League Café is a piece of Paris brought to Connecticut. Arched windows, luxurious dark wood, stained glass, and the marble fireplace along one wall are features reminiscent of an upscale Parisian brasserie. Owner/Executive Chef Jean Pierre Vuillermet continues to transport us to France with his cuisine gastronomique with modern touches – it is French traditional cuisine with local ingredients that are fresh, seasonal, and often organic.
The various components complement one another superbly, and the flavors, textures, and colors make for a memorable gastronomic experience. You might want to indulge in the Duck Leg Confit with potato galette, served with salad of Granny Smith apple, walnuts, and watercress salad. The wine list is extensive and includes some well-chosen and affordable French and New World wines.
1032 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-562-4299
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12. Tikkaway Grill
© Tikkaway Grill
Tikkaway Grill has a goal of demystifying Indian food for those who are reluctant to try new things. You get a basic starter – a roti wrap, salad bowl, or rice bowl – and add one or two fillings, such as chicken, lamb, chickpeas, potatoes, or cheese, along with many veggies. Finally, choose a warm sauce for your dish. The counter service is efficient and also very helpful in explaining what everything is. You certainly will not end up with something you might not like or something too spicy.
The ingredients are a healthy version of traditional Indian ingredients and include vegan, gluten-free, and halal options. Tikkaway Grill is particularly popular with the student crowd, and it is quite busy most of the time. If you want something to drink, don’t miss their mango lasi, which will complete your Indian introduction. The restaurant now has another branch on 2 Howe St.
135 Orange Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-562-1299
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13.Roia Restaurant, New Haven, Connecticut
As you enter Roia, located at the lovingly restored and historic Taft Hotel, you will be transported to more elegant times at the beginning of the 20th century when the hotel was built. Magnificent pillars, original white oak paneling, and white marble floors with modern details make for grand setting in a refined and very charming restaurant. Young, talented Colombian Chef Avi Szapiro creates a fusion of French and Italian cuisines that blend together seamlessly, just like the river Roia that meanders between the two countries.
Traditional French and Italian dishes are artfully combined with seasonal, fresh produce from the farms around New Haven. The results are spectacular. You might want to try Papardelle, which is wide ribbon pasta, with Duck Ragu, caramelized onions, and egg yolk cured with garlic and juniper and drenched in duck jus. Roia makes all their pasta in-house.
261 College Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-200-7045
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14.Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napolitana
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Frank Pepe Pizzeria’s pizza has been voted the best pizza in the country many times. It is thin, charred, all puffy from the extreme heat in the bread oven it came from, chewy and melting in your mouth. The toppings range from freshly chopped tomatoes and mozzarella to white clams, with or without bacon, and everything in between. What started in 1925 in a small spot in New Heaven, Connecticut, where Italian immigrant Frank Pepe made his first brick oven and baked his first “tomato pie,” is now part of the history of pizza in the States. Once an obscure ethnic dish, pizza is now, very much thanks to Papa Frank, considered as American as apple pie. There are seven Pepe’s locations operated by Pepe’s 10 great-grandchildren, who still use original recipes to make their coal-fired pizza.
157 Wooster St, New Haven, CT 06511, Phone: 203-865-5762
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15.Kehler Liddell Gallery
© Kehler Liddell Gallery
Kehler Liddell Gallery is one of New Haven's longest-operating retail art galleries, originally founded in 2003 by a collective of local artists. The member-operated gallery is located within the heart of beautiful Westville village, within the charming shops and restaurants of the Whalley Avenue district. Works by local contemporary artists are showcased throughout the year, presenting cultural perspectives that are meant to critically engage visitors and enrich the region's aesthetics. Solo and group exhibitions by artists such as Liz Antle-O'Donnell, Edith Borax-Morrison, Amy Browning, and Robert Bienstock are presented throughout the year. Monthly programming includes exhibition openings, art discussions, workshops, and family art story hour events.
873 Whalley Ave, New Haven, CT 06515, Phone: 203-389-9555
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16.Ely Center of Contemporary Art
© Ely Center of Contemporary Art
The John Slade Ely House is an historic house located near the Yale University campus, originally constructed in the English Elizabethan style in 1901 as a residence for Yale School of Medicine chair John Slade Ely and his wife Grace Taylor Ely. Following Grace's death in 1959, the house was donated to the community as an arts center, overseen by the Friends of John Slade Ely House of Contemporary Art. Throughout its tenure, the Ely Center of Contemporary Art has served as an important launching pad and nurturing ground for area artists. Solo and group exhibitions are presented throughout the year, featuring works by artists such as Laura Barr, Marion Belanger, Lys Guillorn, and Allie Hornak.
