Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Haven, CT Turns College Visits Into Vacations To Remember

This is the season when many parents pack-up their soon-to-be high school senior teens to begin touring prospective college campuses.  These information-packed trips, with dormitory overnights and tastings of “campus cuisine” are a necessary right of passage, but they’re often an unsatisfactory substitute for the family vacation – unless that campus tour is in New Haven.

Perhaps best known as the home of esteemed Yale University, New Haven and the Greater New Haven area actually boast a plethora of institutions of higher education, from Albertus Magnus College, a small, liberal arts college founded in 1925 to Southern Connecticut State University, a New Haven institution since 1893, with 12,000 students located three miles from downtown, to nearby University of New Haven and Quinnipiac University.   All boast one essential, common asset toward attracting students: their vibrant hometown of New Haven.

Conveniently located on the I-95 “college corridor” midway between New York and Boston, New Haven was established in 1638 as America’s

first planned city and has never stopped innovating with fantastic architecture, a strong cultural and fine arts community, vibrant dining scene, commitment to sustainability and a roster of year round entertainment and sporting events.  As many local residents proclaim, “New Haven is small enough to be friendly and large enough to be interesting.”

Here’s a suggested New Haven itinerary for turning that college visit into a vacation to remember:

Get comfortable.  New Haven offers its visitors various options for a good night’s rest following a day of campus exploration.  For this trip, consider The Study Hotel at Yale, situated in the heart of downtown Elm City and within walking distance of most major restaurants and attractions. The hotel features a synthesis of technology and bookie culture, with the most up-to-date electronics and a library stocked with everything from Chaucer to Stephen King and offers fabulous views of the Yale campus.

Dine.  New Haven offers a rich and varied culinary scene and boasts two American “firsts:” hamburgers and pizza.  Stop by Louis Lunch for a taste of the original hamburger sandwich and try it like a local, sans ketchup, and don’t let the lines that form every night outside Frank Pepe’s dissuade you from what many claim is the best pizza in town. Or, grab a pie at nearby competitors like Sally’s Apizza, Modern Apizza, and BAR.

Fine diners will find an option to please every palette, from the daring creative Spanish cuisine of Ibiza to the Parisian Style Brasserie at Union League Cafe to the farm-fresh modern American food of Zinc to Bentara, Connecticut’s first Malaysian restaurant.  Casual diners should not miss Claire’s Corner Copia, a New Haven institution where owner Claire Criscoulo has been serving up sustainable vegetarian cuisine and her decadent Lithuanian coffee cake since 1972.

And for diners literally on the go, indulge in New Haven’s own roving Cheese Truck for a gourmet grilled cheese or satisfy that sweet tooth with a Red Velvet Jones from the Cupcake Truck.  For current locations, follow these gourmands on the go at and

Explore.  New Haven is easily walkable and known for its outstanding examples of architectural styles that range from Trinity Church’s 17th Century Gothic to iconic modern buildings such as the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the largest building in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books. Tour these impressive structures on foot or by bike—Devil’s Gear in Wooster Square and College Street Cycles on College Street rent bicycles and gear for the day. The city’s art galleries, theaters and cultural centers are also unrivaled. Two of the very best, the Yale University Art Gallery, comprised of  more than 185,000 works, including Vincent Van Gogh’s famed “The Night Café” and The Yale Center for British Art, the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside of the United Kingdom, are completely free.

Also worth visiting: The Peabody Museum of Natural History, famous for its Great Hall of Dinosaurs, ArtSpace a non-profit organization showcasing local and national visual art, and the Knights of Columbus Museum, dedicated to the preservation, reservation, interpretation and exhibition of materials relevant to the history and activities of the Knights of Columbus that USA Today calls a "top ranked U.S. museum with religious themes."

Check-out.  There’s always something happening in New Haven.  This summer, Music on the Green presented by Smilow Cancer Hospital, a series of free, live music performances on New Haven Green takes place July 17, 24 & 31.  Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament is the only combined men’s and women’s pro tennis tournament leading into the US Open, held at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale August 20—28.  Pilot Pen Tennis serves up plenty of action on and off the court including: live music, great food, autograph sessions, Kids Day and the third annual New Haven Food and Wine Festival, showcasing New Haven’s award-winning, international restaurants alongside a wine tasting on August 25.

Leaf-peep.  Should your college visits stretch into the fall, New Haven offers even more adventures including that vibrant fall foliage New England is famous for plus Yale football games at the historic Yale Bowl and the start of the Yale Repertory season. This season the Yale Repertory Theatre will host the World Premiere Musical of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, beginning on September 17, 2010. The musical is adapted from a 1962 novel by Shirley Jackson and chronicles the life of the infamous fictional character Mary Katherine Blackwood in the form of flashback.  The Study offers guests free available day of tickets at their front desk.

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