How to Spend Summer in New Haven

The sun is shining through the elm trees as the smell of hot dogs wafts from street carts. The stagehands are building a massive new stage on the Green. A young man ambles slowly in front of a moving bus for no reason.

Yep, it’s summer in New Haven. And that means it’s a glorious time to get out there and enjoy all the city has to offer. But what does the city offer?

I’m glad you asked!

The Arts and Ideas Festival (June 15 – June 24)

The International Festival of Arts and Ideas is a yearly, 15-day festival featuring arts, lectures, and performances all over New Haven. On any particular Friday or Saturday, you can wander around the Green and check out any number of things.

Whether it’s Black Girl: Linguistic Play or Wu Man + Miró Quartet, there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

The most popular events, however, are the back-to-back free weekend shows on the Green. This year, the concerts on the Green are:

  • TROKER & Fulaso (Saturday, June 17th, 6pm): Troker “creates mesmerizing rhythms and presenting unrepeatable live experiences” while Fulaslo presents “a soul-affirming, dance floor-burning party.” So watch our, floors.
  • Jimmy Greene Quartet and New Haven Symphony Orchestra (Sunday, June 18th, 7pm): “Greene wrote and recorded the album Beautiful Life three years ago to celebrate the life of Ana Márquez-Greene, his 6-year-old daughter who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Now, Greene has released a sequel: Beautiful Life, Volume 2, and is bringing his music to the New Haven Green.”
  • The Wailers & Rusted Root (Saturday, June 24th, 7pm): The Wailers “brought reggae to the attention of the world outside of Jamaica” (you should know that) while Rusted Root “honed the perfect combination of musical intuition, freedom, and virtuosity for two decades.” This one’s gonna be hoppin’, so get your dancin’ shoes on.
The Wailers
Not pictured: A thick cloud of smoke.

Check out Lucy Gellman’s video of the new stage being raised (and the piece in the Independent).

Keep in mind, alcohol is technically not allowed on the Green. Like driving 66 mph on the highway. So bring your sippy cups and wine glasses and be cool and enjoy the beautiful weather and awesome free shows.

(There’s also the free Music on the Green featuring the Stylistics on July 22nd and Sheila E on July 29th. I don’t know who those people are.)

Ride the Elm City Party Bike

You’ve probably seen this vehicle meandering about the streets downtown, full of people shouting things like “Wooo!” and “Yeahhhh!!”

For only (?) $30 (I think), you and nine of your closest friends can wander around the city using the locomotive power of your own legs to explore the city very…. very… slowly.

Elm City Party Bike
Oh god, it’s coming right for us! We’ll have to eventually move!

Also, you can apparently drink while you’re on it. But only while you’re on it. Get off and you’re some kind of criminal. Drive a car and you’re a criminal.

But keep peddling and nothing can touch you. You know how they say to aim for the moon and you’ll be among the stars?

This is what they meant.

Visit Lighthouse Point Park

If you’re a New Haven resident, you can get a free parking pass to Lighthouse Point Park in East Shore. One of the most underrated aspects of New Haven, this beautiful park features a beach, a lighthouse (shocking!), pavilions, a passable snack bar, a beautiful carousel, a huge open field, charcoal grills, a boat launch, and the most terrifying bathrooms you’ve ever seen in your life.

Lighthouse Point Carousel
Licensed via Wikimedia Commons.

If you aren’t a resident, just go somewhere else, cause the fees are insane. Check out my Beach Guide for other options.

But if you are a resident, bring your car registration and get your free sticker. Or better yet, bike ride down there. And then take the bus back so nobody sees how much you sweat. Gross.

Lighthouse Point Park
Wikimedia Commons

Also, despite what people say, Long Island sound is a perfectly acceptable place to swim. You know what’s cold and full of sea monsters? The Atlantic Ocean.

Enjoy Outdoor Dining by the Water

While I enjoy eating outside at Kitchen Zinc or Caseus as much as the next guy, it’s not exactly the most summer-y mood.

