10 Best Family Activities in New Haven, Connecticut

Whether you’re dropping your child off at college or simply passing through, New Haven, Connecticut, offers a plethora of activities for families to do all year 'round. The historic city aims to please with fun for families on every corner. The attractions range from educational to purely entertaining, while the food scene is diverse and delicious. For the family that likes to get up and get out, this is the spot for you! Read on for the best family activities in New Haven. 

The centrally located Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale is the best place to stay. This hotel is not only family-friendly but provides guests with “New England charm with Modern Luxury.” Gorgeous views of Yale’s expansive campus, on-site parking and walking distance to every attraction worth seeing.

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Photo Courtesy of Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is one of the best things for families to visit in New Haven. Three expansive floors of scientific artifacts will keep your kids in awe for hours. Some of the permanent halls feature "Fossil Fragments: The Riddle of Human Origins", "Torosaurus: A Peabody Dinosaur", and "Daily Life in Ancient Egypt" just to name a few. Also featured are a rotating and limited series of exhibits, so there’s always something new to see with each visit. Make sure you check out The Discovery Room where kids are encouraged to not only look but touch, too! Tickets are reasonably priced, closed Mondays.

Yale University Art Gallery

Photo Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery

The Yale University Art Gallery is a perfect place to kill some time...or a ton of time. It’s easy to walk through a few departments or spend the day taking it all in. The twelve different sections of this gallery feature more than 250,000 objects in total. Kids will love the Ancient Art, African Art, Art of the Ancient Americas and Asian Art areas for all the different kinds of sculptures and artifacts on display. The Yale University Art Gallery is free and open to the public, closed Mondays.

Head on over to Claire’s Corner Copia for a delicious vegetarian menu! Enjoy your lunch and people watch in the bustling New Haven Green area.

Take a Tour of Yale University

Photo Courtesy of Yale University Admissions

It’s never too early to start thinking about college, right? Start by visiting The Mead Visitor Center, located across the street from the New Haven Green. Once you’re there, you and the family can sign up for a free guided tour by a Yale University undergraduate. On the tour, you’ll get to see how the campus stretches throughout New Haven. Your tour guide will also point out and educate you on Yale’s public art, architecture and sustainability. Guided tours are given on Mon-Fri at 10:30AM & 2:00PM, Sat-Sun at 1:30PM. 

Escape New Haven

If you are looking for a challenge, then Escape New Haven is the place to go! Choose from one of its four themed rooms to work as a team to escape in under one hour. Each room ranges in level of difficulty, but a fun time is guaranteed. This activity is probably better suited if you have pre-teens or teenagers since some of the riddles and problem solving can be tricky! Escape New Haven forces each member of your family to bond and work together to get out.

The Pizza Scene

Photo Courtesy of Pepe’s Pizza

It's impossible to visit New Haven and not enjoy some pizza. The options are seemingly endless, seeing as New Haven is immensely proud of its pizza scene. Ask a local and they will gladly offer an opinion on which is the best. Or instead of just trying one, you can take a Taste of New Haven - Pizza Lovers Tour. Not only informative, this walking tour lets you cut lines and try a slice from four of New Haven’s most prominent pizzerias. Wear some comfy sneakers and come hungry!

For one of the absolute best places for pizza in New Haven, check out BAR New Haven. Part restaurant, part bar, part night club, part brewery… This place has a pizza menu that rivals all the New Haven greats. If you have to wait for a table, trust us...it’s worth it!

East Rock Park

A breezy walk outside the downtown city will bring you to East Rock Park. This 27-acre park is one of New Haven’s most popular locations for outdoor activities. Accessible by major transportation or by foot, East Rock Park offers many special attractions within the park. Check out the Giant Steps Trail to reach the summit for beautiful views of the city, the harbor and even Long Island Sound. The Trowbridge Environmental Center is the best place to learn about flora, fauna and general environmental awareness information. The Pardee Rose Garden and Greenhouse is absolutely lovely to see anytime between early spring to mid-fall. East Rock Park is perfect for whatever time commitment you’d like to make—simply pass through or spend hours there.

The Shubert Theater

Photo Courtesy of The Shubert Theater

If live entertainment is your idea of fun, then you must treat yourself to a show at The Shubert Theater. Located in the heart of downtown, The Shubert Theater is quite the historic attraction. Years ago, the theater was often the last out-of-town venue for a new production before ultimately winding up on Broadway. The Shubert Theater continues to host touring productions of all different types of shows year round.

Just steps from the The Shubert is Olives and Oil, a fun restaurant perfect for dinner that’s right in the center of it all! The menu has elevated options for parents, while still being able to keep kids happy with finger foods.

It Adventure Indoor Ropes Course

The It Adventure Indoor Ropes Course is the most excellent activity for energetic, daring kids. The main ropes course sits sixty feet in the air with plenty of activities to navigate through. There are also four zip lines that stretch two hundred feet! The highest zip line takes you clear across the water fireworks light show. Other adventures within the course include a free fall, a cat walk and a climbing wall. For kids under 48” tall, try the Little It ropes course, which lets parents walk alongside their little ones.

Knights of Columbus Museum

Photo Courtesy of Knights of Columbus Museum

The Knights of Columbus Museum offers a collection of artifacts that are just as old and historic as New Haven itself. The museum not only displays New Haven's broad, substantial history and culture, but also educates visitors on the Knights of Columbus’ main principles. A walk through this museum will remind you and your family of all the amazing things that the Knights of Columbus has done and continues to do for the community.

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

If you think the outside of The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is breathtaking, just wait until you get inside. This library is one of the world’s largest home to some of the rarest books and manuscripts. The building alone is worth a visit, but also check out the permanent and special exhibitions. The Library offers printed information to assist visitors on self-guided tours.

By Jeffery James Dinan

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