Most Popular Things to Do in New Haven, Connecticut

Heading to New England to enjoy some classic northeast coast vibes? Start your adventure in the Constitution State by checking out all the fun things to do in New Haven, CT! Nestled on Long Island Sound and home to Yale University and its acclaimed Peabody Museum of Natural History, the charming town of New Haven is the perfect break on any hectic road trip through New England.

Immerse yourself in American culture and history at several excellent museums, galleries, and theaters to explore. Enjoy hiking, biking, and picnicking at East Rock Park, and then catch a concert or a movie at the beautiful New Haven Green in the heart of downtown. Stroll through the Yale University Art Gallery Sculpture Garden and tuck into a mouth-watering pizza at delicious restaurants like Pepe’s and Sally’s Apizza.

Whether you’re a foodie, an art lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to love about this charming Connecticut gem. Raring to go? Plan your vacation with this guide on the best places to visit in New Haven, CT!

Must-see places to visit in New Haven, CT

Yale University Art Gallery

Make your first stop in New Haven at the beautiful campus of Yale University to take in some art at the Yale University Art Gallery. The oldest university art museum in the western hemisphere, the world-renowned gallery has an incredible collection of art spanning all cultures and periods.

Founded by patriot-artist John Turnbull in 1832, the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection is housed in several buildings around the campus. The art museum includes more than 200,000 objects from ancient times to the present day.

Yale University Art Gallery

Wander through the haloed halls and admire works by celebrated artists, including Picasso, Van Gogh, Duchamp, and Rothko. Marvel at the extensive collection of African sculptures and take a virtual journey across the sea in the Mediterranean World exhibition hall.

And the best part? Admission to the Yale University Art Gallery is completely free!

Lighthouse Point Park

If you’re looking for a beautiful spot to spend a day in New Haven, you can’t go wrong with Lighthouse Point Park. This park has everything, from a tranquil beach with amazing views of Long Island across the Sound to a historic lighthouse.

Dating back to the 1800s, the 70-foot-high Five Mile Point Lighthouse stands sentry over the sound, adding even more charm to the picturesque landscape. While you can’t climb the lighthouse anymore, it offers the perfect shot for your Instagram feed!

Lighthouse Point Park

Another not-to-be-missed highlight of Lighthouse Point Park is the vintage Lighthouse Point Carousel. Built in 1916, the beautifully restored carousel is one of the few from the early 1900s that’s still operational. Ride on one of the 69 exquisitely painted horses or a dragon chariot.

Lighthouse Point Park is also a fantastic spot to see migratory birds during spring and fall. You can spot all kinds of birds, from songbirds to larger birds of prey. And if you’re interested in learning more, ranger-led programs can teach you all about the fascinating wildlife.

East Rock Park

Take a break from exploring the city and head into the tranquil surroundings of East Rock Park. Named after the enormous 1.5-mile-wide, 365-foot-high rock that dominates the skyline, the park is a fantastic spot to enjoy an afternoon of relaxation.

East Rock Park

One of the largest green spaces in town, East Rock Park is packed with activities and attractions. If you’re feeling energetic, climb to the top of East Rock for breathtaking panoramic views of New Haven and the Long Island Sound.

For a gentler pursuit, check out the Pardee Rose Garden and its greenhouse to admire some beautiful blooms.

New Haven Museum

Delve into the rich history of New Haven and learn the story of the city from its earliest days to the present at the New Haven Museum. Housed in a National Historic Landmark building, the museum has fascinating artifacts and displays designed to evoke reflection.

New Haven Museum

Explore fascinating exhibits that cover a wide range of topics, from the area’s Native American history to the rise of industry in the 19th century. There’s also a fascinating exhibit on the Amistad, which was famously commandeered by enslaved Africans in 1839.

Don’t miss the New Haven Museum’s fine arts collection featuring landscapes of early New Haven, the works of 17th-century cabinetmakers, and a working replica of Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.

Yale Center for British Art

Home to one of the largest collections of British art outside of the United Kingdom, the Yale Center for British Art is a must-visit if you’re a lover of British art or simply enjoy exploring great galleries! Boasting over 2,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, the museum traces the journey of British art through the eras.

Yale Center for British Art

The building itself is a work of art. Designed by famed architect Louis Kahn, the interiors are flooded with natural light, creating a beautiful atmosphere for exploring the exhibits. At the Yale Center for British Art, you’ll find works by some of the greatest British artists of all time, from Constable and Turner to Hockney and Hayworth.

