25 Best Things to Do in New Haven, CT

New Haven, CT
f11photo / shutterstock.com

New Haven, a coastal city located in Connecticut, is the second-largest city in the area.

Home to the famous Yale University, this college town is brimming with unique attractions for residents and tourists.

This college town is home to beautiful parks, picturesque landscapes, rich cultural history, and a thriving culinary scene.

Whether you are taking a romantic vacation with your significant other or simply planning to spend quality time with your family, New Haven offers many exciting things.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 25 best things to do in New Haven, Connecticut:

Pay a Visit to Yale University

A building at Yale University
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

New Haven is home to Yale University, America’s third-oldest university, which started way back in 1701.

When visiting New Haven, don’t forget to take a walk around the beautiful campus.

To tour the campus, you can either download the free audio walking tour or join a free 75-minute student-guide tour.

Students on the grounds of Yale University
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

The student tours offer additional insights into campus life, college traditions, and its rich history, making things much more enjoyable.

Full of magnificent modern architecture, libraries, and museums, the Yale University campus tour should be on your agenda when visiting New Haven.

Sterling memorial library at Yale University
Winston Tan / Shutterstock.com

Explore the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Hundreds of books at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Jose L Vilchez / Shutterstock.com

The Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library is on the Yale University campus.

Housed in an architecturally exciting glass building, this six-story library houses some of the oldest books, manuscripts, and literary archives.

One of its most prized possessions includes a copy of the Gutenberg Bible from 1454.

Exterior of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Winston Tan / Shutterstock.com

It also houses the Voyinch Manuscript, which contains decorations and illustrations of plant life and is most likely written in a mysterious language.

Admission to this library is free, but visitors are only allowed on the ground and permanent exhibition mezzanine floors.

A rare Gutenburg Bible in Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

See the Fossil Collection at Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Sculpture outside Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

If you are traveling to New Haven with kids, don’t forget to visit The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural Science.

This museum was founded in 1866 and is still one of the world's largest natural history museums.

Kids will enjoy walking through The Great Hall of Dinosaurs and The Age of Reptiles, a 110-foot-long mural.

This museum also boasts of one of the largest collections of fossils in the U.S., which includes permanent exhibits of birds, wildlife, minerals, and Native Americans, to name a few.

Display at Yale University Art Gallery
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

When in New Haven, spend a couple of hours immersing yourself in art at the Yale University Art Gallery.

This art gallery contains French Impressionist paintings, early Italian paintings, African cultures, and modern art.

Exhibit in Yale University Art Gallery
singh_lens / Shutterstock.com

This art gallery is spread across several interconnected buildings on the Yale University Campus.

It was founded in 1832 and is the oldest art museum in the Western Hemisphere.

Interior of the Yale University Art Gallery
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Visit PEZ Visitor Centre

Exterior of PEZ Visitor Centre
Sean Wandzilak / Shutterstock.com

PEZ Visitor Centre is the American Base of the famous Austrian candy, PEZ.

It is an absolute must-visit for chocolate and candy lovers.

The PEZ Visitor Centre offers a complete historical tour of the brand.

You can spend time checking out the exciting memorabilia in display cases, click pictures with the PEZ-themed motorcycles, and even participate in the interactive games and quizzes organized almost daily.

But the best part about visiting this place is being able to see the packaging of the delicious PEZ candies through viewing windows.

Don’t forget to buy some candy as a souvenir from the extensive collection of products at the in-house store.

Have Fun at East Rock Park

Scenic view of the East Rock Park
Sage Ross, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With over 20% of the town devoted to open spaces and green areas, it is no wonder that New Haven is full of beautiful parks you ought to check out.

Spread over 427 acres, the East Rock Park on Cold Spring Road is an absolute must-visit.

It is named after a 350-foot mountain ridge that, when climbed, offers stunning views of New Haven, Long Island, and Long Island Sound.

A bridge at East Rock Park
Jennifer Yakey-Ault / Shutterstock.com

You can cycle around the park, watch some exotic and migratory birds, hike up the ridge, or have a picnic under the shade of one of the many trees.

While at East Rock Park, you could also pay your respects at the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

See the Lighthouse Point Park

Scenic view of Lighthouse Point Park
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

A great way to enjoy the fresh air and be close to nature is to visit Lighthouse Point Park.

Built in 1840, the hexagonal-shaped lighthouse, surrounded by a beach and an 82-acre park, is a popular weekend hangout spot for the locals.

The park area is full of picnic tables set up under big, shady trees.

Bench overlooking the waters at Lighthouse Point Park
LBSimms Photography / Shutterstock.com

This makes for the perfect location to spend leisurely time listening to the waves crash against the rocky outcrops.

If you are with kids, don’t forget to check the Lighthouse Point Carousel, one of the few working carousels today.

Coin-operated binoculars at Lighthouse Point Park
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

Stroll through Grove Street Cemetery

Entrance to the Grove Street Cemetery
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

If you are a history buff, the Grove Street Cemetery should undoubtedly be on your list when visiting New Haven.

Although a cemetery may not be the most obvious choice on holiday, a stroll through this National Historic Landmark might just be quite enjoyable.

Daytime view of Grove Street Cemetery
Sage Ross, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Featuring the graves of 14 former Yale presidents, among other notable people, this is one of the oldest cemeteries in the U.S.

Walking through the Grove Street Cemetery is a unique experience you wouldn’t want to miss out on!

Headstones at Grove Street Cemetery
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

Shop at Boulevard Flea Market

Visiting a new place is never complete without stopping at a local flea market.

Whether you are looking to shop for jewelry, apparel, footwear, or even local souvenir for your friends and family, the Boulevard Flea Market is the place to be.

Since this is a flea market, be prepared to haggle and negotiate the prices.

This is a great market to spend a leisurely afternoon looking for knock-off products that look very much like the originals.

After you are done shopping, don’t forget to try out some local delicacies from one of the many food trucks lining the street.

Go Fishing at West Rock Ridge State Park

Landscape of West Rock Ridge State Park
5ju989nfhs50 at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you like spending your afternoons going on nature trails and hikes, then visit the West Rock Ridge State Park.

Located in this park is the West Rock Ridge, a high mountain range in New Haven.

You can hike up the mountain to catch panoramic views of New Haven.

Skyline view from West Rock Ridge State Park
Ergo Sum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The park also houses Wintergreen Lake.

This lake is surrounded by a 40-minute trail on a scenic path that you must try, especially around sunset.

Apart from this, you can even indulge in canoeing, fishing, or horseback riding, to name a few.

Roam around New Haven Museum

Exterior of the New Haven Museum
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

The New Haven Museum is an excellent place to learn about the rich history and culture of New Haven and its surrounding areas.

Apart from four permanent galleries, this museum also features changing-themed exhibits.

The fine arts section of this museum features paintings by local artists.

Signage of New Haven Museum
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

These paintings are created using a variety of mediums, like oil paints, watercolors, ink, and charcoal.

The museum also showcases furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries, silverware, glassware, ceramics, and textiles.

If you are a history buff, spending a nice afternoon at the museum will surely be worthwhile and memorable experience.

Have a Picnic at New Haven Green

Aerial view of The Green
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

New Haven Green is a 16-acre urban park located in the city center.

This park is a National Historic Landmark and one of the city's oldest parks.

New Haven Green is home to three historic churches: Trinity, United, and Centre Church.

The open area and ample greenery make this park one of the best picnic spots to spend time with your family.

The grounds of New Haven Green
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

The famous New Haven Jazz Festival happens in this park.

During summer, many musicians and singers organize their concerts in this park.

New Haven Green is also where the town’s Christmas Tree is put up.

Paved trails at New Haven Green
Nancy Kennedy / Shutterstock.com

Watch a Play at Long Wharf Theatre

If you want to spend some time getting acquainted with the local talent in theater and music, then the Long Wharf Theatre is the place to be.

It is a non-profit regional theater and showcases some incredible plays and musicals by local artists.

It has received several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for producing several original plays.

Pay a Visit to Ely Center of Contemporary Art

Located inside the Yale University Campus, the John Slade Ely House is an English Elizabethan-style residence.

It was constructed way back in 1901 for then chairman of Yale School of Medicine, John Slade Ely, and his wife, Grace.

Today, it is being used as a community arts center to showcase the artistic creation of budding local artists in the area.

It hosts several exhibitions throughout the year by solo and group artists.

These exhibitions are a great way to understand the local art scene and see the beautiful Elizabethan-style house.

Sip a Wine at 116 Crown

For a unique and artistic eating experience, make sure to visit the sophisticated urban bar, 116 Crown.

It looks more like an art gallery than a traditional restaurant owing to the back-lit onyx bar, brick walls, and leather tiles.

Chef Will Talamelli is well-known for his interesting cocktails and the use of seasonal ingredients.

While there, try the bacon-wrapped pumpkin, which has an expected apple-wood smoked flavor.

This is dish is served with a side of chipotle and honey.

Dine at Consiglio's Restaurant

Consiglio’s is a popular 75-year-old restaurant in New Haven.

One of the oldest restaurants in town, it is the perfect place to celebrate special events, such as birthdays and anniversaries.

The Italian restaurant has an elegant dining room that feels instantly cozy and is ideal for a romantic date.

This restaurant serves some authentic Italian food based on family traditions and secret recipes.

While there, don’t forget to try their famous Veal Saltimbocca, served with freshly made fettuccine.

