Experience New Haven

There’s a lot going on at Southern Connecticut State University, but if you’re looking for even more – more entertainment, more community, more culture, downtown New Haven is just three miles away.

This multicultural city is best explored on foot (its grid system design makes it easy to get around). It’s also home to five colleges and universities, which means that whatever time you visit -- day or night – your feet will be happily immersed in the urban college experience.

Getting to the Elm City is easy. You can:

New Haven’s convenient location between New York City and Boston makes it a breeze to plan a day or weekend trip to either city; public transportation options abound.

Food

Pizza

Who hasn’t heard of New Haven pizza? Sure, it’s world renowned, but the Elm City is home to more than 100 distinctive restaurants so put down that pie and go on a multi-cultural culinary tour instead. Within the 369 square miles of city, there’s:

  • Malaysian
  • Ethiopian
  • Spanish
  • Belgian
  • French
  • Greek
  • Latin American
  • Mexican
  • Italian
  • Thai
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Indian
  • Jamaican
  • Cuban
  • Peruvian
  • Syrian/Lebanese
  • Turkish

…just to name a few.

If you’re a fan of farm-to-table fare, there are more than a dozen restaurants that source their ingredients from local farms, artisan cheesemakers, beekeepers and the like. And if you’re a fan of greasier-is-better fare, you can take your pick of burger joints, some of which have been flipping burgers for more than a century.  

Don’t worry if you lose track of time, many restaurants keep the kitchen running late into the night.

Within walking distance from SCSU, you’ll find several restaurants in the Westville section of New Haven that are perfect for weekend brunch with friends.

For a complete list of restaurants in New Haven, visit Visit New Haven - Dining.

Shopping

Store

Much like the restaurant scene, the key word here is variety. Within New Haven you’ll find name brand, chain retailers; vintage and consignment shops; upscale boutiques; independent bookstores; furniture, rug and home stores; and designer shoe and hat stores. There’s also that enormous, box chain store right off I-95/Long Wharf, where you can load up your shopping cart with dorm decor -- without breaking your budget.

There are several shopping districts in New Haven:

  • Historic Chapel Street District, which houses high-end shops and national and regional retailers
  • Broadway, where you’ll find the Shops at Yale
  • Whitney-Audubon, which boasts an impressive array of antiques and home furnishing stores
  • Westville Village, with stores and fashion boutiques nestled into a quaint neighborhood setting

City Seed brings more than 50 Connecticut vendors to New Haven for its Wooster Square Market, as well as a three-season market at Edgewood Park; two summer markets in Downtown and Fair Haven; and an indoor Winter Market.  

For more about shopping in New Haven, visit Visit New Haven - Shopping.

Music

Guitar player in a concert

The music scene in New Haven is always happening and it’s always eclectic. You can enjoy blues, jazz, punk, hip-hop, classical, rock, indie bands and more. Some of the more popular venues for live music are:

  • Music on the Green: Bring your blanket, picnic and friends and dance all night to live music on the New Haven Green. This annual event takes place every summer and is host to ample food trucks.
  • College Street Music Hall (CSMH): A cabaret–style venue on College Street, this place has serious history. It was built in 1926 as the Roger Sherman Theatre and reborn as the Palace Theatre in 1984; it opened as the CSMH in 2015. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blues Traveler, Phish, Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan and Dave Matthews Band have all headlined. Tickets are college budget friendly.
  • Woolsey Hall, also on College Street, is used by the Yale School of Music for performances. Tickets are college budget friendly.
  • Toad’s Place, on York Street, is steeped in history; famous bands and musicians such as Billy Joel, U2 and The Rolling Stones have graced the stage. Tickets are college budget friendly.
  • Cafe Nine, on State Street, is a corner bar that hosts a wide range of musical acts. Tickets are college budget friendly.
  • Pacific Standard Tavern, on Crown Street, is a small music club. Its name is a play on Pacific Standard Time. Tickets are college budget friendly.
  • Firehouse 12 is an intimate music venue on Crown Street that hosts a seasonal jazz series.

Getting into the Green

New Haven Green park

Sure, New Haven is a city, but more than 20 percent of New Haven is actually comprised of open, green space. The city also is surrounded by several parks, ideal for picnicking, bike riding or simply taking in the views.

Southern’s campus is conveniently situated near East Rock and West Rock parks.

East Rock is a neighborhood in New Haven named for nearby East Rock, a rock ridge with striking red cliffs, topped by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which honors New Haven men who gave their lives in four wars. Park entrance is free.

  • The Summit of East Rock is accessible by foot, bike or car. The Giant Steps Trail provides a 285-foot climb to the summit, which is worth the 15 to 20 minute full-body workout. From there you’ll enjoy sweeping views of downtown New Haven, New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound. You’ll also find charcoal grills and picnic tables (hey, you earned that hotdog)
  • There are more than 10 miles of trails of varying difficulty for jogging, walking, hiking and cross-country skiing
  • Bicycles are allowed on all paved roads; mountain bikes are prohibited on trails
  • The best kite flying can be done at College Woods, North Meadow, Rice Field and at the Summit
  • A popular spot to sled is North Meadow

West Rock Ridge State Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. It is the second largest state park in Connecticut. Park entrance is free.

