Splash park outside the Rose Center

Cool It!

After a tepid winter and long spring, summer is here with a vengeance. (In fact, 2012 is shaping up to be the hottest on record.) Here are ten Elm-centric ways to beat the heat:

1. A pitcher of Russian Caravan tea blend bought at Willoughby’s, brewed strong then cooled and iced. The tea, a mix of Darjeeling, Keemun and Oolong varieties, is one of the the beans-and-leaves counter’s top sellers at the esteemed local coffeehouse, going for a reasonable $12 per pound.

2. Splash pads. Lighthouse Point Park has one, which rivals the park’s actual beach for popularity. But the city’s most useful splash pads gush up in areas that otherwise would be paralyzingly hot, like the expansive field outside the Rose Center on Ashmun Street. Use this map provided by the city to find a pad (or pool) near you.

3. Shopping on Broadway between York and Tower Parkway. Gusts of air-conditioned coolness greet you when you open the doors to Urban Outfitters and other shopping-district stalwarts. It’s also the best downtown area on which to buy a T-shirt, tank top or other light clothing. Besides Urban Outfitters, you can get outfitted at the Yale-branded clothing emporium Campus Customs, the outdoorsy Denali store, Laila Rowe and elsewhere.

4. New Haven’s other world-renowned

Italian delicacy, one that isn’t hot and cheese-covered: Italian Ice. Libby’s on Wooster Street is its best-known purveyor, but Lucibello’s and other local landmark pastry shops have also perfected the art of the smooth frozen confection. And gelato—Italian Ice’s creamier cousin—is having a banner year thanks to Gelato Giuliana, which emanates from Long Wharf’s Terminal Plaza on Sargent Drive and can be found at Elm City Market downtown, Edge of the Woods on Whalley and Liuzzi Gourmet on State Street in North Haven.

5. New Haven Museum. Quiet, calm and air conditioned. All the exhibits about seafaring, from the Amistad-themed “Cinque Lives Here” to “The Maritime Gallery,” will cool you right down.

6. The corner of College and Chapel Streets. One of the blusteriest corners downtown, with a straight shot of Long Island Sound seabreeze. A chilling blast at that intersection can be a genuine menace in wintertime, but when you hit a pocket of cool air in July, it’s a heaven-sent pleasure. A nearly-as-cool corner in the vicinity is outside the First Niagara Bank building at Church and Elm, where, if it’s Wednesday, you can benefit from a cool piece of fruit from the Cityseed farmers’ market.

7. Paper fans printed with the logos of local funeral homes and churches. These handy items aren’t just reserved for downhearted mourners and wafting away

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flames from the fires of Hell, respectively. Such fans turn up regularly at community gatherings, outdoor rallies, even theater performances. They’re good whenever there’s a need to cool one’s face while concentrating on great ideas being spouted around you.

8. Criterion Cinemas. Okay, the recent slate of classics in the Sunday morning “Movies & Mimosas” series seems to be pouring on the heat rather than distracting us from it—the sweaty Western High Noon ran July 7 & 8, the atomic-broiled comedy Doctor Strangelove is due July 14 & 15, followed by the red-hot Taxi Drive July 21 & 22 and—Come on! Seriously?—the painful desert crawl Lawrence of Arabia July 28 & 29. Thankfully there’s that primo movie theatre AC.

9. The Long Wharf Nature Preserve on Long Wharf Drive (near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial). Countless seagulls can’t be wrong. A moist, marshy trail weaves through the tall grass along the East Shore. This is a nature preserve of recent vintage, its unique personality formed and affected by landfill and the construction of I-95 along the harbor half a century ago.

10. The ice cream and frozen yogurt gauntlet of York Street. There’s Yorkside Restaurant, offering Hershey’s brand ice cream (best enjoyed via a root beer float), next to the still-newish Flavors frozen yogurt parlor, which is just a few doors down from the legendary local ice cream joint Ashley’s.

What’s your favorite way to cool off in New Haven? Tell us in the comments section.

Written and photographed by Christopher Arnott.

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