It isn’t strictly a British-born gallery with works by Canaletto and Whistler, who played a pivotal role in British art and painted portraits of prominent British figures. Don’t miss checking out the rare books collection at the center; it’s well worth exploring!

West Rock Ridge State Park

Another fantastic spot to explore nature and get some exercise is West Rock Ridge State Park. Part of the Metacomet Ridge, the steeply sloped park offers impressive views of the New Haven landscape and Long Island Sound.

The seven-mile-long, 700-foot-high West Rock Ridge State Park is an incredible place for outdoor recreation; you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore the natural world. Hike or mountain bike on one of the many trails in the park. The challenging Regicides Trail winds to the top of the ridge, passing interesting rock formations and historic sites along the way.

The views from the top of the ridge are breathtaking, and you can see across the Connecticut landscape for miles in every direction. West Rock Ridge State Park is also home to various unique fauna and flora, including a wealth of bird species; if you’re a twitcher, be sure take your binoculars. Pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon of hiking, biking, and relaxing in the sun against a backdrop of gorgeous views.

Edgerton Park

Nestled in the heart of New Haven, Edgerton Park offers a quiet place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Also known as the Frederick F. Brewster Estate, the 20-acre public park on Whitney Avenue has beautiful gardens, lush lawns, and a network of walking paths to explore.

Once the estate of industrialist Frederick F. Brewster, the property was donated to the city by Brewster when his Tudor-style mansion was demolished. It was later landscaped by Robert Storer Stephenson in 1909 to become Edgerton Park.

Venture through Edgerton Park’s natural woodland on the park’s hiking trails and soak up some spectacular views. Explore the greenhouse, one of the park’s most popular attractions, and admire the collection of amazing exotic plants and flowers.

If you’re visiting with children, check out the playground, which has fun equipment for kids of all ages. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grassy lawn while you soak up the sun and take in the park’s incredible surroundings. Enjoy outdoor performances by the Elm Shakespeare Company in the summer.

New Haven Green

Journey back to 1638 when New Haven was founded with a visit to New Haven Green. As one of the country’s oldest and most beautiful public parks, the Green has been a beloved community gathering space for over 300 years.

Located in the downtown district, the 16-acre New Haven Green boasts the central square of the nine-square settlement plan of New Haven when the Puritan colonists founded it. You’ll also find lovely lawns, towering trees, and historic monuments dotted around the park.

New Haven Green

Reflect on the nation’s history and take some snaps at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a beautiful marble statue commemorating the brave men and women who fought for our country. Enjoy various fun activities and events held in the park throughout the year, from outdoor concerts and festivals to fitness classes and cultural celebrations.

When you’re hungry, visit one of the park’s many delicious food trucks and vendors. Whether you’re in the mood for savory tacos, sweet desserts, or a refreshing drink, you’ll find plenty of tasty treats to fill the gap.

Yale Peabody Museum

A visit to New Haven wouldn’t be complete without exploring the world-renowned Yale Peabody Museum. Boasting a vast collection of fossils, minerals, and specimens from around the globe, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the natural world.

The Peabody Museum of Natural History has something for everyone, covering everything from anthropology and biology to paleontology and geology. Wander through the halls, marvel at meteorites, gemstones, mummies, and coffins, and admire the granite Head of Osiris.

Yale Peabody Museum

Stand amongst the giants that once roamed the Earth in the Great Hall of Dinosaurs. Gaze at life-size models of well-known dinosaurs and be amazed at these incredible creatures’ sheer size and detail. Learn all sorts of fascinating facts about their behavior and habitat from detailed displays.

If you’re interested in human history, be sure to check out the Peabody’s extensive collection of artifacts from ancient cultures around the world. The kids can enjoy a range of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities like digging for fossils to building their own dinosaur skeleton.

PEZ Visitor Center

If you’re a candy lover with a taste for adventure, visiting the PEZ Visitor Center is a must! Home of one of the world’s most beloved candy brands, this colorful and quirky attraction offers a unique and entertaining experience for candy lovers of all ages.

Inside the PEZ Visitor Center, you’ll find a world of wonder and whimsy, from a giant PEZ dispenser replica to an extensive collection of vintage and modern dispensers. From classic characters like Mickey Mouse to Harry Potter, there’s a PEZ dispenser for every taste and interest. You can even create your own custom dispenser at the PEZ factory!

But it’s not just about the candy: The PEZ Visitor Center also offers a variety of interactive exhibits and activities that are sure to keep you entertained. Test your PEZ knowledge with a trivia game, hunt for hidden treasures with a scavenger hunt, and sample your favorite flavors of PEZ candy.