  • With 1,722 acres of land, you’ll have ample space for whatever strikes your fancy, whether it be hiking, dog walking, bird watching, bicycling, kayaking, fishing, car-top boating, horseback riding, picnicking, cross-country skiing, or rock climbing
  • If you need quiet time away from your studies, the walk around Lake Wintergreen is peaceful, fairly easy and takes less than an hour. Try the walk in the fall, when foliage is at its peak
  • At the top of the ridge on a good day, you can see New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound. From the South Overlook, you’ll see Sleeping Giant State Park, East Rock Park, New Haven, Long Island Sound, Long Island -- and the SCSU campus.

Getting into the Water

Do all those water views have you craving a day by the ocean? You’re in luck: New Haven and many of its quaint surrounding towns are coastal, each with their own unique (and oftentimes free) beaches.

Just outside the bustle of New Haven is Lighthouse Point Park, an 82-acre park. You can swim, explore nature trails and a bird sanctuary and ride an antique carousel (the 1911 carousel includes 69 horses, a camel, and two chariots). There’s also a grassy area with picnic tables and grills. The park abuts the Morris Creek Nature Preserve, a 20-acre salt marsh. Park gates open 7 a.m. to sunset; open April 1 to November 1.

Other area beaches include:

  • Silver Sands in Milford: Parking available, sandy beach, boardwalk, and an island not far offshore that you can explore during low tide
  • Cosey Beach in East Haven: Sandy beach with a picnic area, bocci ball and beach volleyball courts. Showers and pavilion.
  • Hammonasset Beach in Madison: Two-mile beach, facilities for swimming, seasonal camping, picnicking, saltwater fishing, scuba diving, hiking and boating; concessions. Nature center and interpretive programs. Bicycle rentals available through Labor Day
  • Sandy Point Beach & Bird Sanctuary in West Haven (recently ranked one of “The 20 best beaches to visit in New England” by The Boston Globe and Boston Globe Media)

Art and Museums

If you’d rather enjoy the art around you without ever stepping foot indoors, ArtSites New Haven is an interactive digital catalog that locates and describes outdoor public art throughout the city — all the way from the green to East Rock and everywhere in between. More than 500 works of publicly accessible art is located throughout New Haven alone, including monuments and murals, Percent-for-Art projects, mayoral portraits, Federal Art Project works of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and more. It’s yet another reason to get your walking shoes on.

Back indoors, the Yale Peabody Museum has one of the largest natural history collections in the world, from dinosaurs to diamonds and butterflies to bugs. Fossils not your favorite? The New Haven Museum has 375 years of New Haven history on display, from the colony’s founding as a puritan village to current day.

Other museums to check out:

  • Yale’s Art & Architecture Museum
  • Artspace
  • The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
  • Yale Center for British Art
  • Knights of Columbus Museum
  • John Slade Ely House
  • The Wave Gallery
  • Shore Line Trolley Museum (East Haven)

Theater

Lysistrata at Lyman Center

Whether you’re a theatre major or someone who simply enjoys the creative energy of live productions, the theatre scene in New Haven doesn’t disappoint. Venues range from cozy to upscale and can accommodate a wide range of budgets. They include:

    SCSU’s John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts

    This multi-use performing arts facility is right on campus. It consists of two performing spaces and a lobby art gallery. It is also home to the Department of Theatre with its costume and scenery shops. At Lyman Center, you'll find comedy, concerts, student activities, and amateur and professional performances. Discounted tickets for students.

    Shubert Theatre

    Owned and operated by CAPA, one of America’s most respected theatre managers and producers, top-tier talent has headlined at the Shubert since 1914. Now, over 100 years later, the house is still packed as the Shubert runs favorites such as Les Misérables, Jersey Boys, The Nutcracker and A Charlie Brown Christmas. This performing arts center presents plays, musicals, opera, dance, classical music recitals and concerts, vaudeville, jazz artists, big bands, burlesque and solo performances.

    New Haven Theater Company

    Founded in 1997, this theater’s mission is “to celebrate the power of storytelling by providing New Haven with awesome theater experiences that are relevant and accessible to all members of our community.”

    Long Wharf Theatre

    Named for the Long Wharf port along New Haven Harbor, Long Wharf Theatre has created since 1965 a home for theatre artists from around the world, resulting in the transfer of more than 30 Long Wharf productions to Broadway or Off-Broadway. This community-enriching theater is more than a mere performance venue (though it has produced numerous award winning plays featuring current stars as well as up and coming actors) --  it’s also a studio school and magnet for local artists, residents and leaders who want to come together and share their story.

    Yale Repertory Theatre

    Known as “The Rep,” this repurposed cathedral on Church St. is open October through May. It has produced more than 100 premieres by emerging and established playwrights.

    Special Events

    Major special events and festivals take place throughout the year, usually right downtown. They include:

    • Cherry Blossom Festival, Wooster Square Park
    • New Haven Food Truck Festival and Dragon Boat Races
    • Elm Shakespeare Company in the Park (mid August to Early September)
    • Holiday Tree Lighting in December
    • New Haven Restaurant Week (fall and spring)
    • Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade
    • Connecticut Open tennis match
    • New Haven Grand Prix bicycle race
    • International Festival of Art and Ideas, a city-wide celebration of dance, music, lectures, food, conversations and theatre artists
    • Music on the Green
    • City-wide Open Studios, New Haven (weekends, October)
    • Fantasy of Lights, New Haven (late November to early January)