Cosmo Trips

Cosmo Trips

New Haven Is the Cultural Hotspot You Didn’t Know You Needed (Yes, in Connecticut!)

The food and cocktails? Top tier. The museums? Immaculate. The people? Gorge and diverse. Now go pack your bags!


I’ve been a New Yorker for two years now, and while this city is indisputably amazing, part of the reason I was so excited to move here was that I knew I would be able to visit and explore all the surrounding Northeast cities more easily. So when an offer to check out New Haven, Connecticut’s cultural scene came through my inbox this summer, I was intrigued. Admittedly, my lil Southern self didn’t know too much about the state, let alone the city. In fact, the extent of my knowledge included Yale, UConn Women’s Basketball, and allegedly superb pizza.


But like any good journalist (and overly methodical Virgo moon 🙃), I had to do a little ~pre-reporting~ to get familiar with the area, its history, and its people before I dove straight in. So I chatted with Adriane Jefferson, the Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of New Haven, to get a lay of the land. She mentioned that New Haven is made up of 73 percent people of color, and that the state’s first-ever cultural equity movement started in the city. She explained that the movement examines “how we use arts and culture around the city,” while also building the workforce, working to close the wealth gap, and more. “All of the programming has been about how we can highlight our Black and brown people,” said Jefferson.


Say. Less. After our call, I stuffed my weekender, got a few hours of sleep, then headed to Grand Central Terminal at 7 a.m. for the two-ish hour train ride. Here’s what went down when I arrived.



The Study at Yale: This darling hotel is definitely a quality choice for lodging if you want to explore the city, but if you wanted to come just to study, read, or have a writing getaway, it’d be a great choice for that too. The lobby is so inviting for curling up or locking in on a project, and the rooms are made for those moments. Mine had a little alcove with two reading chairs and a huge desk overlooking the trees on Yale’s campus.



Visit Discovering Amistad: This “floating classroom” is one of New Haven’s main cultural attractions in the summer. It’s set in a boat that is a replica of the original 1839 Amistad slave ship, which was home to one of the most notable slave rebellions in history. (Steven Spielberg made a whole film about it in 1997 titled Amistad, and it starred Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, and Nigel Hawthorne, FYI). Experts teach about the rebellion and the subsequent Supreme Court decision that came from it, and you get to see replicas of the elements that helped the enslaved people get to freedom. It is a must.


Wander through the Puerto Rican Festival of New Haven: I had absolutely no idea that New Haven, Connecticut, had a Puerto Rican population large enough for a robust, dynamic, and insanely beautiful celebration of history and heritage. But the vibrancy of the culture was on full display on the New Haven Green, a massive, 16-acre park in the middle of the city’s downtown area, and it truly was a masterclass in how you do a festival.


Explore Downtown New Haven: New Haven has one of the most adorable (and walkable!) downtowns I have ever had the pleasure to peruse. Was I suddenly transported to the set of a charmingly cheesy Hallmark movie? Still trying to figure it out! We’re talking cobblestones, cute small-business storefronts, loads of local bookstores, the works! Definitely check out More Amour Boutique for one-of-a-kind accessories, and Arethusa Farm Dairy for some of the freshest ice cream your taste buds will encounter.


Embrace your inner artist at the Yale University Art Gallery: Wanna see an original Kehinde Wiley, aka the Brooklyn-based painter who created President Obama’s official portrait? Or a double-canvas Basquiat? The answer to these questions is yes. And you can do just that at this epic museum. You can also get into the history of cutlery (yes, like forks and knives) here if that’s your thing, and it is mine, so no judgment!



The Anchor Spa: I knew I needed to come here once I learned that it’s owned by Karl Franz Williams, a Yale alumnus who also owns one of my all-time favorite cocktail bars in Harlem. Be sure to chow down on the “Sexy Wings,” an indisputable crowd favorite off the Caribbean-leaning menu, and the peach cobbler patties—their dessert riff on classic Jamaican beef patties—that I’d personally like to be buried in. Never have I ever had well-spiced peaches puréed into a filling so delightfully silky that I wanted to take a long, luxurious soak in it *puts a finger down*.


And let’s not forget, this is a craft cocktail bar—heavy on the craft. These are capital B Bartenders, y’all…actually, that feels disrespectful. These are artists, and sure, they’ll whip you up a lemon drop or daiquiri (snooze!), but you’d be a fool—I’m sorry, a damn fool—not to get one of their specialty libations. If you’re a bourbon girlie, the Kentucky Refresher will bless your entire life. Oh, and get an Uncle Waithley’s ginger beer (made with scotch bonnet pepper!) to go, then thank me later.


Bar Brick Oven Pizza: If one thing’s for certain and two things are for sure, it’s that New Haven folk Know. Good. Pizza. This is not up for debate, I’ve learned—no “allegedly” necessary. When I asked around for the best spot in town, people rattled off a few, but Bar was included in every single mention. And the go-to rec? That’d be the mashed potato and bacon pie. It gave garlicky decadence and salty splendor. The toppings were dolloped and sprinkled on top of a white sauce spread across a thin crust with the tastiest puffy edges. I also recommend the Bar Salad—seasonal greens loaded with pears, pecans, bleu cheese crumbles, and a fork-licking-good vinaigrette—for a kick of freshness to balance it all out.


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