15 Best Things to Do in Hamden, CT

Hamden, CT
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Hamden City in Connecticut has been nicknamed the “Land of the Sleeping Giant,” characterized by the natural landscape of a sleeping man lying on his back.

Having been given acknowledgment as one of the safest cities in the entirety of the country, this small district is packed with a variety of things to do!

You can enjoy the state parks, dine in the best restaurants, visit historical museums, and more within the walls of Hamden.

For those with a more adventurous lifestyle, you can also enjoy their thriving bars and nightlife, attend concerts by renowned artists, or enjoy the fireworks that light the night sky every 4th of July!

See what Hamden has to offer by reading through this list of things to see and do in Hamden, Connecticut!

Take a Hike Up Sleeping Giant State Park

Hiking trail of Sleeping Giant State Park surrounded with trees
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Named after the image it resembles of a sleeping man atop a mountain, Sleeping Giant State Park is one of the most significant features of the skyline of Connecticut found minutes within the city center of Hamden!

Guests who visit this park are more than welcome to climb this mountain and take in the scenic views of the city from the lookout tower.

Exterior of Sleeping Giant State Park's tower
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You can also hike around the nature path and trails that surround the park, stretching over 1.5 miles long that’ll take you on a scenic route around the park.

If you’re brave enough, you can climb all the way up to the highest peak of this mountain, which stands over 200 meters above the ground!

This park also offers a relaxing atmosphere for avid birdwatchers, provides a space for lovely picnics, or you can take a more adventurous approach by going on their special trails meant for cross country skiing, horseback riding, and mountain biking!

Aerial view of Sleeping Giant State Park
Craig R., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Bowling with the Whole Family at Johnson’s Duckpin Lanes

As one of the oldest standing bowling alleys in the state, Johnson’s Duckpin Lanes has been the go-to bowling venue since its establishment in 1955!

Duckpin bowling is a new and interesting variation of the classic game that is sure to give you and your friends or family an unforgettable experience!

This unique variation was first introduced in the early 1900s and has since then been adopted by this alley, attracting tourists from all over the world.

In addition to the 20 bowling lanes, you can check out their game room or snack bar if you get a little tired from knocking all the pins down.

This stape establishment is a must-see while on vacation to this city!

Journey through the Walking Trail of Farmington Canal Heritage Trail

Prior to becoming the walking heritage trail of Hamden, Farmington Canal Heritage Trail was once a canal before being converted into a railroad in the early 1800s, then closing almost a century later and is now presently a hiking trail.

Found approximately 1.3 miles away from the city center, you can visit this tourist destination and admire the remnants of this once fully functioning railroad.

Guests are more than welcome to hike, jog, or walk along this trail, where large portions of the tracks have since then been removed to cater to the public who wishes to visit this path.

Farmington Canal Heritage Trail covers around 81 miles, stretching from the railbed of New Haven in Connecticut all the way to Northampton, Massachusetts, connecting the two states together.

This trail is the ideal destination for hiking with its length and the area it covers, weaving through the surrounding rural communities, forests, and farms which you can explore!

Wear the right shoes and bring some water as you journey through this historical trail!

Indulge in Recreational Water Activities at Lake Wintergreen

Partially frozen waters of Lake Wintergreen
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Lake Wintergreen offers a variety of recreational water activities that can attend to the entire family, including little kids!

Guests can admire the lakeside view or take a leisurely hike around the Regicides Trail to get their steps in.

A bird standing on the frozen Lake Wintergreen
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This lake also gives you some of the most spectacular and breathtaking views of sunsets and sunrises in the entire city!

Whether you’re canoeing, fishing, paddling, kayaking, or out in the open water, the relaxing aura of Lake Wintergreen is sure to keep you distracted.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity and snap some amazing pics at Lake Wintergreen to make your friends jealous!

Sunlight reflecting on Lake Wintergreen
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Dance the Night Away at The Space Ballroom

If you’re looking for a more fast-paced, adventurous, and loud atmosphere, then you should definitely check out The Space Ballroom!

Providing guests with lots of alcohol, live entertainment, open mic nights, and more, this establishment is quickly becoming the hottest up-and-coming bar in the whole city.

