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New Haven: There’s More to This College Town Than Yale

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Across the country, it’s back-to-school season and that also means back to college. You might think that campus greens are the main draw of well-known college towns, but from Cambridge to Madison to Palo Alto, there is more to see than just the campus. Want proof? We sent Lilit Marcus up to New Haven to go beyond the bulldog memorabilia to see what the town has to offer.

The first thing you’ll need to know about New Haven is how to pronounce it: the locals call it something akin to “NooWAYven.” Accents nonwithstanding, this Connecticut town is a worthy weekend trip from New York or Boston.

New Haven is of course known for its most famous resident, Yale University, and unlike some college towns there isn’t much conflict between the students and the residents. If anything, New Haveners often take advantage of Yale Rep, the award-winning theater that boasts alums like Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, and Paul Giamatti. They’ll also frequent Yale buildings like the Rare Books Library, where anyone can stop by during the day to take a peek at a rare Gutenberg Bible and an original edition of Audubon’s Birds of America. But what happens when you go past the university and spend time like a local?


Claire’s Corner Copia – People from all over Connecticut come to Claire’s, which has been serving up healthy, homemade (as well as kosher and largely vegan) food for more than 37 years. The breakfast food is particularly famous – there are egg sandwiches with cheddar, banana muffins, and famous Lithuanian Coffee Cake. Claire herself is often behind the counter doling out food, hugging babies, and catching up with locals. If you can’t take extra food home with you, pick up one of Claire’s cookbooks or check out their website, where she posts recipes and instructions on making your own organic cleaning products.

Zinc- There’s no shortage of great pizza in New Haven, and locals take their pies very seriously. Stop by Sally’s for the New Haven original, and then hit Zinc for dinner. This locally-sourced, organic restaurant serves up inventive pizzas (chicken and broccoli rabe is a must) as well as seafood, pasta, and a healthy beer and wine list. There are even gluten-free options for those of you on the no-carb bandwagon.


The English Building Market – Antiquing is a requirement in New England, and this well-curated shop has more than just the basics. Find clothes, furniture, housewares, jewelry, books, and more at this large, airy space in downtown New Haven.

Chocopologie – They says the lollipop was invented in New Haven, but these days the town is better known for chocolate. New Haven newbie Chocopologie features just about every size, shape, and color of the sweet stuff. If you’re eating in, try the butterscotch pudding topped with a chocolate ginger cookie or the frozen hot chocolate, and then have some bars wrapped up to go. You’re about to be everyone’s new best friend.


The Study – The boutique hotel plays up the Ivy League theme with a breezy lobby full of books, typewriters, and other literary accessories. The lobby features for-sale art from Yale students and alums, cozy leather chairs if you want to plop down and a read, plus a killer restaurant called Heirloom (yeah, like the tomato).

The Omni New Haven – This hotel has hosted as many as 10 functions in a single weekend without any of the staff breaking a sweat. In other words, they’re organized and full of amenities. There’s an upscale restaurant (John Davenport’s, on the top floor) with great views, a fitness center, and a Starbucks. A scheduled 2012 renovation of the lobby will make it more mingle-friendly.

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By Lilit Marcus for Lilit is a freelance writer who lives in Brooklyn and tries to get out of it as much as possible. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, The Daily, and Follow her on twitter at @saveassistants.