I think most would agree with New Haven is most known as the home of Yale University and for its distinctive pizza. However, thanks to its convenient location 2 hours from NYC and 2 1/2 hours from Boston, New Haven, Connecticut is great spot for a weekend getaway.
It’s located directly on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor route, and is easily drivable on Route 95. In fact, most of the things to do in New Haven are within walking distance of each other, so it’s easy to park your car for the weekend. During my recent stay, I took Amtrak. However, it’s much for affordable to drive if that is an option.
Disclosure: I originally visited New Haven as part of a complimentary press trip. I then returned with my family at no own cost. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
I visited New Haven over a weekend, and it’s such a fun place to visit for a weekend or a stopover on a road trip. I’d recommend fall as one of the best times to visit because the changing foliage can be beautiful, especially over the Yale campus.
New Haven Things to Do
We started our weekend with a complimentary Yale campus tour. Tours are offered on a regular basis (check the schedule on the link above), and are led by students who provide a unique, personal perspective to the tour. Tours are not offered during regular school vacations, and these tours are geared most towards tourists. Perspective students should schedule a separate tour through the admissions office because that tour will be more appropriate.
Families visiting Yale can participate in the Kids’ Architectural Treasure Hunt. If you are traveling with kids aged 6 to 11, you can ask for a special brochure that children can use to find specific architectural details on the campus.
While it’s definitely a walking tour, I didn’t find it to be too strenuous. It’s a nice stroll around the campus. Even if you aren’t interested in learning about the school specifically, it’s still a great way to see the beautiful architecture.
New Haven is known for their fantastic food, so I definitely recommend taking a walking tour of historic Wooster Square with the Taste of New Haven. Pizza tours are also offered. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of walking. You’ll also learn quite a bit about the history and architecture of the area.
More New Haven Dining
There are also lots of other fantastic restaurants throughout the area – check out some of my favorites on this post.
If you try nothing else, you absolutely have to try some of the famous New Haven style pizza – called apizza. There are several popular restaurants serving apizza in New Haven. Try one, or if you are up for the challenge, consider trying them all and choosing your favorite.
The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is located on the Yale campus. Admission fees are charged, but they are reasonable – $13 for adults and $6 for kids aged 3-18 (and college students with ID). The museum offers a variety of exhibits that are fantastic for children, and there are lots of interactive areas as well. Guided tours are offered on the weekends. It’s definitely a must-visit for families visiting the New Haven area.
Little ones will especially enjoy the Great Hall of Dinosaurs, pictured above. This exhibit features a number of dinosaur fossils and is the centerpiece of the museum. My kids are a little older than the usual dinosaur fan age, and they still really enjoyed the museum, however.
The Yale University Art Gallery, located just steps away from the Study at Yale boutique hotel, is free and open to the public. The museum boasts a large collection of various art collections – from modern art to coins and metals. It’s absolutely worth a visit – even for families with children. Since it’s free, you can visit several times over your weekend.
I was surprised at how much time my own kids wanted to spend in the Yale University Art Museum. There really is so much beautiful artwork there – especially for a free museum!
Other things to do in New Haven include the Yale Center for British Art, Lighthouse Point Park, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (where you’ll find a copy of the Gutenberg Bible), and Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop (located in nearby Hamden, CT). Depending on the ages of your kids and what they are interested in, some of these things may not be appropriate to visit.
Where to Stay in New Haven
During my two visits to New Haven, we stayed at the Study at Yale boutique hotel. This quaint city hotel offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a central location. If you are visiting during a busy time for the school, like parents weekend or graduation, you’ll want to make your reservation well in advance.
Another popular hotel in the area is the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale. I stayed there once for a wedding, and really enjoyed my stay. I also had the opportunity to enjoy brunch there during my press trip to New Haven. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, you may consider dining there. The Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale is also located near the many things to do in New Haven.
Have you ever been to New Haven? Where have you visited while you were there?