New Haven Things to Do

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    Byzantine mosaic
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Most Recent Things to Do in New Haven

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    Yale Center for British Art

    by leics Written Aug 2, 2013
    A Barbara Hepworth in the foyer
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    I visited this place for the first time in 2013, when the building was undergoing renovation and restoration so far fewer pieces were on display.

    It is what it says...an exhibition of British art through the centuries, from Tudor times through to the 'St Ives' school of painting (1920s onwards).

    It's a well-designed gallery with some very interesting pieces. There are rather too many paintings of landscapes, horses and stately homes for my taste (as I'm English, these things don't really excite me) but the Tudor portraits give a fascinating insight into the fashions of the time.

    I have a couple of quibbles. Firstly, the booklet which accompanies the St Ives artists' display states that St Ives is 'one of the remotest parts of Great Britain'. St Ives is very lovely indeed (hence the number of artists who lived..and live..there) but remote??? Hardly! Not unless we are talking about St Ives before the late 1800s...and we are not.

    The second quibble is about the rather tetchy 'jobsworth' on the entrance desk, who refused to allow my companion to enter because she had...a water bottle (it was empty). And refused to keep it behind the desk. He was, however, perfectly happy for me to put it into my bag. Not exactly logical behaviour.

    But it's certainly worth popping into the gallery to have a look round. It's free, and there are some nice pieces on show.

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    Yale University Art Gallery

    by leics Written Aug 2, 2013
    Ancient art gallery
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    I visited this place on my first trip to NH, but it was mostly closed for renvations and I wasn't very impressed.

    I visited again this time. Renovations are all complete and it's now a much, much more interesting place to explore (and free to enter).

    I'm not terribly interested in art and time was short, so I only focused on the ancient artworks on show. But they are pretty magnificent, from Ancient Greek vases to Byzantine mosaics, from Assyrian reliefs to a wonderful exhibition of finds from Dura-Europos (Syria) and Gerasa (Jordan) discovered during the Yale excavations in those places during the 1930s.

    Other parts of the art gallery include examples of art from America, Africa, Europe, the Indo-Pacific, Asia and ancient art of the Americas.

    Definitely a place worth visiting, if only to see those wonderful ancient artefacts.

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    Grove Street cemetery

    by leics Written Aug 9, 2011

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    This is 'the first chartered burial ground in the United states' and is definitely worth visiting.

    At first, New Haven residents were buried on The Green (around 5000 of them still lie there). But a yellow fever epidemic meant the place was simply too crowded, so a new burial ground had to be organised. Grove Street cemetery was created. The first burial there took place in 1797.

    I wandered the cemetery with great pleasure. The sub-ancient-Egyptian gateway leads to a large area of greenery, with trees shading the neat rows of gravestone, tombs and markers. I was looking at the cemetery map on the small building behind the entrance when a lady pooped out and provided me with the same map in leaflet form. With interesting graves marked on it, and information about the citizens they contain, I found this really useful.

    Eli Whitney, of cotton gin fame, is buried here. As are numerous important national and Yale figures.

    But, for me, the real interest lies in the north-western corner. There. set along the walls, you will find the gravestones which once stood on The Green...gravestones for those very early New Haven residents who died before the cemetery existed. It's worth spending time reading these: it was a different3tme, and often a harsh life, but some citizens reached ripe old age. Many more, sadly, died when they were very youn.

    As with all such cemeteries and graveyards it is interesting to notice the changes in fashion for grave markers. From sphinkes to obeslisks, from table tombs to skull & crossbones.....they are all here. The only thing i missed form an English churchyard of the same era were the angels, draped in glorious array and often looking over the tomb they mark. Perhaps they were never the fashion in the US?

    Grove Street is not an exclusively Christian cemetery; it is for all citizens. I saw several Jewish graves as I wandered.

    Well worth an hour or so of your time. Click 'tours' on the website and you'll find not only the timings of tours but also their transcripts, so you can do the tour by yourself if you wish.

