New Haven Green (Dawn to dusk) One of the oldest town commons in the country, the Green brings back memories of colonial America, with its three historic churches and ancient elm trees. Oh, and it used to be the town cemetery (no surprise it was quite busy during the Revolutionary War). Come during August when it’s home to the New Haven Jazz Festival (Aug 10-24), which brings in 100,000 music lovers from the northeast. Make sure to avoid walking through the Green after dark-muggings are known to occur.
Yale University (432 2300; meet at Phelps Gate for guided tours; free; Mon-Fri 10:30am & 2pm; Sat-Sun 1:30pm) Home of some of the greatest thinkers in the world, Yale University sports the typical smarty-pants architecture style: the gothic Oxford feel. Don’t miss Harkness Tower, with its huge carillon bells and gargoyles, Sterling Memorial Library, which must be what a library in heaven would look like, and interestingly, Payne Whitney Gym (which was accidentally built in the style of a cathedral). End your tour with a sneak peak of Branford College, one of the twelve residential courtyards for Yale undergrads. By the way, Robert Frost called this courtyard the most beautiful in the country.
Yale University Art Gallery (432 0600; 1111 Chapel St; free; Tues-Sat 10am-5pm; Thurs until 8pm; Sun 1-6pm; closed Mon) This is the best deal in town, no questions about it. One of the top art museums in the country, Yale’s expansive art gallery will not cost you a dime. To sweeten the pot, a new wing just opened in 2007.
As a general rule, accommodations in New Haven are on the pricey side, since there’s so much traffic in and out thanks to Yale. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of beds. But unlike the town’s food, when it comes to hotels, the variety isn’t quite there.
Yale University (432 9300; 38 Hillhouse Ave; free, but bring a sleeping bag; by appointment) Even if this costs money, a night rooming in one of Yale’s historic residential colleges shoul not be missed. The catch is you’ll have to be 16-22 and book fairly well in advance with the visitor’s center. They’ll place you with a current student, who should provide a couch and perhaps even how Yalies really party (with absolute abandon, that is).
Hotel Duncan (787 1273; 1151 Chapel St; s/ $40/$65) It’s not anything to call home about, but Hotel Duncan is good value for what you get: a clean room, cheerful service, and a great location. There are literally 50 restaurants within a block of the place. But don’t expect much more besides cable TV and bad décor in the lobby.
Courtyard New Haven (777 6221; 30 Whalley Ave; s/d $80/$150) This relatively new hotel is a solid mid-range option. You’re steps away from Yale’s campus, though the immediate surroundings can be a bit dodgy at night (don’t worry, plenty of students survive out here). All rooms come with free wireless Internet, big windows, and complimentary breakfast, though the building itself looks a bit too bland.
Guide to New Haven: