today’s special mid-week city guide is dedicated to new haven connecticut! our guide comes from crystal patenaude- a writer, blogger and lifelong connecticut resident. she shares with us this comprehensive guide to the elm city, detailing the best shops, eateries, and nightlife in every neighborhood. she also mentions some noteworthy events that happen throughout the year! thanks crystal for this wonderful tour through new haven!–stephanie [image via jud.ct]
CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!
New Haven, Connecticut, is best known as home to Yale University, but beyond the Ivy campus, the “Elm City” has so much to offer. Located between New York City and Boston, this is a place where something is always happening. Once overwhelmed by crime, the city has been revitalized in the past 20 years. Several universities, hospitals, parks, national landmarks and award-winning restaurants thrive within its limits. Today, New Haven is diverse and continues to transform, attracting visitors from near and far.
This is the center of New Haven, bustling with students, office workers, residents and visitors. The best part about downtown New Haven is that next to fancy storefronts and modern eateries are hundreds of years of history. With Yale’s Gothic-style buildings mixed in among contemporary buildings, the area has a vibrant and authentic feel, combining the old with the new seamlessly. You’ll surely work up an appetite exploring the dozens of shops that are interspersed between wonderful cafés, museums and theaters.
Group W Bench: Even though you can barely walk in this crowded store, the glass wall cases stuffed with silver jewelry and the chill, hippie vibe make it a must-see. The postcards, candleholders and wind chimes are all one-of-a-kind, and the fashions look as though they are from Woodstock.
Metaphore European Home: This home store imports hand-picked tableware, glassware and other decorative accessories from Europe. Metaphore follows the trends in Europe and carries chic bags and scarves that can be found on the streets of London and Paris. This tiny store also has a wonderful selection of Belgium kitchen linens in classic, clean designs.
Wave Gallery: In this narrow shop, which is one of my favorite New Haven stores, you’ll find artisan jewelry, a large selection of homemade soaps, beautiful cards, lovely glass bowls, hand-blown glass paperweights and gifts for the home.
Urban Objects/urban baby: This small shop is primarily filled with designer clothes for babies and toddlers. There are also racks of diaper bags, maternity robes and floral lotions and powders.
Celtica: Your go-to place for any Irish-related products. The store sells Galway Crystal and other glass and pottery lines native to Ireland. You will also find hand-knit sweaters and scarves, jewelry and ornaments, and there is a tea room in the back for an authentic mid-afternoon snack.
Del Monico Hatters has been providing hats to New Havenites since 1908. The stores has thousands of hats to choose from including Stetsons, fedoras, Kangols and simple berets, and the salespeople are all experts at hat fittings.
English Building Markets: Inventory changes quickly in this hodgepodge antique store that sells mostly furniture along with vintage glassware, lamps, rugs, linens, pots, pans and other neat finds.
Archetype: specializes in contemporary clothing for the modern woman with fashions that rival the inventory of New York boutiques. Stock arrives weekly so there are always new items to browse through.
British Art Center’s Gift Shop: Featuring items from Great Britain, this museum store carries posters of art from the actual gallery, unique ornaments, artisan pottery and glassware alongside kitchy British knick-knacks like large, metal replicas of Big Ben, elegant stationary and flower-patterned alarm clocks.
Hull’s Art Supply and Framing sells any material that an artist might need to complete a masterpiece. They also have supplies for architecture projects, a custom frame center and easels for painters.
Idiom: Selling women’s apparel, handbags, artisan jewelry and accessories, this boutique has eclectic stock sure to please all fashion tastes.
Atticus Bookstore/Café: independent bookstore with handpicked ‘featured’ books and a café with great coffee, homemade soups and sandwiches. Their fresh Chabaso bread is a real treat—be sure to buy a loaf to take home.
Book Trader Café: With a mix of new and used books, this store doubles as a café with a cool menu (the sandwiches are named after books and authors, i.e. the Jane Rare, a roast beef sandwich) and indoor and outdoor seating. Their scones, muffins and cupcakes are some of the best in town.
Ten Thousand Villages: Carrying frames, candle holders, placemats, lamps and other home accessories, this store sells goods from all over the world. All items are handmade by individuals in underdeveloped villages and a portion of each purchase is funneled back into these global communities.
Alternate Universe: On the corner of Park and Chapel Streets is Alternate Universe, which is stocked with new and indie comics along with back issues for all comic book lovers.
Zinc: Located right across the street from the green, Zinc serves modern American food in an elegant setting. The menu is full of clean dishes with vibrant flavors.