The Space Ballroom has also become an art venue that attracts artists and art enthusiasts alike while enjoying the bands that play here on certain evenings.

Teas and coffee selections are also available for purchase to give you the extra caffeine kick you might need to keep you going for the rest of the night!

Since first opening its doors to the public in 2008, this bar is quickly becoming the crowd favorite of Hamden’s community!

Do Some Outdoor Activities at Town Center Park

Hamden’s Town Center Park is the community’s go-to venue to gather around for all kinds of celebrations and events!

In addition to the spacious area where you and your loved ones can take advantage of the warm sun, there are a ton of recreational activities to do here!

Every Thursday, this park turns into a farmer’s market where you can purchase a variety of items ranging from fresh produce to all kinds of household items, accessories, pieces of jewelry, and more!

In celebration of the 4th of July, magnificent fireworks are launched from the Town Center Park and light up the night sky of America’s independence.

Food trucks can also be found parked where you can grab a delicious snack to keep you energized for the day.

During the winter season, cross-country skiing is another activity that you can do with the whole family, or take advantage of the green grass and clear skies during the summer for a nice picnic!

There’s always something to do at Town Center Park, so try and drop by!

Join an Experimental Workshop at Eli Whitney Museum & Workshop

Exterior and name sign of Eli Whitney Museum
Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This museum in Hamden has been named after the man who built this establishment all the way back in 1798.

Eli Whitney was a well-known inventor and erected a factory of his own that specialized in the production of weaponry, namely firearms such as muskets.

Side exterior of Eli Whitney Museum
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Eli Whitney Museum & Workshop is a major hit with kids and younger audiences where they will get to learn about different experiments relating to science, technology, and the like!

They even get the chance to work hands-on on some model buildings, vehicles, boats, and more that are sure to keep them preoccupied for a couple of hours.

Mixing education with fun, Eli Whitney Museum & Workshop is an exciting place to take your children and spend quality time with them!

Take a Trip to Hindinger Farm

The Hingdinger family in Hamden is best known for the farm named after them, regularly producing and distributing some of the freshest produce in the city.

Playing a major part of this community since 1893, this friendly family is more than happy to welcome guests to their farm and taste the farm-fresh fruits and vegetables they have in stock.

One of their highlights is getting to meet and interact with the cordial goats that live in their pens, as well as enjoying the calm, relaxing, rural environment that this facility has to offer that’s found minutes within the city center.

They also host some events, including the famous Strawberry Festival, where locals and tourists alike drop by and grab a bite or two of these sweet, healthy treats when they’re in season.

Live music along with local vendors who sell delicious food and snacks take place during mid-October during Fall Festival, where community members gather together and mingle!

Try and catch one of these festivals they have while on your trip to Hamden!

Play Golf at Sleeping Giant Golf Course

Deemed as one of the best golf courses in the entire state of Connecticut, Sleeping Giant Golf Course offers some of the smoothest, high-quality rough and fairways to give you a memorable golfing experience!

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, this golf course found north of the iconic ‘sleeping’ structure caters to all visitors despite their skill levels.

The 9-holes found on this course are dated back all the way to 1924 and have been maintained and preserved well to continually serve the community of Hamden.

Guests also have the option to take driving range practice lessons or join the leagues and events that are hosted here.

Sleeping Giant Golf Course is a gem in Hamden City that you should visit to spend time with the entire family or simply soak in the sun and nature they have to offer!

Learn about the History of the Great Famine at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

Exterior of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum
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Dedicated to educating the community members and tourists about the Great Famine that took place in the mid-1800s, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum gives you a glimpse into this dark past through visual representations made by some of the most talented artists!

Visitors may explore the museum and examine the artworks that interpret the events of this famine that took the lives of about a million people.

Open to the public since 2012, this museum harbors the largest collection of its kind in the entire world, preserving the art pieces that seek to educate people on the event that shook the world.

In addition to carefully crafted art, you can find artifacts and literature that showcase the erosion of the culture and language of Ireland during this era, the struggles that the citizens faced, and its aftermath on the survivors.

A number of the displays inside have been made by some of the most influential and popular Irish and Irish-American artists who wish to honor the memories of those who passed during the Great Famine.

