As a classic New England college town with charm to spare, New Haven offers up historic architecture, world-class museums and easy access to the tranquil shores of Long Island Sound, but that’s not all. Quirky local attractions and a homegrown pizza style you won’t find anywhere else add to the one-of-a-kind allure of this endlessly entertaining destination.
One of the oldest universities in the country, Yale is home to a stunning collection of architectural gems in everything from the Gothic Revival to Modernist styles. Daily hour-long tours shine a light on the campus’ historic buildings as well as student life over the university’s 300-year history, while lucky visitors will get the chance to explore the famed Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which houses numerous rare artifacts including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Other outstanding collections include the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery, which are free to visit.
Thirty minutes east of downtown, Hammonasset Beach State Park is the largest on Connecticut’s southern shores and has the amenities to prove it. With over two miles of sandy beach, a nature center, boardwalk, hiking, biking trails and more, it’s the perfect place to spend a day in the sun. Continuing east, Rocky Neck State Park was made for nature lovers with saltwater marsh trails, birdwatching, fishing, crabbing, as well as soft sandy beaches that are perfect for family picnics. Of course, if saltwater fishing is your thing, Long Island Sound is world-renowned for its striped bass, bluefish and tautog, and charters are readily available in and around New Haven harbor.
After wandering the winding paths and historic churches of New Haven Green, a 16-acre park that dominates the social life of the city’s residents, there’s plenty more hiking to be had just outside of town. West Rock Ridge State Park has panoramic views of the Sound, while Sleeping Giant State Park has a lookout tower, a stocked Trout Park and miles of picturesque trails. Twenty miles west in the small town of Trumbull, Pequonnock River Valley State Park has options for both hikers and bikers. One side of the river boasts a well-maintained rail trail that navigates gently sloping hills and scenic overlooks, while the other promises a crisscrossing web of smaller wooded trails that will excite experienced mountain bikers and trail runners alike.
No trip to New Haven is complete without a taste of the city’s food specialty known as “apizza.” Similar to the version you know and love, this regional style is thin-crusted and charred and, depending on toppings, can come with or without mozzarella. For the best examples head to Wooster Street where Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana and Sally’s Apizza battle it out for local honors. For dessert, head to the fun-filled PEZ Visitor Center in Orange where memorabilia, interactive exhibits and production tours shed light on the classic candy’s colorful history.
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