Claire’s Corner Copia: Claire’s is New Haven’s best known vegetarian restaurant. For dessert, try the Lithuanian Coffee Cake, a local favorite. Also, next door is Basta Trattoria, which is owned by the same husband and wife team and is worth a try for the delicious Italian dishes made with organic and sustainable ingredients.
Pacifico: this Latin American restaurant has great tapas and fish dishes. You are sure to have a wonderful meal in the sophisticated but lively atmosphere.
Louis’s Lunch: Known as the birthplace of the hamburger sandwich, Louis’s Lunch hasn’t lost its charm in the last 100 years. Mustard and ketchup are both ‘outlawed’ in the establishment as the condiments might affect the purity of the hamburger. This hole in the wall gets crowded quickly but if you are looking for an authentic New Haven experience, you’ll find it here.
Union League Café has been named the best French restaurant in Connecticut and it’s not hard to understand why. The cuisine is delicious, traditional fare, and the atmosphere is elegant. There is an excellent selection of wine and dessert. Tip: Try stopping in for lunch, which is a bit more casual and quite affordable.
Christy’s on Orange: traditional Irish pub with happy hour specials, an upbeat mix of music and tons of televisions screens for the sports-obsessed.
Ibiza: This restaurant was one of the first in Connecticut to serve upscale Spanish food and offers tapas as well as a menu with full entrees. The cocktails are superb, the soups delicious and the desserts sweet and tasty.
Bentara: If you are in the mood for Malaysian food, Bentara is the place to visit with tasty and exotic dishes, a nice wine list and interesting desserts.
Woodland Coffee and Tea: This tea and coffee house is a rare find, offering free internet, yummy sandwiches, great coffee and an extensive tea selection (try the chai lattes!).
Starbucks: On the corner of High and Chapel Streets is a large Starbucks, notable for the large number of tables and a staff that lets you sit for as long as you like.
There are tons of bars and clubs in New Haven, particularly on Temple and Crown Streets. Where you choose to party the night away is up to you but a few popular spots to hit are:
BAR is New Haven’s first brew pub and is a restaurant (specializing in brick-oven pizza), a bar and a dance club all in one.
Richter’s: Right on Chapel Street across from the green, Richter’s is a laid-back bar with tons of beer options (they also serve beer in half-yards) and live music.
Caffé Bottega, also known as Keys to the City, features Dueling Pianos on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Come early as the place fills up quickly.
New Haven Green: Temple Street splits the New Haven Green into two parts, and in the past has served as a school, a prison and a cemetery. Today, the Green contains several churches and is used as a gathering place for festivals and events throughout the year. A good place to relax after hours of walking around.
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Sterling Memorial Library: Beinecke Library is a windowless, six-floor building made from translucent marble that is the largest building in the world reserved for the preservation of rare books and manuscripts, and houses impressive texts from history like one copy of an original Gutenberg Bible. Sterling Memorial Library is Yale’s largest library with 15 floors of books, thousands of panes of stained glass, has an underground tunnel and looks like a Gothic cathedral. Both Yale libraries are worth a visit just for the architecture alone.
Artspace: Artspace is an art gallery that features all types of media from emerging and established artists. Admission is free and the captivating exhibits are always changing.
Yale Repertory Theatre: The Yale Rep brings together theatre professionals and Yale Drama students in world-class productions. Productions that have taken place here have won Pulitzers, Tony Awards and have gone on to Broadway.
British Art Center and Yale University Art Gallery: Both of these Yale-associated museums are world-renown for their collections and exhibits. With modern interiors and views out to the street below, the mood is calming and perfect for viewing artistic masterpieces.
Shubert Theater: The Shubert is a 1600-seat theater that produces plays and dramas as well as hosts comedians and musical acts. Many musicals premiere at this theater before making their debut on Broadway in New York City.
Ingalls Skating Rink: Home to Yale’s hockey team, this ice rink was designed by architect Eero Saarinen and is affectionately referred to as the ‘whale’ by Yalies for its curved top and wide sides.
Yale University School of Music: Yale’s School of Music offers tons of musical events that are open to the public (and are usually free) ranging from orchestra concerts to guitar trios. Check out upcoming events at music.yale.edu/news.
Criterion Cinemas: This branch of the Bow Tie Cinemas shows a mix of popular releases, foreign movies and independent films. On Friday and Saturday nights at 11:30pm, cult movies are played as part of the “Insomnia Theater” series, and my favorite weekend activity is to attend “Movies and Mimosas,” the theater’s series of classic movies shown every Saturday and Sunday mornings at 11:00am. Mimosas can be purchased for $2 to enhance your viewing.