Connecticut Science Center

Dive into a world of science and discovery at the Connecticut Science Center. Designed to engage visitors of all ages, this eye-catching building has over 150 hands-on exhibits covering everything from butterflies to outer space, making it one of the top tourist attractions in New Haven for families and solo travelers alike.

Connecticut Science Center

Spend the day exploring and discovering the natural and physical world around you through interactive exhibits. Venture into Science Center is Science Alley and discover the breadth of scientific discovery. Visit the Engineering Lab to see how engineering principles apply to solving real-world problems.

Design and test a heli-flyer, experiment with wind power, race a robot, and even mingle with butterflies in a tropical greenhouse. If you have younger children, they’ll love the KidSpace area, where they can experiment with moving water, build big blocks, and play with magnets.

Shubert Theater

Need to add a dash of culture to your New Haven itinerary? Catch a show at the historic Shubert Theater. Whether you’re a theater buff or just looking for a fun night out, you’ll find something you love at the Shubert.

Shubert Theater

Since opening its doors in 1914, the Shubert Theater has been a beloved institution in the city. Over the years, the theater has hosted countless world-class performances, from Broadway shows to concerts and comedy acts. Today, it continues to be a vibrant cultural hub, bringing in top talent from around the world.

The calendar is packed with exciting events throughout the year, ranging from classic musicals to cutting-edge plays and everything in between. In addition to the fantastic performances, the Shubert Theater is a stunning piece of architecture. Its ornate façade and elegant interior make it a true gem of New Haven’s cultural scene.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Are you a bookworm looking for your next literary adventure? Then head to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in the Hewitt Quadrangle on Wall Street.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

This impressive library houses some of the rarest and most fascinating books and manuscripts in the world, with collections ranging from ancient papyri to modern first editions. You don’t have to be an academic to appreciate it: The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is open to the public so that anyone can marvel at the treasures within.

A breathtaking central atrium houses some of the library’s most prized possessions. Explore the various collections, each a veritable treasure trove of knowledge and history. Whether you’re a fan of ancient maps, medieval manuscripts, or modern literature, you’ll find them at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center

Get in touch with your spiritual side at the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center. The center celebrates the life and legacy of Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, and is a place of prayer and reflection.

Formerly known as the Knights of Columbus Museum, the Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center is an architectural gem designed to inspire and uplift. Marvel at the soaring ceilings, stained glass windows, intricate mosaics, and beautiful artworks as you meander through the center.

Learn about founding Father McGivney’s incredible journey and his lasting impact on the world. Connect with your faith by attending Mass, lighting a candle in the chapel, or taking part in one of the many events and programs offered throughout the year.


Time for a cold brew and a game of Pac-Man? Look no further than Barcade on Orange Street. Part of the Barcade chain, this popular bar brings classic arcade games and cold beer together to create an evening like no other!

Play arcade games from the 80s and 90s, including Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Galaga, and more recent games, such as NBA Jam and Street Fighter II.

Choose your poison from a rotating selection of 24 craft beers on tap and a wide variety of canned and bottled beers, cocktails, and other alcoholic beverages. If you’re feeling adventurous, try one of their specialty cocktails, like the “Game Over,” a blend of rum, lime juice, and blackberry syrup that’s sure to give you a boost for your next game.

When you start feeling peckish, snack on classic pub grub such as burgers, spicy buffalo wings, crispy tater tots, and more.

East Rock Brewing Company & Beer Hall

Another fun spot to grab a cold brew and hang out with friends is the East Rock Brewing Company & Beer Hall. Named after East Rock, a prominent natural landmark overlooking the city, the laid-back beer hall has plenty of tables and cozy nooks to kick back and relax with a pint.

You’ll find an incredible selection of craft beer at the East Rock Brewing Company & Beer Hall. Whether you’re a fan of hoppy IPAs or prefer something a bit smoother and creamier, you’re sure to find a brew that hits the spot at this popular craft brewery. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll love the delicious selection of snacks and small plates.

Relax to live music or join one of the fun trivia nights held at the bar weekly.

Atticus Bookstore Cafe

Looking for a cozy spot to curl up with a good read and a cup of coffee? Atticus Bookstore Café is the perfect place. Exuding a warm and welcoming ambiance, this independent bookstore and coffee shop has been a fixture of the New Haven community for over 40 years.

Named after Atticus Finch, the hero of Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Bookstore Café is packed with new and used books, ranging from bestsellers to politics, history, and science. Grab a coffee and something sweet from the café and snuggle into an armchair next to the roaring fire to read.

Atticus Bookstore Café hosts various events, including author readings, book clubs, and community meetings, so keep an eye on their calendar.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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