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    Go to the seaside!

    by leics Written Aug 9, 2011

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    To the lighthouse!
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    It is so very easy to get to the seaside from New Haven.

    Just take bus G2 from the stop on Chapel Street. If you need help ask at the Tourist Office on Chapel Street (at the junction with College Street).

    You can pay the bus driver; just make sure you have the right money.

    The bus will take you to Lighthouse Point Park, a rather nice green area with a lovely sandy beach ,shells, seabirds and nice walks.

    And a lighthouse, of course! The present one dates from 1847, but the first was built in the 1700s.

    There's a really old (1914) and rather lovely carousel too, now safely kept inside a building but still available for rides at set times.

    I really enjoyed my couple of hours at Lighthouse Point Park, paddling in the sea, looking for shells, watching butterflies. But it was too hot for me to stay any longer. Lots of local people were enjoying picnics and barbecues in the shade of the trees, and many were enjoying the beach and sea as well.

    Definitely somewhere to go if the weather is halfway decent...and I think it would provide some bracing and enjoyable walks in rough weather as well!

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    New Haven Museum

    by leics Updated Aug 9, 2011

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    Absolutely fascinating little museum, with lots of interesting artefacts, photos and bits of information about the development of New Haven over the centuries.

    It's inside a really lovely house too, with a beautiful domed hallway. I thought the building was old, but it turns out is was specially built for the museum in 1930, in Colonial Revival style.

    There's an original model of Eli Whitney's cotton gin machine, a huge model of a sailing ship, numerous photographs and etchings and drawings of New Haven as it has grown and developed.

    One of the most interesting exhibitions in the museum relates to the Amistad captives, whose trial was held in New Haven. This exhibition contains the most significant collection of related materials, including a portrait of Joseph Cinque, the leader, by New Haven artist Nathaniel Jocelyn, thought to be the first representation of an African in American art.

    It is well worth visiting this museum. It sets New Haven fully in its historical context and if, like me, you know little of the Amistad events then it will teach you a great deal.

    Open Tuesday - Friday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m Saturday - 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.
    Free on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 1-4 p.m.

    As of 2011: Adults: $4 Seniors: $3 Students: $2 Under 12: Free

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    The Amistad Memorial

    by leics Written Aug 9, 2011

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    Amistad memorial

    You can't really miss this, sited as it is outside New Haven's City Hall on the eastern side of the Green.

    The Amistad slaves (see the wiki page for basic
    info) were tried in New haven and the town has maintained its strong links with the case.

    The memorial has three sides and marks the site where the slaves were held whilst awaiting their trial for piracy and murder. It was erected in 1992...a long time after the event. The Amistad slaves were 'free at last' in 1841.

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    Enjoy the architecture.

    by leics Updated Aug 9, 2011

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    Beautifully decorated and beautifully-maintained
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    Lots and lots of architectural styles to see in New Haven...I very much enjoyed just wandering he streets and looking to see what I could see.

    Always remember to look up. Often the ground floor of a building has been greatly changed but you'll see fascinating embellishments still existing on the upper floors.

    All the buildings in these photos were within 2 blocks of my hotel on Temple Street. For more examples have a look at my 'New Haven Buildings' travelogue.

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    The Peabody Museum: see the dinosaurs!

    by leics Written Aug 8, 2011

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    Dinosaurs!
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    Small though this museum may be it nevertheless packs in a heck of a lot in ters of exhibits and information.

    There are large number of superb dinosaur skeleton as well as: a real interesting section on human evolution, excellent displays on the evolution of mammals, info and artefacts from North American cultures, a rather wonderful display of minerals, crystals and meteorites and an extensive display on the birds of Connecticut (stuffed unfortunately, but things were different in the past).

    And, inevitably, an Ancient Egyptian display with mummy and mummy case and pre-mumification grave (with body).

    There are temporary exhibitions too. When I visited the main one was about bloodsuckers: fleas, bedbugs and suchlike.Remarkably fascinating, to be honest.

    Well worth a visit, and unmissable if you have children..they'll love the dinosaurs!