AND LOOK OUT FOR:
The Cupcake Truck is New Haven’s answer to New York’s food truck craze. Check the truck’s blog to see where they will be stationed each day and look out for a long line next to a refurbished ice cream truck as people wait to individualize their own small cake (you choose the frosting and the toppings).
Audubon/Whitney Avenue District:
Audobon and the streets around it are referred to as the Arts District. Whether you want to view beautiful sculptures or learn to play the cello, the resources are here in this busy section of town. On weekdays, the area is hopping with office workers but the weekend vibe is great, too, with strolling families and laid-back students looking for a bite to eat.
Walker Loden: Walker Loden carries an interesting mix of antiques and home furnishings, with some jewelry sprinkled in. There is also a nice selection of French soaps, tableware and dried lavender bouquets.
Katahdin Furniture is a specialty furniture with a large selection of chairs and tables, all made from sturdy wood. The store has wooden games and toys for children and unique hand-painted pottery and dishware.
Knit New Haven: this store has a beautiful variety of yarn for knitting and crocheting, and also offers classes to learn how to work with fibers. The space is small but chock full with lots of accessories, pattern books and an extremely helpful staff.
Foundry Music Company: Sheet music for all instruments line the walls of this small 30-year old music store. Staff can special order any musical composition and provide customers with expert assistance. Foundry Music also sells accessories for instruments along with gifts for music lovers.
Creative Arts Workshop: In the same building where photography and book-binding classes are held, the Creative Arts Workshop has two galleries featuring artwork by local and emerging artists as well as established artists. The Celebration of American Artists is held at the Workshop from October to December each year, and all glass, ceramic, jewelry and furniture pieces from artists across America are available for purchase.
Fashionista Vintage and Variety: Every inch of this store is filled with vintage apparel, from racks of flowy shirts and skirts to a wall with evening gowns. The jewelry cases are impressive with cool brooches and gaudy earrings, and you can spend hours trying on the hats and sunglasses.
Audobon Strings: For anyone who plays a string instrument, this is the place to be. Audobon Strings buys, sells, rents and repairs all string instruments and also offers one-on-one instruction.
Peabody Museum Store: This museum shop has great dinosaur-related gifts like neck ties and mugs along with natural history posters and reproductions of animal claws.
Caseus Cheese Shop: Downstairs from the restaurant is a cheese shop with a huge variety of gourmet goods and a very knowledgeable staff. Look out for imported crackers, jams, oils and chocolates and beautiful platters and cheese knives for serving all types of goodies.
Anna Liffey’s: At New Haven’s oldest Irish Pub, you’ll always find a full house and traditional Irish pub fare. This pub is full of character, from the copper kettles and ceramic steins that hang from the ceiling to the old sewing machine bottoms that are under every diner’s table. Anna Liffey’s also has several theme nights (Trivia Night is on Tuesdays) and there is always soccer playing on the televisions to avid fans.
Zoi’s on Orange: Zoi’s on Orange is one of the best delis in New Haven and is open weekdays and Saturday mornings. They have an extensive daily menu, always featuring a breakfast sandwich, wrap, soup, salad and ‘heart healthy’ special. The small windowseat tables are ideal for a quick and casual meal and their homemade soups and overstuffed wraps are more than worth the trip.
Judie’s European Bakery: Judie’s is a bakery and sandwich shop combined that adds a European twist to their food. They offer several vegetarian options and delicious soups and salads as well. The bakery is located on the premises so the bread is always fresh.
Caseus: This cheese-focused restaurant fills a hole in the New Haven food scene by serving wonderful French-inspired cuisine in a casual bistro setting using the freshest local ingredients available. In the summer, spend a night outside on the patio with a pitcher of sangria for a perfect meal. And don’t miss the Caseus Cheese Truck! A new addition to the food scene, the truck travels around the city offering grilled cheese specials and cups of tomato soup.
Koffee: Serving a wide variety of organic, fairly traded coffee, espresso and tea, along with treats from their own bakery, Koffee offers its customers a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere with lots of tables, internet access and fresh soups and sandwiches.
Willoughby’s Coffee and Tea: Willoughby’s is located on the corner of Church and Grove Streets and has tables lining the floor-to-ceiling windows so that you can people-watch with ease while you sip your beverage. This coffeehouse is known for its “Serious Coffee” and its dedication to offering the most delicious drinks around. Many varieties of coffee and tea are available daily, with seasonal specials like Mexican Spice cocoa and Mango-Peach iced tea.
Blue State Coffee: specializing in free trade, Blue State Coffee is new to New Haven but fits in well. The coffee is organic and delicious, the sandwiches are good and 5% of each purchase goes directly to a local charity.