This museum gives its visitors new insights and brand new perspectives through visually appealing means to keep you preoccupied for hours!

Add Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum to your list of must-see attractions while visiting this city!

Sip Delicious Italian Wine at Luce Ristorante e Enoteca

More than just the go-to Italian cuisine in Hamden, Luce Ristorante e Enoteca is a wine library that appeals to those with a passion for this alcoholic beverage.

Their cocktail lounge provides a wide range of drinks which you can choose from as you take in the warmth and relaxing aura of the lounge.

One of the main highlights of this Italian restaurant is its wine list that covers the past five decades, giving you a taste of each of these eras!

The high quality and richness of their drinks have given them recognition as Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, attracting wine connoisseurs from across the globe!

Enjoy a lovely drink at Luce Ristorante e Enoteca and see what their wine program offers!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit a Historic Park at Edgerton Park

Name sign of Edgerton Park
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A short drive of under 20 minutes takes you to the neighboring city of New Haven, another tourist hotspot in Connecticut with lots of things to see and do!

You can start out by visiting Edgerton Park, a historic park that stands on a former residential land known as Brewster Estate.

Edgerton gets its name for its location at the edge of town and has also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its cultural significance that’s being preserved by the community.

Edgerton Park's greenhouse
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Inside this park, you can admire a greenhouse complex and a Tudor-style mansion erected in 1909.

Edgerton Park is also the venue for various events with its spacious land area, one of which is the New Year's Eve Luminary Walk, where guests admire hundreds of lanterns lighting up the night sky!

This turn-of-the-century park is one of the city’s staples that you should definitely add to your itinerary!

Landscape of Edgerton Park
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Grab a Refreshing Drink at Counter Weight Brewing Company

If you drive up north to Cheshire City, you can find Counter Weight Brewing Company, a taproom with historic brewing traditions that will pique the interest of beer enthusiasts!

Their craft artists are actively coming up with new flavors matched with exploring different innovative means to allow each ingredient to shine through their refreshing drinks.

This brewery’s tap covers a variety of drinks, ranging from rustic Belgian ales to German lagers and American IPA, where you’re sure to find a drink you enjoy!

Food trucks can also be found parked outside, where you can grab a quick, tasty snack, including classic barbecues, gourmet sliders, and more to complement your choice of drink.

Occasional live music and comedy nights are also held at this venue, so wind back and enjoy your tap!

Take in the Views of West Rock Ridge State Park

New Haven's skyline from West Rock Ridge State Park
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Found west of Hamden City in New Haven, West Rock Ridge State Park is best known as the home to a prominent natural ridge in Connecticut.

This park is named after this rock formation that towers over 600 feet above sea level, which you can hike up if you’re brave enough!

Its height gives guests who take the time to climb up this spectacular mountain views of New Haven and its neighboring cities and regions that you wouldn’t want to miss.

If mountain climbing isn’t for you, you can do other recreational activities at this park, including horseback riding, mountain biking, and fishing!

Gaze at the stunning sights of West Rock Ridge State Park, or simply enjoy the open air and warm sun!

Catch a Live Show at Toyota Oakdale Theater

In the nearby city of Wallingford, you can find Toyota Oakdale Theater (previously known as just Oakdale Theater) which has been providing live entertainment to guests since the mid-1900s.

Every night, this theater house showcases all kinds of acts that range from renowned musical concerts by iconic artists such as Maren Morris and Avril Lavigne, to ballet shows, wrestling, and more!

With events scheduled all year round, there’s always something for everyone to enjoy at Toyota Oakdale Theater.

With over 4,600 seats available, this venue is the common destination for other events, gigs, and shows with the large seating capacity they have to offer.

Make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time to ensure a seat for you and the whole gang!

Final Thoughts

Hamden, Connecticut, is packed with lots of things to see and do despite being a significantly smaller city.

From farms, to state parks, to restaurants, and everything else in between, there’s always something for you to do, either by yourself or with large groups!

The Sleeping Giant monument is also a must-see natural landscape that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Discover all the ancient and historical sites that Hamden has to offer by exploring this city in all of its glory.

Take a break from the loud and exhausting hustle and bustle of the busiest cities and book a trip to Hamden, Connecticut now!