51 Trumbull St, New Haven, CT 06510, Phone: 203-624-8055
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17.116 Crown, New Haven, CT
© 116 Crown
116 Crown is a hip, sophisticated urban bar and restaurant in Ninth Square that perhaps resembles an art gallery more than an eatery, from the magnificent back-lit onyx bar to the little nooks in the brick wall and leather tiles on another. Even the patrons look as though they have come for a gallery opening. They are urban, well-dressed students and professionals out for a fancy cocktail or for a bite to eat before going to the theatre.
The food corresponds perfectly to their celebrated and imaginative cocktails, and Chef Will Talamelli plays with fresh seasonal ingredients to produce modern flavorful bites, both little and not so little. Try the Bacon Wrapped Pumpkin – the bacon is apple wood-smoked and glazed with chipotle and honey.
116 Crown St, New Haven, CT, Phone: 203-777-3116
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18.Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park
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The Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park, located on Lighthouse Road in the East Shore area of New Haven, is a carousel ride that dates from the 1920s. The carousel building was constructed in 1916: it replaced an even earlier carousel structure. While there were once over 10,000 carousels from the 1920s, there are only about 100 still operating today. The carousel features two chariots and 70 figures all directed by a figure of George Washington holding a baton.
The building and the carousel are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The park is open from April through November, and the carousel is open Saturday, Sunday, and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
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19.Yale Center for British Art
© Yale Center for British Art
Located on Chapel Street on the campus of Yale University, the Yale Center for British Art contains the largest collection of works of British art outside of the United Kingdom. The center was established in 1966 when Paul Mellon, a 1929 Yale University graduate, gifted his British art collection to the university.
The building opened to the public in 1977 and contains thousands of drawings, manuscripts, paintings, prints, rare books, and sculptures from the Elizabethan period to the 19th century. The collection includes paintings by Constable, Gainsborough, and many more. Non-English artists include Canaletto, Holbein, and Rubens. The center offers many educational programs, exhibitions, and special events to the public.
1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-432-2800
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20. Soul de Cuba Cafe, New Haven, CT
© Soul de Cuba Cafe
If you are not familiar with Cuban cuisine, Soul de Cuba Café is a good place to start. The restaurant is small but the atmosphere is rich, from the earth-colored walls, Afro-Cuban art, and religious artifacts to the music that fills the space in the background, mostly soft salsa, bolero, or Yoruba. The menu is a veritable history of Cuban traditional dishes with recipes inherited from owner Jesus Puerto’s grandma and mother.
Start your night off with one of their mojitos – nobody can make real, traditional mojito like Cubans. Get an authentic taste of traditional Cuban food with some delicious empanadas, and then go for the ever popular Ropa Vieja, made with shredded beef with onions in tomato sauce and served with rice, black beans, and ripe plantains.
283 Crown St, New Haven, CT, Phone: 203-498-2822
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21.Connecticut Children's Museum
© Connecticut Children's Museum
Located on Trout Brook Drive, the Connecticut Children's Museum is the largest and oldest children’s museum in Connecticut. Founded in 1927 as the Children’s Museum of Hartford, it was later known as the Science Center of Connecticut before becoming the Children’s Museum. The museum features interactive exhibits, the second largest planetarium in New England, more than a hundred live animals, and much more.
The museum contains a life-sized model of a sperm whale, which is the state animal of Connecticut, and visitors can even walk inside of the huge whale. The museum offers education programs for children such as nature and science classes as well as the Children’s Museum Preschool, one of the oldest preschools in the U.S.
950 Trout Brook Drive, West Hartford, 860-231-2824
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22. Caseus Fromagerie Bistro
© Caseus Fromagerie Bistro
Caseus is so completely French; it is a bistro and fromagerie or cheese shop in one. The place is small and intimate with tiny bistro tables for two in the bistro, in the cheese shop, outside, and in between. The aroma envelops you from the moment you enter, and the exotic and intoxicating smells of fine cheeses from all over the world will entice you. There shop also boasts a number of spices, teas, coffees, olive oils, and various gourmet goods most people would not recognize. It is a cheese-lover’s heaven.