Neighborhood Music School provides children and adults alike with lessons in all areas of music and dance. The school has many concerts for the community featuring wonderful musicians and dancers of all skill levels.
Peabody: A short trip down Whitney Avenue will bring you to the Peabody Museum, a natural history museum associated with Yale University that houses world-class permanent collections including Machu Picchu artifacts and dinosaur fossils, with mounted skeletons of an Apatosaurus and a Stegosaurus in the main hall.
Broadway is a popular shopping district on the edge of the Yale University campus. Alongside chain stores are independent mainstays. There are frequent ‘college nights,’ stores that generally stay open until 9pm and it’s a short walk from the main drag of stores on Chapel Street.
Yale Bookstore: Associated with Yale University and Barnes & Noble, this bookstore is large with two floors filled with thousands of books, a huge magazine section and a ‘Writers at Yale’ wall. Since it also doubles as a campus store, you’ll find all the dorm accessories a student could ever need as well as a Clinique make-up counter and an entire area with posters to decorate bare walls.
Urban Outfitters: The first floor of this Urban Outfitters location is dedicated to women’s clothing and shoes with men’s clothes and homewares upstairs. Alongside the displays of colorful plates and beer glasses are patterned rugs, plush comforters and bright shower curtains that are worth a look (and more often than not, discounted).
JCrew: this chain store outpost is located one door down from Urban Outfitters and surprisingly, has a great clearance rack.
Denali: Specializing in North Face clothing, shoes and camping equipment, Denali carries anything you would need for a day (or week) outdoors.
Cutler’s Record Shop: Founded in 1948, Cutler’s Record Shop is an old-school music store that carries everything from popular music to indie groups, classical music to recordings from Yale’s singing groups. The store buys and sells used music and has a varied selection of movies. A really fun place to poke around and discover new artists.
Merwin’s Art Shop specializes in framing prints and also has for purchase Japanese woodblock prints, classic prints of Yale University and old maps of New Haven.
Campus Customs: A good place to purchase a souvenir, all items in Campus Customs, from the sweatshirts to the mugs, are stamped with Yale’s name.
Trailblazer sells hiking gear, camping equipment and apparel for all outside activities.
Labyrinth Books: With carts of bargain books parked outside the front door, Labyrinth Books offers different inventory than the other bookstores in New Haven. Many titles are from independent and university presses, there is an interesting section of cookbooks and art books, and scholarly publications in many subjects.
Origins: This store is like a giant cosmetic counter straight out of a department store with lots of products for skincare and very helpful salespeople.
Educated Burgher: If you are in the mood for a burger and a milkshake, this is the place to stop. After you order, take a seat in a wooden booth where the walls are lined with books and framed pictures from Yale’s past.
Ashley’s Ice Cream: Grab a sweet treat at Ashley’s which has 24 flavors of homemade ice cream daily and unique flavors like coffee oreo, sweet cream and toasted coconut.
Toad’s Place: Opened in 1975, Toad’s Place has hosted hundreds of acts from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan. With an eclectic line-up featuring rock, rap, reggae and blues, there is a show for every musical taste.
Payne Whitney Gymnasium: This Yale University facility is the second largest gymnasium in the world. Its gothic architecture and tower make it look like a cathedral but there are facilities for every team sport along with a swimming pool on the third floor, a room for polo practice and a rooftop track for running.
Wooster Street is the center of New Haven’s Little Italy. In the late 1890’s, Italian immigrants moved into the neighborhood and started to open businesses like pastry shops, tailors and pizza places from their homes. Today, Wooster Square is a beautiful park in the center of all the action with blooming cherry blossom trees in the spring and a close-knit community.
Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria: One of the best known pizza parlors in America, Pepe’s Pizzeria has been in business since 1925 and was named an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation. The pizza is classic, thin-crusted and delicious and the parlor is the originator of the white clam pie. Part of the experience of eating at Pepe’s is waiting in the long line that snakes around the building, where you stand with tourists and locals alike, all craving a slice of perfect tomato pie.
Sally’s Apizza: Sally’s Apizza is located just a few doors down from Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria, is just as popular and also serves up delicious pies. Opened in 1938, Sally’s has been in competition with Pepe’s for the unofficial title of best pizzeria in New Haven for years. Take a taste of both and make your own decision!
Libby’s Italian Pastry Shop: Next door to Pepe’s Pizzeria is Libby’s, a pastry shop that has been making a dozen varieties of cannoli, great cappuccinos and many flavors of Italian ice for almost 90 years.
Lucibello’s Italian Pastry Shop: Lucibello’s has been serving New Haven since 1929 and is dedicated to providing the community with authentic Italian desserts and is a favorite among locals.
