Guide to New Haven: The scoop on secret societies (plus getting around)

It’s the real life version of the Priory of Sion, the secret organization in Dan Brown’s bestseller Da Vinci Code. Skulls & Bones, Yale’s oldest and most prestigious secret society-reserved only for a select fifteen lucky members of the senior class-boasts such alums like both Bush presidents, William Buckley Jr., and John Kerry.

They are also the only society with their own private island (on the St. Lawrence River between New York and Ontario). Many believe that the society is a “feeder organization” for America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In fact, the term “spook,” nomenclature for a spy, originated on Yale’s campus as a nickname for the secret society taps.

Each of Yale’s dozen or so societies has a tomb where the twice-weekly gatherings-and decadent parties-take place. These tombs are easy to miss, even though they are quite a sight. Most are several stories high, supported by Greek columns, and have absolutely no windows. The gardens and interior are obviously off-limits to visitors, but you’re free to walk around outside their gates. Skulls is at 64 High St. Scroll and Key (444 College St), Berzelius (78 Trumbull St), and Wolf’s Head (214 York St) are also worth a visit.

Getting There

The closest airport is New Haven-Tweed (NHV; 466-8833), which is a few miles outside town. Hartford International Airport is an hour away in the state capital. New York area airports are two hours away.

Greyhound ( 1800 231 2222) The largest national bus network; the bus station is just to the right of the train station. Another bus carrier is Peter Pan Bus Lines (( 1800 343 9999), though both companies operate many of the same routes for almost identical costs.

Destination Fare Duration Frequency (per day)
Hartford $15 1hr 6
New York $20 2hr 10
Boston $30 3hr 6
Philadelphia $40 3hr 4
Wash. DC $55 6hr 2

The train station is a twenty-minute walk southeast of town, or an $8 taxi ride from downtown. Trains go to New York ($15 for commuter, $40 for Amtrak; hourly), Boston ($50 on Amtrak, every 2-3 hours), Washington DC ($70 on Amtrak, every 2-3 hours), and countless other destinations in New England.

Getting Around


  • SHUTTLE–Connecticut Limo (1800 472 LIMO) This shuttle service will take you to Hartford ($40, by appointment) and all New York area airports ($60, by appointment)
  • BUS–CT Transit (1800 704 4114) New Haven’s public bus will take you to Tweed Airport for $2. Expect a long wait.
  • TAXI–Taxis will take you between the airport and downtown for roughly $15.

This is a very walking-friendly, especially because of all the students at Yale University, and unfortunately, the constant construction-which forces traffic to slow down. The downtown district has a distinct residential feel.

  • BUS–CT Transit (1800 704 4114) New Haven’s public bus will take you almost anywhere in the greater metropolitan area for $2.
  • TAXI–It’s almost impossible to find a taxi to flag down in town. Best bet is to call the taxi service (777 7777) to schedule a pick-up. $5 and up.

Guide to New Haven: