Things to do on the outskirts of New Haven?
January 2, 2013 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in New Haven, without a car, on this coming Saturday and Sunday. What to do for fun?

More specifically, I'll be in the 06513 zip code on the outskirts of town, near the Bishop Woods Sanctuary and it looks like not too far from a public park. Other than that, or touring the University (which I get to do during the week), what else is there to do?

I like museums and cultural type things in particular, and would prefer to spend my time mostly in-doors given the cold weather.

Difficulty: carless, but willing to use public transportation (or in theory, cheap cab rides)
posted by NucleophilicAttack to Travel & Transportation around New Haven, CT (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Public transportation is by CT Transit buses, which are pretty much on par with small-city American public transit standards, e.g. slow, circuitous and somewhat infrequent, but generally safe and almost all buses go downtown. The Yale campus and downtown New Haven were largely built before cars, so once you are downtown you should not have trouble getting around on foot, as most students do. (Very few undergraduates drive to get from class to class, although some do keep cars on campus for recreational/errand use.) Cabs are pretty cheap though, although they don't cruise and you'll have to call them: I always used Metro Taxi, though I don't think there's really a significant difference in quality between the various companies.

If they don't do it in the tour, the obvious museum/culture things are the Yale museums (the Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Yale Center for British Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Collection of Musical Instruments, although I think this last one is closed for the university recess.) The campus tour may do it, but if not also hit up the Beinecke rare book library which is open (not the stacks, the building) during select hours.

You could go to a show at the Shubert, which generally has a pretty good repertoire given the presence of Yale and the proximity to New York. There's also the New Haven Museum although I haven't been personally. This list of "things to do in the area" from the University of New Haven may be helpful, as lots of the listings seem to be indoors.

Food-wise, New Haven has a surprising amount of good food, so if "cultural" encompasses "food exploration" there's pretty good Ethiopian, Thai, Indian in the mid-range and good (but expensive!) Spanish/tapas places on the high end. In sort of the same vein, Wooster Square is a cute historic Italian neighborhood, although that's perhaps more outdoorsy than you would like.
posted by andrewesque at 2:52 PM on January 2, 2013

Best answer: I just moved here, so I'm far from an expert on the area, but I'd say you'll have more options the closer to Downtown/Yale you can get. One thing to note is that in addition to the regular buses, you should be able to make use of the Yale shuttles closer to campus; I've never seen them checking for ids.

The Peabody Museum on Science Hill is a tad long in the tooth as natural history museums go, but has its share of charm, and I'm told the Yale Center for British Art is quite excellent, although I haven't actually made it over there yet. And if you're into food, New Haven is bursting at the seams with it. Pizza is what it's famous for, but there's almost anything you could want, from crazy avantgarde sushi to a really killer grilled cheese sandwich.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:58 PM on January 2, 2013

Oh, one last thing; I did want to add that I know you mentioned "on the outskirts of New Haven," but without a car, getting to some of the attractions in the suburbs will eat up quite a lot of time, which is why I focused largely on downtown New Haven as there's a higher concentration of things to do there.
posted by andrewesque at 2:59 PM on January 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks you guys! I've definitely heard good things about the pizza from a few people now. Any specific recommendations for places you liked?
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 3:09 PM on January 2, 2013

Best answer: Sally's and Pepe's are the traditional "New Haven apizza" spots in Wooster Square. They both have their diehard fans, and I'm a Pepe's fan myself but to be honest I think they're pretty much the same. If you do go, be warned that the wait is sometimes outrageous -- I can't find a link right now but Pepe's has a secondary building right next to it called "The Spot" that I believe serves the exact same pizza but often with a fraction of the wait.

Modern Pizza and Bar Pizza are non Wooster Square options. Bar is my favorite. It's located downtown, has my FAVORITE mashed potato pizza (don't knock it until you try it, it is amazing) and also a good beer selection as well as they brew stuff themselves. Plus they have a great salad -- with pears and cranberries and cheese. I'm hungry now, bah.

Yorkside and A-1 are the slice places closest to campus but are basically "drunk food" or "grab a slice in a hurry" places -- if you're going to New Haven, hit up one of the places above. I'd do either Bar downtown or Sally's/Pepe's, whichever has a shorter wait.
posted by andrewesque at 3:18 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you like museums, make sure to go see the newly renovated Yale University Art Gallery! They just re-opened it this fall. See this review from the New York Times: it's really something incredible. And it's free and open to the public, so you don't have to wait until you're on an official campus visit to go see it.
posted by colfax at 3:31 PM on January 2, 2013

Best answer: If you do end up taking public transportation, I'd recommend using the trip planner- unless you're on a major route, after a certain time buses (especially on the weekend) are extremely few and far between. If you plan on being out late, prepare to to take a cab. And Diagonalize is correct, the Yale shuttle drivers rarely, if ever, check ID. The system is kind of confusing due to being color coded- my SO uses the Yale Transit app.

Like everyone has mentioned there's tons of different places to eat, but my absolute favorite places downtown are, Miya's (sushi), Mamoun's (Middle Eastern), Temple Grill (they have all sorts of stuff, but I love their design-your-own salads), and Lalibela (Ethiopian).

Definitely go to all of the museums and galleries downtown that you can manage, time-wise. Other than the usual suspects, I find the Knights of Columbus Museum and the New Haven Museum to both be extremely fascinating, though for very different reasons.

Lastly, the Criterion Cinema has two film series that I think are awesome. Insomnia Theater- late night older cult favorite type movies on Fridays and Saturdays and Movies & Mimosas, the same movies, except on Sunday morning with mimosas (obviously).
posted by eunoia at 4:11 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding andrewesque's recommendation of Frank Pepe's pizza. I take pizza pretty seriously, and Frank Pepe's is definitely the best I've ever had. We waited in line outside for about a half hour before the restaurant opened when we visited the New Haven location. The wait was TOTALLY worth it.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 5:43 PM on January 2, 2013

Be sure to look at the menu for Miya's before you go. I love sushi but I do not like Miya's because I don't want mango in my sushi and I think their rolls are full of weird combinations of food items, but that's what other people seem to love about it.

Of the pizza places, I would put in a vote for Modern (although Modern might not be the easiest one to get to without a car), and for getting there 5 minutes before it opens for dinner so that you don't have to have a ridiculous wait.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:13 PM on January 2, 2013

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