10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New Haven

The port of New Haven, at the mouth of the Quinnipiac River in eastern Connecticut, was founded by English Puritans in 1638, and has been famed since 1716 as the seat of Yale University. On the campus are several interesting attractions, among them the outstanding Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Around the city are a number of parks and natural areas worth exploring. Families will find plenty of things to do in East Rock Park and Lighthouse Point Park. The city also has a vibrant arts scene, with a variety of theaters, a symphony, and a popular summertime jazz festival that add to its appeal for tourists.

1 Yale University

Yale University
Yale University

Yale University has a long history, which began to some extent in the 17th century, although the school was not actually in existence until the early 18th century. Visitors can take a tour of the campus and learn all about the institution and its buildings, some of which were designed by prominent architects, such as Eero Saarinen's revolutionary Ingalls Rink. On the university campus are the Peabody Museum; the Art Gallery; the Sterling Memorial Library; the Center for British Art; and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, whose principal treasure is a Gutenberg Bible.

Address: 149 Elm Street, New Haven, Connecticut

Official site: http://www.yale.edu/

2 Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History DanCentury / photo modified

The Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University features exhibits on biology, paleontology, botany, geology, and anthropology. Specific permanent attractions include the Great Hall of Dinosaurs, the Hall of Native American Cultures, Hall of Minerals, Hall of Mammalian Evolution, Earth and Space, and Birds of Connecticut. Housing part of Yale's large Egyptology collection, the Daily Life in Ancient Egypt gallery includes a mummy and coffin, a granite Head of Osiris, and the black diorite Bust of a Ptolemaic King. In the Hall of Native American Cultures are more than 300 objects ranging from tools and clothing to pottery and baskets.

Address: 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut

Official site: http://peabody.yale.edu/

3 Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University Art Gallery
Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University Art Gallery was established in 1832 and is the oldest university art museum in the United States. The extensive collection includes Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Italian, Islamic, Asian, and African art from many cultures, along with Impressionist, Modernist, and contemporary paintings and sculptures. Other exhibits feature American decorative arts and furniture, especially pieces of New England origin. There are also changing exhibits from a huge selection of master prints, drawings, and photographs.

Address: 1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut

4 Yale Center for British Art

Yale Center for British Art
Yale Center for British Art ryan_d_cole / photo modified

The Yale Center for British Art displays British paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, and other pieces, from the Elizabethan period to the modern day. You can see works here by Constable, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, and Barbara Hepworth. Also displayed are works by Whistler and Canaletto, neither of whom were British but they were active in Britain and painted British subjects.

Also located here is the Center's Department of Rare Books with some 30,000 volumes.

Address: 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut

5 The Green

The Green
The Green

The Green is a park in the city center that covers 16 acres. Festivals and music events are sometimes held here during the summer months. Also in this area are three historic churches: the First Church of Christ, the Trinity, and the United Church-on-the-Green, all dating to the early 1800s.

Address: 165 Church Street, New Haven, Connecticut

6 New Haven Museum

Dedicated to the history of the city and surrounding area, New Haven Museum's vast collections are shown in four permanent galleries, plus changing themed exhibits. The fine arts collections include landscapes by local artists as well as other paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints. The decorative arts are represented with furniture by local 17th- through 19th-century cabinetmakers, as well as silver, glass, textiles, and ceramics. Maritime pictures and artifacts relate New Haven's strong ties to the sea as a trading port and shipbuilding center, and the Technology and Manufacturing collections include an original model and full-size working version of Eli Whitney's cotton gin and one of the first Morse code receivers.

Address: 114 Whitney Ave, New Haven, Connecticut

7 East Rock Park

East Rock Park
East Rock Park dmbigda / photo modified

East Rock Park covers 425 acres that include a 365-foot-high, 1.5-mile-long rock. From its top are sweeping views of Long Island Sound and New Haven. Also within the park are the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Indian Head Peak, and Pardee Rose Gardens. The gardens display a continuing succession of blooming flowers through the entire growing season, with one of New England's finest rose displays. The Pardee Greenhouse is beautifully restored.

8 Knights of Columbus Museum

Knights of Columbus Museum
Knights of Columbus Museum Svadilfari / photo modified

The free Knights of Columbus Museum offers displays on the history of this fraternal order, as well as art exhibits on a variety of themes. The facility is 77,000 square feet and features a courtyard and impressive landscaping. Each December and January, a special exhibit relating to Christmas often includes priceless crèche sets and figures as well as the museum's own nativity scene, designed by Florentine artist Eugenio Pattarino.

Address: One State Street, New Haven, Connecticut

9 Lighthouse Point Park

Lighthouse Point Park
Lighthouse Point Park versageek / photo modified

A beach on Long Island Sound, fishing pier, and a public boat launch make this a popular park with locals. Although the 1840 lighthouse is not open to the public, the surrounding park area is accessible, and picnic tables are scattered throughout tree-shaded grounds. The lighthouse itself no longer functions, but the landmark structure adds a picturesque element to the shoreline. Located within the park is a playground for children and the Lighthouse Point Carousel, an antique carousel housed in a lovely historic building.

Birders come here in the fall and spring to see the thousands of songbirds and birds of prey that stop here on their migratory route. Park rangers offer programs on migrations and ornithology.

Address: 2 Lighthouse Road, New Haven, Connecticut

10 Grove Street Cemetery

Grove Street Cemetery
Grove Street Cemetery rufus / photo modified

Grove Street Cemetery is known for being "the first chartered burial ground in the United States," with its first resident being buried here in 1797. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark and contains the graves of numerous important but lesser known Americans, as well as New Haven residents from the time period.

Where to Stay in New Haven for Sightseeing

The best place to stay in New Haven is downtown, near Yale University. The very compact city center is dominated by the Yale Campus, and many of the main attractions, including the Peabody Museum and the Yale Art Gallery, are located on the university grounds. Just south of the campus are a large number of restaurants and entertainment options. Below are some highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:

  • Luxury Hotels: For a top-end hotel, the recently renovated Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale is a 19-story tower with luxurious rooms and fine views over the city. It is only one block from the historic Yale University campus. A modern and trendy option right on the university's Arts Campus is The Study at Yale. Luxuriously appointed guest rooms and stylishly decorated common areas make for an uncommon hotel experience.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: A great mid-range option is the New Haven Hotel, with well-appointed rooms and a convenient location near the train station, in an up-and-coming neighborhood. This hotel offers an evening reception serving appetizers and beverages. In the same category, the newly renovated Courtyard Hotel, adjacent to Yale University, offers comfortable rooms featuring lovely marble and granite bathrooms. At a slightly better price point, the New Haven Village Suites is a couple of miles out from the downtown area and offers large rooms with kitchens and a free local shuttle within a three-mile radius.

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