See the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments

Exterior of the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments
Nick Allen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Yale Collection of Musical Instruments is a part of the Yale School of Music, located on Hillhouse Avenue.

It started with Morris Steinert with his collection of historical musical instruments.

Belle Skinner and Emil Herrmann later enlarged the collection of instruments at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments.

This museum houses a large variety of musical instruments, such as clavichords, harpsichords, pianos, organs, and historical wind instruments.

This museum also hosts concerts where musicians use instruments from the collection.

Pay a Visit to Marsh Botanical Garden

Fall scene at Marsh Botanical Garden
Daderot., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Home to a large variety of extensive plants, the Marsh Botanical Garden is a must-see on your visit to New Haven.

Spread over eight acres, this botanical garden features greenhouses.

It offers quite an immersive and informative experience for both visitors and plant researchers.

Wander around Connecticut Children's Museum

Located in Town Green, the Connecticut Children Museum is a great way to spend a day with your kids in New Haven.

Established in 2001, the museum is perfect for kids aged three to nine.

It is specially designed for children with disabilities, and it contains over 450 picture books for children.

It also has a special path to accommodate children in wheelchairs and is friendly for kids with hearing and visual impairments.

Revel at the Performances in Shubert Theatre

Since its initial season in 1914, the Shubert Theatre has served as a venue for a range of single performances, productions, musicals, theatre, recitals, and music events of classical, jazz performers, bands, and burlesque.

More than 600 pre-Broadway auditions, including more than 300 global performances and 50 American premieres, have taken place there.

The Shubert is open for events, including concerts, gatherings, holiday parties, private functions, and fundraisers.

Whether it be a fantastic concert or an engaging lecture, Shubert Theatre is dedicated to incorporating the arts into their multicultural neighborhood.

In addition to live performances, the Shubert Theater offers extensive engagement and instructional initiatives for kids through in-person educational trips, summer programs, and internship opportunities.

Drop by Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center

The purpose of the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center is centered on the tradition of the Knights of Columbus' creator's spiritual and altruistic ideals.

The facility was constructed on November 1, 2020, continuing the mission of Father Michael J. McGivney, who founded the Knights of Columbus.

The Catholic Church is considering making him a saint.

He founded the New Haven fraternal benefit organization over 100 years on the teachings of generosity and solidarity.

Visitors are invited to the McGivney Center to discover about this saintly priest's legacy and life's work, emulate his charitable outreach to the poor and outcasts and ask for his divine intercession for their difficulties, both big and little.

The center is accessible Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, and the gift store is open all day.

Try Out Various Excitement Levels at It Adventure Ropes Course

Discover the biggest indoor ropes course worldwide, boasting four action-packed excitement levels!

While visitors experience more than 100 difficulties, like crisscross rope ladders, bridges, nets, and swinging beams, the full body gear and sling link will keep you secured.

From one end of the course to the other, swing into the air on the zip rails above the watery display of flowing fireworks.

Youngsters don't have to skip out on the excitement because a ropes course allows them to experience the excitement at a more suitable height.

The platforms are 3 feet above the floor and enable kids to develop their collaboration and strength while their guardians stay nearby to help.

There is plenty of space at It Adventure Ropes Course for birthday parties, celebrations, big groups, and several thrilling activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

In 2003, eight artists created the Kehler Liddell Gallery, a cooperative retail art gallery run by member artists.

It is conveniently located on Whalley Avenue, close to the Yale Campus, amid various stores and eateries.

Their goal is to represent, exhibit, market, and try and sell the creations of regional contemporary artists.

They are committed to offering opposing viewpoints that sharpen and challenge culture and enhance the appreciation of beauty.

The year is filled with exhibitions, including invited artists and members' artwork.

This location remains a place to enjoy the art of all kinds thanks to monthly openings, activities, and events that are free and available to everyone.

Take a Tour at Taste of New Haven

Taste of New Haven has been entertaining diners for more than 12 years.

They conduct walking pizza tours, culinary excursions, courses, and events across New Haven.

Knowledgeable tour guides highlighting the city's rich heritage and traditions take visitors on culinary expeditions.

The mission of Taste of New Haven is to develop delightful leisure activities that introduce visitors to the area's cuisine, culture, history, and other individuals.

They strive to inform, amuse, and inspire visitors, employees at their partnered businesses, and passersby.

Final Thoughts

Traverse the lovely parks, top-notch museums, distinctive attractions, and eateries found in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Art Gallery and Museum of Natural History are only two of the countless attractions found on the Yale University campus, contributing to the city's college-town vibe.

The city is proud of its gorgeous surroundings and the splendor within its institution.

This list of the best things to do in New Haven, Connecticut, should be useful whether you live nearby or are simply taking a weekend vacation trip.

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.