The Best Things to Do in New Haven

The Yale University campus is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attractions in New Haven, Connecticut
The Yale University campus is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attractions in New Haven, Connecticut | © dbimages / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Christy Taylor
7 August 2020

Located on the coast of Connecticut, New Haven often draws visitors to Yale, America’s third-oldest university. Aside from this well-known higher-education site, there are a number of historical, unique and fun attractions in this coastal city to keep all types entertained.

Tour Yale University

University
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No trip to New Haven is complete without wandering the hallowed halls of the Ivy League Yale University. Founded in 1701, Yale has produced 61 Nobel laureates, five US presidents and 19 US Supreme Court Justices, along with some famous faces such as Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton. Start your visit at the Yale Visitor Centre, in John Pierpont House, the oldest private home in New Haven. Tours last approximately one hour and are led by students who will provide insight into campus life, details on Yale’s 300-year history, and possibly even reveal information about its notorious secret societies, like the Skull and Bones.

Browse the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Library
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Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, CT. Image shot 08/2019. Exact date unknown.
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This building’s unusual, translucent, marble exterior conceals an even more unusual interior: a six-story tower of book stacks. The library has one of the largest collections in the world of rare books and manuscripts, along with Yale’s literary archives. Part of the library’s permanent exhibit is the Gutenberg Bible, its oldest book from approximately 1454, and John James Audobon’s “Birds of America,” along with some of the earliest printed books from the West before 1500. Visitors can view the ground floor and mezzanine public exhibition areas, permanent exhibitions and varied special exhibitions. Admission is free.

Bring out your inner child at the PEZ Visitor Center

Museum
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This multi-coloured candy lover’s dream has the largest collection of PEZ memorabilia in the world. A bit like stepping inside Willy Wonka’s factory, guests can look into the production facility through viewing areas and see the sweets being packaged. Enjoy quizzes and interactive games and learn the history of PEZ, which started in 1927. The center also holds the largest dispenser in the world – and a PEZ motorcycle! End your visit by shopping the largest collection of PEZ candy and merchandise. Tickets are bought on site, and the tour is self-guided.

Marvel at dinosaurs at the Peabody Museum of Natural History

Museum
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Peabody Museum of Natural History Yale University
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Popular amongst families, the most impressive of the permanent collection must be the Great Hall of Dinosaurs. Watched over by the museum’s largest skeleton, the towering Brontosaurus, visitors can admire the impressive 47m “Age of Reptiles” mural, finished in 1947. Yale’s Egyptology collection, with the “Daily life in Ancient Egypt” gallery, is housed here. It features a fascinating mummy, resting in a decorated, inscribed tomb, and the granite head of Osiris. Another favourite is the Discovery Room, full of touchable specimens and hands-on exhibits. The museum is open daily except Mondays and is free to under 18s.

Get cultural at the Shubert Theater

Theater
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This 1600-seat theater has seen the premiere of many shows before they opened on Broadway. In fact, in the last 100 years, the Shubert Theater has launched more than 300 world premieres and 50 American premieres and hosted over 600 Broadway auditions. Established in 1914 by the Shubert Brothers, the theatre held the world premiere of Oklahoma!, and Marlon Brando launched his stage career here with A Streetcar Named Desire. Today, this beautifully restored theatre still plays host to the top Broadway shows along with performances of dance, live music and a summer art camp for children.

Be adventurous at It Adventure Indoor Ropes Course

Amusement Park
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Standing five stories high, this indoor ropes facility claims to be the largest in the world. Take an exhilarating Zip It zip-line ride over 48ft high, or traverse one of a hundred rope elements on the four-level rope courses standing at 56ft high. The options don’t end there: You can climb one of the four different climbing walls, and exit the ropes course via Jump It, a 50ft-high free fall! If that’s not enough, the experience includes “liquid fireworks,” a choreographed light, sound and music show with over 1000 water nozzles.

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These recommendations were updated on August 7, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.