However, there are two very good options for eating outside by the water: Shell & Bones and Lenny and Joe’s.

Over at City Point, Shell & Bones has a “focus is on seafood and steak, utilizing fresh & sustainable ingredients.” And let me tell you, the food is absolutely excellent. And the view is wonderful. The prices definitely reflect the quality, but it’s a lovely place to bring a date, or share a brunch with friends.


Shell & Bones

(Plus, you have to admit the name is clever.)

At Long Wharf, Lenny and Joe’s (a staple of the Connecticut shoreline) brings their famed fried seafood to New Haven. While not quite as the same level, they do have an excellent porch for dining right on the water, and they have some awesome lunch specials which run from 11-4 on the weekends. I don’t care what your doctor says, there’s never a bad time to eat a giant plate of fried seafood and french fries.

Lenny and Joe's
Writing this article is starting to make me hungry.

Friday Flicks

Every Friday, New Haven shows a movie in a different park in New Haven. Selections include Groundhog Day (6/16, Beecher Park), Ghostbusters (6/23, John Daniels), Footloose (7/14, Bayview Park) and Jaws (7/28, East Shore Park.)

What, you think your Friday plans are better than Footloose? You can lie to me, but you can’t lie to yourself.

Download the full brochure here.

Shakespeare in the Park

Every year, Elm Shakespeare Company provides a wonderful, free performance of Shakespeare in Edgerton Park (not Edgewood — and this is very important).

This year, they’re performing the classic Romeo & Juliet, from August 17th to September 3rd.

I really can’t recommend this enough. The stagecraft is beautiful. The performances excellent. It’s a lovely way to spend a late summer evening.

Elm Shakespeare Co
They aren’t messing around with production values, either.

Hang out on Elm City Social’s Rooftop Bar

As far as I know, Elm City Social is the only rooftop bar in New Haven (at least until they build the rumored new one in Westville). Which means it’s often hopping. But also a great place to hang out. Elm City Social have really taken that spot to the next level, and I think they’re doing a great job after a few places couldn’t make it work there.

Elm City Social rooftop
Not pictured: The approximately 1,000 people usually on the roof.

Try the duck sliders, if you can psychologically deal with the fact that those adorable little ducks make such awesome sliders. (Sorry, ducks.)

Watch Some Live Sports

The Connecticut Open runs from August 18-26th and features some of the world’s greatest female tennis players. The venue has recently been upgraded and is a beautiful place to watch a match.

Petra Kvitova
Three-time Champion Petra Kvitova

(There’s also a rumor that Aretha Franklin will be performing there at some point this summer. Keep your eyes peeled!)

Meanwhile, in case you missed my post about it, the Elm City Express are a semi-pro soccer team playing at Reese Field (next to the Yale Bowl) and both times I’ve been were a great time. Plus, you get re-entry after halftime. Halftime beers, anyone?

Come to a Comedy Show

If you like these posts, you might even like my stand-up! Come see me perform in a few weeks:

This is a comedy show.

Make Your Own Fun

You don’t need an Event to have a great time. All you need is an idea and maybe a few friends.

Hike up to the top of East Rock with your friends and have a picnic. Throw the frisbee around. Get really ambitious and bike to the top.

Go hiking at any of the nearby places, whether in-town (East/West Rock) or outside (Sleeping Giant in Hamden, Westwood in Guilford).

Go check out a show at College Street Music Hall.

Summer is here, get out there and enjoy it!


7 thoughts on “How to Spend Summer in New Haven”

  1. Mr. Levinson. Re: Stylistics, the band “I’ve never heard of.” Do your due diligence (your job). The greatest of the 60s,, 70s and 80s R&B ‘slow jam” artists. How did you get this gig? And how have you kept it ? Rest assured the 20.000 people (or mpre) who will be in attendance know who they are.

      • Yeah I pay myself approximately -$120/year to write this blog and I make a few jokes about 60’s “slow jam” R&B artists and I am continuously surprised by how many people have strong opinions about this. I was just kidding, I hope you have a great time and 20K people do show up!

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