D owntown New haven can be a paradise for a pedestrian. There are hundreds of shops, dozens of restaurants, several major galleries and museums, and an entire Ivy League university within walking distance of New Haven Green.
To make the most of these opportunities, travel light and pick your survival items carefully. Pack them in some snazzy bag with the logo of a local institution on it: a canvas carrier from Elm City Market, perhaps, or a red and black book bag from New Haven Free Public Library.
The prepared downtown explorer knows you need sturdy-soled shoes if you want to hop around the little walls along Wall Street, or dash down the steps and ramps in Yale’s Cross Campus.
After all, New Haven’s a playground. This is your handy Survival Kit to make the fun last longer:
• A stack of napkins for cleaning up after pizza-eating binges, plus a hat and gloves and umbrella for braving inclement weather in long lines outside Sally’s or Pepe’s.
• A public library card. The library recently changed its policy on DVDs; you can now take out as many as five DVDs for a week, then renew them for an additional week as long as another library member hasn’t requested them.
• Or a City of New Haven Municipal Identification Card, also known as the Elm City Resident Card, available for $11 from New Haven City Hall or at New Haven Free Public Library (where it also functions as a library card)—because city pride makes everything better. (Another city-issued card, the New Haven City Card, is being discontinued after tomorrow. This was a card which offered discounts at some local stores but was mainly used to feed city parking meters, which are now equipped to take major credit cards.)
• Membership cards for The Institute Library, New Haven Museum, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. You can also jot down a list of when these and other museums waive their admission fees. The Peabody has free admission on Thursday afternoons and some holidays. New Haven Museum has free admission on the first Sunday of each month.
• A map of Yale. Knowing the main gallery and theater locations is great, but you might want to catch a film screening at the Whitney Humanities Center, or a classical concert at Sprague Hall, or a lecture at the Law School. Do you know where they are?
• A gift card from your favorite local coffee shop. Willoughby’s, Woodland, Blue State and many other coffee houses have them. They’re a godsend when you’re short on cash and really need a caffeine fix. An IKEA Family card gets you a free cup of coffee at the furniture store’s cafeteria. A lot of coffee shops will also sell you plastic coffee travel mugs you can refill at a discount.
• A small plastic flying disc; turns out those Yale students who threw pie plates from the Frisbee Baking Company in Bridgeport around Old Campus in the early 20th century were really on to something.
• Lollipops. A true New Haven confectionery innovation, and the handiest of candies to keep in a survival kit.
• The following apps installed on your smartphone:
– ANDI (local arts and dining listings compiled by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven)
– Yale (there are specific apps for some of the Yale graduate programs, Bulldog sports, college admissions, etc., but also a good central one for just navigating the campus and its offerings)
– Yelp (business listings replete with detailed ratings from fellow New Haveners)
• A jacket, easily found along Broadway between the Yale Bookstore and York Street, or on Chapel between College and State, if you need a new one. (These are a couple of the best shopping areas for filling other gaps in your Survival Kit, too.)
Now you’re ready. Time to venture out in New Haven!
Written and photographed by Christopher Arnott.