Fuel: This coffee shop is vegetarian with vegan leanings. Grab a sandwich or a cupcake and try the excellent espresso at this welcoming neighborhood café.
CitySeed Farmer’s Market: From May to December, the CitySeed Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday from 9:00am to 1:00pm with many fruit and vegetable stands, bakeries, flowers, soap, honey and all-natural pet treats.
Café Nine: This small venue is the perfect place to see local bands perform. Café Nine has live music every night, inexpensive drinks and friendly staff.
Fair Haven Furniture: This three-floor furniture store calls itself the “alternative home store” with “functional, unusual, emotional, meaningful objects.” Less than a mile from Wooster Square, Fair Haven Furniture carries hand-crafted furniture from over 150 artisans as well as hundreds of gifts and accessories for the home.
Other Areas Worth Checking Out:
Adjacent to neighboring Woodbridge, Westville is a mix of residences and businesses. The area was once home to a large percentage of New Haven’s Jewish population and still has a small town feel. Southern Connecticut State University is part of Westville and many of the restaurants and pubs play host to University events. There is a great art scene and a nice group of antique stores that make for a fun day out.
Suggested Itinerary: Stop for lunch at Delaney’s Tap Room and Restaurant (they have a huge selection of imported bottled and draft beers so try a new brew!) then continue on with some shopping. Look for hidden gems at the Antique Corner and Boutique and Sally Goodman Antiques. Then, visit the Westville Gallery, Kehler Liddell, and Jennifer Jane Gallery for one-of-a-kind artwork and photography. Finish up with a pastry from Manjares or a latte from Lena’s Café and Confections.
Upper State Street:
With tons of restaurants and bars, Upper State Street is popular among locals and students. This area refers to the portion of State Street before it runs into the town of Hamden. It is home to many galleries and small cafés as well as Modern Apizza, which has rivaled Wooster Street establishments for the title of best pizza in New Haven since it opened in 1934.
Suggested Itinerary: Take a ride to the City Gallery on a Saturday afternoon and browse through the beautiful work at this artist-run co-op. Then, feast on pizza at Modern Apizza for an early dinner. If you still have room, walk over to Marjolaine for coffee and perfect French desserts.
Largely industrial, the Long Wharf area follows the shoreline of Long Island Sound and has some points of interests. There have been recent efforts to commercialize the area, which is reflected in the new IKEA store that was built directly behind the landmark Pirelli Tire Building. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park runs along the waterfront for seventeen acres and hosts several carnivals during the summer months. Also, there is a life-size replica of the Amistad stationed at Long Wharf year-round.
Suggested Itinerary: Spend the day roaming through the model bedrooms and kitchens in IKEA, which, with two huge levels, is likely to keep you busy for hours. Afterward, have dinner at Sage or Leon’s , both upscale restaurants right on the water. Afterward, scoot over to the award-winning Long Wharf Theater and let them entertain you with the current production.
Pilot Pen: This tennis tournament, which is held before the US Open, takes place every August and draws top-ranked players like Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The sixth largest parade in the nation, the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade draws about 200,000 people each March and is an event that all will enjoy.
International Festival of Arts and Ideas: this annual festival features artists, thinkers and leaders from all over the world. All venues in New Haven, from the theatres to the museums, host events over this two-week period in June when everything from poetry to politics will be discussed and explored creatively.
Restaurant Week: Twice a year, dozens of New Haven restaurants participate in Restaurant Week by offering prix fixe menus and other specials at reduced prices to customers. Be sure to make reservations as tables book up quickly.
Music on the Green: Look out for live music on the New Haven Green on Saturday nights during the summer months. Recent acts include Blues Traveler, Sister Hazel and Jeffrey Osbourne.
Getting to New Haven:
New Haven is conveniently located between Boston and New York City and easily accessible by car or bus. Via Metro-North Railroad, New Haven is about two hours from NYC. Via Amtrak from Boston, the ride is around two hours into Union Station. Also, Tweed New Haven Airport offers daily flights from various locations on US Airways (the airport is about ten minutes from downtown New Haven). Bradley International Airport is right outside of Hartford, Connecticut and is a 45-minute ride to New Haven.
Where to Stay:
The Omni Hotel at Yale is on Temple Street, a block from the Green and in the middle of all the activity. The Study at Yale is a brand-new modern hotel with an upscale restaurant, Heirloom, that is located on Chapel Street, a block from the Yale Rep and the Broadway shopping district. Other hotels include the Marriott Courtyard, which is adjacent to the Broadway Shopping District, and the New Haven Premiere Hotel and Suites, which is located near Long Wharf and less than a mile away from Downtown New Haven.