The bistro features an interesting, simple, and very cheese-centric menu. You have to try their mac and cheese to know what the combination of a skilled chef and extraordinarily fine cheese can do to this favorite comfort food. The bistro also has a nice and affordable wine list to go with their cheese. Read more
93 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT, Phone: 203-6-CHEESE
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23.Consiglio's, New Haven, CT
For 75 years, Consiglio’s has been the restaurant families from New Haven would visit when they wanted to celebrate a special event. The old-world charm of the large, elegant dining room makes the restaurant cozy and inviting in typical Italian fashion. The restaurant has been in the hands of the Consiglio family for four generations, and the family members have all preserved the tradition of serving authentic and exquisitely prepared Italian food. The menu is southern Italian and features dishes made using the family’s old recipes.
Try their superb Veal Saltimbocca, which is veal stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella, covered in a mushroom and sage sauce, and served with freshly made fettuccine. Check their program for the occasional murder mystery dinner theatre, which features a three-course meal. When weather is nice, look for a seat on their lovely outdoor patio.
165 Wooster St, New Haven, CT, Phone: 203-865-4489
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24.Knights of Columbus Museum
© Knights of Columbus Museum
The Knights of Columbus Museum is devoted to preserving and displaying artifacts, documents, and objects related to the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization. The museum’s exhibits feature displays of history and works of art that pertain to the heritage of Catholicism.
Its permanent collection contains a gallery devoted to Father Michael J. McGivney, the founder of the organization who lived from 1852 to 1890. Also on regular display are objects related to Christopher Columbus and the papacy in Rome. The museum is well known for its amazing Christmas displays.
1 State Street, New Haven, CT, Phone: 203-865-0400
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25.New Haven Symphony Orchestra
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The New Haven Symphony Orchestra is an orchestra founded in the late 19th century by Morris Steinert, a German immigrant. Its first performance took place in 1895, and the orchestra has a long association with the Yale School of Music. Yale commissioned Woolsey Hall in 1901, and it became the venue for performances by the orchestra.
A series of Children’s Concerts began in 1933 in Yale’s Sprague Hall and later in Woolsey Hall. Only classical music was performed until the Pops Concerts series was established in 1945. Today, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concerts are an important part of the symphony’s education program.
545 Long Wharf Drive, New Haven, CT, Phone: 203-865-0831
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25 Best Things to Do in New Haven, Connecticut
- Yale University Art Gallery, Photo: Yale University Art Gallery
- New Haven Green, Photo: Courtesy of jon bilous - Fotolia.com
- Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Photo: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Photo: Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
- Taste of New Haven, Photo: Courtesy of Top Photo Group - Fotolia.com
- East Rock Park, New Haven, Connecticut, Photo: Courtesy of Ritu Jethani - Fotolia.com
- Goodfellas Restaurant, Photo: Goodfellas Restaurant
- Things to Do in New Haven: Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, Photo: Yale Collection of Musical Instruments
- Olea, New Haven, Connecticut, Photo: Olea
- New Haven Museum, Photo: New Haven Museum
- Union League Cafe, Photo: Union League Cafe
- Tikkaway Grill, Photo: Tikkaway Grill
- Roia Restaurant, New Haven, Connecticut, Photo: Roia
- Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napolitana, Photo: Courtesy of jaroszpilewski - Fotolia.com
- Kehler Liddell Gallery, Photo: Kehler Liddell Gallery
- Ely Center of Contemporary Art, Photo: Ely Center of Contemporary Art
- 116 Crown, New Haven, CT, Photo: 116 Crown
- Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park, Photo: Courtesy of Stuart Monk - Fotolia.com
- Yale Center for British Art, Photo: Yale Center for British Art
- Soul de Cuba Cafe, New Haven, CT, Photo: Soul de Cuba Cafe
- Connecticut Children's Museum, Photo: Connecticut Children's Museum
- Caseus Fromagerie Bistro, Photo: Caseus Fromagerie Bistro
- Consiglio's, New Haven, CT, Photo: Consiglio's
- Knights of Columbus Museum, Photo: Knights of Columbus Museum
- New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Photo: Courtesy of alipko - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com
Once you enter the charming little house where most of the furniture and equipment dates back to the 1900’s, you will feel in the presence of history. There is only one item on their menu: The Original Burger (they combine chuck and sirloin beef for their hand-made patties, a venerated tradition at this establishment).
They put the patty between two slices of toasted bread, add a slice of onion, tomato, and cheese, and you are ready to go. You can also get potato salad and a piece of pie if you are really hungry. Take a look around while you are waiting for your burger. You will see the original bread toaster and cast iron charcoal grill are still going strong, and the chairs and tables are engraved with signatures of long-dead patrons. Louis’s Lunch has been operating since 1895.
261-263 Crown Street, New Haven, Connecticut, Phone: 203-562-5507