    Open Mon- Sat 1000-1700 Sun 1200 - 1700

    Entrance fee as of July 2011: $9.00 Adults, $8.00 Senior citizens 65 years and over,
    $5.00 Children ages 3 through 18, College students with ID.

    Free individual admission on Thursday afternoons 1400-1700 from September - June.

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    Enjoy the Green

    by leics Written Aug 8, 2011

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    The Green
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    New Haven's Green is very large indeed (16 acres), with many mature trees, shady spots to sit and benches to sit upon. And birds, and squirrels too. It is still owned by descendants of its original owners, way back in the 1600s.

    I love the way they created the 9-square town plan, using the central square as the Green (originally the Commons). It really works, especially as the town has so many trees. This makes its downtown so very attractive.

    Apart from the three churches sited on the Green you'll find two fountains (one from 1907, one from 2003) and the war memorial with its flagpole.

    Round the back of Centre Church-on-the-Green you'll find a memorial to Theophilus Eaton, the first Governor of New Haven Colony, serving from 1638-1658.

    I wouldn't spend time wandering the Green alone in the hours of darkness, of course...I wouldn't do that anywhere. But in the daytime it's fine with people walking, sitting, running, playing frisbee (such an iconic sight!) and chatting with friends.

    Of course, there are lots of events held there too...a free concert and a church fair whilst i was there, and a capoeira display one evening too (see my video).

    You can't really miss the Green..it's so huge and so central. So you may as well explore it! :-)

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    Trinity Church

    by leics Written Aug 8, 2011
    Trinity Church
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    I did manage to visit Trinity Church.

    This building dates from 1814, although the parish itself was set up in 1752.

    It is a lovely church, with some beautiful wooden pews and three exquisite Tiffany stained-glass windows. My photos simply do not do them justice; they are lovely.

    Near the altar is a small, plain wooden table inlaid with a wooden cros. This was Trinity's very first altar, dating from the mid-1700s.

    The original windows of the church were of plain diamond-shaped panes. In 1871 all were replaced by the grisaille you can see in one of my photos, but several were very quickly re-replaced by the lovely Tiffany windows.

    There's a rather beautiful clock too, gilt and dating from the early 1800s. But it's only visible from one spot: the pulpit! :-)

    Trinity Church is definitely worth a visit, imo.

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    Centre Church on the Green

    by leics Written Aug 8, 2011
    Centre Church on the Green
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    Founded in 1638, with this building dating from 1812, this church is easy to find for it is, as it says, the centre of the three churches which are on New Haven's Green. The present building was modelled on St Martin-in-the-Fields, a famous wren church in London, England.

    Inside you will find some Tiffany stained-glass windows; it's worth visiting just for these. But Centre Church also has something special: its crypt, containing over 100 gravestones of New Haven's earliest residents, dating back to the late 1600s.

    New Haven Green , or the upper part of it, is one huge graveyard, with the remains of over 5000 people lying under the green grass. But you'll only see one grave there now; the other markers have been removed and placed in the Grove Street Cemetery. Centre Church offers the chance to see some of those early gravestones in their correct place.

    But you can only visit the crypt at certain times, the church was never open when I passed by.....so I'm afraid I missed out. So that's something for my next visit. :-)

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    Visit Yale 4: the Beinecke Library

    by leics Written Aug 8, 2011
    The ultra-modern Beinecke building
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    The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, completed in 1963, is the one ultra-modern building on Old Campus and, to some extent, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

    But having been inside it I can now see what a hugely clever building this is.

    Each of the square marble blocks in its exterior walls are only one and a quarter inches thick, so they allow just a little light to filter through so that rare books can be displayed without damage.. Inside, and away from those walls, some of the collection (180 000 volumes) is housed in the central glass-'cube'...a really magnificent structure.

    There is space for another 500 000 volumes in the stacks, and for millions of manuscripts.

    As you walk in through the entrance you are faced with a superb glass-encased column of books and manuscripts. Around the edges, where the general public has access, you will find changing displays (when I visited it the focus was American authors) as well as a Gutenburg Bible (the very first Western book printed with moveable type) and Audubon's 'Birds of America'., both of which are on permanent display.

