Known as the birthplace of American pizza, the city of New Haven lives up to its reputation as a first class foodie destination and continues to cultivate pioneering restaurateurs. But New Haven is more than a foodie city. It’s a place to explore history and architecture, art and culture. It’s where ideas are nurtured and celebrated. Happily, it’s also very accessible to families and is wonderfully walkable. Take the kids for a day trip or a weekend getaway and experience the city for yourselves, with this list as your guide.
1. Join the revolution at Claire’s Corner Copia, a haven for vegans and gluten free diners. The Lithuanian Coffee Cake is bliss.
2. Stroll through the Yale Old Campus to admire the architecture and, for good luck, touch the foot of the statue honoring the president of Yale from 1846 to 1871, Theodore Dwight Woolsey. FREE
3. Don your reading glasses and head to Heirloom at The Study for an elegant but kid-friendly dinner. Be sure to take a look at the art gallery when you visit the restrooms (though you may want to vet the artwork first before showing the kids).
4. Catch a show at the historic Shubert Theater, where some of the biggest names in theater got their starts.
5. Dine al fresco at Kitchen Zinc, a farm-to-table artisan pizza place (with excellent GF pizza), before an evening at the theater.
6. Be amazed. From Zinc Kitchen, head down the walkway of Temple Plaza, away from the Crown Street Parking Garage. Then stop at the gate just before you reach Chapel Street and turn around for street art at its best.
7. Save the Earth in the most delicious ways at Miya’s Sushi. The artwork on the walls is a delight, but the art brought to your table on a plate is truly magnificent.
8. Enjoy free performances on the Family Stage, special programs for kids, and pop-up neighborhood celebrations during the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, a 15-day extravaganza of performing arts, lectures, and conversations throughout the city each June. Check the Mommy Poppins CT Event Calendar before you go for the festival’s most family-friendly programs.
9. Take home a little piece of British pop culture from the Yale Center for British Art’s gift shop. Before you explore the museum’s galleries, ask for a children’s activity kit at the information desk.
10. Find your old favorite recordings – on actual records – and new favorite books at Atticus Bookstore/Café. The aroma of coffee, fresh bread and the café’s legendary black bean soup will beckon you to stay a while as the kids browse the excellent children’s book selections.
11. Join the tennis pros for clinics, giveaways, autograph sessions and swag at Kids Day of the Connecticut Open.
12. Learn all about carnivorous plants, tropical gardens, and the water-capturing characteristics of desert plants during a guided tour of the Yale Marsh Botanical Garden (free and open to the public from 9 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Friday and on the last Sunday of the month). FREE
13. Explore the rooms of the CT Children’s Museum on a Friday or Saturday afternoon. Stop by for Saturdays at 2 for a special story time program that integrates reading with the museum’s exhibits. (Admission is cash or check only.)
14. Spend an afternoon in Edgewood Park running through the Sundial Sprinkler, playing on the playgrounds (there’s a separate Tot Playground), walking along the pond on the Sensory Trail, crossing the footbridge, skateboarding, watching a game, and visiting the inhabitants of the Duck Pond. Visit the Ranger Station to meet amphibians and reptiles, go on a guided nature walk, or participate in a nature program. FREE
15. Dance on the grass as during Music on the Green, a two-week summer concert festival in July. FREE
16. Pick up an architecture guide or felt art kit for the kids at the entrance desk of Yale University Art Gallery and go exploring. Be sure to visit the Ancient Art Gallery and sculpture terrace, then head outside to relax in the sculpture garden. Check the Gallery calendar for family programs before your visit. FREE
17. See stars at the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium’s free planetarium shows and telescope observations (Tuesday nights only.) FREE
18. Get a taste of history and some of the most famous pizza (a.k.a. “ah-beets”) in America at Frank Pepe’s. The signature White Clam Pizza has been ranked the number one pizza in America by The Daily Meal.
19. Cool off with a scoop (or three) of Ashley’s Ice Cream, where the whipped cream is made fresh in the store every day. The kids will love the Frisbee décor and the story of Ashley Whippet.
21. Walk among the dinosaurs in the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and get hands on with the museum’s collection in the Discovery Room.
22. Taste one of Orangeside’s famous square donuts as you ponder the question, “Is it still a donut if it’s square?”
23. Head to Lighthouse Point Park in the summertime to take a spin on the antique Lighthouse Point Carousel (weekend and holiday afternoons), cool off on the splash pad, perambulate along the beach on the boardwalk, and admire the lighthouse. ($$ parking fee)
24. Build something awesome at the Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop. Run an American Flyer train from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
25. Sail away into the sunset aboard Schooner’s sea vessel. Public Sunset Cruises sail weeknights, Harbor Cruises available weekends.