    It's worth visiting the library just to get inside the building and admire its construction, but the Bible and the Audubon make it an absolute must-see!

    Exhibition gallery hours are usually:

    Mondays – Thursdays 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
    Fridays 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Saturdays 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m

    but the building is closed on some holidays, so check the website below.

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    Visit Yale 3: the Stirling Memorial Library

    by leics Updated Aug 7, 2011
    Inside the main entrance...wow!
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    Well, crikey is all I can say.

    This is, of course, a superb library (although the public can't access the majority of the library part). But it's just like entering a Medieval English cathedral.

    A 'wow' moment, most definitely.

    I was initially fascinated (and bemused) by the strange carved tablets and symbols over the main door. Then I realised the represented the development of writing, from Cuneiform onwards. Do check out the intricate details...you'll even find 'the Eye of God' (a Masonic symbol as well as a Christian one) used as decoration on the main entrance.

    But once inside you are in a huge, vaulted space with a main aisle, side-aisles, numerous carvings and ...yes...stained-glass windows. There are 15 levels of stacks and eight floors of reading rooms (!) and over 4 million books housed here. A 'cathedral of learning', quite clearly....even the circulation desk is designed to look like an altar!

    And yet, despite its apparent antiquity, the building was actually completed in 1931. It is a memorial to one James William Sterling (Yalie in 1894) who (usefully) donated 29 million USD to Yale when he died.

    I stopped being cynical here too and just enjoyed wandering around that part of this magnificent building which is open to the public. Make sure you don't miss it!

    Opening hours (in termtime) are 0830 -1645. Holiday hours are more limited.

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    Visit Yale 2: explore the architecture.

    by leics Updated Aug 7, 2011
    Jonathan Edwards College (I think)
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    For a Brit there is something faintly amusing about a US university deliberately making itself look like the ancient Medieval colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. And Old Campus Yale has very much done so...even the majority of more modern buildings fit into this style.

    And yet, somehow, it works. There is such intricacy in the stonework, so much thought has clearly gone into each and every building that it *does* almost make you think the buildings are Medieval....but Yale was only founded in 1701, and its first building (Old College) , dating from 1718, makes no such pretence..it is a plain brick building with shuttered windows. Attractive, yes, but certainly making no attempt to look like an English Medieval university college.

    But do take the time to wander and explore. I really did enjoy examining the tiny details and intricate stonework on display. And yes, in the end I stopped being cynical about the whole thing and began to enjoy Old Campus Yale for what it is.....pseudo-Medieval, but interesting nevertheless.

    Those past builders and architects made the right decision, I think.

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    Visit Yale 1: take the tour.

    by leics Updated Aug 7, 2011

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    Yale Visitor Centre
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    Fascinating place, the Yale Campus.

    The public have quite a lot of access, even when the students are there, but it's best to start off by taking the free Yale tour.

    Go to the Yale Visitor Centre, which is housed in one of New Haven's oldest buildings (1767) at 149 Elm Street. Tours leave at 10.30am and 2pm Mon-Friday, at 1.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. They are led by students and will get you access into some areas you would not otherwise be able to see (e.g. inside the colleges themselves).

    First you'll watch the Yale admission video. You can see it here if you like (easier to work out what they're saying than in the visitor centre). I was informed by a most pleasant student that it was very much 'tongue-in-cheek', but I'm not so sure! ;-)

    The tours last around an hour and are a good way of orienting yourself as to where the campus lies in relation to the rest of downtown NH, and to what buildings are where.

    Give yourself some time before the video/tour to explore the Visitor Centre itself. It has some interesting displays of how Yale began and developed. I hadn't realised that the frisbee originated there (duh!) nor did I know that the Wiffenpoof song ('We are poor little lambs who have lost our way....') .......and American Football.......also come from Yale.

    O....and there's a stuffed bulldog! :-)

    A definite 'must' when you first arrive in New Haven.

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